Strap on your electrodes, rev up the time machine and get ready for the Top 10 Mad Scientists of all time!
1: Victor Frankenstein
He robbed graves, cut up corpses, sewed the pieces together and then brought the results to life. If he wasn't mad, Victor (Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley, 1818) was certainly in need of a long vacation.
In Mary Shelley's book the creature never gets a name — it's always monster, fiend, devil and so on — but in popular culture maker and monster get confused; perhaps showing where the real horror at the heart of the book lies.
2: Dr. Strangelove
Reportedly based on some real-life scientists, including John von Neumann (a brilliant mind who played tennis while wearing his business suit), German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun (space program father and ex-Nazi), and Edward Teller (known as the father of the hydrogen bomb; another scientist once said, "It would have been a better world without Teller"), Dr. Strangelove (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Stanley Kubrick, 1964) certainly has a distinguished pedigree.
Near the end of the movie, Dr. Strangelove suggests that a few hundred thousand people be relocated to a mineshaft, where the nuclear fallout cannot reach them, so that the U.S. can be repopulated afterward.
3: Dr. Herbert West
Dr. Herbert West ("Herbert West: Reanimator," H. P. Lovecraft, 1921) was yet another of our finalists who wanted to cheat death -- the only problem with his plan was the subject actually had to die first. Turns out that reanimating someone who was dead and buried has a severe impact on their social skills. None too pleased about being woken up from eternal slumber, West's subjects acted out by killing and eating people.
Despite all this drama, Dr. West keeps re-animating corpses -- demonstrating that mad scientists need to be not just crazy, but driven and determined as well.
4: Dr. Moreau
Unlike some of the scientists on the list, Dr. Moreau (Island of Doctor Moreau, H.G. Wells, 1896) did not want to just raise the dead. No, this doc wanted to create his own race.
Holed up a remote island, Dr. Moreau was free to conduct all kinds of nasty experiments on wild creatures with no oversight. Moreau's cruel experiments generated creatures that were part human and part leopard, ox or ape.
More than just driven, or curious, Moreau was a sadist who enjoyed inflicting harm on defenseless creatures.
5: Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth
Not content to concentrate on one bad idea and really run that sucker into the ground, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (Futurama animated TV series) earns a spot on this list thanks to the sheer number of his dangerous, deadly and just plain useless ideas.
Want a doomsday device? He's got several. Up for a suicide mission? He'll hook you up. Just remember to run when he says he's got good news. He's probably lying.
6: Dr. Henry Jekyll
If you're worried that you may be a mad a scientist, ask yourself this question: do you do experiments in controlled environments? Or do you prefer to test your theories on yourself? If you answered yes to the second question, you may be a mad scientist — one like Dr. Jekyll (Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886). Please step away from the knife.
Disgusted at his own dark side, Jekyll makes a potion intended to turn him into two people: one totally good and one fully evil. Of course things don't work out as planned, and the dark Mr Hyde begins to exert control over the more mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll. Chaos and death ensue.
Brilliant and looney, Rotwang, (Metropolis, Fritz Lang, 1927), looks the part of the mad scientist. His lab, with its Tesla coils, pipework and switches up the wazoo, became the prototype of all mad scientist labs to come.
In this crazy lab, he created a robot version of his long-lost wife and then used the lady-bot to get revenge on his enemies. How romantic. Not.
8: Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ernst Stavro Blofeld of the James Bond films may be more of "evil genius," but in the actual Ian Fleming novels the character has a real background in science — as real as it can be with a specialization in "radionics."
Many of Blofeld's characteristics have become cliché s of supervillains in popular fiction, from the scarred face and bald head to the obsessive stroking of a pet cat.
9: Doc Brown
The nicest of all the mad scientists on the list, Doc Brown, from Back to the Future, isn't a killer. He doesn't really hurt anyone, unless you count the pain caused by being hit on by your own mother.
His only crime was building a time machine … out of a Delorean. But still -- messing with time creates all kinds of problems and chaos, just like the general havoc all mad scientists produce in one form or another.
10: Dr. Eldon Tyrell
Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Blade Runner, Ridley Scott, 1982) embodies many of the best mad scientist hooks: greedy businessman, man trying to be God, extreme hubris, lust for power — and we could go on.
His crushing end at the hands of one of his own creations is sweet justice in one of the best sci-fi films ever made. In the end Tyrell personifies his own corporation's motto "more human than human."