The archetype of the "crazy, mad scientist" has thrived for decades, and nowhere has it been better displayed than through the world of animation. Out of the annals of history, 15 figures have emerged as the best mad geniuses we’ve ever seen. But only a select few have the skill and the true moral apathy to truly be named crazy.
Inspired by this weekend's Ratchet & Clank movie, we got to thinking about our favorite loony scientists, in animated form. Behold this crop of mad geniuses, ranked in order of their level of craziness.
The Brain (Pinky and The Brain)
While The Brain, he of Pinky and The Brain fame, is a mad scientist, he really isn’t that crazy. As a matter of fact, he’s probably the most sane out of the entire lot. Sure, his schemes may be rather complicated, but with plots that range from faking an alien invasion a la War of the Worlds to becoming a hypnotically successful Country music phenomenon, The Brain is not as crazy as some of the other people on this list. In fact, if this were a "smartest mad scientists" list, he’d probably be at the top. But alas, his crazy just isn’t that strong, with his most insane accomplishment being the enlistment of Pinky as his assistant.
Professor John Nerdelbaum Frink, Jr (The Simpsons)
Most mad geniuses have a decent failure rate with their various inventions, considering that 9 times out of 10 there’s a hero ready to thwart them at a moment’s notice. With that logic in mind, The Simpsons’ Professor Frink has been fighting against the ultimate hero: Fate. We say this because the Professor’s inventions manage to backfire and fail almost every time John Frink thinks up a new one. Not to mention, one of his most notable "achievements" was creating a machine that labeled the secret ingredient of the Flaming Moe cocktail as "Love." Failure and buffoonery could grant Professor Frink gold medals all around, but he comes in almost dead last at the Crazy Genius Olympics.
After defeating their arch-nemesis in a battle of wills, any crazy scientist would turn their genius powers to conquering and consuming the world and its citizens. The most that Megamind’s titular scientist can do when he destroys the goodie-two-shoes known as "Metro Man" is try to create a new nemesis to fight against. Defeating a hero might get any other genius on the list a prime placement on the higher end of the spectrum, but the fact that Megamind is pretty useless as a mad genius once he’s defeated Metro Man is pretty horrible. While he may have found new purpose as a superhero, the field of crazy mad scientists makes Megamind look like a punk.
Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz (Phineas and Ferb)
Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated is an outfit that excels at catchy jingles, scientific advancements ending in "-inator," and capturing animal secret agents. And somehow, the menace of the Tri State Area has managed to almost always be defeated by one special Platypus, codenamed Agent P. But the greatest strike against Heinz Doofenshmirtz’ career as a mad scientist is the fact that he had success in his sights during the Phineas And Ferb series finale… and he gave it up in the name of his daughter’s dreams. Heinz may be a great father, and an amicable mad scientist that can get along with his secret agent enemy, but he’s a lousy evil genius.
Gru & Dr. Nefario (Despicable Me)
Smarts are in no short supply on this list, especially when it comes to Gru and Dr. Nefario - the mad scientific geniuses of the Despicable Me universe. Between the two of them, evil deeds such as the shrinking of the Moon, adopting three children for the express purpose of stealing the shrink ray needed to complete said theft, and switching allegiances once their partner has softened to the joys of parenthood are not off limits. Of course, just as easily, both men can become really sweet and loyal to each other’s cause. Still, with Gru’s Moon plot and Dr. Nefario’s temporary alliance with El Macho, these guys are made to be each other’s friends in failure when their evil plots don’t work out.
Doctor Nefarious (Ratchet & Clank)
Trust is something that’s hard to earn, yet at the same time easy to break. Just ask Doctor Nefarious, the villain of the Ratchet & Clank universe, who used to serve Captain Qwark and the Galactic Rangers. But, surprise surprise, the evil genius was playing both sides, and eventually defected to the evil ranks of the slimy Chairman Drek - who wants to create his own perfect, patchwork planet out of pieces from other planets. Something tells us that Doctor Nefarious shouldn’t be trusted by anyone, even the villainous Drek, as his loyalties are only exceeded by his expertise in robotics and planetary destruction.
