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The Ophelia

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The Trope Namer herself, by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret

"Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,
She turns to favour and to prettiness."
Laertes, Hamlet

In Real Life mental illness is rarely pretty, but in fiction, there's just something about a lovely young woman, often with long, disheveled hair and bare feet, running around babbling lyrically about the strange visions flashing through her deranged mind, singing creepy little rhymes, scattering flowers and occasionally bashing people's heads in.

Maybe this particular cutie was just broken particularly hard, maybe it was an illness or maybe she was born that way, but the result is the same, a tragically beautiful, ethereal waif who's mad as a box of frogs. Her beauty is an important point here, underlining her fragility and the sadness of her fate. She usually talks in riddles and rhymes, can be sad or joyfully happy (or switch between these states). Her mind may be so far gone that she's likely to murder people, but she'll always have clear skin while doing it; at other times, though, her madness may allow her to retain childlike innocence, resulting in her being more kindhearted and compassionate than the "normals". Sometimes, too, she has important knowledge the sane may lack, in which case she'll often have terrible trouble getting anyone to listen (a classical example of Mad Oracle). The original Cassandra from The Iliad was often depicted as a bit of an Ophelia.

It's difficult to pin down the appeal of this trope. Perhaps a strange young maiden communing with nature harkens back to earlier figures like nymphs or pagan witches. Perhaps there is an underlying fetish at the thought that a crazy girl might be awesome in the sack. Or perhaps there's something endearing to men about cradling a girl in your arms and protecting her from the demons in her own head.

There's often a surprisingly artistic bent to The Ophelia's madness; she may sing, dance wildly, or try to paint her delusions. She may wear white and look extra ghostly and wraithlike. She would often be an Unkempt Beauty because crazy people usually don't care about trendy clothes and make-up. The Ophelia is often tied to nature (including walking around barefoot, wearing flowers, etc.), particularly water, probably as a nod to the original Ophelia (in William Shakespeare's Hamlet) who winds flowers in her hair before drowning herself. That last bit can overlap with Instant Oracle: Just Add Water! if she's also a Waif Prophet and/or a Mad Oracle.

The Victorians fell crazy (so to speak) in love with this trope and Ophelias in the form of wronged maidens and deranged brides go pirouetting and flower-strewing through art, poetry and literature of the period while the "mad scene" for the Innocent Soprano heroine became a staple of opera. Insanity was linked to female sexuality and desire for independence. In fact, psychiatrists at that time used to encourage female patients in madhouses — especially if they were youthful and pretty — to dress the part and carry sheaves of flowers.

If a male character is shown the same way, odds are good he's very feminine and delicate-looking anyway.

