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Made in 1987, Maniac Mansion was LucasArts' first in a long line of Point-and-Click adventure games (before they gave up on this genre and started making Star Wars tie-ins instead). The game is about Dave Miller, an 1980s teenager, and his group of friends (each with their own set of skills, including the nerdy machine-minded Bernard, musicians Syd and Razor, photographer Michael, author Wendy, and surfer beach-bum Jeff) who break into local Mad Scientist Doctor Fred's house to rescue Dave's girlfriend Sandy from having her "pretty brains" sucked out in an experiment. It is soon revealed that Fred is being mind-controlled by an evil meteor, and it is up to the gang to save not only Sandy, but perhaps the entire world. Tim Schafer was involved with its production.
Notable for its general non-linearity for an 1980s adventure game, complete with Multiple Endings of varying happiness depending on what characters you choose.
Also notable in that it was one of the first point'n'click adventure games, with an entirely mouse-oriented interface, and whose game engine (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, better known as SCUMM) would be updated and re-used for many future LucasArts adventure games, up until its final iteration in The Curse of Monkey Island.
Later spawned a Canadian TV series based (very) loosely on it.
Spawned a Time Travel based sequel: Day of the Tentacle, and two fan remakes: Maniac Mansion Deluxe, a windows compatible version with updated graphics, and Night of the Meteor, same as Deluxe but with more puzzles, more dialogue, more animation and Day of the Tentacle style graphics (still in production). Has also spawned a series of fan sequels named Maniac Mansion Mania.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Sandy is a cheerleader, and several characters are implied to have the hots for her:
- The most obvious example is her boyfriend Dave.
- At the start of the game, Bernard tries to back out of the rescue mission, but decides to stick around when Dave tells him that Sandy's the one they're trying to rescue.
- The Purple Tentacle chases her around Dr. Fred's lab in one cutscene. She's understandly Squicked out by it.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: In all the remakes, the Edisons have cyan blue skin.
- Attack of the Monster Appendage: Green Tentacle and Purple Tentacle.
- The Bad Guy Wins: If you kill off all your characters, this is the ending you'll get.
- Bad Omen Anecdote:"Hey, did any of you see that movie on television last night? These four kids went into this strange house and...uh, never mind."-Michael.
- Bathroom Stall Graffiti: Not really on the stall, but on the wall.
- Berserk Button: Weird Ed gets very, very upset whenever anyone messes with his pet hamster. Similarly, the Green Tentacle is insanely jealous of anyone else who gets a record deal instead of him.
- Big Damn Heroes: Recruit Weird Ed or the Green Tentacle and they will Just in Time bust in to save you from the Purple Tentacle (if you recruit both, Ed gets preference, but actually you can do it twice and the Green Tentacle will have his turn. Which is odd considering the sequel)...
- Big Red Button: There's one at the bottom of the pool that's used to cool the nuclear reactor that powers the mansion.
- Book Ends: If Bernard is on your team, the phrase "Don't be a tuna head" will be spoken both at the very beginning and very end of the game.
- Brain In a Jar: And several other organs in jars, in Cousin Ted's room.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: As it turns out, Dr. Fred isn't actually evil, and is actually being controlled by the Meteor in its efforts to take over the world.
- But Thou Must!: Invoked against Bernard at the beginning of the game, when Dave asks if anyone wants out. Apparently, he was being rhetorical.
- Cardboard Prison: The prison in the basement can be opened by someone pushing a brick inside the cell, allowing a second to walk free. In some versions, it only takes one person--this is not intentional. There's also an old rusty key on the living room chandelier, which will open the prison door, allowing all three characters to be freed.
- Censorship Bureau: The NES version of the game had seen many of the more adult-themed jokes undergo Bowdlerization and even being removed completely thanks to Nintendo of America's policy on such content. See this article for more details on these changes.
- Chainsaw Good: Subverted, as the chainsaw that is found is totally useless. It cannot work because it needs gas and there is no gas to be found in the game. There is an ironic Shout-Out in the other Lucas Arts adventure game Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders: in a base on Mars, there is a gas can found that is "for chainsaw use only" and the playing character will not pick it up, saying it is "for another game". The joke is taken even further in the 1989 Updated Rerelease of Maniac Mansion: in the arcade room is a poster of the Zak game and when the playing character reads it, he/she will comment about how this game is great but wonder what was the use of the gas can on Mars. There's also a reference to this in Full Throttle, where Razor shows up as a biker with a chainsaw.
- Commonplace Rare: You have to go through several difficult puzzles to acquire a stamped envelope needed to reach some endings.
- Companion Cube: Chuck the Plant may be a total red herring, but that didn't stop him from appearing in countless other games.
- Cowardly Sidekick: Bernard, who tries to run away at the beginning and runs away screaming when he meets Green Tentacle for the first time. He also tries to back out of the mission right at the start... at least until he learns that Sandy is the one they're trying to rescue.
- Cutscene: It is believed the word "cutscene" itself was first coined by Ron Gilbert while working on the game.
- Cutting Off the Branches: It seems like the ending where the Meteor is arrested has become canon, since Bernard is confirmed in Day of the Tentacle as being one of the kids who broke into the Mansion the first time around. Green Tentacle managing to get his band started, not to mention Weird Ed's original hamster being blown up in the microwave, also suggested that Razor or Syd was involved as well.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: If you're ever feeling bored, try sending every single possible thing to do to the manuscript or blank tape to the Three Guys Who Publish Anything. Including things like recording the tentacle mating calls, the broken record, or even just sending in the blank tape unaltered. Every possible permutation has a special cutscene available to watch.
- Dirty Coward: The Purple Tentacle. If you present the Meteor Police badge to him, he'll immediately begin grovelling for mercy and blame everything on Dr. Fred. He even goes so far as to tell you to kill the doctor.
- Distaff Counterpart: Razor to Syd, as they have the exact same ability.
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: "DO NOT PRESS [the button at the bottom of the pool] UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!"
- The Dragon: The Purple Tentacle to Dr. Fred. And Dr. Fred himself to the meteor.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Green Tentacle has mellowed out a LOT in Day of the Tentacle.
- The Eighties: Several cultural references, such as a poster saying "Disco sucks!" and a label saying "Tentacle on board!".
- Extreme Omnivore: The Green Tentacle, whose favorite dish is wax fruit.
- Forgotten Trope: The reason tentacles are made characters in this game and the sequel was apparently because old sci-fi movies with mad scientists tended to show severed octopus arms in their labs. Now, name a movie where you actually saw that...
- Going Critical: The titular mansion is powered by a nuclear reactor in the basement, which can be set off by draining the swimming pool (which is used to cool it) and letting the reactor overheat, turning off the power in the basement and allowing the reactor to short-circuit, or simply by setting off the mansion's security system, all of which lead to this trope (fortunately, it only kills everything in a five-mile radius).
- Guide Dang It: While not as bad as other games, this was made in the era when assuming the players to be psychics was common practice. Although thankfully the game isn't Unwinnable by Design.
- I Love Nuclear Power: A carnivorous plant can be grown instantly to giant size by giving it radioactive water.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: You wish.
- Joke Character: Jeff, the most useless partner character. His only ability is being able to fix a phone, which Bernard can also do anyway, and he is the only player character without an ability to reach the final area. The "college newspapers" that come with the game suggest that Jeff originally was supposed to have another ability: if you had him drop the radio into the swimming pool, he would get an electric shock and psychically intuit the combination to Dr. Fred's lab door.
- Just in Time: No matter what happens, you need to free Dr. Fred from the Meteor's mind control. If you do that, he'll apply this trope by disabling the self-destruct sequence right before the mansion explodes.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Characters will pick up anything lying around Dr. Fred's mansion, even rotting meat, hamsters or chainsaws.
- Left the Background Music On: In the NES version, each of the playable characters carries a CD player that plays that character's theme. You can turn them off or just leave them playing.
- Leitmotif: In the NES version, every kid has their own theme music, as do the 3 Guys. The inhabitants of the mansion all share one "spooky" tune (the computer versions were mostly devoid of music, save for the opening/ending and occasional demo tapes).
- Little Green Men: Alien police can be called in order to arrest the Purple Meteor. The policeman who comes is small and green.
- Live Item: Weird Ed's hamster. In both games.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Fred, of course.
- Man-Eating Plant: The previously-mentioned carnivorous plant. When giant, it has to be climbed onto but with it being carnivorous... it has to be watered Pepsi to keep it harmless (it can't stop burping long enough to eat you).
