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Can be a Tear Jerker or Fate Worse than Death, since the character's mind has been destroyed without affording him the peace of death. If he is still aware of what's happening it may be And I Must Scream.

How he went crazy is not always that important, although it often involves some form of uncontrolled magic or Phlebotinum, or With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. It is also possible for a character to use Obfuscating Insanity in order to hide his past, although it doesn't count if he is still working undercover.


Related to Hidden Depths, Loss of Identity, Was Once a Man, and Sanity Slippage. May also involve Cerebus Retcon, Riches to Rags, Two Aliases, One Character or Amnesiac Dissonance.


  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: When Dr. Emilio Lizardo first appears he's locked up in an insane asylum and acts crazy. While he's undergoing self-inflicted electroshock therapy there's a Flash Back of what happened to him. He was originally a scientist who worked with Professor Hikita to develop a prototype version of the Oscillation Overthruster. During a test of the device he was possessed by the Red Lectroid leader Lord John Whorfin.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: The Blind King invokes this by pretending to be a crazy old man who thinks he's king. If his true identity as the Prince were found out, he would be hunted down and killed.

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  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Gollum is a prime example. Originally a hobbit named Sméagol, he was corrupted mentally and physically by the Ring by the time Bilbo meets him in The Hobbit.
  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: One of Amberley Veil's retinue is a permanently combat-drugged lunatic named Simeon who flinches every time he sees Cain's commissar uniform. Cain asks what his deal is, she tells him he was in a Penal Legion, snapped under pressure and started executing men for failing to salute a superior officer... while on the receiving end of an artillery barrage. Cain nods sympathetically, but notes that preventing that sort of breakdown is why they have commissars in the first place. Veil then says Simeon was the commissar.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Miss Havisham used to be sane, but went mad after discovering that her fiancee had swindled her out of her fortune and run off on what was supposed to be their wedding day. She shut herself off from the rest of the world, never leaving her house or even changing out of her wedding dress, and eventually conceived of a plan to adopt a girl so that she could raise her to break men's hearts the way that her fiancee broke hers.
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  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Ben Gunn was once a part of Captain Flint's crew, though unliked by his shipmates. He knows the location of Flint's treasure, but no one believes him. Marooned on a deserted island, he becomes more than a little addled, talks in the third person and has an obsessive craving for cheese.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Inverted. In the first half of the book, oblique references are made to a character named "Phaedrus"; we're told little about him except that "he was insane." This turns out to be the narrator himself, before he was hospitalised and given electroshock therapy.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: A downplayed version with PC Penhale, who was by all accounts a competent and professional police officer before he was kicked in the head by a horse and became the goofy, quirky, lovable dullard we all know.
  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: the mad character Dead Beat is really the shellshocked former leader Kingpin. He regains his sanity at the story's climax.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal
    • In "The Long Dark", crazy homeless doomsayer Amis (played by Dwight Schultz) is arrested early in the episode for disturbing the peace. When Amis starts saying "Incoming! Incoming!" in his sleep, Garibaldi realizes he's a Minbari War veteran.
      Guard: How do you know?
      Garibaldi: I've had that same dream.
    • A major plot point in "A Late Delivery from Avalon". The man who arrives on the station convinced he's King Arthur returned in Britain's hour of need is really David McIntyre, a retired EarthForce gunnery sergeant wracked with guilt over firing the shots that triggered the Minbaris' Roaring Rampage of Revenge.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Dr Walter Bishop gets a few flashback episodes showing him to have been a much calmer and much darker character before the personal tragedy that laid the way for the series. It turns out he deliberately had part of his brain removed because he didn't like what he was becoming.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: the homeless madwoman that hangs around the barber shop is revealed to be Sweeney's long-lost wife, Lucy. Unfortunately, this isn't revealed—either to Sweeney or the audience—until after he murders her.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Cloud Cuckoo Lander Eddie is revealed to have forced a portal into his own head in order to keep the Big Bad from getting it, which is what made him into the nutty Manchild we know.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Mituna was a powerful psionic with strong prophetic abilities. He constantly (and correctly) warned his friends that they were doomed, until "one day he lost all those abilities when he badly overexerted himself." What exactly he did is unknown, but it seems to have been some great act of heroism. Now he barely has the mental capacity to speak understandably and constantly goes back and forth between being completely passive and spewing incoherent vitriol.

  • While Freelancer Agent Maine from Red vs. Blue wasn't the nicest person, he was still a loyal team mate. However, he gets shot in the throat on one mission, losing his ability to talk. The AI called Sigma was implanted into him so he could have a sort of voice through Sigma. But as time went on, Sigma's ambition for Metastability (the point where an AI could be considered human) drove the Maine mad as Sigma corrupted him, and he began killing others under Sigma's control. At that point, Agent Maine became the Ax-Crazy Meta. Even when Sigma and the other AI fragments were destroyed, the Meta was still an Empty Shell bent on carrying out Sigma's goal.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Drek'thar mentored future Warchief Thrall in the ways of the shaman, and serves as the chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan. Despite his blindness, he was an extremely powerful shaman, fierce fighter, and wise leader. However, he became senile with age, and now his rare moments of lucidity are indications that something is about to go very, very wrong.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Aiden meets two former CtOS employees who helped develop the operating system but later fell into obscurity and became shunned by Chicago.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Playing through the Story and Arcade modes for Arakune reveals that the crazy, incoherent, black blob that he is was once a normal human scientist who dedicated his life to study of the Boundary. Even as he was exposed to seithr the closer he came to the Boundary, he became aware that he was transforming, and that he couldn't stop. In his final moments as a human, it was business as usual as he continued recording his research and studied the Boundary.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: The Ice King was a historian named Simon Petrikov until he put on the Ice Crown, which gave him ice powers and immortality but made him slowly lose his mind. This has been a real Tear Jerker throughout the series.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal:
    • Old Man McGuckett was an inventor who worked with the writer of the Journals, until he invented a memory ray to erase his memories of whatever it was that he was involved in. Repeated use of the memory ray eventually made him crazy and with no memories at all.
    • The Society themselves have also been using the mind wiping device, but are mainly experiencing holes in their memories, rather than the wholesale devolution of their minds, though Lazy Susan seems to be showing some Sanity Slippage.

  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: One Bugs Bunny cartoon had a man escape the clutches of "Pirate Sam" (Yosimite Sam). The scraggly, ratty looking man in chains looks at the viewer and says "I was a human being once!" before running away. Kinda dark for a Merry Melodies cartoon.
  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: In one episode, framed as an Up style documentary, we meet Eleanor, who is both a doctor and lawyer—and then see burn-out turn her into the Crazy Cat Lady.
  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: The several-generations-back original holder of the belt buckle started out sane, but slowly lost his mind from trying to decide whether to be good or evil. We finally meet him in the Day of the Dead episode. Because he's been dead and without he belt buckle for so long, he's mostly lucid, but the insanity is still lurking under the surface.

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