Compare/contrast with Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant, Cloudcuckoolander, Fainting Seer, Axe-Crazy, Mysterious Waif, Waif Prophet, Hysterical Woman, Unstable Powered Woman. For the (usually) "harmlessly kooky" variant see Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Perky Goth. See Cute But Psycho when mental issues are not part of the appeal. A reason for the appeal of the Yandere.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Snowdrop from Beatless is not technically insane, as she's an android with her own motives, but she seems designed to produce this impression — loose-fitting white dress, long hair, strong association with flowers (in addition to strewing them everywhere, she herself is named after a flower too), and a psychotic-seeming smile given the things she says and does — her flowers cause other hIEs to go insane.
  • Casca from Berserk spends no fewer than two years and two to three full arcs as a nearly mute version of this after she goes mad from the horrible trauma she suffered during the Eclipse. She only gets better after a visit to Elfheim and a Journey to the Center of the Mind courtesy of the Flowerstorm Queen, but she still has some serious PTSD.
  • Black Lagoon:
    • To say Roberta lost her shit following her master Diego's death is a very mellow way of putting it. Lots of guns? Check. Boiling blood? Check. Munching on stimulants like candy? Double-check. Hallucinating? Oh yes. Delusions of still serving Garcia in the middle of a gunfight? That too. And that's not even factoring in the gratuitous amounts of evil laughs and slasher smiles. She also goes around toting her weaponry and killing massive amounts of people off while looking pretty in her maid's dress. Subverted in the anime, with her state at the end of the arc.
    • Hansel and Gretel are the Creepy Child version of this. They're white-haired, purple-eyed orphans, who were bought by the mafia to star in snuff child porn. "Hansel and Gretel" are their stage identities, while their original selves are long gone. And it's not just psychological, because something has been done to their genitals as well. Indeed, they periodically switch between who plays Hansel and who plays Gretel by exchanging clothes and weapons, and the one who plays Gretel wears a long-haired wig. Their voices change between identities flawlessly, with Hansel only being unable to hold onto one in his dying moments. He died bleeding to death near a fountain, while Gretel expressed a wish to visit the sea, which she got to do and then she received a bullet to the brain. Before arriving, Gretel sang for Rock with a voice the Lagoon Company defined as angelic. Said song, "The World of Midnight", was used as the closing theme for the episode.
  • In Blade of the Immortal, Manji's sister Machi crosses the Despair Event Horizon and reverts to a child-like stage after Manji kills her husband without knowing who he is. She remains like that until she's murdered in front of her brother by enemy ronin; her death leads him to protect Rin, as he doesn't want to fail her like he failed to Machi.
  • Momo Hinamori from Bleach, when at her lowest point. She sorta begins to get better with time.
  • Diva from Blood+, who also happens to be the Big Bad. A good example is a scene where she's seen giggling, dancing and prancing around in a cute and very princessy gown, with her hair down and lacking footwear... and then she captures her twin sister and rival Saya and almost kills her.
  • Captain Harlock: Miime is a purple-haired, ghostlike innocent alien who likes to play the harp and get drunk. She's unfazed by her human comrades' wacky hijinks, but they're fascinated with her.
  • Several of these appear in Case Closed:
    • Ran Mouri spends a good part of the fourth movie, Captured in Her Eyes, as one due to a bad case of Trauma-Induced Amnesia. She recovers towards the end, however.
    • Also, a young woman mentioned in the backstory of the Detectives Koshien arc. More exactly: a mentally and emotionally unstable socialite who committed suicide via hanging herself in a room of her Big Fancy House (nicknamed "the Lavender mansion") in an island near Fukuoka. The "young mistress"'s death was wrongfully catalogued as a murder, however, and the main suspect was her maid Kana Mizoguchi. Poor Kana was the one who fulfilled Ophelia's association with water, however, having thrown herself into the sea after she couldn't prove her innocence.
    • In the Kimono Goddess case, the audience actually gets introduced to the episode via a scene in which a beautiful, sad-looking Ophelia throws herself off a building in front of everyone in her women's college. Her name was Sakurako Suzuka, and she ended up that way after being framed for drug trade by two cruel Alpha Bitches, Ema Anzai and Asuka Shibazaki, who already hated her for being a Wide-Eyed Idealist. Five years later, Ema and Asuka would become the case's Asshole Victims at the hands of Eri, Sakurako's estranged older sister.
    • Maya Tachibana from the Beautiful Amnesiac Woman filler case, who has lost her memories due to injuries and acts like a textbook case. Then it's subverted: she's a Dark Action Girl who has been hired to kill Kogoro by a dude that got tossed into jail and then escaped, and while her memory loss is genuine at first, she recovers her memories around halfway the episode and then pretends to still be amnesiac so she can corner Kogoro and murder him. Conan barely manages to save Kogoro and then capture her.
  • Kagami Mikage's mother in Ceres, Celestial Legend. Kagami himself is a cruel Magnificent Bastard, but his interaction with his mom is pretty much the only Pet the Dog side we see of him.
  • Ophelia (duh) from Claymore, who became obsessed with getting revenge on her brother's murderer (Priscilla). Her polite exterior disappears real fast when people interrupt her... fun. Her death scene after turning into a snake-like awakened being naturally occurred in a lake with her usually-braided hair flowing freely around her.
  • Sylvia of Cross Ange becomes one of these after her sister Angelise is revealed to be a Norma (the one thing shunned by society), her parents are both killed in their attempt to hide the secret, and while her sister is in exile, elder brother Julio, the one responsible, turns Sylvia against her and lures her out of exile by having his sister pull a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. After capturing their disinherited sister, Sylvia laughs hysterically, blames Ange for the death of her parents and demands she apologize for being a Norma as she whips for before an execution. After Ange escapes, things only get worse. After having a nightmare over what just happened, an attempt to seek comfort from Julio goes south when she spots his secretary (and mole from a dimension of dragonic humanoids) Riza, who promptly captures her and puts her under her thrall, which causes her to scream the name of her once beloved sister. Episodes later, with Julio dead and Embryo freeing her from Riza's control, she's even worse, whipping Riza in retaliation and for failing to bring her what she wanted to read, and buckles under terror when Ange shows up, asking if she plans to kill her like she the rest of her family as she still blames her for. From then on, with nobody else in the Imperial Palace, she looks increasingly unkempt scared for her life as the palace is under siege, and later, the Mana is cut off with her left out of the loop. She is presented in an unsympathetic and cowardly light, as it turns out she was healed from her crippling long ago, but she also undergoes a Trauma Conga Line in a station she is in no way fit for.
  • Death Note: Misa Amane. Beautiful? Check. Insane? Check. Puts on pretty dresses and murders people? Definitely. Commits suicide at the end? Yeah.
  • The Ergo Proxy episode named "Ophelia" contains liberal amounts of symbolism referencing the titular Shakespearian character. This includes the lead female character's Doppelgänger floating in a lake and pulling the famous pose.
  • From the manga-only Onisarashi-Hen (Demon Exposing Arc) in Higurashi: When They Cry, Natsumi Kimiyoshi becomes this in the story's epilogue. After failed attempts at living with relatives, later living with Akira Toudou, who married her so she would be able to drop her maiden name and move past her murdering her grandmother and parents, she's consigned to a psychiatric hospital. Though she seems to be doing better, she's actually aware of her crimes, even though Akira is shouldering her guilt for her. By contrast, she was more of a tragic Ophelia with her relatives than after she was moved to the hospital, where she was more of a Madwoman in the Attic.
  • Several of Junji Ito's characters, particularly the one from the short story Army of One who killed people and sewed their corpses together. And she was the protagonist's girlfriend too!
  • Magic Knight Rayearth
    • Princess Emeraude in the OVA's. How gone is she? So much that she barely realizes that Zagato has died, and throws herself at the feet of the throne where his corpse sits
    • Alcyone in the second part of the TV series zig-zags between Empty Shell and this trope. When she is captured by Cephiro after having become the Brainwashed and Crazy minion of Debonair, the poor woman is seen despondent and quiet, only reacting at the sight of Lantis — and that's because she's so far gone that she thinks Lantis is Zagato.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny's Stella Loussier blissfully dances her way through her first scene of the series... And, minutes later, shanks her way through the second. It only goes downhill from there.
  • Kamille Bidan becomes a very Rare Male Example in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ. Understandable: he is barely recovering from having been Mind Raped into insanity by Scirocco. And once he reappears in the series, the Colony Drop on Dublin and Hayato's death in battle take place...
  • Nina Fortner from Monster, when we first meet her. Overlaps with Creepy Child.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Asuka's mother Kyouko, after a Contact Experiment with EVA 02 caused a part of her soul to be sucked into it. This left the woman so deeply insane that she would not recognize her daughter at all, instead being convinced that one of said daughter's dolls is really "Asuka".
    • Asuka herself touches on this trope after she suffers the Trope Namer for Mind Rape.
  • Perfect Blue could be considered an extremely dark case study on this trope, where former pop idol Mima struggles with her previous image as she tries to break into serious acting before things take a sharp left turn into Mind Screw. An even clearer example is Mima's manager Rumi, herself a former idol who goes completely I Just Want to Be You to the point of dressing as Mima and in the final scene is shown in a mental institution carrying a bouquet of flowers and seeing herself as Mima in a mirror.
  • In One Piece there's a beautiful, cheerful redheaded woman named Russian, who completely lost it and became this after her son Gimlet died of illness and her husband, Doflamingo's subordinate Senor Pink, wasn't at home. The next time she was seen after such a tragedy she was in the hospital, looking as beautiful as always but acting like a dull-eyed Empty Shell... Senor Pink dresses like an adult baby because the now-dead Russian would only react and smile when she saw him in baby clothes, and since she's dead he wants to remember her.
  • In Ōoku: The Inner Chambers Shige, Shogun Ienari's consort, lost all her senses after her son was poisoned and she was accused of doing so to frame O-Shiga, Ienari's concubine for it, to the point that she often mistakes Ienari for the deceased son. Except it was all an act to lure her mother-in-law Harusada into a false sense of security so she and O-Shiga (who also had her child poisoned) could get their revenge on Harusada, who was the real poisoner.
  • Private Actress by Michiyo Akaishi has two:
    • One of these is the legal wife of Shiho's Disappeared Dad, Masakazu Ogata, a sickly and sad lady who is often alone at her Big Fancy House. Her son Kyousuke tells Shiho that she is "a little mentally unstable", implied to be a consequence of Ogata's constant womanizing on top of already being ill. This is confirmed when, after seeing Shiho, Mrs. Ogata tries to kill herself; for worse, when Shiho and Kyosuke try to aid her, she mistakes her for Shiho's mother Sayuri (the better known of Ogata's flings) again and begins to insult and threaten her. (Though she later comes to her senses, realizes the mistake and asks Shiho who she actually is.)
    • Later, in the Boarding School two-parter, Ophelia the character becomes vital to the confrontation between Shiho and the murderous Alpha Bitch Kana Juumonji, who scream Hamlet lines to each other with Kana playing Ophelia so perfectly that she's still reciting her lines as she's taken away by the police, her deceit uncovered. Kana/Satoka actually becomes this towards the end, after Shiho successfully scares her into Trauma-Induced Amnesia as specific punishment for having caused the deaths of Misaki and later Yuuichiro's, aside of the people whose deaths she provoked before.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: PSP-game only. Kyouko Sakura's witch form is known as Ophelia, and it integrates the mythology of Ophelia into its motifs.
  • Again, Ophelia (duh), from Romeo × Juliet; a fantastically batshit crazy Half-Human Hybrid priestess to a dying tree-god.
  • Charlotte de Polignac from The Rose of Versailles, after she cracks from the pressure on her and right before she commits suicide, acts like a mixture of this and a Creepy Child. She lets her hair down, babbles madly in front of everyone, takes off her shoes and finally throws herself off a tower, while still giggling and babbling madly.
  • Tomoe Yukishiro from Rurouni Kenshin has a fit of this after her fiance Akira Kiyosato is murdered. The first time she meets Kenshin, she's drunk and her only reaction to getting splattered by the blood of someone Kenshin just eviscerated is to say that he made it rain blood. She then promptly faints.
  • Sakura Gari features the young and pretty maid from the Saiki household who becomes this after surviving Sakurako's torture/murder of Souma's lovers, but losing the baby of Souma's that she was pregnant with. The reader meets the girl shortly after Souma attempts to kill himself; she looks pretty but frail and pale in her dark kimono, attempts to speak to the Saikis and then to Masataka to learn what's going on — but then she catches a glimpse of Sakurako herself and has a massive meltdown, screaming for a "white-haired demon" that is around the gardens, so the policemen have to calm her down. Considering that she was tied up in Unwilling Suspension manner, gagged, savagely beaten and then photographed while half-naked and still Bound and Gagged, she can't be blamed.
  • An Ax-Crazy and openly villainous version is Crimson Miroku from Sakura Wars (2000). After Sumire kills her and Satan Aoi brings her Back from the Dead, she appears in front of the main cast with her clothes loose, her long hair down, and only being able to speak a Madness Mantra: "Sumire, Sumire... I want your life... I'll take your life..."
  • Yuki from School-Live! is the cute Genki Girl protagonist who just so happens to also be very delusional. Her mind has blocked out the memories that she's living in a Zombie Apocalypse and her friends play along.
  • The unsettling fate of Mie Iwamoto from Shigurui after a particularly traumatizing incident. Eventually, she recovers but is still deeply disturbed.
  • Cordelia Glauca from Tantei Opera Milky Holmes is a humorous take of this trope, complete with flowers which unexplainably appear on her hair.
  • Tokyo Ghoul Re:
    • Shuu Tsukiyama becomes a Rare Male Example in. At the start of the series his health and mental state degrade seriously and he looks beautiful and frail when he isn't having episodes of violence. This comes after Kaneki's two years-long disappearance has left him very distressed, and it takes him a lot of effort to recover and begin making up to his family for the grief that came with his madness.
    • Eto Yoshimura/Sen Takatsuki in the sequel chapter 56. Remember Kankeki's kakuja-induced madness in Kanou's laboratory, complete with the nonsensical ramblings and erratic behavior? Kaneki's attack on Eto drives her into a similar state, and her kakuja body begins undergoing a series of lovely mutations such as extra eyes and mouths on top of mouths. All while she pursues him across the surface of a building, spouting random and confused sentences. It turns a scene that should have been Badass into pure horror. She also varies between trying to kill Kaneki and declaring her love for him while licking his eye. It doesn't help that she's naked and missing her legs. While she keeps appearing with very little left to the imagination, it's during the process of committing utterly horrifying acts of violence. In general, her nudity is secondary to the torture, mind rape, and general mayhem being committed on-screen by her.
    • Rize Kamishiro initially looks like a Proper Lady, but is actually a Femme Fatale ghoul who lures men she finds attractive in with her beauty before satisfying her gluttonous nature by eating them or "scrambling their insides" with her kagune.
    • Tooru Mutsuki was born as a girl but insists on living as a man. When he's captured by Saeki aka Torso, he puts him into a white dress while declaring they are going to get married. Mutsuki's good looks are accentuated by the dress and flowers Torso puts him in and then true horror starts when his past is revealed of him having murdered his abusive father and family, mutilated animals, and cannibalized corpses before he's seen in the present with his dress covered in blood from him having mutilated and dismembered his stalker Torso to death.
  • Dilandau from The Vision of Escaflowne eventually dissolves into a male version of this as his mental stability shatters from a variety of influences. Given that he started the series as an Ax-Crazy Psycho for Hire, that's saying quite a lot. Then you find out that he actually started out as a girl.
  • Sunako in The Wallflower when she's out of her chibi form. She's creepy but still downright gorgeous. Because she is often acting truly disheveled and insane, she might be closer to a Deconstruction.
  • X/1999:
    • Kotori Monou became one after seeing her mother Saya die as a little girl. She apparently recovered her mind, but some years later she turned into one full-time when seeing Kamui's aunt Tokiko die in the same way, and spends some time carting around the poor woman's severed head. And then soon after, she dies! And at the hands of her Face Heel Turned older brother! The poor girl can't catch a break...
    • Subverted in the TV series: Kotori does shows some signs of this trope when Tokiko dies, but unlike in the manga she falls in a coma. Her subconscious is still active and more or less sane, however, so she begins to use her Dream Weaver powers instead of going crazy; she's still comatose when Fuuma kills her, so she never gets the chance to enact the trope.
    • A darker version is Seishirou's mother Setsuka, the previous Sakurazukamori. In the CD dramas she often spoke about things that looked like nonsense, then counteracted with something quite unsettling and did so with a smile.
      Setsuka: [has an ikebana arrangement] Camellias. Red camellias.
      Seishirou: Your favorite flower.
      Setsuka: I love it. I love camellias best when they fall [gets a dreamy look] It falls on the ground.... plop, like a human head. I love it.

