Bored with Insanity

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"As I'm sitting there with a severed head in my hand, talking to it - or looking at it and I'm about to go crazy - literally I'm about to go fly away loose and just far apart I say, 'wow. This is insane.'...and I told myself, 'no it isn't. You're saying that and that makes it not insane."
Edmund Kemper
"At first, I went mad, of course. But after a few millennia, I got bored with that, too, and went sane. Very sane."

There are many causes for insanity. Too many, honestly. However, insanity does have its limits; specifically, if you go past 9,999 you roll over the "insane-o-meter" and go back to being sane. Other characters simply grow bored with being insane and choose to become sane again. So they do.

Usually, this is more of a throwaway piece of dialogue or plot to explain how a character has managed to go back to normal or left the ranks of Cloud Cuckoo Landers. Of course, it is by definition uttered by an Unreliable Narrator, so they may or may not be as sane as they claim.

Examples of Bored with Insanity include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Seemingly has happened to Johan in Monster. He has been a mass murdering psychopath for pretty much all of his life, but he seems to have become pretty nonchalant about all the evil plots and groups that revolve around him and the possibility that he is the Anti Christ. He has seen a vision of The End of the World as We Know It several times, and while other characters are either horrified or entranced by this, he has grown weary of it and doesn't regard it as a big deal any more. His suicidal impulses can be traced to boredom with his own sociopathy.
  • Pretty much every Awakened Being in Claymore seems to be this.
  • Elfen Lied After Lucy has gotten through ripping apart, shooting down, breaking bones, gouging eyes, and staring down Bando, all she can say in the manga is "I'm bored."

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Justice League of America: Plastic Man on the 3000 years he spent scattered across the ocean floor: "Being crazy got boring after the first 1000 years, so I started writing poetry."
  • The Joker's done this multiple times, to the point that the character is often portrayed as "super sane", not being nearly as crazy as everyone else is. Whenever Batman appears to die, in fact. Or once when faced with an Eldritch Abomination.
    • Grant Morrison has had characters speculate that the Joker has a kind of super-MPD, so he reinvents his own personality every few years. One year he'll just go with practical jokes, the next year he won't kill anybody, the next he'll kill everybody... (Granted, said characters who forward these theories aren't exactly sane themselves.)
    • Maxie Zeus, for Batman: Cacophony, dropping his "I am Zeus" delusion and cutting all ties with the Mafia (or so he claims - he's still in touch, just not ranting at them in full regalia). A visit from the Joker has him snapping back.

[after witnessing an explosion that kills his nephew] ...get my toga.

  • The Sandman: Emperor Norton was a citizen of San Francisco who one day decided to proclaim himself Emperor of the United States, and made outlandish decrees from large-scale infrastructure projects to the prompt dissolution of the U.S. Congress. According to Delirium, "his madness keeps him sane."
    • This was a real person, by the way. Just goes to show you that reality really can be stranger than fiction. Even if that fiction includes living incarnations of abstract ideas on the metaphysical nature of existence.
    • On the subject of the reality, one cop, Armand Barbier, actually did arrest Norton with the intent of putting him in an asylum. There was a huge backlash from the citizens of San Francisco, including outraged news editorials, and the chief of police soon released Norton from custody saying "that he had shed no blood; robbed no one; and despoiled no country; which is more than can be said of his fellows in that line." While Joshua Norton clearly suffered from megalomania, he did so in such a way that let him continue in society in a way he couldn't when he was sane, but had lost everything.
  • Also in Sandman, Delirium, the embodiment of madness (and, according to her brother Destruction, by inclusion also the measure of sanity) is forced, when her brother Dream breaks down in the face of an impossible decision, to take charge, and go sane. In this state, she is downright scary without being menacing, but when she speaks of this later - having returned to her daft normal self - the memory is so traumatic she can only say "It hurt", while crying.
  • This happened once to Alice in Dilbert. She's ranting about some bizarre corporate policy, then abruptly stops and realizes that she's suddenly sane. Carol gently tells her to breathe into a paper bag until she gets over it.
  • Mr. Myxzptlk is said to go through cycles like this every few eons in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, where he claims to feel he's been random, chaotic, and "silly" for too long, and is just going to be evil for a few millennia.
  • Deadpool did this apparently, in an alternative future featuring in Cable's most recent comic series. He hides in a meat locker, gets buried within it, goes insane, plays tic tac toe for a few hundred years, gets bored, plays hangman against a personality he developed on purpose in order to be able to play hangman (complete with a college graduation hat thingy), decides his other personality is too intelligent, kills it, and then gets bored, goes sane, more or less, and gets freed by a bunch of scavengers. All in 800 years.
    • "Sane" is a relative term for Deadpool.
  • Dr. Eggman recently pulled off something similar in the ten issues following his descent into insanity in #200. A stray rebuke by another character caused the delusional doctor to begin to mumble and ponder, and seemingly through free-association, brought himself back to sanity, or at least a functional level of madness, depending on one's opinion.

Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • Played with as part of one Bleach fiction. The main character became a Hollow while maintaining his human mind; the stress of realizing he was a monster that needed to devour souls to survive drove him to insanity. Eventually the insanity broke and he tried other methods of passing the time that involved less murders.

