With Halloween upon us, we had to ask ourselves, who are the most legendary fictional scientists to have graced film and literature?
With arch nemeses, secret lairs, and crazy, wild hair, our list of “mad” scientists are sure to frighten a few. While others on the list simply might have been childhood favorites that bestowed a love of science on you.
So here is our list (in no particular order) of the most legendary fictional scientists!
Dr. Victor Frankenstein
One of the original “mad” scientists! Dr. Victor Frankenstein is a young scientist who is obsessed with creating life in the shape of a grotesque but intelligent creature in some very unorthodox ways. The story, Frankenstein, was molded together after a night of ghost stories between the author, Mary Shelley; her husband, Percy Shelley; Lord Byron; and John Polidori after they challenged each other to see who could write the best horror story. It is safe to say that Mary won that bet!
Dr. Henry Jekyll…but definitely not Mr. Hyde
No one on our list battles the fight between good and evil more than Dr. Jekyll. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, tells the story of a prominent London scientist obsessed with his theory that man has a “good” side and a “bad” side. After drinking a potion that would eliminate the evil in him, he instead created his alter ego, Mr. Edward Hyde, whom he quickly lost control of. His theory was correct, but the results were dire.
Dr. Emmett “Doc Brown” Brown
A time-travelling DeLorean sports car, an amazing catch-phase, and eccentric, wild hair make Doc Brown one of the most beloved movie characters of all time. We meet the passionate inventor in the first Back to the Future film, when he informs his part-time lab assistant, Marty McFly, that he is on the run from Libyan terrorists after stealing their plutonium. The rest is history after everything unfolds in the parking lot, and McFly hits the magic 88 mph to fly back into time. Great Scott!
Dr. Frank N. Furter
It’s so hard to find love sometimes. And Dr. Frank N. Furter, a mad scientist from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, discovered that first-hand after he decided to create himself a young muscle man in his laboratory. This eccentric spin-off of Frankenstein introduces the world to a cult-classic punk rock musical that is still celebrated today at theater showings with attendees dressed up in costumes and singing along to the film’s greatest hits. Even though his “hunky” man creation didn’t choose him, Dr. Furter still goes down as one of the greatest and most stylish fictional mad scientists out there!
Dr. Julius No
Dr. Julius No is one of the most famous James Bond villains, from his namesake film, Dr. No. A brilliant scientist with hands crudely made of bionic metal, which eventually lead to his demise, Dr. No’s evil plan involves disrupting an early American space launch with a radio beam weapon. Dr. No was an absolute success and launched an era of secret agent movies, with “mad scientists” enemies to battle.
It is said that one of the greatest forms of flattery is imitation. So, one can only assume that Mike Myers LOVES James Bond. Written by Mike Myers, who also starred as both the title character and the main villain, Dr. Evil, the Austin Powers trilogy contains some of the funniest and most quoted spoof spy films ever made. With multiple schemes to terrorize and take over the world, Dr. Evil, along with right-hand man Number Two, his cat Mr. Bigglesworth, and of course, his sidekick, Mini-Me try multiple times in multiple movies to destroy Austin Powers. After attending evil medical school, then being frozen for thirty years, some of Dr. Evil’s conquests for world domination include some fantastic “accidental” pop culture puns like “Death Star”, “The Alan Parsons Project”, and “Preparation H”. So, with our pinky fingers pointed at our mouths, we salute you, Dr. Evil!
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein
With Young Frankenstein, we come across another imitation of the old story Frankenstein, but this time with a twist. The American comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks follows Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced Frank-en-steen), played by Gene Wilder, as he travels to his recently inherited family estate in Transylvania, the home of his infamous mad scientist grandfather, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. With the assistance of the hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant, Igor (pronounced eye-gore) and the lovely assistant, Inga, Frederick resumes his grandfather’s experiments of re-animating the dead. And from the moment those famous words, “It’s ALIVE!” are belted throughout the laboratory, hilarity and chaos ensue, as the monster with an abnormal brain runs amok.
The Hulk smashes this list as it re-imagines Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde) as a superhero. In Marvel Comics’, The Incredible Hulk, we meet Bruce Banner, a physically weak and socially withdrawn physicist, and his alter ego Hulk, the green-skinned, hulking, and muscular monster with an enormous amount of strength. After an accidental exposure to gamma rays during the detonation of an experimental bomb, Banner is physically transformed into the Hulk, which usually results in destructive rampages. Definitely wouldn’t want to make this scientist mad!
Genetically enhanced laboratory mice, Pinky and the Brain reside in a cage in the ACME Labs research facility. In every episode, Brain’s motive was always the same—try to take over the world! These schemes always ended in failure, usually due to Pinky’s idiocy or the impossibility of Brain’s plan, but this never stopped Brain to keep on trying. Several episodes take place in historical times, with Pinky and the Brain in the laboratory of different scientifically-minded people like Merlin, H.G. Wells, and Ivan Pavlov. And like many great mad scientists on the list, Brain has himself an arch nemesis, Snowball the hamster. Even though Brain was never able to achieve world domination, he always had the hyperactive—yet kind—cage mate, Pinky, with him to try again the next day.
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew
We close out the list with the brilliant mind of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. The Muppet character from The Muppet Show is a bald, green-skinned, bespectacled scientist that helps bring the love of science to life for the show’s young audience. Dr. Honeydew would do periodic science segments from “Muppet Labs, Where the Future is Being Made Today.” Honeydew’s experiments would not usually go very well, causing harm to his exceptionally nervous assistant Beaker. Some of his marvelous inventions included edible paper clips, gorilla detector, hair-glowing tonic, banana sharpener, and an electric nose warmer.