Laughing Mad

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Some days are worse than others.

"Haven't you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?"

The JokerBatman (1989 film)

Trauma and tragedy tend to follow characters like plagues, and they often break them down, turning them into insane, jaded shadows of their former selves. This can often happen in various ways, but the best way to tell if a character just can't take it anymore is if they just break down and start laughing for no reason at all, or for all the wrong reasons. Usually, when this happens, they will continue to sit there, laughing uncontrollably, as if in a trance, until someone breaks them out of it, sometimes by a slap in the face.

Expect the laughing character to either gain control of themselves and apologize for losing it (while still emotionally fragile, of course), or, alternatively, simply stop caring about life. This may lead to them becoming distant, or become more harsh than before.

More often extreme cases occur, causing a character to turn to complete madness, either going into an insane asylum or possibly twisting them further.

On the flipside, villains are also prone to this. It is often shown as being fundamentally different than an evil laugh, usually shown as them either laughing a lot longer than normal, having the laugh sound more deranged than cold and boastful, or a combination of the two. This is normally shown if the writer wants to characterize the villain in a much more psychotic light and have a more frightening nature than normal. Expect it to also be used for a Villainous Breakdown in some cases.

Like Insane Equals Violent, this phenomenon is rare in real-life instances of severe mental illness. In fact, a common characteristic of schizophrenia is the absence of laughter, or indeed of other indicators of emotion ("flatness of affect"). Of course, the Truth in Television here might come from Bipolar Disorder, where mania causes inappropriate laughter on a euphoric scale—or Schizoaffective Disorder, which is the two in a blender. Then there's the simple fact that inappropriate laughter can accompany intense grief or anger, without actual mental illness needing to be involved - a related phenomenon is "hysterical laughter", where an intense bout of Inelegant Blubbering starts to resemble a laughing fit.

Not necessarily related to Evil Laugh, but definitely a type of Freak-Out. Is also a sure-fire sign of Sanity Slippage. Also see Put the Laughter In Slaughter for maniacs who engage in this regularly. Sometimes overlaps into Die Laughing, especially if it is the result of a Villainous Breakdown.

Not to be confused with Final Fantasy VI's Dancing Mad, although that game did act as the Trope Namer in regards to its main villain.

Examples of Laughing Mad include:

Anime and Manga

  • Suzaku Kururugi does this in episode 19 of season 2 of Code Geass after accidentally killing several million people with the FLEIJA bomb. This led to the creation of several Fan Nicknames, namely Laughzaku and LOLzaku. Sometimes Lulzaku is used.
    • Lelouch does this as well at the end of episode 17 in the first season. He has other laughs too, but that's the only one that actually sounds legitimately crazy.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, after being defeated and losing his entire fortune, Tarukane goes into convulsions of insane laughter, which only end after Toguro kills him.
  • Shaman King's Big Bad, Hao Asakura does this near the end of the anime.
  • In Azumanga Daioh, after a Beach Episode and everyone's back to school, quote Tomo: "this is the first day of vacation" repeating it like a mantra, following a Butthead-like laughter.
  • Appears in the series and film Vision of Escaflowne, especially with Ax Crazy Dilandau.
  • Franken Fran: Mr. Umimiya appears on the verge of a laughing nervous breakdown upon discovering his long lost daughter Ruri's (whom a maniacal cult worshipped as their prophet) body had become a part of the facility their standing in due to the cult requesting Fran that she create an enormous artificial body when she fell ill.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. All over the freaking place.
    • In fact, the first thing you see in the second arc, even before the opening, is a scene of Rika stabbing herself in the neck while Shion laughs maniacally. It then takes about 10 episodes before you're finally told the context, and that makes it even creepier.
    • For your viewing pleasure, some YouTube Poop of Shion laughing...for ten minutes.
  • In the intro of Paranoia Agent, everyone is laughing. In the most unlikely situations, such as a guy in freefall, a drowning woman... what better way to tell you're about to get mindscrewed?
  • Kotonoha from School Days does this frequently after her descent into crazyville.
  • Precia Testarossa in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, although she was fairly mad to begin with.
    • Jail Scaglietti does it frequently.
  • Quatre from Gundam Wing after witnessing the deaths of his father and most likely his sister Iria (it's only confirmed in the manga version of the scene).
  • Death Note anyone?
    • Also, the deleted scene where Light stays in the graveyard after L's funeral, starts laughing madly, proceeds to crawl on top of L's grave and shouts "What do you think of that, L? This is my perfect victory! That's right—I win!" with a crazed look on his face... and looks suspiciously like he's humping L's grave.
  • While he's sane afterward, the new Greed of Fullmetal Alchemist Ling is shown ending his Painful Transformation with a frightening Slasher Smile and some truly maniacal laughter.
  • Alucard of Hellsing certainly enjoys many inappropriate moments of insane laughter...but as he was crazy before, and is crazy after, the incidents don't represent any character development for him.
  • Hikari of Space Pirate Mito: A Pair of Queens.
  • Full Metal Panic!. Kaname has a crazy laugh that she gives whenever she's lying about something—such as the possibility of being attracted to that nutcase Sōsuke. Or denying that his latest bone-headed antic bothers her in the least. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
  • In Barefoot Gen, Gen's mother Kimie falls into this. It's quite appropriate after watching her entire family burn to death amongst their pleas for help.
  • Doctor Franken Stein of Soul Eater does this on several occasions. Definitely the Sanity Slippage variety.
    • The most striking would have to be after his fight with Medusa, with Stein breaking into a lovely example as stands with his scythe as the witch's blood rains down on him. Madness, apparently, feels good.
    • Anyone under the influence of the Black Blood would do this. Crona and Maka are examples.
    • Giriko does one in chapter 75.
  • Uchiha Sasuke from Naruto has an epic one in chapter 483, coupled with Sanity Slippage and Villainous Breakdown in a fashion very similar to his brother.
    • Not to mention Hidan of the Akatsuki. This guy wasn't sane to begin with, but once he gets into his rituals...
    • Gaara has a great one during his fight with Naruto.
    • In chapter 356, Kabuto has lost quite a bit of sanity following Orochimaru's death and reveals he has absorbed Orochimaru's remains. At one point he bursts into hysterical laughter.
    • In chapter 577 Kabuto does this after talking with the resurrected Itachi.
  • Andrea of Gankutsuou is not exactly sane. One of the ways he shows this is by giggling/laughing creepily at random times.
    • In one scene, the Count watches Albert leave his ship, quite peeved with him. Although we're led to presume that the guy is deep in grief over the event, we quickly see him break out into hysterical laughter. And from then on, he's out there, madly pursuing his revenge.
  • Ax Crazy Creepy Child Gretel of Black Lagoon laughs once when Eda asks her why they're still after Balalaika even though they killed the guy who hired them.
  • Gun X Sword: Van gets this for a moment when he sees the Claw pass.
  • Mukuro of Katekyo Hitman Reborn was never entirely sane to begin with so he does this a few times, most notably during his fight with Tsuna.
    • And Daemon Spade. In chapter 329 he orders Enma to "take Sawada's skull and crush it like glass", and then he laughs maniacally...
  • Grimmjow of Bleach laughs madly as he's beating the crap out of Ichigo during one of their fights and right after he kills Luppi.
  • Mirai Nikki: Yuno in chapter 54.
  • Alois Trancy of Black Butler II out of nowhere breaks into hysterical laughter when he's alone in his room in episode 1 to help show how insane he is.
    • On the other side of the spectrum, Ciel gives us an absolutely geelful one after the circus arc, when he travels to the workhouse only to find out that it's in ruins.
  • Broly from Dragonball Z definitely applies, especially in the flashbacks where it is clear that his laughter was uncontrollable after destroying at least one planet as a child.
    • Frieza also gives one off while destroying Planet Vegeta. Well, he did seem a bit too exhilerated at blocking Bardock's attack as well as destroying Planet Vegeta.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has its fair share, most notably with Yami Marik and Bakura, although Kiryu of 5Ds outdoes them all.
    • It's not just with those guys, either—Noah had a moment like this in his arc, after which he temporarily believed himself to be Seto. He snapped out of it pretty quickly, though.
  • Madoka Magica: Sayaka goes a bit nuts on Elsa Maria.
    • Not to mention Walpurgisnacht...
  • Nanamine in Bakuman。 after his manga drops to 19th and the rest of his online contributors desert him for lying about his rankings.
  • One Piece shows Monkey D. Luffy doing this the moment after Portgas D. Ace dies.
  • Occurs occasionally in Pandora Hearts such as in chapter 67 by Miranda. And in episode 15 by Oz when he's in Love Makes You Crazy mode for Alice.
  • In Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest Inugami shows Haguro his werewolf form causing him to go crazy from it and laugh insanely.
    • Ryuuko does this in chapter 65.
  • Akito does this in episode 25 of Fruits Basket while tormenting Tohru.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Tsukune's Ghoul form definitely counts.
  • Berserk, with all of the madness that happens in this universe, expect it to happen a lot.
  • Peacemaker Kurogane: Suzu gets one of these in the sequel manga, after he goes Ax Crazy.

Comic Books

  • This is generally how Batman's enemy the Joker is portrayed as going insane. Upon seeing his new, ghastly appearance, he laughs uncontrollably while clutching his hair in anguish.
  • A flashback in The Sandman shows this happening to Delight during her transformation into Delirium.
  • In a flashback to the future, Hobgoblin 2211, after having her brain warped by a computer virus, cackles psychotically and goes on a rampage.

Eastern Animation

  • In Firing Range, a general start laughing madly after realizing he can't stop the tank from killing him.