Film (Live Action)[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Arthur Dent in Life, the Universe and Everything decided to go mad after being stranded on prehistoric Earth for a few years and Ford Prefect tells him this is a good idea (but that insanity is a gradual process and he shouldn't rush). Ford also says that he went mad for a bit and spent several months thinking he was a lemon and jumping in and out of a lake that thought it was a gin & tonic (at least he thinks he thought it was a gin & tonic... he may have been imagining it). Then he got bored with that, went sane, and tried to learn to fly.

Arthur: This is you sane again, is it? I ask merely for information.

    • Wonko the Sane may count. Sort of. Considering he believes that everyone is insane, and he decided to go sane and build a nice little asylum for everything in the universe save for himself, a small house, and the Pacific Ocean. Whether he is this or not depends on whether you agree.
  • The controversial and sometimes-cut 21st chapter of A Clockwork Orange has Alex doing this.
    • More bored with violence for the sake of violence. And it's hardly an Ass Pull: Alex states that he'd begun to feel bored with his usual activities for some time prior to the very end of the book.
  • Distantly related: Gabriel Syme from G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. The family he's born into is so full of social radicals, political radicals, religious radicals, and miscellaneous crackpots that when he reaches his teenage years, the only way he can rebel against his family is to become normal.
  • Terry Pratchett is fond of this: the obvious example is Vorbis from Small Gods.
    • Also with Jeremy Clockson in Thief of Time. Without medication, he becomes too sane.
      • His Igor doesn't think he's sane (there's a short section where he wonders if he finally got a sane master, but... ah, no). It is, however, likely that without his meds, Jeremy goes straight through sanity into... ytinasni?

Obviously, he reasoned, if sticking screws up your nose was madness, then numbering them and keeping them in careful compartments was sanity, which was the opposite-
Ah. No. It wasn't, was it...

    • Similarly, the Bursar of Unseen University is so insane that he sometimes hallucinates that he's sane.
      • In fact, the other wizards keep him well supplied with hallucinogens to keep him thinking he's sane, so he is. Apparently, this is a very common hallucination, one shared by most people.
    • Pratchett also has the very fun concept of knurd, which is like being drunk except in the other direction. Being very knurd makes you see things exactly as they are, which is enough reason for most people to start screaming and never want to be knurd ever again. Vimes's colleagues are of the opinion he was born slightly knurd, needing a stiff double just to be sober, which as he no longer drinks explains his cynical outlook before and after.
    • The duke in Wyrd Sisters alternates between this and being a complete and utter loony. The relevant quote is:

"The duke's mind ticked like a clock, and, like a clock, it regularly went cuckoo."

    • In The Art of the Discworld, Pratchett says that when your grandfather is Death you either have to go totally mad or completely sane. Susan's case is the latter.
  • Nakor from The Riftwar Cycle books often seems to be only marginally sane, except when something important is happening, in which case he becomes absolutely lucid. It's later revealed that he has in his possession an artifact that can reveal any and all knowledge at the cost of the owner's sanity, but "you can only be crazy for so long" and he's had it for a very long time...
    • Well, that and he stopped sleeping with the thing under his pillow.
  • Very bad things have been happening to Colonel Jax on a sentient hospital ship in Alastair Reynolds ' short story "Nightingale". He's been surgically altered into a human artwork intended to represent the horror of war. When told that he seems proud of the results (though still quietly crazy), he responds, "Would you rather I screamed? I can scream if you like. It just gets old after a while."
  • Ishamael, The Dragon for the Dark One in The Wheel of Time. When we first see him he is easily angered, has No Indoor Voice, and is basically inhuman, and he's so gone so insane that he believes he is the Dark One. After he dies and gets a new body, he's reached the other side of insanity; his new incarnation Moridin is a calm, patient Chessmaster who regularly draws on the True Power, which is supposed to be addictive and madness-inducing, with no negative side-effects. He's still a nihilistic Omnicidal Maniac, but he's perfectly logical and philosophical in his reasoning.
  • Bored with Insanity: In the last chapter of Don Quixote, a poster boy for Loony Fan of Chivalric Romance, his Fan Disillusionment is so great that he gets Bored with Insanity and comes back to his senses.

"I was mad, now I am in my senses; I was Don Quixote of La Mancha, I am now, as I said, Alonso Quixano the Good"

