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They Called Me Mad!

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Iceland's marketing campaign for magmananas practically erupted onto the scene.

"Even I laughed at me when I invented this alien cross-species genetic analyzer! But I guess I showed myself!"

Scientists may be open to new ideas but are not by any means paragons of universal open-minded acceptance. This is heavily exaggerated in fiction. What does a peerage of scientists do when presented with amazing or disturbing theories that could seriously change everyone's worldview and/or revolutionize science by one of their fellows? Do they test out the theory themselves, analyze it thoroughly, or interview their fellow scientist in an effort to find any truth in his "wild" theories or disabuse him of them before he goes crackpot?

Of course not! Everyone knows that's not how you do research! The establishment will be fiercely jealous, and they'll mock him, never take a second glance at his theories, and do everything possible to discredit him, bury his ideas, and make him shunned in respectable scientific circles.

The outcomes are usually:

  • He will turn into a bona fide Mad Scientist and wreak havoc, usually motivated by personal gain or revenge on the scientists who dared to mock him. Parodies and/or extremely cliché examples may spout out lines like "They all laughed at me... THEY CALLED ME MAD! BUT I'LL SHOW THEM! I'LL SHOW THEM ALL!! BWAHAHAHAAA!"
  • He will become a slightly more tragic version of The Worm Guy, and be involved in a situation where his theories work. If everything goes smoothly, he will usually be accepted back into the community that once shunned him and his detractors forced to eat crow or discredit themselves. If it's related to The Men in Black or the Masquerade, his vindication will be personal, but still uplifting.
  • He will become an Ignored Expert if the "wild theory" is a premonition of a disaster. Most (usually all) of his detractors end up dead or recant and he is lauded a hero for preventing bigger casualties. That is, unless he's pragmatic, or the world-destroying type.
  • Usually, in real life, as the evidence mounts, the general view will eventually correct itself. If the scientific establishment is particularly slow to embrace the paradigm shift, then the theory and its inventor will be Vindicated by History.

Apart from purely scientific backlash, jealousy, and spite, there may also be pressure on them from other motivations; for example, if you claim your planet is not the center of the universe or that leaded petrol is unhealthy. Compare Ignored Expert.

Occasionally, they will be one screw short of becoming a Mad Scientist before this falling out, or have the typical personal tragedy motivating Professor Guinea Pig. In these cases, his peers aren't so much fools as they are (rightly) concerned that his experiments have fallen down the slippery slope of scientific inquiry into grave robbing, God-defying Mad Science.

At the outset of the story, he'll usually be on hard times, and probably have become a recluse or in a dead-end job. Or... will use their Super Prototype to branch into supervillainy.

Compare All of the Other Reindeer, And You Thought It Would Fail, and Who's Laughing Now? With variant #1 especially, this is frequently a motive behind Disproportionate Retribution.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Angel Cop, the friendly, unnamed mad scientist who rebuilt Raiden as a cyborg (no, not that Raiden) gloats that those who once mocked his genius would now be destroyed by it. Raiden makes short work of all the bad guys attacking the facility.
  • Mazinger Z subverts this. Mad Scientist Dr. Hell is not mad because they called him mad — they didn't. They called him dumb and useless — that is what set him off.
  • My Hero Academia: The scientist who first proposed the "Quirk Singularity Theory" note  seventy years prior to the story was disgraced and cast out, even to the point of homelessness, and disappeared shortly after, going on to serve All For One and aiding in the creation of the Nomu — thanks to his life-extending Quirk, Life Force, he's still serving him. It's explained that, since the world was still recovering from the massive societal upheaval that the emergence of superpowers brought, no one wanted to consider the possibility of some far-off apocalypse in the future, and found it easier to dismiss the whole thing. The Singularity Theory nowadays is considered fringe science at best, a delusional conspiracy theory at worst — however, there's mounting evidence that it might not be as crazy as people thought...
  • In Vividred Operation, it's stated that Kenjiro Isshiki has spent the last seven years ostracised from the scientific community after trying to convince people that the Alone were coming. The story starts with the Alone arriving just as he'd predicted - and just as he's finished a weapons system capable of beating them.

  • The old stage-comedy joke, "When I used to say I was going to be a comedian, people laughed. Well, they're not laughing now."

