Madness Mantra

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"Better safe than sorry, Better safe than sorry, Better safe than sorry, I can't believe he bit me!! Better safe than sorry! I, I opened the door before and I got bit for my trouble. No. Won't fool me twice. Better safe than sorry! Better safe than sorry!"

The Church Guy, Left 4 Dead

Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope.

Characters who are having a mental breakdown sometimes become fixated on a certain phrase that they repeat until everyone in the world is sick of it.

Sometimes, this chanting allows the character to snap out of their insanity. Sometimes, it becomes their life-long theme song as they rock back and forth in a cozy padded room. If they aren't locked up, expect a room with every square inch stating the phrase.

Just about every mental institution scene has someone chanting some sort of non sequitur in the background. And woe betide us all if this non sequitur should be significant.

Contrast the Talkative Loon, who at least varies the chatter.

A Survival Mantra is an attempt to master fear and pain, but when it doesn't work, you find the point where the tropes overlap.

Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope.

Examples of Madness Mantra include:


Anime and Manga

  • Domina no Do has Ayako, where after having a Yandere moment, travels with the Domina's Family grandmother, sending a note to Takeshi for him to wait for her. The phrase "wait for me" goes on for several pages, growing increasingly erratic with each new line.
  • Most main characters from Nasu's series usually gets one or even several mantras.
    • Tsukihime: This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair. This chair.
  • Sailor Moon: I won't forgive you. I won't forgive you. I won't forgive you. I WON'T FORGIVE YOU!!" from the first episode of the 5th season.
    • In the last season, when Galaxia reveals that she's killed Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Moon is briefly reduced to only being able to say " dead..." over and over.
    • A much more prevalent one throughout the second half of season 4 is "Yume yume itagau koto dakare; yume miro kodomo no yume no yume", translated in the subtitles as "Dream dream don't doubt it; a dream of dreams that children dream".
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, the characters are prone to saying "uso da"/"that's a lie" when/after they snap.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

"LET'S GET MARRIEDMARRIEDMARRIEDMARRIEDMARRIEDMARRIEDMARRIED..." (Although, to be fair, they don't have mental breakdowns, they're both just consistently crazy.)

"John Smith got his forest burned down.
That's why he planted new trees.
A lot, a whole lot, and a lot more...
A lot, a whole lot, and a lot more..."
A lot, a whole lot, and a lot more..."

"Unforgivable! Unforgivable! Unforgivable! TOTALLY UNFORGIVABLE!!!"

  • Soul Eater: "Jijijijijijiji... Jijijijijijiji..."
    • "I don't know how to deal with this... my blood is black... I'll kill you all. Kill you. Kill you. Kill you."
  • Monster: "Kill him... kill him... kill him..."
    • When Johan begins to explain his intentions to Nina The end...the end...the end...the end...the end...the end...the end...the end...the end.
    • This little snippet from Episode 29: Dr. Gillen is interviewing the murderer Peter Jurgens. He shows Peter a picture of Johan and Peter says that he does not know him, and then he asks him for a pen. He takes the pen and begins shading around the face of the man in the picture. He tells Dr. Gillen that on the second day of the murder, he had gone to the park; he was telling himself that he wanted to stop, and then he saw the man surrounded by children there. Peter then repeats the words "You should come too" (or "Come with us" in the English dubbed) over and over again while some ominous little tune plays and the camera does a close up on his expressionless face. He then takes the pen and plunges it into his right ear. Blood squirts out and he falls over dead.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima: "Make them atone. Don't forgive. Kill them all."
  • Ussop of One Piece seems to like doing these, particularly after experiencing the danger his shipmates tend to love.
  • Hajime no Ippo: "Left, Left, Left, Left, Left, Left, Left, LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEFFFFTTT!" I'll just leave this here.
  • "Tartarus... Tartarus... Tartarus... AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!
  • Paprika: A creepy chorus of dolls in the parade chants: "No more anger! Our world is happy and mundane!"
  • Tenshi ni Narumon: "Ganbare, ganbare" and "I/we will become angel/s" by Mikael and "I won't become an angel!" by Silky.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The early part of Oktavia's labyrinth has "Look at me" written all over it.
  • ANPANanpanAnPaNanpanANPANanpanaNpAnANPANanpanAnPaNANpananpananPANANpan
  • From the English dub of Tenchi Muyo!, episode 8:

Ryoko: "Diapers. Diapers. Diapers. Diapers. Diapers."
Ayeka: "Milk. Milk. Milk. Milk. Milk."

  • The Big O: "There is but one truth. If you avert your eyes from it, you will always remain nothing more then a puppet."
  • In Eureka Seven, after Charles Beams dies, Ray spends most of an episode humming an eerie tune. Made even more creepy by the fact that the audience barely sees her, just hears the humming over scenery shots of the rooms she's trashed.
    • Renton has a MENACING freakout where he's being hounded by various enemy mechs and resorts to a swearing fit of "DAMMIT," punctuated by horrendous amounts of gore as he uses the Nirvash to gut dozens of mechs. By this point, Nirvash has hellish red, glowing eyes as Renton mangles each and every attacker, finally leading up to a Heroic BSOD when he sees an evil shadow with his own face, laughing maniacally. Renton explodes and goes medieval on the final mech, and SQUASHES A HUMAN LIKE A BUG, complete with a SEVERED, BLOODY ARM sloughing off Nirvash's mechanical boot, accompanied by buckets of blood. Immediately followed by My God, What Have I Done? and vomiting. Made even worse that the discretion shot was for the puke, NOT the murderous event that just happened.
  • Black Butler: "Snuff out the barren. Snuff out the useless. Snuff out the unclean."
  • Koharu no Hibi. Koharu to Akira: "I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you."
  • Shiki: Megumi-chan is going to come and kill me. Megumi-chan is going to come and kill me. Megumi-chan is going to come and kill me.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Tsukune's Ghoul form repeats the word "kill".
  • In Fruits Basket Akito, who's rather crazy, repeatedly screams "IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!" at Hana.
  • Pandora Hearts has this:

Jack [after Glen says that Lacie can't be brought back] Unacceptable! Unacceptable! Unacceptable! Unacceptable! Unacceptable! Unacceptable! Unacceptable! Unacceptable!

Comic Books

  • After the Chameleon snapped in one issue of Spider-Man, all he was capable of saying was "Nothing nothing nothing nothing..."
  • In Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man, the Arkham inmate Psycho Pirate chants phrases such as, "Worldswillliveworldswilldie," and "One and two and ess and ex and three and four and prime." These turn out to be Arc Words, referring to the parallel Earths variously merged or destroyed in Crisis on Infinite Earths some years earlier. The Psycho Pirate is the only one in the DCU who remembers these lost worlds, and so these Madness Mantras allude to, respectively, DC's promotional tagline for the Crisis crossover and the names of various parallel Earths (Earth Two, Earth S, Earth X, etc.). His ravings are a premonition of the temporary reemergence of superheroes and supervillains from the lost Earths.
  • In an issue of The Flash, Wally's ex-girlfriend Tina McGee calls him for help because she believes there is something wrong with everybody around her. When Flash gets there he finds that she is at her keyboard, repeatedly typing "I'magoodgirlI'magoodgirl". Everyone thinks she is having a nervous breakdown, but actually her colleagues have been taken over by the Kilg%re, and she's perfectly alright.
    • "He won't have a gun, Trust me Ashley. He won't have a gun, Trust me Ashley...
  • In an issue of Justice League of America, the Atom has the song Stardust stuck in his head throughout the issue, but can't remember all the lyrics. He and the other leaguers soon encounter an alien probe named Mnemon, who steals memories. After temporarily stealing the memories of the league, it is defeated and ends up drifting through space with just one memory that it repeats endlessly: the song Stardust. And it still doesn't know the words. A nice combination of this trope and Ear Worm.
  • In V for Vendetta," after V destroys Lewis Prothero's priceless doll collection in front of him, he goes insane, and can only say "mama, mama."
  • After Starr gets his genitals eaten by a dog in Preacher (Comic Book), he spends a lot of time fondling a gun and muttering "DOOM cock, DOOM cock".
  • In Detective Comics Annual #9, Riddler finally divulges his life story to (what he believes are) the doctors at Arkham. When he discovers that the doctors behind the one way glass left the room for a snack and he's been talking to himself the entire time, he begins repeating "no one there" in shock . It is unknown when he recovered from this.
  • One of the children attacked by a Fear Demon in Saga Of The Swamp Thing #26 keeps repeating "ANIMALANIMALANIMALANIMAL..."
    • Interestingly, the speech bubble cuts him off before with "ANIMALAN--", or, as it could be read "an' I'm Alan."
  • Kurt Gerhardt, the third Foolkiller, used "Bingo Bango Bongo".
  • You know things are bad when Superman starts using one of these: during Grant Morrison's (Is there a pattern here?) run on JLA, in fact near the end, in "World War Three", Supes has his hope and will broken by the Old Gods' death machine from the edge of space, Mageddon. While under the influence of the doomsday device, he compulsively utters... "We can't win over this... the end of it all... oblivion... MAH-GED-DUN.."
  • Shakara (from 2000 AD) has, well, "SHAKARA".


  • The Magdalene Sisters: Crispina, a handicapped girl of the Magdalene Asylum, was routinely sexually abused by the Padre, as revenge another girl contaminated his robe frock with itching powder, which inevitably Crispina contacted with. As the Padre runs off into the woods disrobbing, while giving a sermon, Crispina, snaps and chants out "You're not a man of god, you're not a man of God, you're not a man of God......" many times with increasing fevor expressing her humiliation and frustrations, of physical and mental abuse in the convent. The audience, either claims this mantra was over done, And or, NOT ADEQUATE enough to compensate for the abuses she has suffered especially in light of her mental challenges.
  • This is hinted at in the ads for Dont Say A Word, by the young woman in the asylum repeatedly muttering "I'll never tell!" in singsong. Her actual madness is a matter of conjecture, but the phrase proves important to the plot.
  • Rain Man: "X minutes to Wapner," as well as reciting both sides of the "Who's On First?" sketch in absolute deadpan.
  • Josh Peck's character in Mean Creek repeats, "His daddy splattered his brains all over the wall" during the scene where he gets really mad.
  • Evil Dead 2: "WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?"
  • Batman Begins: "...Scarecrow..."
  • The Aviator features Howard Hughes with a number of OCD-inspired mantas. Though Hughes suffered from the disorder, the mantras themselves were an invention for the film.
    • "They come in with the milk. Come in with the milk. Come in with the milk. In with the milk."
    • Way of the future. Way of the future. Way of the future. Way of the future. Way of the future.
    • Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints, show me all the blueprints.
    • "Quarantine"... "Quarantine"... Q-U-A-R...A-N-T-I-N-E... "Quarantine".
  • Robot Monster: "I cannot. And yet I must."
  • In The Silence of the Lambs, one anonymous psycho starts yelling "Hannibal the cannibal!" over and over again.
    • In the novel, the disorganized schizophrenic Sammie (replacing Hannibal's former cell-neighbor, Multiple Miggs) has a very distinctive mantra that apparently started some time after he put his mother's severed head on the Church collection plate:


  • The Pink Panther: "KILL CLOUSEAU!"
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers: "You're next!"
  • Hans Beckert's whistling of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" in M probably counts.
  • In the aftermath of Batman Forever, Edward Nygma, a.k.a. the Riddler, is reduced to repeating "Too many questions...too many questions..." after his brain is overloaded by the malfunctioning Box. This was once a rant by Nygma, spawned by his boss and idol Bruce Wayne rejecting his project by saying that it raised "too many questions."
  • Split Second had "Big guns. We need big FUCKING guns!" as a character's Madness Mantra after an encounter with the Big Bad.
  • In Disturbing Behavior, Dr. Caldicott's daughter is found in a mental institution, constantly repeating the phrase "Meet the musical little creatures that hide among the flowers."
  • There Will Be Blood "Get out of here, ghost. Get out of here, ghost. Get out. Get out of here, ghost."
  • Tie-in media for The Blair Witch Project reveal that Kyle Brody, sole surviving victim of Rustin Parr, was reduced to gibbering insanity later in life, only ever saying "Never given! Never given!" over and over again. Parr himself was also prone to muttering the phrase shortly before his execution.
  • Willow: "NOT A WOMAN!"
  • John Sayles's brilliant City of Hope features a character named Asteroid, clearly a deinstitutionalized schizophrenic, who provides a nonstop Madness Mantra in every scene he appears in.
  • The Shining: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy..."
    • Redrum... Redrum... Redrum... Redrum... Redrum! Redrum! Redrum! Redrum! REDRUM! REDRUM! REDRUM! REDRUM!
  • This trailer for the Coen brother's new film A Serious Man borders on this trope. You're gonna be fiiine...
  • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Sam starts babbling while under the influence of a shard of the AllSpark, sometimes repeating himself over and over and over, "KITTEN CALENDAR KITTEN CALENDAR KITTEN CALENDAR..."
  • Dr. Strangelove "Peace on earth/purity of essence/peace on earth/purity of essence" scribbled everywhere. Also an important clue.
  • Admiral Beckett from Pirates of the Caribbean suffers one of these when he realizes he's lost control of the Flying Dutchman and both it and the Black Pearl are bearing down on his ship. "It's just good business."
    • "Part of the crew, part of the ship. PART OF THE CREW, PART OF THE SHIP!!"
  • The Pianist "Why did I do it? Why did I do it? Why did I do it?"

Halina: "She's getting on my nerves. What did she do, for God's sake?"
Father: "She smothered her baby. They'd prepared a hiding place and so, of course, they went there. But the baby cried just as the police came. She smothered the cries with her hands. The baby died. A policeman heard the death rattle. He found where they were hiding."

  • The animated movie Nine: "The source... The source... Go back... to the source..."
  • Empire of the Sun: "I can bring everyone back, everyone... I can bring everyone back, everyone..."
  • The virus in the film Pontypool causes the infected to go mad and repeat phrases. Something gets stuck... gets stuck... stuck... stuck...?
    • Unusual in that it can actually be counteracted, with difficulty. Rendering the repeated word meaningless breaks its mental hold. Mazzy gets Sydney to replace her chanted mantra of "kill" with "kiss", and they get on the air and try to spout nonsense to all their listeners.
  • Them: "Make me a sergeant in charge of the booze! Make me a sergeant in charge of the booze!"
  • Predator: "I'm gonna have me some fun... I'm gonna have me some fun... I'm gonna have me some fun... I'm gonna have me some fun..."
  • Marie from High Tension repeats the phrase "I won't let anyone come between us anymore" in a whispering voice over and over when kneeling above her blood-drenched but still living best friend (and secret crush) Alex, whom she spent the movie trying to save from a sadistic rapist/serial killer. The real madness of it comes into play with the knowledge that The killer was an alternate personality of Marie herself, and she was repeating that phrase after Alex stabbed her through the torso with a crowbar.
  • In Falling Down, the main character spots a man protesting his recent lay off with a sign proclaiming that he has been deemed "not economically viable." The mantra proves contagious, as the main character has also just been laid off.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Kristen threatens an orderly with a scalpel to stop the doctors from sedating her, while weepily reciting the "One, Two, Freddy's coming for you" Ironic Nursery Tune. She's too much of a basket case from sleep deprivation to recall the last line, but Nancy arrives and finishes it for her, soothing the girl enough that she hands over the blade.
  • Where is my father? Where is my father? WHERE IS MY FATHER?
  • Tron: Legacy: A program that was caught before Sam by the Recognizer is a nervous wreck about becoming a Games conscript. He repeats "Not the games" over and over.
  • In Nocturna, the Luminuses(?) chant the word "Kidnapper..." over and over again, due to so many of them going missing.
  • Crazy Stupid Love: Cal's incessant babbling about the man with whom his wife committed adultery, and the whole "cuckold" thing, come off a bit like this.
  • I'll show you the life the mind! I'll show you the life of the mind! I WILL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND!!!
  • At the end of Blood Rage, Maddy kills herself while madly repeating the hero's declaration of "I'm Todd".


  • The Hunger Games: Tick, tock, tick, tock...
  • The Shining again, which featured "redrum".
  • The Malazan Book of the Fallen has this: "Demon farmers! They got Hood-damned demon farmers! Sowing wheat, spinning wool, yanking teats-and chopping strangers to pieces!"
  • Subverted in [[Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (novel)|], where Sirius Black murmured "He's at Hogwarts" over and over while in prison. As it turns out, this mantra actually kept him sane.
  • In H.P. Lovecraft's novel At the Mountains of Madness, when the nameless Narrator and his colleague Danforth leave the city of the Elder Things in the mountains of Antarctica via airplane, one of them glances over the mountain range and sees... something, which causes him to scream like a madman and begin repeating the phrase "Tekeli-li" over and over again (in reference to the story Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe, and also used to describe the whistling sound the Elder Things made and which the shoggoth are mimicking). What exactly he sees he never tells to the narrator, except in disjointed phrases such as "Yog-Sothoth", "The Black Pit", "The Elder Pharos", "Proto-Shoggoths" and "The First, the Last and the Immortal".
    • Also, a bit earlier, when they see the multi-eyed amorphous mass of a Shoggoth and they are running for their lives, an insane Danforth starts singing "South Station Under - Washington Under - Park Street Under - Kendall - Central - Harvard -" and so on, reciting the familiar underground stations between Boston and Cambridge as a monstrous analogy to how the shoggoth emerged from the mists towards them like an underground train emerging from the darkness of a tunnel.
  • Stephen King's The Tommyknockers features "Late last night and the night before... Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers, knocking at the door..."
  • Stephen King's IT features a mental patient repeatedly singing just one line from a Doors song. "Try to set the night on fire, try to set the night on fire, try to set the night on fire...".
  • In The Stand, one of the prisoners left to starve in Phoenix Jail adopts "MOTHER!" as his madness mantra, and doesn't stop shouting it until Lloyd Henreid screams back "Your mother's in charge of blowjobs at a whorehouse in Asshole, Indiana!" (Sadly, the "Mother" shouter starts back up again not too long after.)
    • Lloyd has his own Madness mantra a little later, when he's still locked up and so hungry he's contemplating cannibalism. As he's trying to reach for the arm of the guy the next cell over, he has the song "Camptown Races" stuck in his head, and keeps idly singing the one nonsense bit of the chorus, and nothing else, over and over: "Doo-dah...doo-dah..."
  • And in King's Pet Sematary, Lou Creed becomes fixated on the line "Hey! Ho! Let's Go!" from the Ramones' Blitzkrieg Bop as he becomes more and more unhinged. Stephen King seems to really like this trope.
    • He included it near the end of his short story "Crouch End", too: after losing (in a very literal sense of that word) her husband to something that lives in Crouch End, the central character takes to crawling to the back of her closet and writing, over and over, "Beware the Goat with a Thousand Young".
  • Yet another from Stephen King, in Rose Madder, as Norman chases Rosie and Bill into the painting and his Ferdinand the Bull Mask fuses to his head, he takes to repeating "Viva ze bull".
  • The Giant, Longwrath of the Third Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: "Slay her! Are you fools!"
    • And in the Second Chronicles, Covenant himself with "Don't touch me." But he wasn't really insane, just catatonic, and quoting himself from First Chronicles. This mantra underscored how, as a leper, he was cut off from all human contact. The other mantra from this book was "It isn't catching," to ram home that there was no real reason for everyone to avoid him.
  • In The Westing Game, a story is told about two boys who went into Westing's mansion. It is mentioned that one boy ran out and he kept repeating "purple waves, purple waves".
  • At the start of the Anthony Trollope novel An Eye for an Eye, we are introduced to a madwoman who incessantly repeats "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. Is that not the law?" The rest of the book is a flashback that explains what made the woman go mad.
  • In Elantris, this is how residents of the eponymous city can tell when one of them is insane beyond recovery.
  • Charles Dickens used these, making them Older Than Radio. Of particular note is in A Tale of Two Cities, when an old letter relates the story of a woman who has gone mad with grief and stress, and can only repeat, "My husband, my father, and my brother!... One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, hush!"
    • There is also the little old lady in Bleak House who has been driven mad by the Chancery Court's failure to settle her case: "I am expecting a judgment shortly...on the Day of Judgment."
  • In House of Leaves, Johnny Truants mother is in a mental hospital. Her correspondence to her son reflects this clearly, as she starts repeating certain phrases over and over in her letters. In the Holloway tapes, we hear Holloway chanting, "I'm Holloway Roberts. Born in Menomonie, Wisconsin..."
  • Although he doesn't say it out loud, Grand Moff Tarkin has one of these for about two seconds at the end of Death Star during a Villainous Breakdown. Basically, it went "Unthinkable. Unthinkable - boom." (Since it's the end of a book called Death Star, you can guess where the boom came from).
  • A psuedo-example in Perelandra, the second book in The Space Trilogy, the Un-Man taunts the hero, Ransom, by saying his name over and over to annoy him.
  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream has AM: "Hate. Hate."
  • Discworld: "Millennium hand and shrimp!"
    • Making Money: Vetinari Vetinari Vetinari Vetinari... (A written example, but still!)
    • The villain of Men at Arms, driven mad by the power of the Gonne to extinguish lives, has "It was like being a god" as his internal monologue Madness Mantra.
  • The Death Gate Cycle: "In order to free the dead, all of the living must die."
  • In John Ajvide Lindqvist's first novel Let the Right One In, one boy who gets locked in a basement with the monster (well, one of them) is found hiding in a corner, reciting the Swedish equivalent of "One Elephant Went Out to Play". By the time people find him, the number of elephants on that spider web is somewhere in the hundreds.
  • In "The Happening", people affected with the neurotoxin will shout some arbitrary phrase while their brains are being reprogrammed.
  • In The Wheel of Time Rand al'Thor keeps itemizing all the women for whose deaths he makes himself responsible for. Seeing as he makes himself responsible for the death of everyone even remotely connected to him, commanding hundreds of thousands and fighting a war for the further existence of creation it becomes quite long.
  • In The Good Soldier, Nancy goes insane because of Leonora's treatment of her and Edward's suicide and can say nothing but a Latin phrase meaning "I believe in an omnipotent God" and the word "shuttlecocks."
  • In The Great Divorce, two of the souls in Hell have tracked down Napoleon Bonaparte, who can do nothing anymore but pace around chanting "It was Soult's fault. It was Ney's fault. It was Josephine's fault. It was the fault of the English. It was the fault of the Russians."
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Theon Greyjoy has: "Reek, Reek, it rhymes with..."
    • Also from Theon Greyjoy is "(S)He needs to know (her)his name."
  • "No one is who they say they are." Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace is basically a 400-page Madness Mantra.
  • In The Name of the Wind Master Elodin leads Kvothe through the University's insane asylum; he tries to demonstrate how in over his head Kvothe is by opening one of the soundproof doors. Immediately the hallway fills with incessant screams of "THEY'RE IN ME THEY'RE IN ME THEY'RE IN ME!"
  • From Watership Down: "There's a dog loose in the wood."
  • Legends of Lone Wolf: "Tick, tick, tick, tick, You're touched by the colours and the colours stick."
  • The Ray Bradbury short story "The Long Rain" is about a group of men on the perpetually rainy planet Venus, searching for one of the dry "sun domes" that have been built there. One man recalls that an old friend of his snapped after being on Venus too long, and was found wandering around repeating, "Don't know enough, to come in, outta the rain. Don't know enough, to come in, outta the rain. Don't know enough--"

Live Action TV

  • Oz: Beecher's nursery rhymes in Season 2.
  • Leonard is a minor character in Lost, a mental patient who keeps chanting the show's Arc Numbers.
    • Then there's "Theresa falls up the stairs, Theresa falls down the stairs..."
  • Stark on Farscape has a tendency to start chanting "My side! Your side! My side! Your side! MY SIDE! YOUR SIDE!" whenever his grip on sanity starts degrading.
  • Monk, the title character is occasionally prone to this (such as when he was stuck in a powered out elevator).
  • Firefly's River Tam may have a very good reason for repeating the phrase "Two by two, hands of blue" when she's upset.
  • Topher in Dollhouse does this too: "I know what I know."
    • Certainly puts that Paul Simon song in a new perspective.
  • Shawn from Psych, assigned to hire Da Chief a nanny, rejected a candidate out of hand because she was writing a single phrase in her notes repeatedly. Neither he nor the audience can tell what the phrase was, but Shawn states that "There's no combination of words that makes that acceptable".
  • In The Pretender episode "Crazy" Jarod poses as a psychiatric patient and repeats the phrase "Cree craw toad's foot, geese walk barefoot." In a later episode, this is revealed to be a mantra spoken by Edna Raines, a legitimate psychiatric patient. This also qualifies as Arc Words, as Jarod was saying the phrase when he was first brought into the Centre as a little boy in the very first episode.
  • Half the insane babble of the Cylon Basestar Hybrids in Battlestar Galactica seems to fall halfway between Madness Mantra and Arc Words.
  • Badger: "Tear the roof off the sucker! Tear the roof off the sucker!" is the mantra of Clarence Cornice, a six-foot six architect whose short partner Frank Lloyd Wrong insisted on building houses with a six foot ceiling until Cornice became homicidally deranged.
    • Badger used the phrase in a later episode when feeling homicidal himself.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Gul Dukat: "It's all right, Ziyal... I forgive you..."
  • In American Gothic, Merlyn's Madness Mantra was "Someone's at the door". These were her last words as a sane individual. Someone was at the door, and when he came in, he raped Merlyn's mother in front of her.
    • This same mantra is then used many times over as a Catch Phrase for the series, but is especially delicious when employed by Merlyn's ghost to haunt the coroner who lies about her cause of death to protect his family from Buck (complete with the disturbing tape-recording that alternates between extremely fast and high-pitched, and extremely slow and garbled), and later to taunt Buck himself.
  • Night Visions had "Now he's coming through the woods, now he's coming through the yard, now he's coming up the stairs..."
  • One episode of Law and Order had a psychiatrist whose peace mantra became his then ex-patient, now wife, now killer's Madness Mantra: "I am a rock in a sea of chaos, I am a rock in a sea of chaos..." after she learned that the underaged girl he lusted after was actually her under a different name.
  • In Season 7 of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, when the "Miniature Killer" is finally brought in for questioning, she begins rocking back and forth, reciting "I Have a Pain in My Sawdust"
    • Earlier Nick Stokes's stalker Nigel Crane from the aptly titled episode "Stalker" is reduced to repeating "I am one, who am I? I am one, who am I?" after being caught.
  • A Season 1 episode of CSI: NY shows Mac laboriously recovering a document from a damaged hard drive that simply says "Three generations are enough" over and over again.
  • Kids in The Hall does a pretty good job using this for comedy. "Can't wash the car without a whole lotta milka..."
    • "Never put salt in your eyes. Never put salt in your eyes. Never never never put salt in your eyes. Your eyes. PUT SALT IN YOUR EYES."
  • Seinfeld: "SERENITY NOW!"
    • "...Insanity later!"
  • Wiseguy. "Only the toes, knows." Favourite saying of mad international Arms Dealer Mel Profitt, who shot up drugs between his toes.
  • In The Drew Carey Show, the show regulars read through the day planner of an insane ex-coworker who has started emulating Drew.

"Be more like Drew. Be more like Drew. Be more like Drew. Be Drew."

  • One interesting episode of Criminal Minds had the star played by Frankie Muniz (of Malcolm in the Middle fame), whose Madness Mantra was his now-deceased girlfriend's voicemail message, which included "I'm out living my life. Leave a message!" At the end of the episode he's in a padded room with his cell phone just listening to that over and over again, as it was all he had left of her.
    • Er, not quite. He was still calling her, because he had once again forgotten she had died. Throughout the episode he was trying to get a hold of her, even though he was with her when she was murdered. The FBI reminding him of that did'nt change the fact that he was still suffering a psychotic break.
  • The Master from Doctor Who has his own musical Madness Mantra, the sound of drums (tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap tap)
    • The episode "Silence In the Library" is full of these. All who have been killed by the shadows repeat their last phrases over and over again, "Hey, who turned out the lights? Hey, who turned out the lights?" And then there's the terrifying " Donna Noble has left the library. Donna Noble has been saved."
    • "Are you my mummy?" from "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances." At one point the Creepy Child possesses a typewriter and types it over and over; in the podcast for the episode, Steven Moffat claims not to remember any similar scene from The Shining.
    • "I did my duty for Queen and country." Though somewhat inverted because Yvonne Hartman's Heroic BSOD actually helped her retain some of her personality and she ended up killing a patrol of fellow Cybermen.
    • In "The Doctor's Wife", the Rory illusion created by House to mess with Amy's head seems to have acquired a madness mantra after spending millennia separated from Amy in the corridors of the TARDIS. Initially, Amy encounters a version of Rory who has aged two thousand years, and he keeps repeating "Every night, they come for me. They hurt me..." Later, Amy discovers a corridor containing Rory's decayed corpse. The walls of the corridor are covered in graffiti in black and red: "Hate Amy, Kill Amy, Die Amy, Hate Amy, Kill Amy, Die Amy..." Personally this troper is trying hard not to think of what Rory used for ink. It's chilling.
    • Again (only real this time) with Rory in "The Girl Who Waited". While Older!Amy is telling him not to let her in, he can only whisper "I'm so so sorry" over and over again.
    • In "The God Complex", people who find their rooms (and therefore their greatest fears) eventually begin to pray to the monster stalking the halls. Praise him. Praise him. Praise him!
    • One from the audios: the Eighth Doctor, having spent two and a half episodes on the edge of sanity, falls off it. "Zagreus sits inside your head," BANG! "Zagreus lives among the dead!" BANG! "Zagreus sees you in your bed--" BANG!
    • Near the end of Midnight, the Doctor is so rattled by what just happened that he can't do anything but gasp "It's gone. It's gone." for several lines, and is silent for some time after he manages to stop.
  • Red Dwarf: During one of his fourteen failed attempts to pass the astro-navigation exam necessary to become an officer of the Space Corps, Rimmer suffered a nervous breakdown and ended up writing "I am a fish" 400 times, then did a funny little dance and fainted.
  • Babylon 5 has a nonverbal example at the end of the fourth season when President Clarke commits suicide, leaving behind a note that just read "THE ASCENSION OF THE ORDINARY MAN THE ASCENSION OF THE ORDINARY MAN THE ASCENSION OF THE ORDINARY MAN...". There's a twist in this example, each line has a letter circled, and the circled letters spell "scorched earth"--Clarke had activated the Global Orbital Defense satellites and set them to fire on the Earth and wipe out every man, woman, and child on the entire planet. Of course, the Army of Light's fleet took them all out just in time.
    • "The Corps is the Mother. The Corps is the Father. The Corps is the Mother. The Corps is the Father..."
  • A scene in Screenwipe has an office worker who keeps typing "I am a flower in a dustbin I am a flower in a dustbin I am a flower in a dustbin I am a flower in a dustbin I am a flower in a dustbin I in a dustbin" on his computer while "In The Air Tonight" plays hauntingly in the background.
  • Particularly in the album version, during Monty Python's sketch of "The Travel Agent", a customer endlessly rambles about his past trips around the world. This gets to be so unbearable that the travel agent just keeps screaming "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!"
    • "...bleedin' Watney's Red Barrel..."
  • In the Smallville episode "Gemini", a hospitalized woman continually mutters in gibberish. Bizarro listens to her and explains that she is speaking in Kryptonian. He translates it, and says she is just saying ones and zeros, and it becomes binary code. When the binary code is translated, it becomes "Error: Reboot" over and over again. Brainiac had jacked the woman's brain.
  • Twin Peaks: "How's Annie? How's Annie? How's Annie?..."
    • Also, "Oh, mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. A kid'll eat ivy too. Wouldn't you?"
  • In Angel the psychotic vampire slayer Dana had several of these, one of which consisted of information on vampire killing she'd never been told.
  • On Dexter, Angel is hospitalized and has to spend the night next to a patient who was brought over from a mental institution who keeps repeating the words "She knows". He finally snaps and yells that if 'she' knows, then the guy's yapping about it isn't gonna fix anything.
  • In an early M*A*S*H episode, the storyline revolves around Henry being stalked by a rather unstable, wounded soldier. The soldier desperately wants to return home, worried that his wife had been cheating on him, but was furious at being denied leave on account of the extent of his injuries. Eventually, it gets to the point where a running, unmanned jeep comes crashing through Henry's tent, leaving him so shocked that he repeats over and over "Jeep. Tent. Boom."
  • In Dad's Army, when Jones is overcome by terror he starts shouting 'DON'T PANIC!', in increasingly panicked tones.
  • Chuck: The episode "Chuck vs. the Suburbs" had the agent who kept saying "Salamander" after he was driven mad by FULCRUM's Intersect.
  • The Mad King from Game of Thrones died chanting 'burn them all.' The man who killed him said he had been mumbling it for hours.


  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Dare to be Stupid". Where he incites the audience to "Dare to be stupid dare to be stupid dare to be stupid", citing ridiculous examples such as mircowaving your head, to define "stupid".
  • Kylie Minogue's "Love at First Sight": "it was love at it was love it was love it was love it was love at first sight", etc etc. A song about a love struck light headed Kylie as she staggers back and forth in a love struck delirium on another planet, complete with futuristic dancers (aliens, clones, robotic men). Kylie's song "Wow" composed mainly of chanting "wow. wow. wow. wow. wow. wow. wow. wow. wow." into infinity).
  • Napoleon XIV, from side to side and straight down the middle.
    • "They're coming to take me away - ha-ha, hee-hee, ho-ho..."
    • They're trying to drive me sane...hee-hee...they're trying to drive me sane...ho-ho...they're trying to drive me sane...ha-haa...they're trying to drive me sane!...hee-hee!...they're trying to drive me sane!...ho-ho!...THEY'RE TRYING TO DRIVE ME SANE!...HA-HAAAA!...THEY'RE TRYING TO DRIVE ME SANE!!!"
  • Emilie Autumn:
    • "Are you suffering?"
    • "God help me!" sung 48 times! Clearly she was keeping herself sane while what happens in that song happens to her....
    • "I want my innocence back, I want my innocence back, I want my innocence back..."
  • "Bodies" by Drowning Pool: "Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor..." "One - nothing wrong with me, two - nothing wrong with me, three - ..." "One - something's got to give, two - something's got to give, three - ..."
    • "All Over Me": "All over me! ALL OVER ME! All over me! All over me. All over me! ALL OVER ME! All over me! All over me."
  • "Psycho Killer", by Talking Heads: "Psycho Killer! Qu'est-ce que c'est? Fa-fa-fa-FAH-fa-fa-fa-fa-FA-FA better, run, run; run, run, runaway."
  • The song "Flee!" by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets gives us "Pain! Death! Insanity! Death!"
  • The chorus of the song "They're Coming To Take Me Away", as in the page quote.
  • "AKA Driver" by They Might Be Giants. "It just a full day's drive awaaaaaay. It's just a full day's drive awaaaaaaaaaaay..."
  • Gilbert and Sullivan; though there are many examples, the quartet from The Gondoliers featuring the Duke and his entourage's entry stands out. "And... if... ever ever ever they get back to Spain, they will never never never cross the sea again; they will never never never never never never never never never never never cross the sea again - they will never never never never never never never never never never never cross the sea again!" - And they sing that chorus twice!
    • "Aenema" uses this too: "Learn to swim, learn to swim, learn to swim, learn to swim..."
    • "Schism":"I know the pieces fit, I know the pieces fit, I know the pieces fit, I know the pieces fit..."
  • The song "He Knows, You Know" by Marillion has the word "problems" repeated many times, with the last one shouted - "Problems,problems,problems,problems,PROOOBLEEEEEMS!!". Of course, this might have something to do with the lyrics being about a man going insane, and committing suicide in a bathroom. The song also ends with a phone call, with the man shouting to a woman at the other end "Don't give me your problems!" and slamming the phone down.
  • "Three Evils (Embodied in Love and Shadow)" by Coheed and Cambria. "Pull the trigger and the nightmare stooooops! Pull the trigger and the nightmare stooooops!"
  • The song "Echoplex" by Nine Inch Nails ends with Trent Reznor repeating "You will never, ever, ever, ever, get to me in here. You will never, ever, ever, ever, get to me in here...."
    • "The Becoming" also qualifies: "It won't give up. It wants me dead. Goddamn this noise inside my head..."
    • "Piggy": "Nothing can stop me now!". Not exactly a conventional example, but it is an example of the narrator losing his grip on reality. A variation on this one also shows up in "Ruiner".
    • "Into the Void". "Tried to save myself but myself keeps slipping away", anybody? NIN is very fond of this trope in general.
  • The ending of Motel of the White Locust by Glassjaw: "Pack your shit and leave and take my memories of her with you..." It then concludes with the variation: "Pack your shit and leave and take her fucking with you."
  • "I've lost my mind, I've lost my mind, I've lost my mind" in Disturbed's Perfect Insanity.
  • "She won't stop me/ Put it down!" in "Hang 'Em High" by My Chemical Romance.
    • Also "I'm noooot oookay, I'm not okay, well I'm not okay I'm not o-fucking-kay..."
  • Alice in Chains' "Love Song" is basically one long stream of these:

My gums are bleeding! My gums are bleeding!
Rae Dong Chung, Rae Dong Chung, Rae Dong Chung...
Get the midget! Get the midget! Get the fucking midget!!!

I gotta get out of here. I gotta get out of here. I gotta get out of here.

Oh God I love you
Oh God I love you
I should have killed you when I had the chance


  • Madness Mantra Lite, courtesy of The Goon Show: "Ying tong ying tong ying tong ying tong ying tong iddle i po..."
    • I forget how the rest of it goes.

Tabletop Games

  • In a similar vein, Warhammer 40,000 has "KILL! MAIM! BURN! KILL! MAIM! BURN!" Good ol' Kharn the Betrayer. He's one heck of a guy.
    • From the fluff book Xenology, containing autopsies and analysis of various xeno species and artifacts: "The Metal Lives. The Metal Lives. The Metal Lives. The Metal Lives. The Metal Lives The Metal Lives The Metal Lives The Metal Lives..."
    • Chaos does this a lot. Especially given that another examples include "SANITY IS FOR THE WEAK!" and "IT IS AS THOUGH A THOUSAND MOUTHS CRY OUT IN PAIN!". And yes, upper case and exclamation marks are necessary in all examples.
    • Transience of flesh; purity of form...Transience of flesh; purity of form...Transience of flesh; purity of form... (from a certain mutation cult)
  • The Apocalyptic Log that opens All Flesh Must Be Eaten has a scientist, undergoing transformation into a zombie, muttering in his last log before complete zombification "God, why" about a dozen times.


  • Sweeney Todd has an example which actually takes place in an asylum, with the inmates singing "Sweeney" over and over again, until Johanna kills the owner of the asylum, when they screech and stop the chanting.
    • The Beggar Woman has a habit of repeating "Mischief" and "City on fire!"
  • Oofty Goofty, a sideshow performer from the 19th century American West, started out his career as a costumed "Wild Man of Borneo" act, in which he constantly babbled the nonsense-phrase that became his stage name.
  • Next to Normal has the song It's Gonna Be Good (reprise), where Diana repeats the phrase "what was his name?" in wanting to know her dead son's name, and Dan repeating "gonna be good" to convince Diana going back for therapy sessions.
  • At the conclusion of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, Oswald, who was infected with syphilis in utero by his philandering father, succumbs to dementia and stares blankly into space repeating the words "The sun"
  • In Le Roi Jones' play Dutchman, the lead woman, Lula, starts repeating the conclusion of a story told by her co-star: "And that's how the blues were born" several times before completely flipping out, stabbing him, and pushing him out of the subway car they're both riding.
  • The Merchant of Venice: Shylock's speech pattern is very repetitive, even at the beginning. This becomes nightmarish later when he becomes intent on killing Antonio:

I'll have my bond, speak not against my bond:
I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond...
I'll have my bond; I will not hear thee speak:
I'll have my bond, and therefore speak no more...
I'll have no speaking: I will have my bond.

  • Macbeth: Lady Macbeth chants "Out out, damned spot". It is stated that she has been doing this for some days.

Video Games

  • System Shock 2. The Hybrids, when not attacking, piteously ponder "We are? We are?" and "What... happened to me?", and when they attack, they either apologetically shout "I'm sorry! Run! RUN!" or growl "You are not one of us!" or "You cannot see!" The Cyborg Midwives are even creepier, walking around talking about caring for "the little ones".
  • In Fable II in the Terry's Cotta area, when you find Terry's Final Diary, the last words were "They watch over me. They watch me. They watch me. They watch me...", which indicates that Terry had gotten insane from the unending stare from the Knights.
  • Lux-Pain is full of these- the Shinen of those infected with Silent tend to repeat phrases like "I'll kill you" and "This is fun" over... and over... and over...
  • If left idle, Arakune from BlazBlue will start babbling "I'm different, I'm different, I'm different" in the middle of a battle.
  • Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem could, potentially, develop a Madness Mantra. Let the true magnitude of what they're fighting take hold, and the various characters will begin to assert that "This... isn't... really... happening!" (Sadly, that was optimistic.)
    • Usually. Sometimes, they weren't just surrounded by Cosmic Horror; they were surrounded by Cosmic Horror and hallucinating on top of it.
    • Then there's "May the rats eat your eyes! The darkness comes..."
  • Treasure of the Rudras. You can use a Mantra (Custom Made spell based on how it is typed; inscribed) to actually invoke madness status on your characters or enemies.
  • The Chzo Mythos series: It hurts.
    • Alternatively: "Father, why?"
  • Half-Life 2. "...they're always departing but they never arrive... and the ones that do arrive, they-they never leave... you never see them go... they're always full... no one ever gets on... but they're always... they're always departing but they never arrive..."
  • The real Overlord Zenon from Disgaea 2: "I am a being of solitude..."
  • Max Payne: The Arc Words of the first game, "the flesh of fallen angels," are repeated by certain V-crazed junkies as well as the psychotic Act I boss Jack Lupino. The phrase is also used by "the pink flamingo" in the in-game TV show "Address Unknown", although it's stated in a creepy backwards voice that's hard to make out (a tribute to the backwards talking in Twin Peaks).
    • Also in the "Address Unknown" show: Mirrors are more fun than television.
  • The World Ends With You: "To right the countless wrongs of our day, we shine this light of true redemption, that this place may become as paradise. What a wonderful world such would be." Repeated by anyone wearing a red skull pin, except Neku. By the end of the game, it's affected everyone (including the reapers) in Shibuya except for Kitaniji, Neku, Beat, Joshua, Konishi and Sho... and that one reaper who missed the emergency meeting.
    • If you replay and seek out all the hidden item boxes, Neku finds out that the decals allowing the players to interact with living people in shops also blocks the effects of the Red Skull pin, heavily implying that it's the Composer's power (which is behind the Player Pin and the decals) that blocks the madness.
  • In the city of Theramore in World of Warcraft, there's an NPC, James Hyal (or Smiling Jim). He was the owner of the Shady Rest Inn, before it was burned down by the Grimtotem Tauren, and constantly recites a song written in his honor: "He'll bring you mead, he'll bring you beer; A grinning face from ear to ear; He's served us all from year to year; We call him Smiling Jim." Besides the occasional laugh, that's all he ever says.
  • The cake is a lie
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The Dark Brotherhood traitor's Diary, a Book Full of Crazy where all that's written is "killhimkillhimkillhimkillhimkillhim"
    • When he is listing the colours he thinks of in the book, he lists various colours with RED being the only one capitalized, than you flip to the next page to be greeted with: BLACKBLACKBLACKBLACKBLACKBLACKBLACKBLACKBLACKBLACK!!!!
    • Another diary in Oblivion is written by a vampire who's slowly going crazy from bloodthirst. The last page goes "Food blood blood blood blood I need it I need blood need blood"
  • In Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, Joker uses the word "voices" in this manner—some of his battle taunts are just shouting "voices", and during the point of his most intense breakdown, he just repeats "voices" over and over again for nearly an entire dialogue box's worth of speech. This is because he's Tatsuya Sudou, a.k.a. King Leo from the previous Persona 2: Innocent Sin, and the leader of the previous Joker's Masquerade Executives. He hears voices -- actually Nyarlathotep -- that tell him of the previous world and his role in it, causing him to take up the mantle of Joker and try to push events to repeat themselves... with the side effect of making the already deranged Sudou even crazier.
  • Baldur's Gate: "TIAX RULES ALL!", "Back! Bad dog! Play dead!", and "Many, many pretties... piled high beyond the sky!"
    • There's also a minor character named Mad Arcand who peppers his speech with "(wertle wertle woo)" and asks you to go and get something from a pirate ship, admonishing you not to wear it or "you'll wertle too." It's a cursed Ring of Folly.
    • There's also the Elven Wizard one originally met on the Wolfwere island, but now held in Spellhold. Almost everything he says ends in, or gets interrupted by him shouting "BAD DOGGIE WEREWOLVES"
  • Baroque gets extra irony points for having the Absolute God chant "Don't go crazy Don't go crazy Don't go crazy Don't go crazy". For added effect, the subtitle for each instance was placed at a random point on the screen. Turns out she was actually telling the protagonist not to go crazy like her.
  • In Phantasmagoria 2 a mental hospital patient although they might have been a hallucination had a habit of chanting "Disco dance! Disco dance! Disco dance!". The result was... less than terrifying.
    • He says several more when clicked on repeatedly, such as "Pizza, pizza! PIZZA!" "There's my taco salad!" "Froot Loops and Cheerios!" "Harry Belafonte!" or "Everybody in the POOOOOOOOOOOL!"
    • And the girl repeatedly chanting "Sick and wrong...sick and wrong!"
  • One of Left 4 Dead's Zombie Infectees has "Better safe than sorry. Better safe than sorry. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY!" DING DONG! DING DONG DINNER'S SERVED!"
  • Practically every NPC in BioShock (series) that is capable of speech does this, from the Splicers' "Father! Why have you forsaken me?" and "What more can I give you, Mr. Ryan?" to the Little Sisters' "Look, Mr. B, an angel!" to the more unique ones like "Aesthetics are a moral imperative" and "I CAN'T TAKE THE EARS OFF!" The Splicers and Little Sisters have literally dozens of them.
    • One notable example is them singing "Jesus loves me this I know", since Christianity was supposed to be banned in Rapture, and there are smugglers crates full of nothing but tons and tons of Bibles.
    • BioShock 2 Let's not forget: "YOU'RE FIRED!"
  • Silent Hill 2 has a written one early on: the phrase "Run away!" written over and over again on a sheet of notepaper left on the ground.
    • "There was a hole here, it's gone now".
  • Another written example: In the horror/adventure/drama game Fragile Dreams, the player character Seto enters a trashed room filled with boxes and other post-apocalyptic junk towards the end of the game. For those using one of the regular flashlights, there is nothing remotely disconcerting about this room. However, if, like this troper, you were using the flashlight that allows you to see hidden messages written on the wall, you will suddenly enter a room where literally every surface has "I don't want to die! I don't want to die! I don't want to die!" scribbled over it in an increasingly desperate hand. If you scare easily, do yourself a favor and don't enter the room with that flashlight.
  • .hack//GU's Haseo has "Come on, come on! I'm right here!" It's usually chanted when he's summoning Skeith, the Terror Of Death, into himself.
    • Through the games, we see the Awakening - the first summoning - of four of the eight avatars. Each one is accompanied by the summoner's total mental collapse and their own distinctive mantra, whether it's Atoli yelling Sakaki's name, or Yata just screaming "No!"
  • Though the real significance of it isn't revealed until the game's end, Travis Touchdown has a nice inner monologue during the first boss fight of No More Heroes which ends with the repetition of the phrase "Can't find the exit" a good twenty times.
  • Myst III: Exile. If you trap Saavedro behind the shields in Narayan (which you have to do to finish the game with the Good Plus Ending), he first looks up at you, mumbles to himself about how stupid it was to trust you, then starts screaming "NO" over and over and over and over... And then later, if you try to get the MacGuffin from him, he pleads for his release and starts doing it again.
  • Rule of Rose has, right at the end, one of these. Stray Dog's "I'm sorry, Joshua," line during the last boss fight seems to fit, at least.
  • Kefka, in the Bowdlerized version during the flying continent Sequence: Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate
    • In the Fan Translation replace Hate with Bitch
      • The translation in the GBA version subverts this, as it turns out to be more along the lines of Angrish.
      • And in Dissidia Final Fantasy his madness mantra seems to have become "Destroy" and "Destruction". This is more or less stated outright and explained during Kefka's final moments where it is revealed that he is unable to find any meaning in life due to, and beyond, all things' inevitable destruction.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, what appears to be random letters that's been overpowering the television airwaves for the last eighteen years is actually a Bilingual Bonus mantra in English if you look carefully: "BRING ME BACK THERE I AM ALIVE HERE" and "I'LL NEVER LET YOU FORGET ABOUT ME." The interference is caused by a powerful magic-jamming device in orbit, imprisoning the evil sorceress Adel for these last eighteen years.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: "Pinhead! Pinhead! McCall is a PINHEAD!"
  • In Final Fantasy IX Black Waltz no. 3's chant "I exist only to kill, I exist only to kill, I exist only to kill, I exist only to kill"
  • Dead Space: 'Make us whole again'. Whether the madness belongs to the player, the NPCs or both is disconcertingly ambiguous. Additionally, the Ishimura's crew leave behind a nice ship full of crazy.
    • Subverted by "Cut off their limbs" which seems like one given that it's written in blood, but it's actually just sound advice.
      • Played straight in the audio log of the engineer who cuts off his own limbs so he can't kill people as a necromorph. It didn't work.
  • Insane Marines in Quake 2 had several, including "Make it stop!" and "Kill me now."
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: Victor Zsasz: "...cutting and cutting and cutting and cutting..."
    • In Arkham City, he gets a new mantra when calling Batman on the phone booths: "Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring."
  • Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Kano's Arcade ending. "Death to Shang Tsung... Death to Shang Tsung... DEATH TO SHANG TSUNG!"
  • Thief: Deadly Shadows:

Stone Golem: A noise... And FIND... A noise... And FIND... And KILL AND CRUSH AND CRUSH AND KILL AND KILL AND CRUSH AND KILL!!!!!!!!!!

"Carrrrl Stucky. Pleased... to meet you!"

Matt Engarde: "NOOOO! GUiltyguiltyguILtyguiltyGUILTYgUiLty...."

Web Comics

US President: Congratulations, Mr. Big Boss, you sure showed that traitorous whore a thing or two!
Big Boss/Naked Snake: (thinking) Do Not Punch. Do Not Punch. Do Not Punch. Do Not Punch.

Celesto: I am Celesto Morgan. I am me. I am I. Repeat the mantra. Reassert and reflect upon your self. Establish your identity. Protect the sanctity of your being and make your mind a fortress.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: " Azula always lies... Azula always lies..."
  • What Trope would be complete if The Simpsons hadn't done something with it? Examples:
    • "Lisa's First Word": The classic mantra, "Can't sleep, clown will eat me," which a shaken 3-year-old Bart says over and over after the first night in his new "clown" bed. Bart had coveted a Krusty the Clown bed, but Homer – unable to afford one – decides to make one himself. Homer's poor handicraft skills results in the Krusty-shaped headboard looking like a creepy-looking, Monster Clown, which scares Bart to the point he is unable to fall asleep.
    • In a flashback from the episode "Lisa's First Word", the creepy-looking clown-shaped bed Homer makes for a young Bart scares Bart to the point that he sits around saying .
    • Of course, they also had to parody the Shining example too.

Homer: No TV and no beer make Homer... something something...
Marge: Go crazy?
Homer: Don't mind if I do! A-woolagoolawoola!

      • Of course, just prior to this the trope has already been subverted ("Feelin' fine.") and then twisted right back around on itself like a twisty-tie.
    • And a Continuity Nod when they go through an actual mental ward and see a certain film critic in the background...


    • "Moe, Moe, Moe, Moe..."
    • One of Bart's earlier babysitters never quite recovered from the encounter.

Sitter: [while sitting blank-faced in a rocking chair] Put it down, Bart. Bart, put it down. Put it down, Bart.

    • In the episode "Kamp Krusty", when Bart has basically suffered hell at Kamp Krusty without any appearance of Krusty the Clown:

Bart: Don't worry, Krusty will come, Krusty is coming, Krusty is coming...

    • "The Simpsons are going to Florida" episode began with Homer having a breakdown when he realized he will die in 3 years. He is reduced to saying "CAN'T SLEEP, GONNA DIE" over and over.
    • After Homer breaks out of jail on a book cart:

Homer Must kill Moe... Whee! Must kill Moe... Whee!

  • In South Park, when Butters' mother discovered that his father was having sex with random men, she repeatedly repainted the house while muttering "Paint... everything clean... everything new..."
    • When Stan's mother started finding dead people in her son's room, she blamed him, although it was really his evil goldfish. Eager to cover up for her murderous but still beloved boy she dragged the corpses to bury them in the backyard while chanting "You're such a good boy...mommy will protect you..."
    • "Second verse same as the first, dreidel dreidel dreidel, I made you out of clay..."
    • "KILL John Lennon!"
  • Doctor Destiny in the Justice League TV show was stuck humming Fr�re Jacques while catatonic after injecting himself with a sedative while fighting Batman, who was humming the song to keep Doctor Destiny from influencing his mind.
  • G.I. Joe: Four words: WAS ONCE A MAN!
  • The occasional repeated phrase can be found among the manifold delights of Ren Hoek's extended ravings.
  • DuckTales (1987): A sillier example (and one that's eventually snapped out of) is the Overly Long Gag "A SEA MONSTER ATE MY ICE CREAM!"
  • Futurama: "Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it!... Fix it! Fix it! Fix it!"
  • Robot Chicken: "Mars is amazing..."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • And the NEXT day. And the NEXT day. And the NEXT day. And the NEXT day...
    • Are you finished with those errands? Are you finished with those errands? Are you finished with those errands?
      • Errands, errands, errands, errands, errands....
    • You're Good, You're Good, You're Good...
      • ALOOOOOOOONE. Alone. Alone. Alone.
    • "Darn it...darn it...darn it...darn it..."
    • "I don't need it... I don't need it... I DEFINITELY don't need it... I don't need it... I don't need it..."
    • From The Movie:


  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: "DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL!"
    • "I'll take the chicken. DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL! DESTROY US ALL!"
  • At the end of the Metalocalypse episode "Snakes n' Barrels", it's revealed that Pickles' old bandmates create the most brutal album ever with their psychotic rantings, one of which includes the constant "I'm a chicken! I'm a chicken! I think I'm a chicken! I'm a chicken! I'm a chicken! I'm a chicken! I believe I'm a chicken!"
  • Mission Hill: Bling-blong-bling-bling-blong-bling...
  • In much-loved animated series Recess, TJ is subjected to Ms. Finster's newest punishment: The Box. At first, he laughs at it. It is just four chalk lines on the ground. No big deal. As he spends more time in "The Box", he begins pacing angrily, starts shouting and "banging" on the nonexistent walls, and then starts to hallucinate that The Box is sinking into the ground. It gets worse. Ms. Finster eventually finds TJ in the fetal position, whispering to himself "This old man...he played two...he played knick-knack on my shoe..."
  • Winnie the Pooh: I will not be brave I will not be brave I will not be brave...
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog, "Human Habitrail": "It's Doc Gerbil's world! It's Doc Gerbil's world!"
  • The Powerpuff Girls: It was me. It was me. It was me.
  • Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends: In "The Trouble with Scribbles", Bloo constantly asked every other imaginary friend about whats behind the secret door.

Bloo: Secret door, secret door, secret door, secret door.....

    • "Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta go."
  • Looney Tunes:
    • "The Daffy Doc": "Where's a patient? Where's a patient? I gotta find a patient. I gotta find a patient."
    • "The Henpecked Duck": "Yes, m'love. Yes, m'love. Yes, m'love! HOO HOO! YEEEEEESSSSS M'LOVE!"
  • Danger Mouse: The episode "Ants, Tress And Whoops-A-Daisy" had DM falling into a temple looking for Penfold and running into a group of snakes who have adapted a cult of the 1960s, chanting "Peace and love" over and over. When DM gives an off-handed "Good grief," the snakes adapt "Good grief" as their new mantra.
  • In the Rugrats episode "Pickles vs. Pickles", Angelica files a lawsuit against her parents for punishing her for refusing to eat her vegetables. Not only does the suit go through, but the court finds in favor of Angelica and she is awarded all of her parents' possessions. Stunned, Drew can only shout over and over "I'm a good father! I'm a good father! I'm a good father!" It's later revealed to be All Just a Dream.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series: "But...I came back for you. I came back for you. I came back for you. I came back...I CAME BACK FOR YOU!!"

Real Life

  • CBS anchorman Dan Rather was attacked on Park Avenue in Manhattan by two unknown assailants, one of whom kept repeating (according to Rather's own account) "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" Through Memetic Mutation and a certain R.E.M. song, everyone remembers the phrase as "What's the frequency, Kenneth?"
    • When Rather resigned, the incident resulted in a parody news story reporting the frequency [dead link].
    • According to America: The Book 104.3 is The Frequency (source: Kenneth).
    • There is an entire novel by Spider Robinson that has this as its punchline. It actually makes a certain sense in context. It's "Lady Slings the Booze" Kenneth is a Rather lookalike; the frequency will trigger nuclear devices hidden in major cities, and the two assailants are Soviet agents.
  • Discussed in this Dane Cook routine on crying:

Dane: ...and then as you're crying, what happens is that it starts to feel good... and what you do is that you latch on to one phrase that you just repeat over and over again; just something that means something to you, like, "I DID MY BEST! I DID MY BEST!"

Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope.

  1. Considering that this wiki is a Frankenstein made of parts of fictionary works, it's perfectly Justified.