  • Richard Attenborough's character in The Flight of the Phoenix when he discovers that the man building the plane to take them out of the desert, and save them from slow and painful death, only has experience designing model airplanes.
  • Norman Bates occasionally laughs at inappropriate points during his dinner with Marion in Psycho. He also lurches from laughter to complete seriousness a couple of times, which is equally scary.
  • Sirius Black, when convicted of killing Pettigrew in the movie of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
  • This is averted in Disney's first Aladdin movie—Jafar starts laughing for seemingly no reason while he's being searched for by the guards, causing Iago to think he's gone insane, but then he stops and explains that the genie lamp he thought was Lost Forever was in the hands of "Prince Ali."
    • Played completely straight in the infamous Hercules/Aladdin crossover episode Hercules and the Arabian Nights, however: Shortly after Jafar is revived by Hades, he starts using his cane to cause huge amounts of destruction in Hades' lair, while laughing maniacally, causing Hades to object and even go as far as to take away his cane (which is his only lifeline) to get him to obey.

Hades: The laughing, what's with that?!
Jafar: It's a flourish. AAAAHAHAHAHAH!
Hades: You are such a freak...

      • Later on he joins in, commenting that he gets why Jafar does it; 'it's refreshing'.
  • Beyond Re-animator: After Philip's girlfriend is murdered, Dr. Herbert West brings her back to life by infusing her with the lifeforce of the corrupt warden who killed her along with his previously developed re-agent so she can retain her memories, skills, and motor functions as a zombie. Unfortunately she comes back as a kinky crazed and dangerous zombie and Philip is forced to incapacitate by cutting off her head. When the guards find Philip weeping over her headless corpse, they drag him away as he tries to convince them that she is still alive by urging her and her headless body to speak to them. When she doesn't respond, he goes into a fit of insane laughter and then when he and the guards are out of sight, her head starts laughing and thus the movie ends.
  • In many Hamlet adaptations Ophelia's madness is like that: she switches between sadness (tears) and moments of happiness (insane laughter).
  • Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story does this after realizing he's just a toy. ("You see this hat? I am Mrs. Nesbitt!") He stops after Woody slaps him with his own detached arm.
  • Happens to Dr. Leo Marvin in What About Bob??
  • In the 1932 film The Mummy, after Ralph Norton sees the eponymous creature rise from its tomb and walk off, he is found giggling insanely and gibbering "he went for a little walk!"
    • Speaking of classic Universal horror films, we'd be remiss not to mention Dwight Frye's Renfield in the 1931 Dracula.
  • The Evil Dead series is quite fond of this trope.
  • Cody Jarrett winds up this way in White Heat.
  • Chief Inspector Dreyfus in The Pink Panther Strikes Again has a small bit of this after being "saved" by Clouseau on the day of his sanity hearing, triggering his escape from the asylum and sending him on a course to try to Take Over the World.
  • Insurance fraud investigator John Trent punctuates his snapping mind with laughter at the end of In the Mouth of Madness, due to surviving a Lovecraftian apocalypse, only to witness the entirety of his ordeal play out as a movie adaptation of an evil novel.
  • Alien. An insane shrieking is heard from the xenomorph as it kills Lambert, though this was never heard in the sequels.
    • That... wasn't the Alien making that noise.
  • The "Daffy" gremlin in Gremlins 2.
  • Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in the 1984 film adaptation of Dune definitely qualifies, given how the film basically made him even more deranged in it than in the book or the TV miniseries.
  • The Joker from the Dark Knight embodies this trope. Heck, he was even laughing when about to face certain doom before Batman saved him from hitting the ground.
    • Similarly, in the 1989 Batman film, the Joker laughs a lot during the film, with him going way off the deep end near the climax when he is taunting Batman and Vicki while they are hanging for dear life. Joker even lampshades it in the same climax, where he goes into a fit of laughter, turns to a gargoyle behind him and yells "What're you laughing at?!" and then resumes laughing.
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember had Dr. Evil dunking the Japanese Corrupt Corporate Executive Mr. Roboto into his "sharks with lasers on their head", which were gifts from his son Scott Evil. Although Dr. Evil and his followers did a simple Evil Laugh, Scott Evil's laughter, as well as Dr. Evil's horrified reaction to Scott Evil's amount of laughter, was more similar to Laughing Mad.
  • Data in Star Trek Generations briefly goes laughing mad while attempting to investigate with Geordi the space station that Dr. Soren was working on, due to a combination of both the dampening field in place as well as Data's emotion chip going beyond his control.
  • The Lion King has The Hyena, Ed, who communicates entirely with crazed laughter. Banzai and Shenzi also qualify, but to a lot lesser extent.
    • Cancelled storyboards indicated that Scar would have undergone a heavy dose of Laughing Mad shortly after throwing Simba off Pride Rock before being consumed in the flames that destroy Pride Rock. On a related note, it was also originally intended that Gaston from Beauty and the Beast would have undergone similar reactions to The Joker from The Dark Knight when falling to his doom upon stabbing the Beast (ie, proceed to laugh maniacally while falling).
    • Vanessa, the disguise for Ursula in The Little Mermaid, started laughing frequently and somewhat dementedly while gloating about her inevitable victory, indicating that the transformation process costed her quite a bit of her sanity.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? has the weasel Psycho, who giggles and laughs a lot.
  • In Eight Heads in A Duffel Bag, one of the main character's best friends goes exactly this kind of crazy after having been tortured by a Mafia hitman, repeatedly told he's going to be killed, and forced to cut off the heads of cryogenically frozen people as replacements for the missing ones, among various other extremely stressful events. The final straw was when the aforementioned hit man started talking about using his head as one of the replacements. He spends the rest of the movie getting worse
  • In Donnie Darko, Donnie laughs hysterically when he finally comes to terms with the fact that he's going to die and is waiting to be crushed by the airplane turbine.
  • In the film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West frequently bursts into hysterical, exhilarated laughter whenever pain and suffering caused by her is happening.
  • Done by the fowl villain Nigel (pun intended) in Rio, a bitter and sadistic cockatoo whose replacement in a popular animal show by a green parakeet caused him to develop a deep hatred against all exotic birds. He lets out a maniacal laugh after his Villain Song "Pretty Bird."
  • In Eye for an Eye, Karen McCann starts laughing hysterically during her daughter Julie's funeral.
  • In Aladdin Jafar during the Prince Ali Reprise.
  • In the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning and can't stop laughing out of joy, his housekeeper thinks, justifiably, that he's gone quite mad.