    Comic Books 
  • Dr. Will Magnus explains that this was his backstory in 52, fittingly given that he spends the entire comic struggling with mental illness. Not a single scientist took his theory that personality traits could be discovered in metals, save for Magnus's Evil Mentor Professor Morrow. It turns out that this theory is what led to the creation of the Metal Men, who he's rebuilt in secret. Upon finishing his speech, they appear to help him kill the madman who's been holding Magnus hostage.
  • While Grant and Shawn of Black Science could have developed their ideas within the scientific establishment, they choose private financing instead. This allows them to work without the resistance of the hidebound community. They plan to victoriously reveal functioning pillar tech as proof of their theories to stun the world.
  • In the Blake and Mortimer book The Yellow "M", this is the main motivation of the villain Dr. Septimus: he had published under a pseudonym a book detailing his theories about the "Mega Wave", a brain wave that if manipulated could actually control people. However, a group of people had discredited his theories, leading the book's publisher to sue them for libel and lose. This caused Septimus to later kidnap those people and the judge who presided over the case and commit various crimes to prove his theory (even going so far as using the technology to make the judge and the men who discredited him admit they were wrong and that they were complete fools to do so).
  • Necross the Hahaha Mad in Cerebus the Aardvark is an example that combines sorcery with Weird Science and winds up with his mind transferred into a giant golem.
  • The Mighty Thor: Jasper Whyte, creator of the Crypto-Man, rambled on how his peers ridiculed him before he brought his creation to life.
  • Shazam!: Dr. Sivana, Captain Marvel's archenemy, in his original version, was a scientist who was mocked because of his theories; this led indirectly to the death of his wife, and he swore revenge on society at large as a result. That resulted in a megalomaniac grudge so intense that when Captain Marvel revealed Sivana's beneficial inventions (that he himself considered useless for his criminal plans) and was granted the Nobel Prize for Physics in gratitude, he considered it an insult.
  • Superman: Jor-El, the biological father of Superman, was mocked for his claims that Krypton was doomed by the Science Council, until he was proven correct by the planet's destruction.
  • Transformers:
    • Transformers: Shattered Glass: Wheeljack had quite the memorable role as a mad scientist who was mocked for everything he did, and was eventually kicked out of the Autobots. He later shows back up with a couple of new friends, aka the Dinobots, though.
      "I'm not crazy! Everyone else is just blind to my genius! I'll show you I'm not crazy! I'll show every last one of them I'm not a foaming-mad megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur! As soon as I perfect my atomic super-mutant alloygators, you'll all see I wasn't crazy!!!"
    • The Transformers (Marvel): The UK run had Flame, a rogue Autobot Mad Scientist. Needless to say, he's a complete raving loony and spent many pages claiming that the (understandably very upset and disapproving) Autobot High Council were wrong to call him mad for trying to follow some of Megatron's plans For Science!. Given that he was responsible for a Zombie Apocalypse and nearly blowing up Cybertron by accident among other things, the Autobot High Council was pretty much right on the money to not listen to him.
    • The Transformers Megaseries has the Decepticon scientist Thunderwing, whose warnings about Cybertron’s impending environmental collapse were ignored by his peers and whose experimental "polydermal grafting" technology was rejected by Megatron on the grounds of being "unnatural", "misguided" and "ill-conceived". This didn’t stop him from carrying out his experiments, which had dire consequences for all of Cybertron.
    • Parodied with Brainstorm in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, whose designs keep getting rejected by the ethics committee because he's specifically trying to Troll said committee. He gets some very Mad Scientist lines, and they're usually played for laughs.
      Brainstorm: And to think — to think! — you said it couldn't be done!
      Cyclonus: On the contrary, I said I was confident you'd find a way to bring them back. In fact, I've been nothing but supportive since I brought you the wand.
      Brainstorm: Oh. Yeah. Sorry. Thanks to Rodimus, I'm conditioned to expect incomprehension, mockery, and boredom — usually in the space of thirty seconds.

    Comic Strips 
  • On the subject of a close relative of "They called me mad", one The Far Side comic features a mad scientist convention, with the special guest being the man who coined the phrase "Fools! I'll destroy them all!"
  • One memorable Mother Goose and Grimm single-panel strip had an anthropomorphic cow in a labcoat standing triumphantly over his Frankenstein-cow creation and declaring "Mad? Mad, they say? I'll show them just how mad I am!" The caption? "When mad cow disease goes untreated."

    Fan Works 
  • Gaz's Horrible Halloween of Doom: Invoked by Bill when he's rambling excitedly to himself after he's captured Gaz, who he thinks is a "Sugar Fairy".
    They all said I was crazy. They all said, "Oh, Bill, there's no such thing as Sugar Fairies that come out on Halloween." Oh, yeah? Well, who's laughing now, huh?