  • "Crazy Jane" by Richard Dadd fits this trope to the T. So much so that she was inspiration for the character's name in Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol (While that other Crazy Jane does NOT fit this trope).
  • The Symbolist movement of the 1890s was fond of Ophelia as a subject.
  • Ophelia (Millais): Ophelia is a lovely young woman whose insanity means she drowns herself while singing merry songs.

    Comic Books 
  • Delirium from The Sandman (1989) — the Anthropomorphic Personification of madness itself — is sometimes portrayed this way. (She's considerably scarier on the occasions when she pulls herself together.)
    [Some] say that Delirium has no tragedy, but here they speak without reflection. For Delirium was once Delight. And although that was long ago now, even today her eyes are badly matched: one eye is a vivid emerald green, spattered with silver flecks that move. The other eye is vein blue. Who knows what Delirium sees, through her mismatched eyes?
  • Ginny, the post-traumatic fairy in Aria. Her cousin Kildare, the protagonist, refers to her as "beautiful and damaged" (or some permutation).
  • Subverted in the Yoko Tsuno story "The Prey and the Shadow". Everyone thinks that Cecilia, the local Ojou, is one of these after the death of her mother Mary... but she's actually sane, just extremely sheltered, and it's her Evil Uncle who makes everyone think otherwise so he can set her up for an "accidental" death.
    • Subverted again in The Devil's Organ, where Ingrid is introduced as one but it's just temporary since she was not only depressed by her father's death, but she was drugged by someone else. After an incident where she was thrown into the Rhin but Yoko saved her, she mostly recovers.
  • Alice, the first major villain in Batwoman, has many hallmarks of an Ophelia, dressing in bizarre Victorian-esque clothes, speaking almost entirely in quotes from Alice in Wonderland, carrying a poisoned razor blade in her mouth and frequently having her makeup run down her face. She also turns out to be Beth, Kate's long-lost twin sister, and there's a heavy implication that she underwent serious Mind Rape after she was captured in the shootout that killed their mother when they were 12. And the icing on the cake is that she drowns in the river and essentially commits suicide.

    Fan Works 
  • Feferi from Hemostuck. A very beautiful seadweller who spends her days singing to herself, swimming, and having a somewhat tenuous grasp on reality.
  • In the Pony POV Series, Diamond Tiara's mother Golden Tiara - a.k.a. "Screwball" - is like this, a former Blithe Spirit whose mind broke years ago under the pressure of cutthroat high society. However, we later learn that there's a lot more to her...
  • Syaoran in "Shattered Secrets" is a male example of this trope - and lacks most characteristics of a Bishounen, to boot.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In A Dangerous Method Sabina Spielrin is portrayed like this.
  • Brittany Murphy's character in Don't Say a Word and in Girl, Interrupted
  • Rachel Weisz plays twin sisters in Constantine (2005), one of whom is a sort of peripheral Ophelia - confined to a mental hospital, she commits suicide by leaping from a building, plunging through a roof and into a swimming pool (a cross-shaped one to boot) where, naturally, she can float all flowing-haired and dead. The other twin begins to manifest aspects of the trope - visions and immersion in water - without actually losing her mind.
  • The Electrical Life of Louis Wain: Louis' youngest sister Marie is a lovely girl who develops schizophrenia and is locked away in an asylum.
  • Crazy Cora in Quigley Down Under goes between this and being more or less sane. She has very long hair which is sometimes down and tangled, though no flowers or water motif as it takes place in the Australian Outback.
  • Kirsten Dunst's character Justine in Melancholia could be a variation of this trope. She has few of the above mentioned traits, but a certain aesthetic scene in the movie is a clear reference to her. Justine is also mentally ill, but this is portrayed in a much more realistic and thus even more heartbreaking way.
  • Lucy Barker from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street after her attempt at suicide, brought on by being raped and having her daughter taken away.
    • Averted by her daughter Johanna, though, unlike in the stage version (where she becomes a pretty classic case). Movie!Johanna appears to be this in Fogg's Asylum, but on being rescued she turns out to be very lucid, if pessimistic about her chances of happiness.
  • The Italian film The Best of Youth centers around the lives of two brothers. A pivotal moment at the beginning of the film that ultimately influences their life choices is when the brothers meet Giorgia, a mental patient who has been subjected to electrotherapy. One of the brothers, Nikola, comments that they were both kind of in love with Giorgia at the time.
  • Gina, Tony Montana's sister, in her last scene in Scarface (1983). Tony has been playing Knight Templar Big Brother to her throughout the movie, having a violently territorial reaction every time her virginity is the least bit endangered, to the point of being a Yandere. This culminates with him discovering her post-sex with Manny Ribera (his best friend) and shooting him dead right in front of her, only for her to tearfully reveal that they'd gotten married the previous day. At his mansion that night, amidst the attack by Alejandro Sosa's men, she appears semi-nude and drugged out, telling him he can have her now since he clearly wants her for himself, all the while shooting at him with a revolver. One of the attackers kills her; Tony kills him in turn and then basically loses his mind over her body. Of course, he's the one who has the swimming pool death. (Incidentally, Incest Subtext is a somewhat popular reading of Laertes's overprotective attitude toward the original Ophelia.)
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is framed as the story of how Jane was driven this particular shade of crazy.
  • In Come and See Glasha manages to switch from pretty but weird to merely creepy.
  • The titular character of Agnes of God fits this trope to a tee. Agnes is rather childlike and naïve, and she also constantly speaks of random things that make sense only after being pieced together. It is unclear whether she was born mentally challenged; she says she was "dropped on her head" as a baby. The local doctor, Martha, is never sure whether Agnes is really mentally challenged or it's a result of her mother's virtually imprisoning her for years.
  • Ofelia of Pan's Labyrinth. Maybe... Averted, in the end: according to Word of God, everything she saw in the Underworld was real.
  • Mal from Inception. She was driven mad after being unable to tell between dreaming and reality, causing her to kill herself.
  • Part of the attraction Blue has to Baby Doll in Sucker Punch is that she appears to be this. But she's really exploiting Obfuscating Stupidity to plot to escape the asylum behind his back. When she's lobotomised, this trope is subverted.
  • Helena Ravenclaw is portrayed as more of an Ophelia in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In the book, she's more proud and haughty. In the film she's far more haunting and dreamlike.
    • Likewise Luna Lovegood; in the books she's not as physically attractive, but is every bit as 'loony'.
  • Eleanor in The Haunting (1963), as it's left open whether or not she's mentally ill or she's being haunted by ghosts. She spends the last act of the movie running around in her nightgown with her hair loose too.
  • Hinted at with Miss Jessel's ghost in The Innocents. This comes with Fridge Brilliance with the open-ended nature of the story - that Miss Giddens could be imagining the ghosts. She knows that Miss Jessel killed herself after her lover's death - and she's said to have a great imagination. So she's imagining Miss Jessel appearing as a ghostly Ophelia. For added bonuses, she killed herself by jumping into the lake.
  • PL Travers's mother in Saving Mr. Banks. Driven mad by her husband's alcoholism and illness, one night she walks to a river in her nightgown and nearly drowns. Thankfully her daughter stops her - and she immediately is horrified at what she's almost done.
  • French Actress Isabelle Adjani plays characters which almost always is this.
  • The Trope Namer herself is the main protagonist of Ophelia, a Perspective Flip on Hamlet. She starts out perfectly sane, but by the third act she's dancing about in her undershift, randomly bursting into song, giggling or babbling nonsense, handing out flowers and occasionally lashing out physically at people, before drowning herself in the river. This version actually turns out to be a subversion; while Ophelia does temporarily have an emotional breakdown, she is only pretending to be completely insane as part of her plan to undermine and escape Claudius. Everyone but Claudius and Horatio are fooled; Horatio is in on the plan, while Claudius can't do anything too nasty to her because he'll look like an asshole being cruel to a poor, innocent girl gone mad with grief.
  • Spencer: Diana is portrayed as a beautiful young princess who becomes increasingly unstable from the pressure she feels. She goes from purposefully arriving late at family functions to stick it to her in-laws to wandering around her childhood home at night and hallucinating Anne Boleyn.