  • William Faulkner's Darl from As I Lay Dying. Near the end, he goes insane and when he's not reciting a Madness Mantra of "yes, yes, yes, yes...", he's laughing his head off.
  • Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter. All the freaking time.
    • Sirius Black- after his best friend James Potter and his wife Lily Potter died, started laughing as he was arrested. Although he was in fact innocent, so the laughter was probably a combination of all the emotions piled up on him, like betrayal, grief, hatred etc.
    • During the big fight at the end of book five, Ron gets hit by an "Intoxication Ensues" spell and becomes uncontrollably giggly despite still being in mortal danger.
  • Two examples from Michael Moorcock's Elric stories:
    • The Weird of the White Wolf. Elric wounded Yrrkoon while fighting him. Yrrkoon starts laughing, indicating his sanity had broken.
    • The Stealer of Souls. When Elric finally catches up to him, Theleb K'aarna has lost his mind and is tittering to himself.
  • In the book The Hunchback of Notre Dame Frollo does one when he completely loses it in the finale.
  • In Lovecraft's short story Dagon, the narrator begins giggling insanely after viewing the visage of the eponymous god.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel His Last Command, after they kill a Chaos stalker, Gaunt laughs and taunts the darkness with his still being alive. Ludd finds it more frightening than the stalker.
  • In a variant, there's a really nightmarish scene in The Odyssey where a character prophesizes the slaughter of Penelope's suitors by seeing them all racked with painful, hysterical laughter and choking up blood. And still continuing to laugh as they're slaughtered.
  • Vera Claythorne does this in And Then There Were None when she realizes U. N. Owen is enacting the bedtime rhyme and they're all gonna die.
  • In Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu, one of the two people who survives after seeing Cthulhu goes insane and laughs himself to death before they make it back to safety.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Pool of the Black Ones," while Conan the Barbarian and Sancha are watching giants who fall in the Uncanny Valley and have captured their comrades, he has to slap his hand over her mouth to prevent her hysterical giggle.
  • The men with no pain from the Inheritance Cycle giggle madly in battle.
  • Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre
  • At one point in The Long Walk, a Deadly Game involving the sometimes-gory deaths of teenage boys involved in the Walk, Garraty (the protagonist) loses it and momentarily goes Laughing Mad. It's only because McVries takes the time to get him to snap out of it that Garraty's fit of Laughing Madness doesn't slow him down to the point where he "buys his ticket."
  • Rand Al'Thor in The Wheel of Time occasionally breaks down into 'mirthless laughter' when something really terrible happens. As the series goes on, these episodes become more frequent.

