Follow TV Tropes


Only Sane Man / Comic Books

Go To

  • Subversion in Watchmen: Rorschach considers himself the Only Sane Man, but is batshit insane. In the end it gets double subverted, and it turns out that he was probably right.
    • Dr. Manhattan is an inversion—he's all but omniscient, but his irregular perception of the timeline causes him to seem insane (sociopathic, at the very least) to people with a regular linear perception of time.
    • Both Nite Owls are probably the legitimate examples, especially the first one; they realise how messed all superheroes are, including themselves, but can't do anything about it. They're still the most level-headed capes in the book.
  • Ironically the initial characterization of The DCU's Plastic Man, who was a straight man (with somewhat goofy powers) in a world full of total nutbars. Every incarnation of him since has made him a total nutbar instead, or at least Obfuscating Insanity.
    • In the JLA story arc 'Divided We Fall', several of the League members were split between their civilian and superhero identities. Eel O'Brian, Plastic Man's civilian identity (and former thug), proved to be the driving force that led to the resolution of this situation, as the others either didn't want to return to their superhero identities or were going mad without them. Bruce Wayne, in particular, was growing increasingly psychotic without Batman as an outlet for his rage, forcing Eel to pistol-whip him into submission (which, after all was said and done, even Batman himself considered to be a wise move, given the circumstances).
  • Basically the entire point of normalman, where norm is the only, um, normal man on a planet full of violent superhumans who quite literally get off on crazy "action scenes". The fact that he's a Deadpan Snarker indicates how well he takes his situation.
  • In Twisted Toyfare Theatre, Spider-Man is basically the only person in the entire world with a single lick of common sense. However, this has caused him to become so jaded he flat-out refuses to participate in any kind of action if he can avoid it, for example immediately taking the blue pill to go back to sleep when Morpheus offered to take him to The Matrix.
    • Well, Spider-Man might have company in the "not completely out of his mind" department in Doctor Doom, the series' other main character. Maybe.
  • Sara in Knights of the Dinner Table.
  • In Mortadelo y Filemón, Filemon is the only main character who occasionally shows a hint of sanity and common sense.
    • Ex. The Black Gang has escaped from their shared prison cell. Filemon: "Ten holes in the wall. Only those idiots could have thought of that." Mortadelo and the Superintendent: "What do you mean?"
    • It's more like a Sanity Ball between Mortadelo, Filemon and the Superintendent. The Superintendent usually holds it when he has to explain the mission, Mortadelo and Filemon take turns during it.
  • Nodwick frequently plays the role of Only Sane Man to his party, having by far the greatest amount of common sense of the lot and being less bound by the Contractual Genre Blindness that seems to come naturally to adventurers. This happens in almost every standalone story they're in, but by far the most noticeable is the comic's pastiche of The Lord of the Rings.
  • It might be a scary thought that the Caged Demonwolf, Devourer of Worlds may be the Only Sane Man of Empowered.
    • Emp, Mindf**k or Maidman also play the sane man amongst the other capes, depending on the situation. So there we have bondage bait with a track record of always losing, a woman who survived torture from her crazy brother, lives alone on a space station and carried out a telepathic affair with another cape, and Batman if he'd dressed as a maid. The Empverse is weird...
  • Green Lantern seems to be the only person written as remotely sane in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder.
  • I Luv Halloween - Finch, a skull-mask wearing little kid who stuffs razor blades into apples as revenge for getting an apple for Halloween and sets a woman's head on fire, is actually the most level-headed and rational (next to Devil-lad) of the amoral cast of trick-or-treaters.
  • Asterix and Getafix the Druid are the only two in their town who usually show a hint of sanity and common sense.
  • The Punisher sees himself as this, in a world where criminals buy, lie, or threaten their way out of paying the price for their actions and superheroes see nothing wrong with battling the same opponents over and over again. Of course, this is also one way of avoiding looking at himself too closely.
    Frank: It's not crazy when the state of the world makes you want to kill everyone responsible. It's crazy when it doesn't.
  • Some of the more important members of Batman's Rogues Gallery are like this in different circumstances.
    • The Joker is a mass-murdering, antisocial lunatic. However, his deductive reasoning and scientific knowledge are dangerously functional, his ability to predict the outcome of situations is often only foiled by abstract principles, and he even drops hints of understanding that the universe he lives in is fictional. Writer pending, of course.