    Films — Animation 
  • Dr. Cockroach in Monsters vs. Aliens says the whole Mad Scientist cliche practically word-for-word complete with an evil laugh (he says crazy instead of mad) while working on a way to restore Susan to her normal size. He did turn himself into a human-cockroach hybrid, but apart from that seems pretty rational.
  • Subverted in Pokémon: Jirachi: Wish Maker. The mad scientist in question, a member of Team Magma, was shunned because his method of resurrecting Groudon didn't work. This leads him to become obsessed with finding a way to do it right, just so he can show them. He ends up succeeding, sort of, though it's definitely not what he expected.
  • The Mad Scientist from the Superman Theatrical Cartoons cites this as his motivation. They laughed at his ideas! Now he will destroy Metropolis!
  • In the Finale Movie of Teacher's Pet, the villain Dr. Ivan Krank has the main motivation of getting back at everyone who called him crazy, to the point that his Berserk Button is being called "wacko".
  • Trolls: Branch is a survivalist, not a scientist, but he still gets the following line after spending years preparing an underground bunker for a potential Bergen attack that could be coming any day in the present, which comes true when Chef finds Troll Village.
    Branch: Yeah, I really only have enough supplies down here to last me ten years, eleven if I'm willing to store and drink my own sweat, which I am. You all said I was crazy, huh? Well, who's crazy now? Me. Crazy-Prepared.
  • Up: Muntz's tragic backstory is that everyone did this to him after bringing back specimens of the bird he worked very hard to catch.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Asylum (1972 Horror): In this case, they literally called Dr. Byron mad for his goal of bringing his toy robots to life, which is why he's in Dunsmoor Asylum. Byron blames Rutherford for his being committed, and when he sees that Martin has written him off as insane, he goes on a brief rant about how he'll prove that he's not crazy... which he does by murdering Rutherford with one of his robots.
    Byron: That's right, go. Run away and hide from the truth like that idiot downstairs — but it won't do any good, you know! You can tell Rutherford for me! Tell him the truth will find him out! TELL HIM!
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos says he was called this in the past because of how he wanted to solve his planet's Overpopulation Crisis, which he felt would otherwise lead to their extinction. Considering that his solution was killing half the population, this reaction was justified, even if he ended up being right about their fate.
  • Dr. Abner Mellon of Ernest Rides Again, whose screwball theory that the Crown Jewels of England were stolen by a hitherto undocumented Revolutionary War unit who hid them in the barrel of Goliath, the largest cannon ever made, turns out (unsurprisingly) to be absolutely correct. Except that the "barrel" doesn't mean the cannon barrel, but one of its attached gunpowder kegs.
  • Uttered by Dr. Bernardo in Woody Allen's Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask. He was apparently kicked out of Masters & Johnson for his sexual research. His work includes forcing a man to have sex with a massive loaf of rye bread and putting the brain of a lesbian into the head of a man who works for the telephone company.
    Dr. Bernardo: It was I who discovered how to make a man impotent by hiding his hat!
  • The documentary Expelled claims that proponents of intelligent design regularly receive this treatment at the hands of the scientific community, which supports Darwinian evolution.
  • Dr. Hans Zarkov from Flash Gordon (1980), who becomes an Ignored Expert at the beginning of the movie for predicting... something. Something involving a galactic tyrant playing with volcanoes on Earth.
  • Frankenstein (1931): If not the Trope Maker, then this is certainly the Trope Codifier. The withdrawn and unappreciated Mad Scientist Henry Frankenstein feels sweet satisfaction after bringing his monster to life.
  • Ghostbusters: The trio of parapsychologists are, at the start of the franchise, not taken seriously by anyone and soon get dismissed from Columbia University. As it happens there is an outbreak of paranormal activity to vindicate them in short notice, otherwise they'd probably still be out of a job.
  • Kong: Skull Island: Bill Randa's assistant Dr. Houston Brooks — who survives him and goes on to be a recurring character in the MonsterVerse — tells San Lin that when he first presented a paper supporting the Hollow Earth theory in college, everyone in attendance except for Randa laughed at him. This was what led Randa to recruit Dr. Brooks into Monarch. Dr. Brooks is interested in Skull Island at least in part because he believes it's sitting atop a subterranean gateway into the Hollow Earth.
  • In The Man Who Changed His Mind, Dr. Laurience is already obsessed with proving his technique for swapping the mind and soul between bodies, but is driving into becoming a fullblown Mad Scientist when a council of Britain's greatest scientific minds reject his theory as insane.
    Dr. Laurience: I was the leading surgeon in Genoa - the greatest authority upon the human brain, until I told them something about their own brains. Then they said I was mad. Look at me. Am I mad?
  • MouseHunt: Ernie is bemoaning the accident by which the mayor, dining at his restaurant, happened to eat a cockroach and die. Ernie says the world's turning upon him.
    Ernie: The same thing happened to Galileo.
    Lars: Really? That's unbelievable. With a cockroach and everything?
  • In The Neanderthal Man, Professor Groves' fellow anthropologists think his theories that prehistoric man was smarter than modern man are absurd. It doesn't help that when he's asked for evidence, he starts yelling about how close-minded everyone else is.
    Groves: Lunacy, is it? In other words, you will never accept a new idea unless it is offered with proof? You have no vision, only sight! Small men, small views! You want proof, do you? Well, I'll give you proof! I'll show you such proof that no men have ever had!
  • Santo en El Tesoro de Drácula features a rare heroic version. El Santo, the famed Masked Luchador, claims to have invented a revolutionary new time machine during his downtime from wrestling. For some reason, Mexico's leading scientists don't take his ideas seriously. Ticked off by this rejection, Santo spends the rest of the movie trying to prove the mainstream scientists wrong by using the time machine to retrieve Dracula's lost treasure.
  • In Sky High (2005), Sue Tenny/Gwen Grayson originally became Royal Pain because, as a teenager, no one considered Gwen’s superpower important enough, and stuck Gwen with the sidekicks.
  • Stargate: Daniel Jackson's lecture about how Egyptologists have got it all wrong doesn't go down well. Overlaps with The Worm Guy.
  • Woman in the Moon: Professor Mannfeldt is laughed out of the room by his fellow scientists when he gives a lecture on sending expeditions to the Moon to exploit its resources. To be fair, we still haven't done the latter.