Live-Action TV

  • After his venture into the Time Vortex, Doctor Who's Dalek Caan becomes the first "pure" Dalek to laugh.
    • And reused over in The End Of Time regarding the Master. All six billion of them.
  • Battlestar Galactica. Fisk, XO of the Pegasus, has a disturbing laugh that he gives after relating how Admiral Cain executed his predecessor. Fisk gives another such outburst in "Resurrection Ship", earning himself a puzzled look from everyone in CIC, who are unaware that Cain had just cancelled her orders to terminate them all.
  • Although any number of inmates in Oz (such as Tobias Beecher) would qualify, probably the best example would be former prison guard Clayton Hughes after he goes insane and murders an inmate. Particularly disturbing when it happens in front of Warden Glynn, who regards him as a surrogate son.
  • Victor, in Burn Notice, had a tendency to grin or giggle disturbingly when contemplating violence. He laughed the same way when he described why he was that way: "And then the punch line, the really, really funny part was, it was Carla. She had my family killed as part of my recruitment."
  • Happens to John a bunch in Farscape as a result of all the mindscrewing. His tendency to inappropriate laughter is a big part of what clues his shipmates in on his Sanity Slippage throughout season 2.
  • Avon from Blakes Seven. In the season 4 episode Gold, upon realizing that he and his crew had not only accomplished nothing in the episode itself despite risking their lives repeatedly, but had actually benefited the villainess, he begins to laugh hysterically under the frightened stares of the crew.
  • Adrian Monk in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike" briefly went laughing mad after deciding to dump garbage trucks overflowing with garbage into the San Francisco Bay one at a time, and coming up with an insane theory about who murdered the Garbage Union Leader (it being the rock star Alice Cooper over envy over a chair) that was moreorless done due to the piling garbage driving Monk completely insane, in addition to his previous theory being wrong (and for the record, the debunked theory was actually a lot closer to being correct compared to the second theory.).
  • Chang on Community. The study group refuses to let him join even after he dances for five hours representing them in the pop and lock contest. He ends up collapsing to the floor laughing maniacally.
  • In Sister, Sister, Lisa Landry was breaking out into a fit of laughter during a funeral. It's justified, however, as just beforehand, she went to the dentist, and was exposed to a large, almost lethal dose of Laughing Gas due to the dentist ranting about the person the funeral was for.
  • Season 4 of Breaking Bad Walt's reaction when Skyler tells him she gave Ted the $600,000 they needed to escape Gus, who said he would kill them all if he interfered in tipping off the DEA about the hit on Hank... which Saul had done on his orders mere minutes before."
  • The virus in "The Tale Of The Renegade Virus" of Are You Afraid of the Dark?.
  • In the Kamen Rider movie Kamen Rider W Returns: Kamen Rider Eternal, the villain of the movie tries to emotionally break Katsumi Daido, the eponymous rider. It worked a little bit too well, as Katsumi breaks down in insane laughter, followed by a Curb Stomp Battle with the villain on the receiving end


  • "It's time for your medication, Mister Brown..." "BUHUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"
  • The end of "Master of Puppets" by Metallica.
  • Just before the first guitar solo in the Thin Lizzy track "Chinatown".
  • "Inside the Fire" by Disturbed does this while combining it with the Evil Laugh; the character in which the song is being described to is most definitely going insane, but the main narrative is being told by his dead girlfriend whispering over his shoulder (who may or may not be The Devil). In other words, it's meant to sound both crazed and demonic.
  • "Afterlife" by Avenged Sevenfold features this in the bridge.
  • Vincent Price at the end of Michael Jackson's "Thriller".
  • Twilightning's "Rolling Heads" from the Bedlam EP ends with mad laughter.
  • Heard in the end of Running Wild's "Diamonds of the Black Chest" when the song's protagonist finds the titular chest. Empty.
  • Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" It's right there in the title.
  • The Bonzo Dog Band did a cover of "Monster Mash" that was pretty faithful to the original, until the ending, where vocalist Vivian Stanshall goees into an Evil Laugh that grows more and more manic through the fade-out.
  • "Departure", the Graeme Edge poem that opens The Moody Blues' "Ride My See-Saw", has Edge dissolving into mad laughter as it crossfades into the latter track.
  • Pink Floyd's "Brain Damage". (The lunatic is on the grass...)
  • The Police's "Mother," about a man whose overprotective, constantly-phoning mother has driven him mad, ends with manic cries that turn into laughter.
  • Doctor Steel can be heard engaging in a mad laugh near the end of his self-titled song, "Dr. Steel."

Tabletop Games

  • Numerous followers of Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 alternate between this and Evil Laugh, sometimes combining the two for extra madness. Sort of inevitable when one allows The Legions of Hell to use one's skull as their metaphorical playground.
  • In Exalted, Adorjan the Silent Wind is considered the Yozi patron of Ax Crazy. As a result, her chosen Infernals tend to get access to Charms that reflect this, such as Broken Silence Laughter Defense (which allows the Infernal to throw off attempts to influence them by laughing inappropriately) and Eloquence in Unspoken Words (which gives the Infernal telepathic communication, at the price that they can only vocalize laughter).


  • Shakespeare uses this one in Titus Andronicus: Titus' daughter has been raped and mutilated, his sons have been accused of the crime, and he's been told they'll be pardoned if he just chops off his hand, so he does, and when he's given his hand back along with their severed heads, he begins to laugh. And plot tasty, tasty revenge.
  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the song "Epiphany" details his Despair Event Horizon and the whole song has a lot of anguished laughter, especially the end where he declares he's "full of joy". Then comes the Mood Dissonance of the next song "Little Priest", where he is really upbeat, but completely over the edge of sanity.