    • The Penguin, as one of the few major Batman villains who is typically considered sane (as such his sentencing would be completed at Blackgate Penn rather than Arkham), serves as this by default. When working with other villains he tends to act as a mediator, defusing arguments and ensuring everyone remains on track; however, he can become exasperated by the "eccentricities" of the other members of Batman's Rogues Gallery, and should he feel that the potential profit of the business arrangement is simply not worth the costs and risks associated with the crime at hand, that his input is being ignored, or that his life and livelihood are being groundlessly threatened by their erratic behavior, there is a strong chance he will wash his hands of the endeavor at his earliest convenience. This goes for the animated series, as well.
      • If they've really managed to piss him off in the process he'll sometimes spill his guts to Batman in exchange for immunity.
    • Mr. Freeze is a literal case since he is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum in spite of being mentally healthy because it is the only local penal facility that can accommodate his bizarre medical condition of needing a strongly refrigerated environment to live.
  • Zibarro from All-Star Superman is a very literal Only Sane Man: He's the only Bizarro on the planet who acts like a normal person, instead of a deranged backwards-speaking manchild.
    • If you're not aware, Zibarro was what happened when Bizarro Superman decided everyone on Earth should have a Bizarro-clone; Superman lives on Earth, so he has Bizarro Superman, but Bizarro lives on Earth, so he has Bizarro Bizarro: Zibarro.
  • In Justice League 3000, Supergirl is the only Leaguer who is the real deal instead of a defective replica of the original member. She's a mature, sensible - and snarky - woman and her teammates are a Superman who is an egotistical ass, a crazier-than-usual Batman, a blood-thirsty, booze-guzzling straw feminist Wonder Woman, a deranged Guy Gardner, an annoyingly hyperactive The Flash...
  • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Linda Lee is a kind-hearted, nice girl and the only person in her school who isn't a jerkass, a bully, a bitch or a xenophobic and deranged mad scientist.
  • Franklin from the Peanuts comics: he is the only character not to have some sort of quirk or obsession. He is also the only person to point out exactly how weird everyone else in Charlie Brown's neighbourhood is. And - in a twist that was particularly ironic in the late 1960s - he is the only black character in the strip.
    Charlie Brown: Franklin! Where are you going?
    Franklin: I'm going home, Charlie Brown. This neighborhood has me shook. I didn't mind the girl in the booth or the beagle with the goggles, but that business about the "Great Pumpkin" - no, sir!
    Charlie Brown: But...
    Schroeder: Hi! Did you guys know there are only sixty more days until Beethoven's birthday?
    Charlie Brown: Oh, good grief!
    Franklin: [under his breath] Like, wow!
  • Wallace Wells, Kim Pine and Stacey Pilgrim are by far the most consistently sane characters in the Scott Pilgrim series.
  • In the Giffen-DeMatteis-Helfer Justice League, J'onn J'onnz was this for the Justice League of America, while Captain Atom was this for Justice League Europe.
  • Deadpool sometimes has a sidekick named Weasel, a gadgeteer that builds some of his equipment for him. During Deadpool's time with the Great Lakes Avengers this was especially prominent.
  • Batman's trusted Battle Butler Alfred often has his moments. Either he'll just snark or suggest Bruce actually eat something.
  • This is how Sonic feels whenever he's in the Special Zone and how he feels while in Shanazar.
  • Dr. Caitlin Fairchild, the only one who bothers trying to treat the New 52 version of Superboy like he's not a thing.
  • In MAD, during the parody of Fatal Attraction, the dog serves as this, objecting to his owner's immoral and poorly thought out actions.
  • Superlópez: All members of the Supergroup see themselves as this. No wonder they almost wrecked their secret lair fighting over who would be leader.
  • In Thunderworld #1, one of the alternate Sivanas is much, much more restrained than the others, identifying himself as "a man with personal problems," and is greatly disturbed by his insane and violent (and violently insane) counterparts. There's also the fact that he believed the other Sivanas were going to save the world, not enslave it, so he's pretty much the good Sivana counterpart.
  • Avengers vs. X-Men was an Idiot Plot of epic proportions. How bad was it? In the main event, Reed Richards was the only member of the cast to suggest that, since the Phoenix Five have made paradise on earth, maybe the Avengers should just let them.
