A mad scientist is a stock character of popular fiction, specifically science fiction. The mad scientist may be villainous or antagonistic, benign or neutral, and whether insane, eccentric, or simply bumbling, mad scientists often work with fictional technology in order to forward their schemes, if they even have a coherent scheme. Alternatively, they fail to see the evil that is implied will ensue from the hubris of playing God. Not all mad scientists are evil or villains. Some may have benevolent or good spirited intentions, even if their actions are dangerous or questionable, which can make them accidental villains. In the same relation, some are protagonists (or at least positive forces), such as Dexter in the animated series Dexter's Laboratory, Dr. Muto, Dr. Benjamin Jeffcoat, or Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown from the Back to the Future movies. Occasionally, there are self parodies of mad scientists making fun of the stereotype.
Relations to evil genius
Though the archetypes often overlap, a mad scientist need not be an evil genius. Some mad scientists are simply scientists who have become obsessively involved with their studies and so have begun to develop eccentricities beyond normal standards and tolerances; evil geniuses, on the other hand, are geniuses that use their gift for clearly expressed consciously evil purposes. For example, some mad scientists would test the bounds of science to create an army of zombies, and they might do it to see if – or prove that – they could, as in a proof of method, or out of boredom, to impress people, to help clean up their house, or many other such reasons. The Walt Disney character Gyro Gearloose may have been a mad (but kindly) scientist, but he was certainly not an evil genius. More to the point, an evil genius would construct an army according to a preconceived purpose, such as taking over the world – in addition to being evil, such characters tend to have large-scale ambition (see Megalomania in fiction). A mad scientist may be a naïve pawn of an evil genius, the evil genius often promising the scientist the funds and resources to conduct their research unaware of the evil purposes for which their work will be used. Mad scientists also, whilst definitely being intelligent, if not necessarily brilliant, usually fail to think things through to their conclusion, while an evil genius is usually a clever planner and would have a diabolical use for the army of zombies as well as a plan to avoid being killed by them. A quick way to tell the difference is that a mad scientist thinks "can I do this?" whilst an evil genius thinks "what can I use this for?"
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