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Elain becomes this in A Court of Wings and Ruin, becoming only semi-lucid, rambling in strange ways, locking herself up, and generally wasting away.
  • Hurog has the protagonist's mother. Her abusive husband, and (maybe) life in the Haunted Castle Hurog caused her to drug herself with herbs, but she's not really there when she didn't take something, either. She's fond of her garden and flowers, and occasionally says something that makes sense in a weird way.
  • Dorothy Must Die: Ozma is this due to Dorothy using magic to fry her brain.
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins has not one but two Ophelias, Anne Catherick, the titular woman in white, and her near-doppelganger, (and secret half-sister) Laura Fairlie. Both are sane (although seemingly at least a bit odd in Anne's case) when confined, in turn, to an insane asylum by the villain in a Batman Gambit involving substituting one for the other, but both are driven mad by their incarceration there.
  • Catherine of Wuthering Heights has attacks of this towards the end.
  • Marianne Engel from The Gargoyle. Surprisingly, it is she who helps the (seriously injured) main character, and not the other way round.
  • Jeanne from Charles Baxter's Shadow Play could have had a touch of this in her young years: she was apparently rather pretty, but lived in her own universe. When she got older, she turned into a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • In The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott, a bride carried off and raped on her wedding day wanders the highlands decked with flowers and singing.
  • The Madness of Sweeney has a male example in the titular character. King Suibhne's madness consists of wandering the Irish countryside reciting poetry.
  • While still a child, Jane Austen parodied the hell out of this in her spoof romance Love and Freindship (sic). When the husbands of the two heroines suddenly die in front of them, they each exhibit the standard Gothic romance reactions — one swoons, while the other has a fit of madness. This proves the healthier choice, as lying unconscious for two hours on the wet grass gives the other girl a cold that ultimately kills her, and she dies exhorting her friend "Beware of swoons, dear Laura. . . . A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is I dare say conducive to Health in its consequences—Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint."
  • Fuchsia Groan in Gormenghast. Unusually, she's rather more like this earlier on, with the dark events of the plot giving her a more conventionally depressed outlook. She does ultimately drown herself, although it's unclear how deliberate it was.
  • Subverted with Elfine in Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons — Elfine runs around in a green cloak "like a Pharisee of the woods" (i.e., a faerie), making cryptic remarks, until the main character, Flora, gives her a makeover and sets her up with a cute guy. Then she's normal.
  • In the YA novel Black Jack by Leon Garfield, the hero finds himself falling in love with Belle, a fragile young girl who's first encountered in a wood, having a vision of "A white tower with a shining top." She's been swinging between gentle strangeness and violent hysteria since an illness in childhood. Much of the drama turns on whether her madness is the result of an illness exacerbated by neglect and isolation (in which case it's assumed to be curable) or hereditary (in which case it's not).
  • Margaret Atwood has an interest in the trope and deconstructs it in The Blind Assassin. The narrator's sister, Laura, is a beautiful, intensely spiritual young woman given to loopy statements, odd activities like painting "the colour of people's souls" onto old photographs and falling/jumping into rivers. She seems incapable of fending for herself and is revealed on the first page to have driven a car off a bridge, killing herself, at the age of twenty-five. However it later appears that it's only in the arid context of pre-war upper class society that she can't function, and there are people who have a vested interest in discrediting her insights as mere insane babble.
    • Charis in The Robber Bride has also exhibited symptoms of this, the more so during her university days. Arguments can be constructed on both sides of the crazy/not crazy spectrum.
  • The Warlord Chronicles takes a moment out of deconstructing Arthurian Legend and pulling it into The Dung Ages to deconstruct this trope in the person of Olwen the Silver, an insane Cloudcuckoolander first used by Merlin, (her etheral beauty, a little paint and special effects convinced people that she was a spirit and Merlin was summoning the old gods back to Britain) and later by Merlin's Knight Templar former pupil Nimue.
  • In Mary Jo Putney's ''The Wild Child', the titular heroine appears to be mutely insane or at least mentally handicapped, but in the pretty, well-groomed way. However it turns out she's just really stubborn and unsocial.
  • In Harry Potter Ariana Dumbledore, minus the Talkative Loon part.
    • Luna Lovegood has shades of this, more-so in the movies.
  • In The Black Obelisk by Erich Maria Remarque, there is Genevieve Terhoven, who is schizophrenic and has an alternate personality "Isabelle". In full accordance with the trope, the main character falls in love with her in her crazy "Isabelle" mode when she has visions and speaks in riddles; she also returns his feelings. However, she eventually recovers and returns to her sane "Genevieve" mode, in which she doesn't even remember ever meeting the protagonist.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: Lady Pole looks like an Ophelia to the casual observer. In fact, she's under an enchantment that forces her to spend every night dancing to exhaustion in Faerie and causes her to speak nonsense whenever she tries to tell anyone about it. Adding to it, once one of her friends is taken away to Faerie to join the dances she attempts revenge on the man responsible with a pistol, though she fails.
  • Odiana in Codex Alera is something like this trope... as well as most of the others listed under "compare/contrast". She's also an Unhappy Medium, a powerful empath driven completely nuts by slavery, gang-rape, and brainwashing. She's gorgeous, cheerfully open about her own insanity, and way out there.
  • Wicked Lovely
  • In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Blue Angel, the Doctor is basically like this. Since he's the Eighth Doctornote , the prettiness and long, unkempt hair are a given, and he's rather sickly and delicate, he wanders barefoot through his garden (in the snow, even!), and either all of Doctor Who is actually just his psychotic delusions, or he's a Waif Prophet Dreaming the Truth. And, like Ophelia, he's pregnant. Sort of.
  • From The Hunger Games: Katniss near the end of the third book, after killing Coin. Annie fulfills this trope much more consistently, being unstable at the best of times. She even has the water motif (she's from the seaside District 4 and won the Hunger Games when she was young by swimming through her flooded arena while the other tributes drowned).
  • In Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle, the supporting character Auri is a shy young woman who lives underneath The University, hiding from almost everyone. She makes grave but seemingly nonsensical statements and presumably was driven mad by the University's demand on her mental faculties. The companion novella based on her, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, provides more insight into her mind, showing that she believes that all inanimate objects are sapient and is consumed by an OCD-like obsession with rearranging things to make them "right." There are also hints at a Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Eponine from Les Misérables is actually compared to the Trope Namer.
  • In Dragonlance Raistlin and Caramon's mother is written as never having been quite sane and likely driven mad by her latent magic. She's described as being ethereal, beautiful and will often talk to people who aren't there or randomly start dancing. Eventually she slipped into an episode that killed her when she couldn't be woken up.
  • Isabelle Angelfield in The Thirteenth Tale. Highlighted and foreshadowed by an incident where she falls into a lake at a picnic.
  • Lee Smith's epistolary novel Fair and Tender Ladies features the narrator's sister Silvaney, who is depicted as ''odd' (possibly retarded or mentally ill) and is eventually institutionalized and lobotomized. Prior to that, however, she runs around singing and laughing, and is mostly let alone by her family. This trope was especially prominent in the musical version produced by the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
  • In Alethea Kontis's Enchanted, "full of woe" Wednesday is dreamy and poetical and ends up leaving human lands for the fairy at the end.
  • Susie becomes this in the second half of Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile; although she chops off her long hair after being committed to a psychiatric hospital.
  • Two gender inversions of this occur in Doctrine of Labyrinths by Sarah Monette. In Melusine, wizard and former prostitute Felix Harrowgate goes mad from Mind Rape and wanders around saying things that people either don't understand or don't believe, sometimes to their peril. Vincent Demabrien, a boyhood acquaintance whom Felix meets again in The Mirador, is both a gender inversion and a subversion, as his affinity for ghosts makes him seem insane, but he really isn't. Interestingly, both characters are pretty boys described as delicate and beautiful.
  • Vibeke in Scott G. F. Bailey's The Astrologer is a full-blown Expy for Ophelia, as the novel is a Shout-Out to Hamlet. Unlike the original, though, she's having a secret relationship with the King, who has impregnated her, and she commits suicide by burning herself alive atop her father's corpse.
  • Felix's Missing Mom in the Chilean novel Golondrina de Invierno (Winter Sparrow). Her son describes her as gentle, sweet and a bit sad, and after her death he learns that she spent months in an institution when Felix himself was very young; the discovery causes him to fall in a brief Drowning My Sorrows state, as he believes he has inherited her mental unstability. And he's right: later in the book he mentally collapses and becomes a Rare Male Example, but he ultimately manages to get better.
  • Nerissa from The Underland Chronicles, with a side order of Waif Prophet and Blessed with Suck to boot.
  • This is what happens to Sisa in Noli Me Tangere after her son Crispin, was killed. All she ever says in the streets before she dies is Basilio! Crispin!
  • Martha in Clocks that Don't Tick. She's attractive, day dreams often, and is prone to extreme mood swings.
  • Eleanor Flood in the Adrian Mole series: a beautiful but unbalanced woman who becomes obsessed with Adrian when he hires her as a tutor for his sons. She ultimately burns his house down because he rejected her.
  • V. C. Andrews has a few examples: The protagonist of My Sweet Audrina has strong echoes of this trope, although she's not so much mentally ill as has been brainwashed by her family. Both Celeste in the Gemini series and Karen in the Shadows series become the trope when they end up committed to psychiatric hospitals for life.
  • Celeste Draconi, nee Sterling, in the Black Blade series. Her madness is mainly the fault of her abusive husband.
  • Alison Sedge in The Crystal Prison, the second Deptford Mice book. She was driven insane after the death of her love, Jenkin, stopped taking care of her appearance, and withdrew into her own little dream world.
  • The original The Ring and its Japanese film adaptation actually subverts this in the case of its main villain, Sadako Yamamura. While she is the source of the cursed video tape and died by being trapped in a well, she wasn't insane in the usual definition of the word (though she did have the tendency to make other people insane); the one that fits as Ophelia better is actually Sadako's mother, Shizuko, who was described as weird and liked to babble unintelligible sentences near the sea (the film heavily implies that she conceived Sadako by having an affair with an oceanic deity).
    • However, the trope is played straight in the US remake with Sadako's counterpart, Samara. She was an outright Creepy Child who drove horses to commit suicide and her adoptive mother to be confined in a mental facility. Her adoptive and biological mothers (Anna and Evelyn, respectively) are also examples of this: Anna felt remorse for killing Samara and eventually committed suicide by jumping into the sea, while Evelyn tried to drown Samara and as a result is confined to a sanitarium.
  • Shutter Island and its film adaptation has Edward Daniels ‒ oh sorry, Andrew Laeddis' wife, Dolores Chanal (AKA Rachel Solando). She had an undisclosed mental illness described as "insects in her brain" and had tried to seek treatment, which Andrew ignored. Then she killed their three children. By drowning them in a lake. Followed by Andrew shooting her. "Why are you all wet, baby?"
  • Bernard Cornwell's Uhtred series, set in Alfred the Great's England, sees Thyra, sister of Jarl Ragnall, taken captive after a raid that kills their father. It takes the best part of two years for Ragnall and his foster-brother Uhtred to fulfil the blood-feud with the captors and rescue Thyra. Taken hostage by the family who sexually abused her as an adolescent note  Kjartan's family have taken revenge on Thyra by making her a sex slave and subjecting her to repeated gang-rapes. When Uhtred and Ragnall capture the castle where she is being held, they see a wild-eyed scarecrow of a woman with dead flowers tangled in her hair, dressed only a filthy matted cloak. Understandably, her ordeal has driven her crazy. Kjartan and his son, the principal abusers, die horribly.
  • Multiple characters in Pareidolia and the Gilded Scar are deconstructions of this trope.
  • Lysa Arryn/Tully from A Song of Ice and Fire. Her sister Catelyn Stark reminisces on how she used to be a shy, naive and pretty young woman, but years of being trapped in a loveless marriage to an older man and suffering through several pregnancies and miscarriages have taken a toll on both her looks and sanity. The only remnant of her former beauty is her long red hair. As Lady of the Eyrie, she has become paranoid and delusional, clinging to her only surviving child and hopelessly pining for a man who's only using her for his own schemes. She is also associated with water, due to being a Tully from the Riverlands.
  • The Lunar Chronicles has Princess Winter, the series' version of Snow White, who is considered the most beautiful girl on Luna, more beautiful than her stepmother Queen Levana, a kind and sweet girl who wants her people to be happy and who is a genuinely loving person, and who suffers from Lunar sickness which leaves her with horrific hallucinations (the walls bleeding, her body turning to ice, people becoming corpses...). She's also worsening her sickness by not using her gift, while well aware of the consequences of continuing to avoid using her powers.
  • In Goodbye! I'm Being Reincarnated!, because of the way Standard Japanese Fantasy Settings work, Angelia is both a Princess Classic and a Shell-Shocked Veteran who's fought on the front lines of a war. The result was a perfectly decent, even naive young woman who commits full-tilt murder enthusiastically and has few sexual scruples. To be fair, her plan is logical and will save a lot of people...she's just wilfully oblivious to the suffering that's necessary to make it happen. And she's unlucky enough to live in a setting where people can only travel interdimensionally by dying first.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Joss Whedon loves his gibbering brunette Ophelias.
    • There's River Tam from Firefly, who is also a Cassandra of course, but her lyrical madness fits the trope to the letter, and Ophelia's river is even there in her name. She has a faithful Laertes in Simon.
    • Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "Do you like daisies? Hmm? I plant them, but they always die. Everything I put in the ground withers and dies." She was driven mad by being terrorized by Angelus.
    • You could make an argument for Faith as well. Even before her Face–Heel Turn she had serious issues, and though some of them were resolved when she joined the Mayor, most of them got much, much worse.
    • Glory's sanity-stealing powers provided an entire season of these at the ready. Most notably, Tara.
    • The ensouled Spike has his own moments of Male Ophelia Syndrome. This is my place! You need permission to be here! You need a special slip with a stamp!
    • And frankly, "Restless" turned the entire cast of Buffy into this.
    • In Angel, Fred was stuck in a demon dimension where humans were treated like cattle for five years and, after escaping her captors, stayed in a cave by herself for months until the team ended up in the dimension and saved her. She recovers relatively quickly, but gets in a fair amount of babbling and scribbling on the walls first. "You're not real! Or I'm not real. Somebody here isn't real and I suspect it's you..."
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gives us Aida, the Life Model Decoy, who descends slowly into this the more sentient she becomes. Culminates near the end of the Framework arc, after creating a virtual world that she traps the agents in, where she rules a dictatorship as Madame Hydra, she manages to finally create a human (or rather, Inhuman) body for herself, with actual emotions instead of simulations of such. She becomes increasingly erratic thanks to experiencing true emotions for the first time, eventually exploding into a violent, murderous temper. By this point, she actually adopted the human name 'Ophelia' (though this was from the comics rather than referencing this trope).
      • A season earlier, Daisy herself was briefly this, as she recovered from Hive's brainwashing. She had delusions about being trapped on Maveth, wore dishevelled clothing, and broke down multiple times.
      • Coulson also provided a middle aged male example before this, thanks to the effects of the T.A.H.I.T.I. process used to resurrect him. The process left multiple people in this state, and the solution to it didn't fix matters; after it began to happen to him, Coulson became concerned about it happening to Daisy (who was saved from certain death using the same chemical), and the fact it didn't do this to her became a sign that she's not completely human.
  • Crime Scene: The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel: Mentally-ill Canadian tourist Elisa Lam, whose tragic death became an obsession for internet sleuths, is viewed as this by many of the amateur investigators, who pour over her Tumblr posts and romanticize her.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Doctor's Wife", Idris/the TARDIS is this when she's put into human form. Of course, experiencing your own past, present, and future at the same time would make anyone a bit mad.
    • When Susan Foreman is in her more alien moods, she becomes like this, particularly in "The Edge of Destruction", which she spends drifting around waifishly in a long kimono-like dress babbling about visions in her mind, staring blankly into space with her big sad eyes, and shredding furniture with scissors while screaming and crying hysterically. (When she's in a more human mood, she's The Ingenue.)
    • There's also the Big Bad's daughter in "The Crimson Horror", although she is not so much mad as desperately craving for affection. And blind.
  • "All the Sinners, Saints", a thoroughly depressing, Shoot the Shaggy Dog episode of Without a Trace, features Katie, a beautiful young woman who's suffered from a severe and apparently untreatable mental illness for years and believes she's possessed and vanishes after suffering visions of a murder. after discovering that she committed the murder in question, she slits her wrists in a bath, fulfilling the trope's association with water.
  • Skins:
    • Anorexic Cassie is an Ophelia who just about manages to function socially, except for when she... doesn't. When thoroughly out of it as she attempts suicide, she is seen dancing ethereally in floaty clothes on a hilltop bench against the setting sun.
    • Subverted in the second series. The Ophelian tendencies go out of the window and it's just plain disturbing when she's out of it.
    • Effy straddles the line between "pretty" and "disturbing" during the fourth series.
  • There was an age where every Hispanic Soap Opera heroine snapped in an Ophelia Phase if broken enough. Given its roots in Victorian romantic literature, it's not a surprise. They tended to get back into sanity in time for their Roaring Rampage of Revenge, although by the time they snapped back they had already do something unforgivable, like giving their newborn to beggars.
  • In The Addams Family, Morticia's older sister (also played by Caroline Jones in the series; seen for about two seconds in the movies) fits much of this trope. She wears flowers in her hair (if you try to pluck one, her leg lifts up); she's vague at least, though not babbly; and she's very good at karate, not noticing that it hurts when she flips men to the ground. Oh, did I mention her name is Ophelia?
  • In an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena is driven mad by the Furies. Oh, she can still kick butt (in a Three Stooges style) but she suddenly wants to weave daisies in her hair.
  • CSI: NY:
    • "Night, Mother" has a suspected murderer, who seems dazed and begins babbling about law proceedings. As it turns out, she's just a sleepwalker that only just woke up. Bonus points for her name actually being Ophelia.
    • "The Untouchable" has a lovely young murder victim, shown in flashback to have searched out Mac to personally report a crime to him because she trusted him due to reading about him in the paper. She always spoke in confusing non-sequiturs, referred to the perps as various members of the infamous Chicago Black Sox scandal, and would abruptly leave without ever giving Mac all the details. Jo notes that, with her other symptoms, she was probably suffering from a severe case of OCD. Danny later finds her daily pill sorter...full and covered with a thick layer of dust.
  • Annie from Community, especially back in her Adderall days.
  • Daisy on Being Human. Bit of an Actor Allusion, as the actress Amy Manson also played Lizzie Siddal, the model of the famous pre-Raphaelite painting Ophelia on Desperate Romantics.
  • In Sons of Anarchy Opie fills this role as part of the Hamlet setting update. After Donna's death, he becomes, like his Shakespearian counterpart, melancholy and suicidally crazy.
  • Lila West from Season 2 of Dexter is stunningly beautiful and possesses an artistic streak with which she sculpts a Room Full of Crazy. She also has some unfortunate kleptomaniac, arsonist and Yandere tendencies.
  • Helena from Orphan Black is beautiful, ethereal, one hell of a dancer...and all-around Ax-Crazy.
  • Sienna Blake in Hollyoaks is portrayed this way.
  • The Mad Hatter from Once Upon a Time is a gender inverted version. After being trapped in Wonderland, he became willing to break and corrupt and is generally not the sanest person to be around, especially after Regina steals his hat. It's somewhat justified as he told his daughter that he would only leave her with the neighbors for a day, and ends up trapped in Wonderland constantly worried about her.
  • Janine in The Handmaid's Tale starts off defiant, but after losing an eye for sassing Aunt Lydia she becomes this.
  • Game of Thrones: Daenerys Targaryen eventually becomes a darker take on this trope. She is a very beautiful and elegant Dragon Rider who seems almost otherworldly at times...and as of the end of Season 8, is decidedly not sane.