    • In the Avengers Academy tie-in, both the Academy kids and X-Teens in general display far more sense about the situation than the adults. However it's X-23 who's the first to call out Wolverine on his actions and to make it clear that involving the kids in any way — including by imprisoning the mutants just for being tied to the X-Men — is outright wrong. When Phoenix!Emma later returns to destroy Juston's Sentinel, Laura is also the first to tell her off.
  • The title character of Dilbert. He's about the least dysfunctional character in the comic and the closest to a genuinely good one.
  • Out of Spider-Man's entire Rogues Gallery, the Shocker, despite wearing a ridiculous (but important) quilt suit, is probably the sanest of the lot. He doesn't hold or act on personal grudges since those tend to lead to self-defeat, he takes smaller jobs and keeps a low profile (staying off The Punisher's radar), and he treats super-villainy as a job, eschewing grand ambitions. It's telling he's been arrested very few times compared to other Spidey villains.
  • A large part of the reason Tim Drake is the leader of Young Justice is because of his position as only sane teen on the team, especially in comparison to the impulsive speedster Impulse and over dramatic half-Kryptonian Superboy. Cassie also has some potential to act as this when she puts forth the effort, so it's no surprise that Wonder Girl ends up the second team leader.
  • Wonder Woman: Hestia plays the sane and rational counterpart to her backstabbing incestuous family. She even washed her hands of having to hang out near them very often by giving up her Olympian seat to Dionysus, which may have been a stealth insult given he's the god of wine and madness.
  • The Italian comic book Lupo Alberto, set in a World of Funny Animals, has a few characters taking the role from time to time:
    • The title character is consistently shown as the sanest character, often mocking the antics of the inhabitants of the McKenzie farm. It's implied that his refusal to marry Martha and move from the forest to the farm is motivated at least in part by the fact that would mean he'd have to live with the idiots, rather than just snark at their stupider actions and save them from their own stupidity from time to time.
    • Among the inhabitants of the McKenzie farm, Moses, the farm's dog and leader, usually takes the role, keeping the other animals concentrated on their jobs... And often having to resort to threats of beating everyone up, as the other animals are sufficiently lazy and stupid to run the risk of running the farm into the ground if left alone for too much time.
      • The election story, where the job of farm's leader was up for election, showed this clearly: Alberto was in the running alongside Moses and Enrico la Talpa, and won the votes of everyone smart enough to not believe Enrico's bullshit simply by presenting Moses' policies better.
    • Krug the bull isn't too bright... But takes the role by simply following Moses' instructions and taking Alberto's advice, as he's the only guy Moses cannot beat up.
    • Martha, Alberto's girlfriend, is about as sane as Moses. Indeed, most of the time her only act of insanity is that she's dating Alberto even when she's a hen and Alberto is known to eat chicken (Martha and her family are safe, but he tried to eat her best friend at least once).
    • Enrico La Talpa tends to show more sanity than the farm's animals by virtue of being the oldest character (he was shown to be on his honeymoon when Alberto, Moses and Martha were kids), and having had enough time to outgrow many of his antics. Considering he once bought a plutonium-powered heather to save on the electricity and gas bills, this tells more about the farm animals than about him.
  • The Transformers (IDW):
    • Soundwave is the only major figure among the Decepticons who isn't a bloodthirsty warmonger (Megatron, Galvatron), a callously calculating monster whose own agenda threatens everyone (Shockwave), or violently crazed with ambition (Starscream). More than that, he's The Only Believer. Unfortunately, his idealism also makes him easy for people like Galvatron to manipulate.
    • Disturbingly, Megatron fills this role to the Lost Light command crew in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, since he's neither terminally lazy and shiftless (Rodimus) nor suffering from Super OCD and almost incapable of sensible prioritisation (Magnus).
    • Magnus to Tyrest's organisation during the "Remain in Light" arc. Tyrest himself had gone screaming off the deep end and started plotting to kill half of Cybertron, Star Saber was a religious fanatic, and Pharma was a Mad Doctor who would go to any lengths for payback on Ratchet.
    • Krok and Fulcrum bat the Scavengers' Sanity Ball back and forth between them until Nickel turns up and starts, almost literally, wearing it around her neck. The rest of the Scavengers consist of a grouchy, lazy asshole (Crankcase), a brain-damaged war engine (Grimlock), a guy with robot ADHD and no ability to prioritise or aim (Misfire) and a brilliant surgeon who classifies random objects as "goodies" or "baddies" based on the noise they make when he hits them (Spinister), so the bar wasn't exactly high.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: