The Madness Place

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"There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line."Oscar Levant

Normally, when working on something important, a character will eventually have to stop. Fatigue, starvation, or even just enemies bursting into the workplace will put a damper on anyone's study habits. There are also moral reasons to stop--the experiment is a crime against nature, the "volunteer's" crying finally gets to you, etc. There's no shame in taking a break.

Mad scientists think that kind of attitude is for wimps.

When these guys get involved--or perhaps we should say obsessed--with a project, they ignore all distractions. The prisoner's crying? I don't hear anything. Crime against nature? I haven't been outside in ten years, so I don't really care. Food, sleep? Obstacles. And enemies jumping into the lab are like volunteers you don't have to hunt down with a taser.

Those who have found the Madness Place are very productive...for a time. Sometimes even a long time. But eventually, they come back, and have to deal with mere mortals again.

For obvious reasons, this trope is usually associated with the Mad Scientist, but it can appear alongside other personalities. As touched upon above, those in the madness place tend to forget to eat, bathe, and sometimes talk. They may think they've said something, or think it's so blindingly obvious they shouldn't have to mention it. In a sense, It's All About Me.

Compare Happy Place. Not to be confused with the Crazy Place.

Examples of The Madness Place include:

Anime and Manga



  • Superman: Last Son of Krypton. When Superboy gives a teenage Lex Luthor his own laboratory, Lex goes into this state.

Some of Lex's classmates and a few of the teachers he had not yet intimidated left food outside the laboratory door. Clark Kent, the only student that the Smallville High faculty trusted not to copy answers that were often more accurate than teachers' answer keys, got the job of leaving Lex's tests and homework in the laboratory mail slot. Some days the food was gone in the morning, but it generally remained. Twice during the two weeks the accumulated assignment pages were tugged in through the mail slot. The next morning, both times, they were in a neat pile, correct and completed, on the ground outside under a basket of rotted fruit. No one ever saw the door open, not ever. Even Superboy had no idea what was going on inside. He had lined the walls and venetian blinds with thin lead sheeting. For three weeks Lex was very like a mystical medieval hermit living in a cave.

Tabletop Games

  • In Genius: The Transgression Geniuses are known to do this, but there's no actual rules for it.
  • The Lunar Exalted have this as a power in the shape of Inevitable Genius Insight.

Video Games

  • Dwarf Fortress: In this game, your dorfs will sometimes be taken by a 'strange mood', which will cause them to find a workshop, kick out whoever's using it, and lock themselves up in it. They will then start either yelling, mumbling, or drawing the materials they want, unless they're psychotically depressed, in which case they'll either steal a corpse or kill a dwarf and use his remains to make their project. The will never leave for food, booze, or rest. If you get them all the materials they want, they'll create a valuable artifact and instantly gain legendary experience in the field of whatever they were making (with the exception of one mood). Failure to get them the materials, however, will cause the dorf to slip into incurable insanity and invariably die (and in the case of one flavor of insanity, try to take your other dwarves down with them).


  • El Goonish Shive. The first three panels of this strip with Tedd in full Mad Scientist mode. Note the Scary Shiny Glasses.
    • This is also the focus of the "One Way Road" arc. Only it's referred to as "Obsessive geek overdrive mode."
  • Girl Genius is the Trope Namer. When Sparks retreat advance to their Madness Place, amazing things can happen.
    • Note: Amazing things may or may not include killing, rebuilding a glider in mid flight, building an escape machine in your sleep, and killing and reanimating yourself and your boyfriends to cure one of them of a disease.
  • A Miracle of Science has this happen fairly often to SRMD sufferers, often after they get caught (though fortunately the symptoms are pretty predictable at that stage)

Web Original

  • In The Dr. Steel Show, Episode 2, Doctor Steel seems to be going to this place as his robotic toy creation begins to work and walk around. At least until he runs out of quarters...
  • In the Whateley Universe, Devisers (Mad Scientist types) have a penchant for going into their Madness Place every now and then. It's so prevalent amongst those portions of the student body that the cafeteria even offers 'Deviser Specials', comprised of finger food and other offerings edible on the fly.

Western Animation

  • Gear from Static Shock has a tendency to go into one of these and come out with a whole bunch of high tech gadgets.

Real Life

  • Nikola Tesla had this in Real Life. Then again, it makes sense for him, as he invented codified the trope of Mad Scientist.
  • Henry Cavendish was apparently never able to leave this state due to (at a bare minimum) crippling shyness. As a child he supposedly locked himself in a room and derived all of Euclid's laws by hand. He ended up doing important work in just about every field of physics (including ones that didn't yet exist) as an adult but never published any of it.

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