  • Bad Mermaids: The human Susan Silkensocks has spent years trying to prove the existence of mermaids and being disbelieved. She wrote a book called It Had a Tail (Stop Calling Me a Liar). Now she wants to capture mermaids and dig up mermaid buildings to create a tourist attraction so everyone will believe her.
  • Captain Underpants: Used for a Added Alliterative Appeal gag — Professor Pippy P. Poopypants was "giggled out of Georgetown, howled out of Harvard, yuk-yukked out of Yale, snickered out of Stanford, and chuckled out of Chatanooga State Technical Community College". Not because of his inventions (they didn't even get around to seeing them), but because of his name.
  • Discworld:
    • A minor character from the history seems to have had to deal with this trope. Achmed The Mad, Necromancer and compiler of the Necrotelicomnicon, was apparently irked by his most common moniker and preferred to be known as 'Achmed the I Just Get These Headaches'.
    • This is so common on the Disc that its absence is noted by The Igor in Thief of Time, who comments that he finds it easier to perform his work if his employer is indulging in an Evil Laugh and saying things like "They said I was mad, but this will show them!". In Making Money, an Igor asks his employer, who is about half a step away from being a Mad Scientist, to invoke this trope before he performs a dangerous experiment.
  • This is Waver Velvet's motivation for joining the Holy Grail War in Fate/Zero. After Lord El-Melloi tore up his "delusional" thesis,note  Waver stole the catalyst needed to summon his Servant and entered the war in hopes to prove that his low-birth status didn't hinder his skill in magic. Ironically enough, and to Waver's credit, he ends up the only Master to survive the conflict with both his life and most of his sanity intact.
  • The astronomer in The Little Prince who discovered Asteroid B-612 got this treatment - not for anything particularly revolutionary in his work, but because he presented it while wearing traditional Turkish costume. A subsequent presentation in western dress was better received.
  • Alfred Bester's short time-travel story "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed" notes that "The patient reader is too familiar with the conventional mad professor, undersized and over-browed, creating monsters in his laboratory which invariably turn on their maker and menace his lovely daughter. This story isn't about that sort of make-believe man. It is about Henry Hassel, a genuine mad professor..." It goes on to contain one of the best lines from short SF: "In exactly seven and one-half minutes (such was his rage) he put together a time machine (such was his genius)."
  • In President's Vampire, this trope is name-checked by an actual Mad Scientist, Johann Konrad. Interestingly, it's implied that when he was still mortal, he got this treatment not because his theory was revolutionary, but because of nauseating methods he was using.
    Konrad: And to think they called me mad...
  • Non-SF example: In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Dying Detective", Culverton Smith is a skilled amateur scientist working with diseases, but the scientific community doesn't take him seriously (seeing him not as mad, but just not a serious scientist), which embitters him.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the very former-Maester Qyburn is a magical version who was stripped of his chain by the Citadel for his research into magic and what lies beyond death. While the Citadel does appear to heavily disapprove of the study of magic, this was not the main reason they took his "licence" and condemned him to his face: his research involved illicitly vivisecting people. Yeah. He seems pretty normal most of the time (except, say, when he rants about the Citadel's narrow-mindedness), but it's worth noting that he's had two known jobs since that happened: as a member (The Medic) of a famously vicious band of sellswords (who, incidentally, wouldn't care if he cut open the odd screaming prisoner in front of them) and as a spymaster for someone whose massive paranoia has supplied him with ready access to well sound-proofed dungeon cells and people who are unlikely to ever be seen again. Mad Doctor, Mad Scientist, M.D. Envy and a bad case of this trope? Oh, yeah.
  • Doctor Impossible of Soon I Will Be Invincible receives this treatment for his obsession with the Zeta Dimension, though he's also a supervillain because his vast intellect compels him to be so.
  • The Syrena Legacy: Dr. Kennedy was a human who caught a glimpse of two Syrena. He told everyone, but no one believed him. He developed a reputation as an insane "mermaid hunter," and his academic career was destroyed. By the time he finally finds proof of the Syrena in Of Neptune, he blames them for ruining his life and gets revenge by kidnapping and beating Galen and Reed.
  • Xanadu (Storyverse): In "Against Type", the Mad Scientist Max starts to launch into a rant of this sort after being introduced as such, although he stops partway once he realizes that the scene he's making is attracting the attention of the guards keeping watch over Xanadu.
    "Mad scientist," Nico explained, trying to keep the tension out of his already high-pitched voice. "Marx, I-"
    The fox-man's expression became very, very intense. "Mad? You dare to call me mad? The fools at the institute called me- uh..." Marx blinked, suddenly realizing he was making a scene and that the two Guardsmen were paying particular attention.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Black Books briefly parodies this as Bernard deteriorates under stress into a "Mad Scientist" as he and his friend/Bumbling Sidekick try to create a replacement for a priceless bottle of wine they have inadvertently drunk.
    "They'd all laugh at me if they knew what I was trying to do. To create a new strain of superwine in half an hour with a fraction of nature's resources and a fool for an assistant. 'Bernard Black — he's mad!' they'd say, 'He's insane, he's dangerous!' WELL, I'LL SHOW THEM! I'LL SHOW THEM ALL!"
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Buddy buys chicken soup to cure a sick Rob:
    Buddy: Listen, go ahead and laugh at my chicken soup. They laughed at Louis Pasteur, but he went right ahead and invented milk.
  • In one episode of Dinosaurs, the Sinclairs watch a show where a Mad Scientist gives this speech before giving life to a giant... turnip. His Igor declares "You are mad!", at which point the scientist replies, "Well... yes. But mad-angry, not mad-crazy."
  • Doctor Who:
    • Mad Scientist Dr. Mehendri Solon in "The Brain of Morbius" combines this with fanatical devotion to the defeated evil Time Lord Morbius — his unholy experiments are to give Morbius a new body.
    • A benevolent variation exists with Peter "Pete" Tyler, Rose Tyler's father. While he died when she was just a baby, he was described as an idealistic dreamer whose schemes never worked. Cut to a visit to an alternate universe where he didn't die and lived to present day. He actually managed to go and make his plans work and he became a very wealthy man. However, both Petes are decent men and alt-timeline Pete considers Rose the daughter he never had (since he's a widower in the alt universe).
  • Walter Bishop of Fringe spent the better part of two decades in a psychiatric hospital after having had parts of his brain removed by his oldest friend, at his own request. They called him mad because he was mad.
  • Game of Thrones: Although he says it in a more rational way than usual, Qyburn describes his relationship with the Archmaesters of Oldtown in this way. He is an unethical former maester who was thrown out of the order for conducting illegal human experimentation.
  • One episode of Get Smart features a Control agent who has developed a formula that turns people older by being applied to their photographs and later kills those people by having their photographs ripped. The Chief doesn't believe the idea. Because of this, the agent decides to sell the formula to Kaos, who do give him a chance to show the formula does work.
  • Chandra Suresh of Heroes was widely thought to be losing his mind when he started talking about people with supernatural abilities, and his son Mohinder is later told "everyone thinks you're nuts" when he tries to spread his father's theories.
  • Monarch: Legacy of Monsters: Bill Randa the very first one in Monarch to posit the existence of Hollow Earth and that it's the Titans' homeworld as well as their means of navigating the world undetected, but his theory was dismissed by everyone after the failure of Operation Hourglass. Despite General Puckett's plea to the contrary, Bill, partly out of grief at the seeming deaths of his two Monarch co-founders, descended into obsession with proving his theory true, leading him to become the Manipulative Bastard he was in 1973.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Mocked, of course, when Dr. F finds an old experiment (the prop is literally two stuffed animal rear ends sewn together) while rummaging through a box of old inventions:
      "Ah, it's my old mad science experiment from Eevilo's, the Double-Butt Graft, where I successfully grafted the butt of a dog onto the butt of a cat. Sure, they all laughed..."
    • In one "Turkey Day" bumper segment, Forrester actually tries out various responses to being called mad, like, "I'm MAD, damn you! MAD!" and "Mad? Why I've done things you've never even dreamed of!"
    • Mike Nelson gets a turn later on in "Riding with Death", muttering about his persecution for pranks that were considered insane while working on a baking soda and vinegar bomb... before accidentally destroying a planet with it. His third, incidentally.
  • Played for laughs on Night Court (but then again, what isn't?) when Harry helps Christine provide evidence that her boss is guilty of sexual harassment. When the senior attorney tells Harry "You're Insane!", Harry hammily declares "They called me mad at the university!"
  • In SCTV, mad scientist Dr. Tongue hammily emotes "They laughed at me in Budapest... THEY LAUGHED AT ME IN PRAGUE!" — hunchback assistant Bruno chimes in "They laughed at you in Buffalo, too."
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • Dr. Daniel Jackson. "Aliens having built the pyramids" are words you'd more likely hear from a homeless conspiracy nut. In the original movie, he proposed that the pyramids were built thousands of years before the well-accepted timeline, and that they weren't the work of the Egyptians. When he said he didn't know who did, the audience walked out. In the Alternate Universe episode where the Stargate was never discovered, Jackson had been reduced to teaching English as a Second Language classes.
      • Daniel's grandfather, Nicholas Ballard, is a one-off example. The man found a crystal skull, said it was made by aliens and was laughed at for 40 years. Even by Daniel, as they laughed at each other. He fell into depression and had himself committed to a mental institution. And later stayed with the aliens.
    • Stargate Atlantis: Dr. Rodney McKay. In one episode, he is invited to a symposium by an old rival, and is summarily mocked by the entire theoretical physics community for his lack of (unclassified) output — including Bill Nye the Science Guy and Stephen Hawking — even after he saves the world from behind the scenes. On the plus side, he gets the girl at the end of the episode. On top of all this, his sister is generally considered the smarter one, despite the fact that she retired from physics to become a stay-at-home mom. She occasionally helps out when Rodney or Atlantis is stuck.
  • Tales from the Crypt: In "The Switch", Carlton visits a Mad Doctor to have a young face transplanted on to him. The doctor tells him how he had successfully performed this operation in his native land, but that no one in America had believed him and all laughed at him, but one day they would have to acknowledge his brilliance.

