Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Frankenstein (full title: Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus) is a novel by Mary Shelley, originally published in 1818, with a 1823 reprint without Shelley's involvement and a third edition in 1831, this time with significant edits from the author.

For more about the novel, see Frankenstein.

This novel has been adapted into a minor subgenre of movies and sequels:

  • Frankenstein (1910 film), a film written and directed by J. Searle Dawley, and the first film adaptation.
  • Frankenstein 1931 (1931 film), a film directed by James Whale and the first to star Boris Karloff as the title monster. Rather than the cynical, intelligent monster of the book, the Universal Studios version presents a childlike creature that Does Not Know His Own Strength. This is the best-known adaptation, locked in the creature's physical appearance in pop-culture, and spawned its own series of sequels and parodies:
  • Frankenstein 1970, a 1958 film directed by Howard W. Koch.
  • Frankenstein Conquers the World, a Toho film where the monster's immortal heart makes its way to Japan and after exposure to the Hiroshima blast, leads to a new giant-sized Frankenstein, who fights a giant fire-breathing lizard named Baragon. Followed by War of the Gargantuas, where two creatures grow from scraps left behind in the previous movie.
  • Hammer Horror made a series of Frankenstein films during the 1960s and '70s, starring Peter Cushing as the doctor. The first film, The Curse of Frankenstein, also had Christopher Lee as the monster.
  • Frankenstein: The True Story, a 1973 British Made for TV film directed by Jack Smight and written by Christopher Isherwood.
  • Frankenstein (1993 film), a 1993 made for television film directed by David Wickes
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994 film), directed by Kenneth Branagh and one of the more honest adaptations, although widely derided for its hammy acting and questionable casting.
  • A 1997 remake of House of Frankenstein made by NBC (can be seen here).
  • Frankenstein (US TV miniseries), a 2004 adaptation shown on the Hallmark Channel.
  • Frankenstein (2007 film), a 2007 adaption shown on ITV.
  • Frankenstein: La Opera Rock(2009 play) a Mexican Rock Opera adaptation of the book, taking references from some of the movies. Written, directed, and composed by José Fores, who also plays the role of the creature.
  • Frankenstein (Upcoming[when?]) Guillermo del Toro is planning his own adaptation, which will star Doug Jones as the monster.
  • Frankenstein's Wedding, a live musical filmed in Leeds, with the audience taking on the role of guests at Victor and Elizabeth's wedding.
  • Frankenstein, a 2011 play by Nick Dear and directed by Danny Boyle starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating as Frankenstein and the Monster. Scored with dark electronic ambient by the band Underworld too.

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Frankenstein franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.


  • Artificial Human
  • Audio Adaptation
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty: Victor Frankenstein never said "It's ALIVE!" in the original book.
  • Blind and the Beast: The creature tries to befriend a blind man, and it works! Except the man's family returns and casts out the creature before he can explain himself.
    • Sort of subverted in at least one version, where the blind man treats the creature politely... until his family tells him what the creature actually looks like, at which point he's horrified in spite of how nice the creature's been so far.
  • Character Title
  • Common Knowledge: Everyone "knows" that Frankenstein is the creature, or at least used to. Nowadays it's fairly common in fiction to hear one character snootily correct another about it being the name of the scientist and not the monster.
  • Creating Life: Easily the best example--perhaps not for Frankenstein, but certainly for Shelley
  • Creepy Long Fingers
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A Deconstruction. The Monster was not inherently evil, but All of the Other Reindeer made him so.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Trope Namer.
  • Grave Robbing: In most adaptations, how the parts to create the monster are obtained.
  • Herr Doctor: Possibly the Trope Codifier. More the films than the novel; both because the films' version of Frankenstein is more Germanic, and because in the original novel he never got his doctorate -- after the shock of seeing his creation realised, he switched to studying literature, then dropped his studies entirely to deal with the creature's vendetta against him.
  • Hubris: One of the themes of the plot.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Frankenstein is the scientist who builds the monster, not the monster himself.
    • Lampshaded in the third Universal film, when the train bearing Frankenstein's family arrives in their hometown.
      • Wolf Frankenstein: "Why, nine out of ten people call that misshapen creature of my father's experiments-"
      • Guard: "Frankenstein Village."
    • This confusion dates back nearly as far as the novel itself, and became established during periods when the actual book was out of print, but its characters and plot were being emulated by stage plays, knockoffs and parodies throughout the pre-copyright 19th century.
  • Mad Scientist
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Many people call Frankenstein's Monster "Frankenstein", while he actually has no name. "Frankenstein" is the name of his maker, Victor Frankenstein.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Type C.
  • Unbuilt Trope
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Creature.

The Movies

  • Age Lift: The Victor Frankenstein of the movies is an old, gray-haired Mad Scientist; the book's Victor Frankenstein is a 20-year-old college kid!
  • Completely Missing the Point: In the 1931 movie the monster has a "criminal brain" and kills on instinct or by accident, which clashes with the original monster that was a Blank Slate that only turned criminal when he understood the hopelessness of his situation.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Hells yes.
    • Which makes no sense. Being a man of science who was working with biology, you would really expect Dr. Frankenstein to rely on chemistry, and a lot less electricity when he needs to jumpstart the brain/heart.
    • Although electricity really does stop/start the heart from beating.
    • And this was written shortly after Galvanism was discovered - the way you could get dissected muscles to twitch by running electricity through them. The term "animal electricity" was coined as a result, and people really did toy with the idea that electricity = life force.
  • Mix-and-Match Man: While the novel's process never mentions the stitching together of body parts, nearly every movie version features this method.
  • Retcon: Both Frankenstein and his creation are pretty clearly killed at the end of the 1931 film, but preview screenings proved so successful that they changed the ending to allow for Vic--er, Henry's survival, and then implying that the monster also survived the fire under the windmill. James Whale originally refused to direct the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, but eventually decided to so he could make One More River. Knowing he could never top the original, he decided to make it "a hoot."
  • Silly Walk: A must for The Igor.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Many film adaptations.
  • Überwald
  • Working for a Body Upgrade: Several of the films make this The Igor's motivation for employment.