- The Man Behind the Man: Your heroes go into the mansion under the impression Dr. Fred is the Big Bad, but he's just a Brainwashed and Crazy pawn of the Meteor.
- The Many Deaths of You: Since it's actually fairly difficult to die, once the game is mastered part of the fun is in trying to find new and exciting ways to kill off your characters. There are also two slightly altered endings that can only be seen if a specific character dies.
"Oh no! Radioactive steam! Ahhheeeeee...."
- Mind Control Device: The Zom-B-Matic.
- Multiple Endings: The particular variables that affect the endings are whether Dave is dead or not, and whether the meteor has been launched into space, put into space jail, eaten by a mutant plant or decided to become a successful writer.
- Mummy: Cousin Ted. Whether he is undead or just a corpse is still a mystery even in the sequel. He slides sideways when the shower in his bathtub is turned on, but it could just be because of the water.
- No Delays for the Wicked: Subverted in that Dr. Fred had to cut a lot of corners building the Zom-B-Matic and the nuclear reactor that powers it. As he himself notes...
Dr. Fred: How can I take over the world when I'm on a budget? I always get stuck with cheap equipment!
- Non-Player Character: Every character save your three kids.
- Only Sane Man: Ironically enough is "Weird" Ed, who is definitely weird but the only guy in the house who seems to think there's some kind of problem going on, what with the bodies being dragged into the basement and all.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: The combination of the second door to the secret lab in the dungeon. Normally, you need to do a lengthy puzzle to fix the wires in the attic, and get the combination from Dr. Fred's high score in the "Meteor Mess" game. However, if the machine isn't turned on, guess what Fred's high score is? Yup, four zeros. Could also be a case of Good Bad Bugs.
- Deluxe fixed this bug.
- The Pennyfarthing Effect: In the original PC versions, you won't get an item's name when you mouse over it unless you're using the "What Is" verb. This makes it very hard to distinguish that some of the background objects are usable. Fortunately, it was fixed in the NES and later versions.
- Point and Click Game: One of the first of its kind.
- Precision F-Strike: "Boy is the meteor going to be PISSED!"
- Product Placement: A can of Pepsi. Oddly enough, most characters will refuse to drink it because it "makes [them] burp".
- Punny Name: Mark Eeter (Marketer) will publish anything!
- Reformed but Rejected: A possible ending. Pick a team of Bernard and Wendy. Re-write the Meteor's memoirs, but call the Meteor Police just before delivering the contract. They'll bust in to arrest him as he's schmoozing on live TV.
- Reluctant Monster: The green tentacle. Well, MOSTLY...
- The Renfield: Purple Tentacle. A particularly spineless and quick to defect example. He ultimately cares more about serving the Meteor than Dr. Fred, as evidenced how he willingly lets a kid with a publishing contract for the Meteor pass him.
- Required Party Member: Dave, who has no special abilities, though he also lacks Bernard's main drawback.
- Rule of Cool: Chuck the Plant.
- In fact, he's so cool that he appeared in further LucasArts adventures, as well as referenced in games completely unrelated to the company. Morrowind had a plant named Charles, which you can get an ingredient from, that ingredient? Meteor Slime. And Phoenix Wright keeps a plant in his office named Charley.
- Schmuck Bait: Come on, who didn't press the button at the bottom of the pool at least once?
- Self-Destruct Mechanism:
- Surfer Dude: Jeff.
- Taking You with Me: The Meteor is willing to let himself be destroyed along with you, the mansion and everything within it, and everything within a five mile radius, rather than have his plans thwarted.
- Teamwork Puzzle Game: The game operates on three playable characters, and cooperation is sometimes necessary.
- Ten-Second Flashlight: This or the Infinite Flashlight depending on which set of batteries you're using. The ten second flashlight lasts a long time everywhere except in the one place where you need it.
- Theme Naming: The Edisons' names are all either some variant of "Ed", or rhyme with it. Even their car is the "Weird Edsel".
- Token Minority: Mike, the African-American photographer, a nod to horror movies that usually have a token black character. Whether he dies first is up to the player.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can put a hamster into a microwave, set it on and the rodent will explode in a bloody mess. You can even give the remains to the original owner... Who will reward you by flying into a rage and horribly murdering the offender. Off-panel, of course. The sequel implies that this cruelty is canon.