  • The Cramps: "Mad! You call me mad?! Haha. I have the secret of eternal love! You call me mad?!!" - 'Thee Most Exhaulted Potentate of Love'.
  • The Death Metal band Crypticus actually have an album and a song called They Called Me Mad.
  • Doctor Steel: "But alas, I was detained / And they labelled me 'Criminally Insane'." - Lament for a Toy Factory.
  • Jimmy Durante's "The Guy Who Found the Lost Chord" has this gem:
    Jimmy: People started calling me mad! But dat didn't phase, dey said dat Mozart was mad! Dey said Puccini was mad! Dey said dat Louie was mad!
    Orchestra: Who's Louie?
    Jimmy: My uncle. He was mad!
  • "They All Laughed" by George Gershwin (among others) provides a more mundane example of this trope
    They laughed at me wanting you, said I was reaching for the moon
    But oh, you came through. Now they'll have to change their tune
    They all said we never could be happy, they laughed at us and how!
    But ho, ho, ho! Who's got the last laugh now?
  • Played with in the Grottomatic song "Strong Bad", which contains a short monologue about the writer desperate to get exposed five years after the feature ended.
    'Oh, Tim is crazy,' they say, 'always writing to that cartoon guy who hasn't answered in years.' Well, I'll show them. Boy, will I show them. Wait 'til Strong Bad answers me! Then we’ll see who's crazy! [crazy giggle]
  • "They Said I Was Mad" by Consortium of Genius is about this.