Dr. Alphonse Mephisto (South Park)
"The Seven-Assed Galopagos Turtle," pretty much sums up the career of Dr. Alphonse Mephisto, the genius of South Park that knows genetic manipulation about as well as the back of his hand. Though knowing Dr. Mephisto, he could grow an exact replica of that hand on the back of a random animal, which is both an ingenious method of cheating, as well as pretty twisted. But his preoccupation with creating animals of varying quantities of buttocks is what makes him such a crazy entry into this list. As if having one ass wasn’t enough, this madman decided seven was a solid number to win a Nobel Prize. That’s pretty damned crazy, albeit only the gateway to the final listing of crazy geniuses in our rankings.
Dexter / Mandark (Dexter's Laboratory)
Dexter and Mandark may be the youngest crazy mad scientists on this list, but throughout the course of Dexter’s Laboratory, both geniuses have shown a passion for defeating each other, and all that stand in their way. Even deadlier still is the fact that the two kid geniuses don’t let things like "morals" or "safety" get in the way of their plans. Their irresponsibility has lead to, but is not limited to, extreme enlargement of a human being, accidental interdimensional conquest via some nasty creatures that crossed into our world, rapid aging, brain swapping, and even petty theft. And somehow, no one’s died because of their reckless behavior, which only makes things seem that much crazier in the world of Dexter’s Laboratory.
Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (Futurama)
Reading Professor Farnsworth’s accomplishments on his Wikipedia page, all it takes is the contents of the first paragraph to put the doddering old fool on this listing. And yet, reading up on the way he runs the Planet Express is where the really harmful stuff begins, as his legitimate corporation seems to excel at putting its employees in harm’s way. Yet through all of the alien invasions, accidental conquests, and cancellation cliffhangers Futurama has put its characters through, the fact that good old Professor Farnsworth knows the dangers he sends his crew into is what makes him a crazy genius who borders on being a psychopath. Still, who could fault him for doing the things he does after exclaiming an infectiously cheerful, "Good news, everyone?"
Sheldon J. Plankton (The SpongeBob Movies)
The textbook definition of madness is doing the same thing, and expecting a different result. While Spongebob Squarepants’ arch-villain, Plankton, doesn’t use the same plot over and over again, he defines madness in his own special way. Mainly, all he seems to care about is obtaining the Krabby Patty formula from Mr. Krabs, if only to corner the fast food market of Bikini Bottom. Of course, he also dabbles in world domination, but either way you slice it the technology that Plankton is capable of developing would easily put the world he inhabits in a chokehold. But his insane focus on Mr. Krabs and his fast food empire cause him to be impatient, thus losing him the battle in the end.
Rick Sanchez (Rick and Morty)
While he’s a devout man of science, and an alcoholic cross between Doc Brown and The Doctor, Rick and Morty’s Rick Sanchez is above all a nihilist. His believes have even rubbed off on his grandson Morty a little bit, as their travels across barriers of time, dimension, and space have left them in a particularly odd viewpoint on life itself. Rick is the type of scientist Ian Malcolm would deplore, as he never stops to think if he should do something, but vaults right into getting it done at all costs. That, and he did kind of set up a sort of a miniature Jurassic Park style theme park inside of a living subject. The fact that Rick puts his family in jeopardy countless times, through direct and indirect action, puts him even higher on the "mad" list.
Dr. Weird (Aqua Teen Hunger Force)
For years, the folks at Aqua Teen Hunger Force opened their show with the exploits of this madman, who set up shop somewhere on the South Jersey Shore. With killer corn, the ability to stuff himself into the confines of a chicken, and even the creation of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force under his belt, Dr. Weird is pretty accomplished as a mad scientist. However, his crazy exceeds even his genius, as only he would want to pay for a real estate transaction with actual flesh and blood. Also, have you seen that "hairarium?" That alone shouts "crazy" to the rooftops.
Syndrome (The Incredibles)
The craziest scientist on this list is the definition of a sociopath, Buddy Pine’s rejection by his mentor, Mr. Incredible, fueled him to become a scientific genius for all of the wrong reasons. The world could use things like Zero Point Energy, impenetrable metal, and advanced robotics of great power and strength for a number of excellent causes. But that’s not what Buddy, now known as "Syndrome," uses them for. In fact, his quest to exterminate all superheroes, including The Incredibles’ main hero, is the polar opposite of beneficial to society. With a superiority complex that matches his technical prowess, Syndrome is the craziest mad scientist in the entire field. Anyone who decides to try and steal a baby in the jaws of defeat, after trying to blow up their enemy’s family and conquer the world, is something that no one else on this list has attempted. Which means that the creepy grin of Buddy "Syndrome" Pine conquers all in our quest to find the craziest mad scientist in animation.
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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