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With Great Power Comes Great Insanity / Webcomics

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Power causing insanity in webcomics.


  • The Order of the Stick: When V has spoken the Four Words, he/she merges mentally with three of the most evil but powerful mages ever, and therefore it's justified his/her mental state is a little vague thereafter. Then it's later revealed that the splice has as much effect on one's alignment as a cheerleader would on the final score of a game. The fiends just lied to him/her because nothing makes people do a horrible act on their own like having them believe that they're not responsible for their actions, especially when wielding great power. V was already pretty unhinged before the event. Transe deprivation does that to an elf.
  • Narbonic:
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    • The super-intelligent gerbils, with the exception of the original, Artie. It's explained that, unlike Artie, the other gerbils weren't genetically modified to handle super-intelligence, resulting in insanity. But when the sane super-intelligent hamsters show up, they're megalomaniacs too.
    • Also, the mad geniuses in the comic are only geniuses because they're mad; if their madness were cured, they would be Brought Down to Normal. In fact, the geniuses have to go past mad and out the other side... and then it's a crapshoot. Helen Narbonic reins in her crazy because of romantic feelings.
  • Ian Samael of Errant Story starts to fall into this trope after obtaining godlike powers. To his credit, it did take his mother killing herself and his sister to finally drive him off the deep end.
  • Girl Genius: The Sparks (or mad scientists) are often (although not always) insane. This is explained in the story as a side-effect of the Sparks' realization of their abilities (also known as the Breakthrough), which is usually traumatic to say the least. Some of the insanity seems to be inherent in the Spark itself; even the protagonist, the relatively sane and heroic Agatha Heterodyne, has shown utter singlemindedness and vengeful wrath while in the throes of a particularly Sparky moment.
  • This is implied to be happening to Ysengrin from Gunnerkrigg Court. He received weaponized wooden arms and Green Thumb powers from Coyote; after seeing him use them, Jones declared that he is "drawing closer to the brink of insanity." It certainly doesn't help that Coyote erases his memories whenever he begins to have a crisis of conscience, either.
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    • And also Jack after being sucked into Zimmingham, who's gained always-on ether-vision and the ability to fly while simultaneously losing a large chunk of sanity.
    • Turns out he was possessed though, so it's something else entirely (although the whole "not eating or sleeping" thing probably wasn't doing anything for him).
  • The B-Movie Comic: In the invisible killer arc, the process that makes a person invisible can also make them quite frightfully deranged, but only if the person has a basic character flaw to serve as a basis. The scientist then also uses the treatment on Snuka so they can fight the invisible killer, on the assumption that anyone working closely with the professor must be a person of impeccable character. Not quite...
  • Cwen's Quest: This seems to be case with the Witch Queen. She is easily the most magically inclined character in the series, and while normally smart, she seems incapable of mentioning the word magic without bursting into bouts of insane Maniacal Laughter that would scare most versions of the Joker. It is even clearer she is brilliant but insane in her Twitterings.
    • Also, Cwen's father. We get to see his centuries-long metamorphosis in short bursts from a science nerd to a fashion-obsessed neglectful parent with a loose grip on reality, due to the power that his technology granted him.
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  • In Mark Shallow's current webcomic, Antihero for Hire, Wizard is an example of this, despite being extremely intelligent. Waterfall, an adversary using the same technology, snaps with the same kind of insanity at the sight of her sisters being threatened, which invoked It's Personal.
  • In El Goonish Shive, this is revealed to be the reason why Immortals "reset" every two hundred years. As time goes by, they become "more bored, more powerful, and less sane," which as Jerry notes is "kind of a bad combo." This is why Pandora acts the way she does, since alleviating boredom through certifiably insane plots is her entire reason for doing things. She stopped counting her age at 299, which was a few centuries ago, and her immediately previous incarnation remembers the last time magic changed its own rules, which was so long ago that the fact this even can happen was lost to time.
  • In Endstone, rocking the Banestone will drive the rocker crazy.
  • Dragos from The Beast Legion falls into this trope perfectly & it's clearly seen in the dialogue on the final page of Issue 2. But he does have a great amount of power to back his claim.
  • In Moon Crest 24, Drake accuses Aleck of this.
  • Eerie Cuties arc "Doom Panties". Chloe was always a shy nice girl, except when her friend shared a bottle and "her inhibitions just melted". When her succubus powers got boosted, she began to "feel awesome" and put up quite a show, quickly rolling to the "scary" side. No malice at all, but Chloe won't let anything stand in the way of her fancy — and since she got an excess of power to begin with, for almost anyone else it's a cue to take cover.
  • There are three varieties of this in Homestuck:
    • Grimdarkness, which Rose acquires when she Goes Mad From The Revelation of knowing the moral nature of The Noble Circle of Horrorterrors. In this state, she only speaks in Eldritch Language, wields the horrorterrors' cosmic power, and has only her inevitably doomed Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Bec Noir on her mind. She is cured of it only when Bec Noir kills her and John revives her dreamself.
    • The Rage Aspect, especially in the hands of "destructive" classes. Both of the trolls to which Rage powers are bestowed are quite mild-mannered at first. Indeed, half the powers of Prince and Bard involve either the destruction of Rage or the invitation to destroy Rage. It's the other half of those powers, where Kurloz destroys with Rage and Gamzee invites destruction through Rage, that, with the right triggers, make both of them, along with their ancestral counterparts, the Monster Clowns that they are.
    • And finally, Trickster Mode. Aesthetically, it looks like the polar opposite of Rose's eldritch throes, but it makes a user just as insane, if not more. While it's first engaged by Jane when she licks a lollipop juju laced with a powerful Psycho Serum, it's also a contagious Corruption. It gives any player who engages it manic euphoria, making them appear insanely happy and giving them bright, candy-themed clothing, accessories, and even powers that only barely mask the mental side-effects. The worst part? It spread from Jane to Jake, Roxy, and Dirk before finally wearing off.
  • Crankrats: So it turns out having your organs replaced by a series of mechanical steampunk abominations tends to make you go mad with power. We couldn't possibly have seen that coming.
  • Blindsprings has the Gravers, Orphics that have their magic twisted by Academist sigils implanted in their bodies. Thanks to the opposite nature of the two types of magic in them, they're extremely powerful but extremely unstable at the same time, a bad combination for both those around them and themselves.
  • Widdershins: Although most wizards can keep a level head about their magic, the bounty hunter Harry Barber has seen her fair share of the ones who go off the deep end, so her perception of an ordinary wizard is a bit skewed.
    Sidney: Surely you see lots of wizards in your line of work.
    Harry: Not... normal ones. It's mostly the mad types, and they're less subtle. Y'know... fine for years, then suddenly it's "OoOOoh I will summon an anger spirit because my neighbours' dog did its doings in my garden". Nutters.
  • This turns out to be the main reason for Leena's drop into madness in Looking for Group — she was a descendant of the Archmage, and it turns out that the power contained is enough to seriously warp a brain. When Richard volunteers to take her power, she asks him, "Aren't you worried about going insane?" To which he replies, "Does water worry about getting wet?"


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