  • Spoofed in an I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again parody of Doctor Who, with Graeme Garden as "Doctor Why" and Tim Brooke-Taylor as his companion, Peter:
    Doctor: They laughed at Galilleo... They laughed at Newton... They laughed at Einstein... Why won't they laugh at me?
    Peter: It's partly the lines, but mostly the delivery...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Genius: The Transgression: This is very common. Geniuses are mad and their creations are not only scientifically impossible, but obviously so. One Splat in the game is defined by coming into Genius after being rejected by one's peers: Neid, the Catalyst of Banishment. They end up spending a lot of time trying to show "them". Mad science is a bit tricky; prospective researchers could very well end up being called mad themselves. The Masquerade is, sadly, rather self-sustaining.
    If only it were so simple. They laughed because you were mad. They laughed because your inventions crumbled when unveiled and your theories turned to gibberish. You wept when you saw your equations riddled with childish errors.
  • In Nomine: As an archetypal Mad Scientist, Vapula does not handle rejection well. Supposedly, for instance, when he was first made a Prince he approached some of the Archangels to try and persuade them that his mission was truly God's work and to join him in his journey. His offer was flatly rejected, since ultimately it was just the ravings of a lunatic, and he never forgave them for the insult.
  • Magic: The Gathering has Torgle, mountaintop boatmaker. The joke's on you after all your land is flooded.
  • Space 1889: IN the adventure "Canal Priests of MarsOtto", Strabismäs has an alternative to the ether theory. He says "they all laughed at me at Heidelberg".
  • Warhammer:
    • The Dwarfs regularly kick out young mavericks from their engineering guild, to the point where it's practically a rite of passage. Most of them join the human engineering guild until they refine their prototype into a machine that runs with proper Dwarfish efficiency, which tends to result in The Empire using the more unreliable weapons on the battlefield before the conservative dwarfs cotton to them. It's working out well for the dwarfs at least, they've got multi-shot cannons and helicopters.
    • Being packed full of mad scientist tropes, the Skaven Chief Warlock Ikit Claw tends to say this a lot (his appearances in novels, such as Thanquol's Doom, make it quite apparent). Though in all honesty he probably is stark raving mad...

    Video Games 
  • This was the catalyst of Doctor Neo Cortex's quest for world domination in the Crash Bandicoot series.
  • Fallen London: If you get thrown out of the University, the game notes, "They laughed at you and so on." Publish a Scientific Article, and the game further notes, "It appears you have shown them all."
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Doctor Lucrecia Crescent says that people had laughed at her theory about the final WEAPON Omega and its Harbinger, Chaos. By the end of Dirge of Cerberus, we learn that she was hoist by her own petard in that the stagnant Lifestream killed her mentor, Doctor Grimoire Valentine. Her guilt over this incident prevented her from responding to Vincent Valentine's advances, pushed her to marry Doctor Hojo, and go through with the JENOVA project.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, this is a major part of the backstory. Professor Takano had been investigating a strange disease called Hinamizawa Syndrome, which could alter one's personality into that of a psychopathic paranoiac. Based on this, he wants to show that a person's personality can be altered or even wholly changed by parasites in the brain. However, at almost every turn, he is refused both funding and consideration for his work — despite doing careful research, inviting his colleagues to look at his results, and otherwise acting like an actual scientist rather than the alternative. He never got anywhere, and ultimately ended up jumping off the roof of his home, but his granddaughter, Miyo, decides to become the Big Bad to avenge her grandfather.
  • In the backstory for MDK, Dr. Fluke Hawkins was ridiculed for his belief in "flange orbits". In order to prove his detractors wrong, he built a Space Station, the Jim Dandy, and moved onto it to continue his research. He realized a week later that flange orbits didn't actually exist, and stayed on the station rather than humiliate himself by returning to Earth.
  • The backstory for "Dr. Junkenstein" in the Overwatch Halloween event.
    Junkenstein: You will all regret the day you laughed at Doctor Jamison Junkenstein!
  • In Pokémon Black and White, this likely applies to the nameless creator of Genesect. Despite being told by N that he should stop making a super-powered cyborg Pokemon, the scientist refused and continued the operation in secret.
  • WildStar: Dorian Walker got a lot of flak for believing Nexus was actually real. Then he actually found it.


    Web Original 
  • In one skit from asdfmovie 2, a mad scientist teaches a llama to drive, exclaiming "They said I could never teach a llama to drive!" The naysayers' point is immediately proven when said llama drives straight off a cliff.
  • Coyle Command: "They called me mad! Not entirely untrue, but inappropriate nonetheless."
  • One Cracked article featuring villainous flowcharts has a very simple one for origins.
    Did they laugh at you?
    No: Lead normal life.
    Yes: Show them! Show them all!!
  • In his ratings of Halloween candy, Lore Sjöberg suspects this was involved in the invention of Bit O' Honey.
    "I've combined the unsettlingly wholesome flavor of honey with the inedibility of old bus-seat gum! And they called me seriously unbalanced and in need of a competent therapist! Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
  • The motivation for several antagonists in Twig:
    • The Puppeteer, who decides that creating a small army of Laser Guided Tykebombs and waiting several years for them to grow up before committing a series of grisly murder-suicides is an appropriate response to his proposal for a unit of child assassins being rejected by the Academy.
    • Genevieve Fray, who after she's rejected for a professor position at Radham Academy, decides to start a civil war by sterilizing hundreds of thousands of people and pinning blame on the Academy, and then unites the resulting rebels under her leadership in order to show that she has departmental leadership skills.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs has a one-shot Mad Scientist character (with Bride of Frankenstein hair and a big butt) who wants to make the world fear and obey her. "In school, they called me mad and insane. They also called me All-Toppy-Big-Bottom. I wonder what that meant."
  • Jayce Talis from Arcane nearly gets exiled from the city for his ideas on trying to create magic from technology. In his case it's a bit more justified, since he hasn't proven his theory yet and Piltover has a pretty strict Ban on Magic that forbids anyone from experimenting with it. Once he gets it to work (and gets Mel Medarda to invest in it), Piltover fully embraces the new technology.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In "Nothing to Fear", the Scarecrow exposits/rants about how his superiors at the university objected to his methods of conducting research on fear:
    Scarecrow: Dr. Long thought I went too far! He called me a lunatic! So now, they shall learn the true meaning of terror!
  • Mad Scientist Norton Nimnul of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers often has one of these speeches before revealing to the viewing audience (or as the audience looks over) one of his weird inventions. Given the nature of these inventions, their reactions were understandable, but on the other hand... they do work, thanks to the scientific principle which states: "Anything can happen in a cartoon." Every single one of his inventions was a Rube Goldberg Device combined with a Doomsday Device. The most memorable being a giant machine made up of hands that petted kitties to power a lightning ray with static electricity.
  • Knightbrace's Start of Darkness in Codename: Kids Next Door was when he was criticized in dental school for trying to force care onto children, the final straw that got him kicked out being his attempt to put braces on infants.
  • Count Duckula: In "Dear Diary," Dr. Von Goosewing is reading his grandfather's diary and the visual dissolves into the ancestor's meeting with his friend Heinrich who tells of the Duckula lineage.
    Goosewing: Had I heard this from anyone but you I would not believe it!
    Heinrich: That is why I had to turn to you. Anyone else would say I was mad. Mad! MAD! [visual dissolves back as Heinrich goes into a mental tic]
  • The Critic parodies this trope in "Marathon Man", with one of the runners who ran the whole New York Marathon with a live ferret in his pants ("It's not by choice").
    Ferret Guy: Hey, they laughed at Christopher Columbus!
    Shackleford: No, they didn't.
    Ferret Guy: Well, they would have if he'd had a ferret in his pants!
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • Spoofed in "Twitching Channels" when Megavolt says, "They called me crazy! They called me insane! They called me a LOONEY! ...and boy, were they right."
    • And again in another episode when he goes on a similar rant.
      Megavolt: They called me mad. They called me insane! They were right. But I'm running things now!
  • The villain in the Dennis the Menace (UK) cartoon episode "Mauled" uses this (and is the typical mad scientist with robot shopping centre, parasol hat and funny gadgets).
  • Denzel Crocker of The Fairly OddParents! has this line of dialogue after becoming supreme ruler of the world in "Abra-Catastrophe!":
    Denzel Crocker: They called me crazy! AND I AM! Crazy like the guy who was right about FAIRIES!
  • Non-scientist example: the Family Guy episode "Hell Comes to Quahog" features a guy who is only now succeeding at selling tumbleweed spouting "Y'all laughed at me!", now that nearly every other business in town has gone kaput.
  • Dr. Mystico in Freakazoid!: "They called me mad! Insane! WENDELL!"
  • Futurama:
    • The show pokes fun at the professor this way every other episode. It doesn't help that he's senile.
      Farnsworth: Some even call me mad! And why? Because I dared to dream of my own race of atomic monsters! Atomic supermen with octagonal-shaped bodies that suck blood out of you... [exits room while continuing to ramble]
    • Fry as well, to an extent:
      Fry: Don't listen to what other people say about you. They all called me stupid, but I proved them!
    • Others aren't exempt:
      Gay Hippie: They called me crazy for building this ark.
      Other Hippie: You are crazy, you filled it with same-sex animal couples!
      Gay Hippie: Hey! There are parts of the Bible I like and parts I don't like.
  • Garfield and Friends:
    • In "Robodie II", Dr. Garbanzo Bean not only invoked the trope about himself but mentioned other people who used to be called 'nutty'. First were the Wright Brothers and then Thomas Edison. The last one of them was his uncle, whom Garbanzo admits to be really mad. Dr. Garbanzo Bean then said he wasn't crazy and that he invented the telephone. Sure, he only invented it in 1987 but, how was he supposed to know someone had already invented it before?
    • "Frankenstein Feline" has Jon Arbuckle fall asleep while watching a Frankenstein movie to try and draw a picture of Frankenstein's Monster so he could go as the monster to a costume party with Liz, dreaming that he is a mad scientist creating a Frankenstein monster cat resembling Garfield with Odie as his hunchbacked assistant. When he gets ready to bring the monster cat to life, Jon rambles about how everyone said his ambitions couldn't be done.
      Jon: They said it couldn't be done! They laughed at me! They won't be laughing long!
  • Parodied in Johnny Bravo: Johnny has been abducted by gorgeous aliens and Carl and Pops start building a machine to get him back. Bizarrely, Pops seems to be doing most of the work...
    Pops: Ah, yes... they all laughed at me during my nuclear physicist days... WELL, WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?! [laughs maniacally]
  • The mad scientists of Kim Possible happily use this trope, most notably crazed biogeneticist DNAmy.
    Amy: ...I wanted more. To go where no Cuddler had gone before — life-sized, living Cuddle Buddies!
    Barkin: That's... quite a leap.
    Amy: Not if you're one of the world's foremost biogeneticists! They called me D-N-Amy. They said I was mad at the Cuddle Con! Hee hee! ...Gingersnap?
  • Dr. Wily from Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) uses this line as well. Fittingly, it's during one of the sillier second season episodes, "Night of the Living Monster Bots".
    Dr. Wily: The world may call me insane, Proto...
    Proto Man: Sounds right to me.
  • Oh Yeah! Cartoons uses this in the Super Santa short "Vegetation", in which Dr. Carmine Miranda goes on a rant explaining that he's using his horticultural knowledge for evil because his peers laughed at him and called him a madman.
  • The Simpsons parodies this in "Treehouse of Horror II", when Burns takes on a Mad Scientist role and successfully transplants Homer's brain into a robot:
    Burns: It's alive! Oooh, that fellow at Radio Shack said I was mad! WELL, WHO'S MAD NOW?! [laughs diabolically]
  • Doctor Octopus got this treatment in Spider-Man: The Animated Series with regards to his cold fusion reactor.
  • Dr. Axolotl in the TaleSpin episode "Bullethead Baloo" reprograms his housekeeping robot to kidnap Shere Khan in revenge for Khan rejecting it (after it destroyed his office while dusting). In his own words "They called me mad! I'm not mad, I'm furious!"