Video Games

  • Shadow the Hedgehog ends several of his stories with an insane and/or evil laugh, including the ones where he plans to destroy the world and when he plans to take over the Black Arms empire.
    • Eggman is this in the pre-final boss cutscene in Sonic Generations. Lampshaded by Classic Eggman. "Wow, will I really get that crazy?"
  • Albedo in Xenosaga. His first freak-out, back in the past, involves him interfacing with U-DO and laughing like a maniac. Considering he looks about nine years old at the time, this is profoundly disturbing.
    • Or that he's laughing while ripping himself apart.
  • The first sign that Alex's hold on reality in Eternal Darkness may be none too steady is the way her sobs when she first sees her grandfather's dead body are shot through with thin veins of laughter.
    • Maximillian Roivas hits this trope for brief intervals in his monster autopsy narrations, as well.
  • Daniella from Haunting Ground. She does this in cutscenes in a very creepy manner and at a certain stage of insanity while chasing you.
    • Fiona too, in the worst ending
  • Lampshaded two times in Final Fantasy X, first when Tidus and Yuna talk about the importance of being happy and burst onto a cheery, loud laughter with no apparent reason. When they turn around they see all others staring them with a weird look on their faces. When questioned, Wakka quietly says: "We thought that you lost you minds." Done second time in Thunder Planes, where Rikku - who's deathly afraid of thunder - keep laughing nervously as they walk, prompting Tidus to comment on it: "Heh heh, heh. You're giving me the creeps!"
    • Kuja in Final Fantasy IX went Laughing Mad as soon as he learns from Garland's disembodied spirit that he'll die soon.
    • One of the first signs that Sephiroth went mad upon learning about his supposedly being the last Ancient is chuckling dementedly as Cloud/Zack entered the lab he was researching inside.
  • In The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, Ganondorf (who has been surprisingly calm throughout the game) is about to wish on the Triforce, and King Daphnes touches it moments before he can, wishing for Hyrule to be washed away forever. Ganon snaps, spending a good thirty seconds laughing as water falls down around him.
  • Adam the Clown in Dead Rising laughs all the way through his monologue when he recalls his audience being eaten by zombies.
    • After bring defeated, he laughs and falls. Onto his still running chainsaws. The laughter doesn't stop until he's dead...
      • And it doesn't just get weaker and weaker. It gets deeper and slower.
  • Very well done with Laughing Octopus in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Since she was mind raped and turned into a psychopathic killer as a teenage girl, she never stopped laughing, even though her memories were constantly torturing her. She laughs throughout the entire boss fight and falls down laughing when she is fataly shot, making her a quite creepy encounter and not funny at all.
    • At one very brief moment of relative clarity before dying she even mentions "No, nothing is funny. I shouldn't be laughing."
    • Ed of Meryl's Rat Patrol 1 group, after the SOP system was locked down due to it refusing Liquid's DNA, went Laughing Mad.
    • Actually, any soldier who is hit with the laughing emotive ammo will undergo symptoms of Laughing Mad.
  • The trope namer (Sort of, the name is a reference to his Crowning Music Of Awesome Dancing Mad) is Kefka, the Evil Clown Big Bad of Final Fantasy VI. His laugh is such a big part of his character, they had to make it a pre-rendered soundbit to play every time. The laugh goes to show just how evil and insane Kefka really is, considering that he laughs most often at death, destruction, and mayhem. The game states that Kefka went insane after being the first subject for magic infusion. Apparently they hadn't perfected the process yet.
    • Take the definition of this trope, then apply it to Dancing Mad, then apply it to Kefka's character overall. Feel that? That's the awesome sinking in. It's also the closest thing to officially-stated motivation Kefka has.
    • It is also implied in Dissidia that his maniacal laughter is also really the only thing he could give as a reaction in regards to several things, regardless of what emotion he was actually feeling. For instance, when Kefka is defeated in Shade Impulse and explodes after giving his nihilistic speech, he can be heard laughing, but not a joyous laugh, a sorrowful one, and Firion mentions in his opening quote that he's never heard "a sadder laugh."
    • Cu Chaspel
  • Ripper Roo from Crash Bandicoot after being exposed to different experiments from Dr. Cortex became a raving, laughing, lunatic in fact after his brain was tampered with all of his dialogue consists of insane laughter with subtitles to translate.
  • Father Grigori, the Zombie-slaughtering Badass Preacher of Half-Life 2 often breaks down into short bursts of maniacal laughter due to him being driven to insanity after the citizens of Ravenholm have become zombies.
  • Queen Zeal from Chrono Trigger. Every time she shows up to challenge you, she's got a crazy laugh going, even well after you've destroyed the Mammon Machine and defeated her in her One-Winged Angel form.
  • Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda gets quite a few Evil Laughs throughout the series, but his laughter just before the final boss fight in Wind Waker was definitely Laughing Mad.
    • Majora's Wrath from Majora's Mask qualifies a lot, given the fact that its insanity has just reached its peak.
    • Also, Zant after breaking down over the course of the battle against him.
  • BlazBlue showcases Jin Kisaragi's slow descent into madness, and once he finally finds Ragna the Bloodedge, he completely snaps and starts speaking to him in a rather disturbing manner. Then there's Arakune, who ends as many as half of his dialogues with raving Voice of the Legion laughter. Nu-13 doesn't seem like the laughing type, but has been known to cackle admirably on occasion. And then there's Terumi...goddamn. All in all, the BlazBlue world could probably do with sedatives in the water supply.
  • Breath of Fire IV's Fou-lu starts laughing after realising that Mami was used to fuel the Hex Cannon, which is what ultimately breaks him and decide to Kill'Em All on those bastard humans.
  • The Heavy and Scout from Team Fortress 2 can laugh maniacally if you get trigger-happy enough with the Minigun/Natascha and the Force-a'-Nature, respectively. Also, the Announcer.
    • Also this.
    • Actually, since they are all completely insane, all the classes qualify, most notably the Spy, who is so over the top sadistic that he laughs in almost every single domination line.


  • Marx 'soul... During battle it can easily border on Hell Is That Noise.
  • Revya from Soul Nomad gets a pretty good laugh in the bad ending of the Demon Path.
  • Zagi, from Tales of Vesperia. About 50% of his dialogue is maniacal laughter, 25% is about how much he wants to "carve Yuri's name into his blood", and the remaining 25% is utter nonsense.
  • Dr. Weil from the Mega Man Zero series qualifies, especially when taking into account the relevation of his survival from Ragnarok's attack and his reaction after Zero defeated him the first time.
  • Serpent from Mega Man ZX qualifies, considering his reaction to being absorbed by Model W's core.
  • Zero from the Mega Man X series (while he was still a Maverick) also had bouts of the trope, made especially apparent when he was beating Sigma to a bloody pulp when the latter was at his mercy.
  • A few times during Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Dark Samus often starts breaking into maniacal laughter. Similarly, in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, after Gandrayda, while disguised as a GF Trooper, attempted to shoot Samus in the back and missed, started going into a fit of hysterical laughter.
  • Adele from Arc Rise Fantasia took finding out that she was an Unlucky Childhood Friend very badly.
  • In Cave Story's Bonus Dungeon, the boss Ballos states that when his magic went wild and he killed everyone in the kingdom, he could only stand where he was and laugh.
  • In the anarch and independent endings of Vampire Bloodlines, Sebastian LaCroix gets down with the best of them when he realizes that the MacGuffin he just opened is not so much a 'gateway to infinite power' as a 'gateway to horrible burning pain' and he's been played for an Unwitting Pawn.
  • Lezard Valeth from Valkyrie Profile should not be forgotten. When he lost all his apparent sanity at the end of the game, he's really scary. His break mode is epic, too.
  • In Killer7, the first indication of an approaching enemy is always a little insane giggle. If you're too slow with your gun, it's followed by a shrieking laugh as they blow up in your face.
  • In Suikoden II, the main villain, Luca Blight is known to often punctuate his horrific actions with a horse like Evil Laugh. However, when he is finally near death, he lets out a speal of insane laughter filling up more than 3 dialogue boxes that can't be classified as anything but this.
  • Bobby Barrows, aka "Scissorhands" in Clock Tower often seems to giggle. In fact, the first sign that he is nearby is that he cackles.
  • In Super Paper Mario, a Sammer Guy, appropriately named Laughing X-Naut, laughs a long, loud laugh as the Void in his dimension fully matures, destroying his entire universe. He laughs all the way until his inevitable annihilation.

Visual Novel

  • In the Ace Attorney series, Luke Atmey and Kristoph Gavin laugh disturbingly upon defeat, possibly to indicate madness (they're both pretty crazy). Damon Gant gets the most epic one, however: he claps as he laughs, and as the laugh revs up, his hands slam together so quickly they throw off sparks!
    • The tradition continues in Ace Attorney Investigations, where the killer of case four, Kazura Himiko/Calisto Yew ends up doubled over laughing by the time he/she is done... and then shows just how sane she is by pointing out Edgeworth just accused her of murder... in a case where one of the pistols is still missing. And then case five happens and holy hell is Shih-na's breakdown some quality horror.
    • Non-villainous example is Lotta Hart from Justice For all. She thinks that the crime scene will be her one big break and starts laughing crazily as she runs to it. Even Phoenix got scared when that happened.

Web Comics

  • According to the story hidden in the filenames of Narbonic, this is how Helen went mad:

She laughed hysterically for a minute or so. Not a good sign, she thought. And then the thought fluttered away. Her face, when it skipped into focus, was pale and blotchy. Possibly she had been crying. Yes, someone had definitely been crying sometime. Not her. Not when everything was so funny and she had so many interesting ideas...

  • Ellen in El Goonish Shive does one of this, complete with a line that goes behind a character's head to show they've snapped when she is first brought into existence, and she thinks that she'll die in a month. The comic title says it all.

Tedd (not too Genre Savvy): Oh good! She's laughing!