  • The basis for the Emilie Autumn album Opheliac, which was described by Autumn as "being another drowning story". And as the album is somewhat autobiographical, the attractiveness part is arguably passed too.
  • Florence + The Machine used this idea in at least The Drumming Song off of the Between Two Lungs album. Other songs also feature this idea, and any Drinking Game involving how often she mentions drowning will quickly result in liver failure.
  • The folk song Maid in Bedlam
  • The Doors: Jim Morrison a poem in tribute to Brian Jones, guitarist for The Rolling Stones, which compared him to Ophelia; Jones had drowned in a swimming pool.
  • Rufus Wainwright name drops Ophelia in the song "Memphis Skyline", which is about his friend Jeff Buckley, who died by accidental drowning in the Wolf River after he waded in, fully dressed, shouting the lyrics of "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Daffney Unger patterned herself after Harley Quinn from Batman and WCW, envisioned her as an expy to Mallory Knox. You know, criminally insane people? WCW also put her in a wedding gown match with Miss Hancock so apparently no one thought it took away from the appeal.
  • Victoria was WWE's version. Despite being mad to the point of seeing and interacting with things that simply were not present, an affinity swinging heavy metal objects and questionable relationship with Stevie Richards, she still got put in the bikini and other photo shoots on the website.
  • A.J. Lee dipped into this when Daniel Bryan told her he wished she'd never been born. She eventually became known for skipping around the ring, usually with her hair in Girlish Pigtails and with a childishly innocent expression on her face. Depending on the week, she'd sometimes switch between this and Yandere.

  • The Goon Show used Camp Gay character Flowerdew (voiced by Peter Sellers) in this way in The Canal. His lines include "This is madness, do you hear me? Madness!" and "I'm a daisy, father's a plum, that's why we stoned him. I hear music and there's only Max Geldray there." In the episode's convoluted insurance swindle plot, the canal gives the water aspect.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Then, there's Dolores Whateley in Deadlands. Ethereally beautiful? Check. Long, raven-black hair? Check. Access to mind-breaking knowledge? Check. Dancing through the graveyard at night singing nursery rhymes to her "friends" in the graves? Ooh. That's a big check. In the short-lived Deadlands CCG, she provided some of the best Flavor Text, such as the quote on the "Event Card" where every aced character became playable again for exactly one round.
    Dolores: Everyone's coming out to play!
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade we're provided with an entire vampire clan of these, courtesy of the Malkavians. Zig-Zagged, in that while some of them are genuine Ophelias, just as many are Ax-Crazy or Psychopathic Manchildren, or have less obvious kinds of crazy like personality disorders or compulsions, and a fair number are just pretending to be The Ophelia to put the rest of the world off their guard.
  • The lore for Dreamweavers in The Chronicles of Aeres notes that this is a common archetype for them, since they a) are permanently torn between the waking and dreaming worlds, and b) they are largely made up of Twilight Elves.

  • Hamlet: Ophelia is the Trope Namer. She starts out the play as a proper young lady, obedient to her father, even when he tells her she must end her relationship with Prince Hamlet, which means a lot to her. When Hamlet begins to fake his antic disposition (or actually go nuts, depending on your reading), Ophelia bears the brunt of his crazy behavior, which includes verbal abuse both public and private. Hamlet then kills Ophelia's father, and her sanity decays quickly. In a chilling scene, she walks around the King, Queen, and her own brother, without recognizing any of them, but strewing flowers (in performance the flowers are sometimes depicted as weeds, or as figments of her imagination), singing, and sobbing. A little later, the Queen enters with a report of Ophelia's death by drowning, saying she was so distracted that she didn't even realize the danger when she fell into a river and sank. But the men who dig her grave darkly assert she was Driven to Suicide. Ophelia remains a popular figure for art, poetry, and reinterpretation.
  • King John,: Constance reads like a subversion, but she precedes the writing of Hamlet by two years. Constance suffers the loss of her little son, Arthur, and everyone around her says she is mad. But when Constance enters the stage, she sharply rebukes that she is still completely sane, that if she was mad, she wouldn't feel each grief as keenly as she does. Stephen Greenblatt hypothesizes that Constance's monologue is based on Shakespeare's grief over the death of his son.
  • Probably inspired by Shakespeare's example, any young woman in Renaissance drama who enters "with her hair about her ears" (i.e. down).
  • William Shakespeare himself parodied this type with the Jailer's Daughter in The Two Noble Kinsmen.
  • Shakespeare uses a male example in King Lear. After the titular king has been undermined by his two scheming eldest daughters - and possibly driven mad with regret over banishing his beloved Cordelia - he flees the castle and goes out into the stormy night. He reappears with flowers in his hair, clearly having gone mad. The Despair Event Horizon gets even worse when Cordelia is hanged. He dies convincing himself he can see her regaining consciousness when she's clearly dead.
  • Mary Tyrone in the final scene of Long Day's Journey Into Night, when she wanders into the room so intoxicated by morphine that she thinks she's a young convent girl again and rambles accordingly. Her acerbic son James even lampshades this: "The mad scene. Enter Ophelia!"
  • Some productions choose to go down this path with post-Villainous Breakdown Lady Macbeth.
  • Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. Tennessee Williams' use of this trope is believed to be inspired by his own life. Williams was very close to his sister Rose, who was described as a "slim beauty"; she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent much time in mental hospitals before having a lobotomy that incapacitated her. Williams never got over it and it is believed to have played a part in his drug addiction and alcoholism.
  • Some productions of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street do this to Johanna. The movie skips it but doubles down on her mother, Lucy, becoming this.
  • Diana of Next to Normal is a deconstruction of this trope. Her husband, Dan talks about how wild and beautiful she was as a college student, but got worse as time went on. The show makes a point to show there's nothing mystical or glamorous about mental illness.
  • Lucy Westenra becomes this trope as a vampire in Dracula: a Love Stronger Than Death, down to the loose hair, white gown, and flower crown. This is a big change from the book, where she's an utter monster after her transformation.
  • The Oresteia's rendition of the aforementioned Princess Cassandra zigzags the trope around. This beautiful Fallen Princess from Troy who has been taken to Argos as Agamemnon's concubine and servant is among the few characters who is clearly aware of what's going on and knows what will happen, but since she's the Trope Namer for Cassandra Truth after being cursed by Apollo, everyone else believes she's been driven mad by her ordeals... until she begins to describe the bloody story of the city of Argos and Agamemnon's lineage as clearly as if she had been there, which is impossible for obvious reasons, so the Elders of Argos start showing more sympathy to her plight. Not that it helps her when she's killed by Clytemnestra almost immediately after Agamemnon dies.
  • "Mad Scenes" were a popular convention of early 19th Century French and Italian opera, frequently afflicting the soprano heroine. They are famously difficult to sing and were often written as a way for a particularly talented singer to show off her technical prowess in a dramatically plausible way.
    • Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. She stabs her forced bridegroom Arthur to death, then shows up babbling (re: singing) madly about her beloved Edgard in the middle of the wedding party - blood splattered dress and all, few before she passes away as well. (In the original novel, Walter Scott's "Bride of Lamermoor" which was Very Loosely Based on a True Story, Lucia's madness is surprisingly un-aestheticised, so doesn't count).
    • Linda in Linda di Chamounix has the unusual good fortune of getting over it and having a happily-ever-after.
    • Marguerite in Gounod's Faust goes mad after falling pregnant and committing infanticide, and sings, of course, about flowers.
    • Elvira, the heroine of Bellini's I Puritani, goes mad after her beloved Arturo apparently jilts her (he was actually on an important spy mission). She spends all of act II and most of act III in a very extended mad scene before being reunited with Arturo and getting a happy ending.
    • Anna Bolena in Donizetti's opera of the same name fades in and out of madness at the place of execution. She imagines she is back at her wedding day to the King, and is terrified lest her true lover, Percy, should discover her treachery. She comes out of it at the end to go to her death with dignity and with dubious words of forgiveness for Enrico and Giovanna on her lips.
    • Imogene in Vincenzo Bellini's Il Pirata loses it completely as her former lover turned Pirate is led to his execution. She ends the scene with a plea to the sun to veil its light, so she will not have to witness the hanging of her true love.
    • Ambroise Thomas has an actual Ophelia in his operatic version of Hamlet complete with a mad scene complete with flowers and visions of mermaids.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan parody the type with Mad Margaret in Ruddigore, whom the stage directions describe as "an obvious caricature of theatrical madness." Her supposed madness does no more than make her a Cloudcuckoolander (and a sympathetic one, to boot). In the second act, she's mostly reformed but sometimes bursts into hysterical fits, which can be quieted by reminding her of the word "Basingstoke" (an English town which is noted for not being Birmingham; both towns start with the same letter as Bedlam, though this is not mentioned in the play).
  • Male example: In the Stravinsky opera The Rake's Progress, Tom imagines himself as Adonis after he goes insane.
  • In Elisabeth, Sisi visits mental hospitals in her spare time. At one of them, a patient named Windisch proceeds to loudly claim that she is the true Empress Elisabeth and Sisi is an impostor who should be locked up. Productions often have Windisch's long hair braided like the empress' famous long hair, with flowers to imitate the star-shaped hair decorations in the famous Winterhalter portrait, if not recreating a mad version of said portrait altogether. In the 2018 Takarazuka Revue production, Windisch carries a tattered white fan that the black-clad Empress exchanges for her black one. Elisabeth envies Windisch and wishes she could openly be The Ophelia.