    Real Life 
  • Fringe theorists are fond of invoking this trope to suggest that orthodox science rejects their ideas out of hidebound stodginess (rather than because their ideas just don't pass muster when evaluated against the available evidence).
    Carl Sagan: But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
  • Rational Wiki calls this the Galileo Gambit, as these theorists often mention Galileo as an example of someone who was persecuted by the establishment but was actually right all along. They have a page on it here.
  • A certain Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis around 1850 noticed that the mortality rate in the Viennese maternity clinics dropped dramatically if the doctors disinfected before attending patients, especially if they had just been dissecting cadavers before. This idea, although the numbers clearly supported this, was almost universally rejected. Later of course it turned out that germs were behind it, and that he had been right.
    • Around the same time period, Florence Nightingale and her trainee nurses were promoting the idea of sanitation (and hand washing) to reduce mortality rates among patients. However, a lot of doctors were reluctant to practice hand washing because it was promoted by women. Florence and her nurses were not so much mocked, just quietly ignored.
  • Robert H. Goddard (yes, the "Goddard" of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies: NASA GISS fame), had an interesting working hypothesis about using rocket fuel propulsion to push a vehicle through the vacuum of space all the way to the moon. He wrote a paper about it, "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes," and it was published by one of the Smithsonian’s scientific journals. Then The New York Times got involved, writing in their "Topic of the Times" editorial section:
    "...After the rocket quits our air and really starts on its longer journey [to the moon], its flight would be neither accelerated not maintained by the [proposed by Goddard solid rocket based on] explosion of the charges ... . To claim that it would be is to deny a fundamental law of dynamics, and only Dr. Einstein and his chosen dozen, so few and fit, are licensed to do that. ... That Professor Goddard with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action and reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react — to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."
According to NASA's biographical records on the man, "[t]he resulting ridicule created in Goddard firm convictions about the nature of the press corps, which he held for the rest of his life."
  • They LAUGHED AT HIM, publicly, in the largest newspaper in the United States. This pissed the man off to such a degree that he spent the next decade or so of his life working in great secrecy, literally moving to a secret laboratory, and refusing to share the details of his research even within the scientific community, only popping up to show the results. Again, according to NASA itself:
    "Goddard’s work largely anticipated in technical detail the later German V-2 missiles, including gyroscopic control, steering by means of vanes in the jet stream of the rocket motor, gimbal-steering, power-driven fuel pumps and other devices. His rocket flight in 1929 carried the first scientific payload, a barometer, and a camera. Goddard developed and demonstrated the basic idea of the “bazooka” two days before the Armistice in 1918 at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. His launching platform was a music rack. In World War II, Goddard again offered his services and was assigned by the U.S. Navy to the development of practical jet assisted takeoff and liquid propellant rocket motors capable of variable thrust. In both areas, he was successful."
He showed them. HE SHOWED THEM ALL! [evidence of evil laugh not found (but certainly assumed)]
  • Immanuel Velikovsky, a major proponent of the supposed scientific idea of catastrophism, the theory that the Earth has largely been shaped by sudden, short-lived, violent events, possibly worldwide in scope, faced vociferous disagreement from the mainstream scientific community. Here it wasn't that Velikovsky was mocked for his proposals, but he was subject to a level of personal vitriol by that community, including Carl Sagan, that was criticised by others as unseemly for an intellectual profession that functions by being willing to examine ideas with a reasonably open mind.
  • Mad Scientist Jiankui He attempted to have his work peer-reviewed by Nature and the Journal of the American Medical Association but his manuscripts were rejected due to the illegal nature of his experiment, so he decided to triumphantly present it to the world himself. What was this groundbreaking achievement? The first Designer Babies.


Video Example(s):


Dr Mystico

Tim Curry is at his all time hammiest, in the role of the eccentric Dr. Mystico.

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