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Azula in the series finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, during their schizo Freak-Out.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, when Harry Osborn discovers that he was blacking out and becoming the Green Goblin, one of his many reactions, besides depression and anger, is semi-maniacal chuckling.
  • Another Spiderman Example. In fact, another Harry Osborn example. In the 90's Spiderman show, when Harry finds out that The Green Goblin was is father, he goes into a laughing fit (his mind wasn't too stable at the moment, he was talking to his father's ethereal head from another dimension and all that... long story...) and then decides to "fulfill his destiny" and become the second Goblin.
  • Ren of The Ren and Stimpy Show is often portrayed as this.
    • Most extreme cases include when he was under the effects of the happy helmet (complete with a full set of grimaces), and when he was beating George Liquor up with an oar in a banned episode, "Man's Best Friend".
  • In one episode of Adventures in Care-a-Lot, a sleep-deprived Bedtime is portrayed this way.
  • In The Batman's Harley Quinn episode, the way the viewer can tell that Harley's returned sanity is fleeting is when she starts laughing maniacally.
  • Batman the Animated Series: The Demon's Quest, when Ra's al Ghul comes out of the Lazarus Pit.
  • At the end of Batman Beyond's first episode, when Corrupt Corporate Executive Derek Powers sees that he has transformed into a glow-in-the-dark radioactive skeleton man, his immediate reaction is to begin laughing maniacally. The doctors are appropriately freaked out.
  • Looney Tunes - Daffy Duck.
  • Lisa Simpson briefly went Laughing Mad when seeing her new braces in the episode Last Exit To Springfield, of which it was a direct homage to Jack Napier's reaction to his new appearance due to botched reconstructive surgery and falling into the vat of chemicals.
    • When Sideshow Bob ran for mayor and won, he burst into a maniacal laugh.

Kent Brockman: And look how happy he is!

  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Lucius suffers a Villainous Breakdown, he begins laughing wildly before completely cracking.
  • Hexadecimal from ReBoot enjoys her Evil Laughter, but, being pretty crazy, she tends towards Laughing Mad on more than one occasion. Then she becomes outright insane in season 3, due to a combination of being nearly destroyed in an explosion and subsequently rebuilt, her mask becoming cracked, and being tortured and used as a weapon by Megabyte. After this, pretty much every time she laughs is an example of Laughing Mad. (At least, until Bob defragments her head.)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants during the season 4 episode Bummer Vacation. "I've been WAITING for you Patrick!"
    • Squidward during the episode "Squid's Day Off" after he goes crazy from paranoia as he's nailing his door shut.
  • Fluttershy in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Best Night Ever".
  • In Family Guy Meg is sometimes portrayed as deranged or disturbed out of a desperation for love and attention. In one scene Chris asks her what kind of gifts boys have gotten for her and she describes imaginary gifts given to her by her imaginary boyfriend prince William before laughing crazily and running out of the room in tears.
  • Invader Zim, being rather Ax Crazy, has moments like this.
  • In Adventure Time, we have Lemongrab's utterly disturbing laughing fit in Too Young. He doesn't even SMILE- his head just flails around and bounces with weird squishy noises, and his eyes are wide.

Lemongrab: "...Prank? F-for laughs? Yes, of course; just a harmless prank... F..for laughs... Ha..a.a? HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH-OH! HAHHAHOAHAOHAOAHOAHAOAHAHAOAOAAHAOAHAOAHAOA-" *immediately returns to normal* "Twelve years dungeon! All of you- DUNGEON! Seven years, no trials! C'mon... LET'S MOVE IT!!!"

  • In Teen Titans "Nevermore" when Robin and Starfire go onto the roof of Titans Tower to tell Raven about her door being broken down, she breaks out into hysterical laughter which sounds just like something out of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, then she just abruptly stops and goes inside.
  • Stu of Rugrats does this during his Sanity Slippage moment in the episode "Angelica Breaks A Leg."
  • In Wakfu season 2 episode 20, Qilby goes completely nuts after merging with the Eliacube and laughs maniacally during his Teleport Spam at the tail-end of his fight with Adamai.

Real Life

  • In the famous Milgram Experiment, which was meant to test how far normal people would go when obeying the orders of someone in a position of authority, one of the subjects, an encyclopedia salesman, went into fits of hysterical laughter when he heard the screams of pain from his supposed victims, to the point where the session had to be discontinued. He wasn't a sadist, or insane; the laughter was just an indicator of the extreme emotional stress he was under. Ah, the things you could do before the invention of medical ethics review boards.
  • Though it's quite different from the typical presentation of this trope in media, one symptom of schizophrenia is bizarre behavior and inappropriate emotions, such as laughing during a funeral.
    • Speaking of actual disorders—there's this condition called Pseudobulbar Affect, in which the patient loses the ability to regulate emotional expression. They may collapse into a sobbing heap at the sight of a kitten, show absolute terror at their loved ones or laugh hysterically and uncontrollably at the loss of something dear to them. This is involuntary.
  • According to legend, Nero was laughing while watching Rome burn.
    • Though we only have his enemies' word on this. It's unclear whether he was even in the city at the time.
  • John Lennon broke down into hysterical laughter upon hearing that his friend Stu Sutcliffe had died.