    Video Games 
  • Ophelia from Blood: Caleb's backstory mentions her home was burned down by the Cabal after her husband tried to leave them. She is left there for some time, mindlessly babbling on and blaming her husband's cowardice for the death of her son. She, well, gets better, then worse, then better again.
  • Rennala from Elden Ring. Once the greatest sorceress in the Lands Between, a massive Trauma Conga Line involving her husband leaving her for Marika (and turning his wedding gift from her into a symbol of loyalty to his new wife, for shame), her daughter Ranni committing suicide (sort of), and her sons fighting each other in a ruinous civil war has completely broken her. The first phase of her boss fight consists of you beating up her students (a horde of childlike failed clones she's been creating as surrogates for her own lost children) that are casting a shield around her, then beating her up when it breaks, while she barely seems to be aware of your presence. The second phase has you deal with an illusion of her in her prime conjured by Ranni as a sort of automated defense system. Once you're done with that, the real one still doesn't seem aware you ever attacked her and will happily offer to respec your stats or change your appearance.
  • Yeesha from Uru has a touch of this- her speeches have her dancing about the room, using odd phrases, and describing the flow of water.
  • Princess Charlotte from Adam Cadre's interactive fiction work Varicella.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon: Alma appears to have many Ophelia-esque aspects, particularly in Project Origin. She is shown singing in several hallucinations, and in the prequel videos she dances around a doctor who she's been gleefully mind-raping. Water shows up often in her hallucinations, which makes sense, as, like Ophelia, she drowned to death (in her case, in amniotic fluid). And her hair in her "child" form tends to be wild and frazzled.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Similar to Casca, Danua's trauma has left her mentally and emotionally debilitated, though to not as an extreme degree. While she retains enough to be self-sufficient and independent, she has difficulty speaking, sucks her thumb, and is overall very childish and naive.
  • Nintendo Wars: Penny from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin vacillates between being an Ophelia and being Ax-Crazy, mainly depending on the wishes of her stuffed Mr. Bear.
    Penny: Hee hee! Penny likes you... but Mr. Bear HATES YOU!
    Will: Why are you helping me?
    Penny: ...Because Mr. Bear told me to.
  • Lilian in Laura Bow.
  • Tira from the Soulcalibur games, who leans towards the "Ax-Crazy" variety.
  • This is the backstory of Nadia Grell in Star Wars: The Old Republic, bar that rather than being mentally ill, her talent with the Force was awakening and her species had no history or awareness of the Force. She snaps out of it when the Jedi teach her how to control her powers.
  • Ophelia's Superpowered Evil Side in Brütal Legend. Lampshaded as she uses a lot of metaphors for drowning when commanding her army, the Drowning Doom, to attack.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Sara from Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 is regarded as such by her grandfather Manfroy and the Loptyr cult. She's more of a slightly-off but otherwise functional Oracular Urchin, however, and she eagerly joins Leif's group as soon as she has the chance so she can strike out against her much hated grandpa.
    • Ninian from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade spends a brief time like this. When she's found in either Eliwood's or Hector's path, she's adrift in a small rowboat and totally amnesiac, so the cast takes her in since she can't be left alone. Soon it's shown why she's like that: she and Nils tried to escape from the Dread Isle to not be forced to open the Dragon Gate and call other dragons through it, with the help of Eliwood's captured father Elbert; however, Nils fell into the sea and the already unstable Ninian snapped, blocking everything from her mind. She doesn't recover until Nils reappears and snaps her out — and just in time, as she's Brainwashed and Crazy and just about to open the Dragon Gate under Nergal's orders. From then on she's mostly sane, if extremely shy and reserved.
    • Fire Emblem Fates: Despite having an actual character named Ophelia, she isn't really this trope and is more of a mix between Genki Girl and Cloudcuckoolander, plus some Shared Family Quirks. The real Ophelia-type character is Takumi in the Conquest path. He is a Long-Haired Pretty Boy who, in this particular path, falls into madness for several reasons: his hate and jealousy of the Avatar, his sorrow from losing his mother (actually, his Parental Substitute), his Inferiority Superiority Complex, and the depression he got from all of that. Following the water theme of Ophelia, his clothes are mostly blue and white, unlike his siblings who wear red and white - blue and white are both common color themes for water. Not to mention, the kanji for his name can be read as "ocean". Granted, he is actually under a huge More than Mind Control state caused by a water dragon god, but it doesn't change the fact he exhibits several archetypical traits of this trope. While both hate and sorrow are the reasons for his madness, the game emphasizes more on his hatred while fanworks emphasize more on his sorrow, perfectly depicting the "beautifully broken" trait of this trope (and sometimes reducing him solely to that). He also often babbles to himself in that path.
  • Depending on how well you do on a certain event, Garry from Ib can lapse into this temporarily or permanently. After being terrorized literally out of his wits, he begins babbling to himself and ignoring the world around him. He follows the tradition of male Ophelias, in that he is feminine, pretty, and gentle.
  • Phantom of the Opera, in Fate/Grand Order, can be interpreted as a Rare Male Example, particularly after his third ascension, due to his Mental Pollution skill which makes him incapable of understanding or being understood by anyone without the same level of distorted mentality and penchant for singing at seemingly inappropriate times. Best exemplified with the Prison Tower Event as he sings of love and envy before disappearing after being defeated.
  • In Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Senua is a more realistic version of this, if not an outright deconstruction considering how much she suffers because of her illness. She has experienced visual and auditory hallucinations all her life and is strongly implied to have schizophrenia or a similar disorder. She carries her dead boyfriend's head around and even talks to it, has long hair worn in messy braids, wears animal skins and furs, and is quite pretty (when she's not covered in gore) and otherworldly; her 'visions' and the voices she hears are seen as magical by her people, as they lack a modern understanding of mental health. Her lover Dillion never judged her for this and they had a mostly happy relationship. When Dillion was horribly killed, it triggered a psychotic break and it's not entirely clear how much of the game's events, if any, are actually happening or if it's just in Senua's head. The game's creators actually went to a lot of effort researching psychosis to portray her condition accurately.
  • Red Dead Redemption II has Agnes Dowd, a woman who became pregnant after a failed affair with her boyfriend. Her parents disapproved of their relationship to such an intense degree that her father killed him in front of her eyes, driving her into a murderous rage before hanging herself. Who do you get to hear this from? Her ghost.
  • OMORI gives us Basil, a cute and pretty blond who wears flowers in his hair and knows about flower language. Mari's death broke him, leading him to believe Sunny was possessed. He eventually goes completely insane and becomes a shut-in, possibly killing himself, and he attacks Sunny and accidentally stabs his eye should the latter stop him. The only thing preventing him from being a textbook example is that he's a guy.
  • Deconstructed in NEEDY STREAMER OVERLOAD. Ame is a pretty young woman and she's not well in the head, but her mental disorders are realistically portrayed as the debilitating condition it is.
  • In Pathologic 2, nearly all Mistresses. A Mistress is basically a hereditary shaman, someone who has Psychic Powers and directs the town's mystical aspects. Their precognition is very real, but it means they're often distracted by events in the spirit world, develop strange habits, and have their personalities warped. (Nina Used to Be a Sweet Kid before her powers as a Mistress bloomed.) There have been no male Mistresses.
    • In one case, the Ophelia is a daughter-figure to the protagonist. Little Murky lives out on the steppe, painting and talking to flowers (she believes dead people, like her parents, speak through them), showing hardly any interest in society. She somehow met the [Plague itself, which is weird even by the standards of the game, and adopting her requires that Artemy prevent the Plague-spirit from possessing her body. Food also helps, because it turns out that being aesthetically eerie full-time does not pay the bills.

    Visual Novels 
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
    • Shannon seems a perfectly normal, if shy Meido, until Will asks her to bring Kanon into the room with her, at which point she quite literally short-circuits. The entire seventh arc is spent showing just how broken this cutie is since it's revealed that she is Kanon, or rather, he's her alternate personality —to put it mildly.
    • By extension, not only is Shannon The Ophelia, but also her creator, Sayo "Yasu" Yasuda, also known as Beatrice and Kanon.
  • In the beta version of Katawa Shoujo Hanako Ikezawa would eventually become this. She already had a Dark and Troubled Past where her parents died in a fire, she was treated well at her orphanage but ostracized at her former school, and she saw her childhood crush die, which combined with her current anxiety didn't mix well. In her prototype arc, she snaps after believing she's caused her boyfriend's death. She's sent to the psychiatric wing of the hospital Hisao is staying at, but if Hisao visits her she thinks he's a ghost and a Bad End is caused when she kills him. If the player doesn't visit her and later avoids the sex scene they'd get the Bittersweet Ending: Hanako jumping in front of a train. The true Good End could have only been unlocked if you already beat Hanako's arc than played Lilly's arc, until an option to essentially make it Hanako's arc appeared.

    Web Animation 
  • Lacey of Lacey Games is one of these. A beautiful Moe girl who's supposedly a 2000s flash game mascot, Lacey at first appears to be a typical little girl Wish-Fulfillment character. However, throughout the series, Lacey is revealed to have a Dark and Troubled Past that left her absolutely insane.

    Web Comics 
  • Lucy of Bittersweet Candy Bowl after Michael is believed to have died during the hiking trip
  • Young Reisen of A Broken Winter is a rare male example. We're introduced to him sitting on the desk with his headphones in and the fire extinguishers merrily destroying his room, while he muses as to the music of the gods. It's portrayed as a very classic Ophelia moment.
  • Arkady of Freakangels
  • Dani becomes this post-time skip in Hooky. After thinking she sees Dorian die, her mind deteriorates. We later see her with hair that falls down to her waist, teary eyes, and barely able to remember any of her friends.

    Western Animation 
  • Quinn from Daria babbles nonsense and rubs mud on her face after she eats the "glitterberries" along with the rest of her family, save the title character.
  • When The Simpsons do their take on Hamlet, at one point someone says that Hamlet (played by Bart) was acting crazy, Ophelia (played by Lisa) says nobody outcrazies her, she proceeds to jump on the tables, kicking off food and singing before jumping off a window and into a pond...
  • Queen Skyla from Sky Dancers misses her husband so much she sleep-dances with him on the anniversary of his death.
  • Sarah Lynn from Bojack Horseman is a beautiful Pop Star driven to Alcoholism and Drug Addiction by the demands of Show biz and the pressures of becoming a child star at the age of three. She is often seen having very public breakdowns and being dissociated from reality, but is portrayed as a sympathetic, tragic character. She even has a painting of herself as Ophelia hanging over her bed in a cartoon parody of Millais's famous painting on the same subject so the creators make it pretty clear that we're meant to see her that way.