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • On Heroes, Sylar's biological father was, much like his son, a Serial Killer driven by a Horror Hunger to hunt down other superpowered people and steal their powers. According to him, one day he just realized how meaningless all the killing and power accumulating was, found an Addiction Displacement in taxidermy, and just quit. Then he sees Sylar demonstrate a Healing Factor that could cure the lung cancer he is slowly dying of, and he has a reaction much like an alcoholic being taunted with a free bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue.
  • Happens to Monk when his doctor has him trial a new medicine to snap him out of his anxiety and repetitive behavior. He becomes extremely personable, but can't focus in his usual way when he's called to investigate a crime scene. He ends up quitting only because he doesn't have the same dreams of Trudy anymore.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Paradox from the Ben 10 Alien Force episode (wait for it) "Paradox." He lived for hundreds of thousands of years, went insane, tired of that, and became sane again. Very, very sane. To the point of seeing reality exactly as it is.
  • Vandal Savage in Justice League—or, at least, he becomes self-conscious of his own mental instability and cuts down on the megalomania. Unfortunately said megalomania had already caused the ruination of the solar system by this point, which was the catalyst he needed to stop listening to it.
  • Dill from the Rugrats spin-off All Grown Up! is a Cloudcuckoolander. Then one day, the Coach was sick of it and wanted to make him normal. He confronted Dill with the news that his craziness was affecting others and his grades. So Dill decided to try and be normal. So he did. He became extremely boring, until Tommy snapped him out of it... because he needed Dill's crazy ideas for inventions to sell for concert tickets.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Arthas of Warcraft 3 gradually slips into insanity during his days as a Paladin, but then is mostly back to normal after he returns as a Death Knight, except that he's now evil.
    • And recently has gotten bored with having a split personality as the Lich King (his humanity, the evil spirit that possessed him, and his own mind) and killed the other two. Now completely evil.
    • Justified in that he stops acting insane the moment he loses his soul - he no longer cares about anything, and therefore has nothing to stress over... and he actually gains a sense of humor.

Arthas: WHO IS THIS "DARKNESS", ANYWAY!?

Arcueid: "It was so painful, I thought I was going to go crazy. However, the pain was so great, it restored my sanity. Do you know what it's like experiencing that over and over for a whole night? So, full of hatred, I went out to look for you. (...)"
Shiki: "...... I don't get it. If you hated me so much, why are you forgiving me?"
Arcueid: "---Let's see... to put it simply, I calmed down after a while."

  • Fujiwara no Mokou from Touhou. We only meet her after she's calmed down, but apparently she spent 300 years in a state where she could only preserve her sense of identity by killing everyone she met. And then got bored of that so she spent 300 years doing nothing. And then she got better.

Web Original[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • While insanity doesn't make one sane, in the way we think of it, there have been psychological and sociological arguments have made it rather evident that insanity is culturally defined. In some cultures hallucinations aren't a sign of madness, but a sign of connection to another world. Similarly, there have been cultures that engender megalomania in their code of conduct, and even at least one example of an isolated island culture where paranoia is the rule and a person who has killing rages is considered quirky and someone to avoid when he gets into his moods, whereas someone who is genuinely helpful and cheery is treated as genuinely nuts. What makes you crazy in one society makes you sane in another.
    • See also jokes and/or anecdotes about how insanity is perceived. One famous example: a man gets a flat tire and pulls over, coincidentally outside a mental hospital. As he's changing the tire, a truck passes too close and scatters his lugnuts. While he's pondering what he's going to do about this, he hears someone trying to get his attention. It's a man inside the hospital's fence. "Take one lugnut from each of the other wheels," the patient says; "that will hold on the spare long enough for you to buy some new lugnuts." The man thanks the mental patient and expresses his surprise that he was able to come up with such a clearheaded solution. "I'm in here because I'm crazy," says the patient, "not because I'm stupid."
  • Some sociologists are hoping that this will happen on a larger scale with current society and the internet. Once we are bored with such things as ubiquitous pornography, rampant cynicism and inability to take anything seriously and other things that can only be explained by a form of insanity, society (read the generation of current 10-40 year olds) as a whole will eventually tire of this and become rather serious and motivated because such things just won't be fun anymore.
    • Why not? It worked for the Hippies. Or should I say the Reagan generation?
    • At least until that bores them too and they move on to something else to stay entertained.
    • Ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit A. We're already seeing speculation that this is partly the reason for its popularity (some of the fans claim to have been at the nadir of /b/pravity before they discovered this show and done a complete 180), and the inevitable counters that it's just another form of insanity.
    • According to some of the denizens of /b/ (so take it for what you may), the whole pony thing is a way to make /b/ seem uncool to newcomers. That way when some new idiot shows up, having heard of /b/ and thinking "I gonna be cool and go hang out on /b/" they see the pony threads and go "WTF is this!? /b/ is uncool, see yah later." It's a test, not insanity.
  • An example of sorts in Real Life is people who have manic or depressive phases expressing annoyance and frustration at their condition in their lucid phases. This isn't quite the trope because, rather than being bored of their present insanity, they are bored the ongoing condition of having been insane and knowing they may become insane again.
    • This is often a case of many people who either are in a lucid state or simply become self-aware of a psychological issue that was self-blinding in nature. MPD, ADHD, certain types of paranoia, varying levels of schizophrenia... Although usually brought about through emotional trauma or heavy intervention, and almost always requiring extensive (if not life-long) therapy and medication, a surprisingly large amount of times, the impetus consists of little more than "not wanting to deal with the hassle any more."
      • As someone experiencing this to the letter (with, among other things, depression), it's not so much Nightmare Fuel as it is "Depression/Suicide/Fatalism/Learned Helplessness Fuel".
  • At least according to himself, Charlie Sheen is a real-world example.