Robin Williams

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"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

Robin Williams (1951-2014) was an American Oscar-winning actor.

Although he studied drama at Julliard (where his roommate was the late Christopher "Superman" Reeve), Robin's preferred stage was to be found in standup comedy clubs. There he was discovered (several times) by TV producers and agents. Technically first appearing on TV in a failed revival of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and The Richard Pryor Show, Robin rose to fame as the zany alien star of Mork and Mindy. In that series, his comedic brilliance at improvisation was so irresistible, the writers decided to bank time in the scripts for Robin to cut loose. During this time he struggled through addictions to cocaine and alcohol, and made his first major movie, Popeye. The movie failed. (His first film was actually a sketch movie called Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses. His scenes were cut out after the film's first release but restored for rerelease just before Popeye came out.)

After Mork and Mindy was cancelled, Robin still struggled on the big screen, through The World According To Garp, Moscow on the Hudson, and the very poorly received Club Paradise. It wasn't until Good Morning Vietnam that people started taking this comic seriously, and he got his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He was nominated again for Dead Poets Society two years later, and yet again for The Fisher King two years after that. He didn't win either time. He continued to churn out classic roles, like the Genie in Aladdin and the title role in Mrs. Doubtfire. In 1997 he finally won his rightfully-deserved Oscar for Good Will Hunting. After that, he went through a period of overly-maudlin films such as What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams, and Bicentennial Man.

When these films became critical failures (and even gave him a disturbingly sizable Hatedom), he went into another period in 2002, one no one would have expected: his dark period. Death to Smoochy, Insomnia, and One Hour Photo established that he wasn't always so cute and cuddly, and all but Smoochy got rave reviews. Although he returned to the stand-up stage that same year, he continued to make films of all sorts of genres. Dramas like House of D, comedies like RV, and animated family films like Happy Feet prove that this man can somehow still make terrible movies worse and good movies amazing.

His hobbies included bike riding, Warhammer 40,000, Getting Crap Past the Radar in television shows and family movies, and hanging a lampshade on just about everything in Real Life. Known to wear suspenders and loud Hawaiian shirts, but rarely both at the same time, although it has happened.

He was also a pop-culture geek. He named his daughter Zelda (and they made an ad out of it for the remake of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3DS and Skyward Sword). His favorite TV show of all time was Neon Genesis Evangelion. He played Dungeons & Dragons. He also went on record saying that if they ever made a Live Action Adaptation of Pokémon that he would want to play Professor Oak. Has mentioned playing a sniper in the Battlefield series of FPS and was picked to demo Spore.

Often dubbed by Koichi Yamadera for Japanese releases of his films.

Sadly, Mr. Williams was taken from us at the relatively early age of 63 when, after being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, he committed suicide on August 11, 2014. He will be dearly missed.

Not to be confused with English singer-songwriter Robbie Williams or that chick who writes the computer books or the animator Richard Williams.

Note: Please refrain from adding tropes related to his death (such as Harsher in Hindsight, Funny Aneurysm Moment, and Tear Jerker) to every single work he appeared in. Not only is this against the general spirit and/or letter of these tropes, it comes off as a bit morbid. Most of these tropes should be reserved for roles where he specifically mentions or discusses suicide.

Robin Williams is the Trope Namer for:
Robin Williams provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Butt Monkey: He seemed to play either this or the villain in recent films.
    • Before he died, he seemed to be this in Real Life. Personal problems aside, the public's reception to the films he's made in the last 10 or 15 years of his life have been less than stellar.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: For the most part he was one, although he could be serious when he needs to be.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: His stand-up routines were very salty.
    • One side-splitting Easter Egg on his Live from Broadway DVD was a rapid-fire montage of all the cuss words he used in the routine.[1]
    • In one routine, he noted that the parents in his audience apparently ignored the "18 and up" label on the performance flyers. "Kids, you're going to learn some new words today!"
    • After one profane spiel on his first album, Reality -- What a Concept, he said, "And if there are any children in the audience, we've used these words in a sentence."
  • Drugs Are Bad: A staple of his later stand-up shows, often drawing from his own experiences (particularly involving cocaine and alcohol). One exception seems to be marijuana: While he brutally mocked stoners in 1986's Live At The Met, in Live On Broadway and Weapons Of Self Destruction he was more favorable towards pot (one routine in Broadway is about how pot is less harmful than alcohol).

Cocaine is God's way of telling you you're making too damn much money!

  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Several of the movies and television shows he was cast in often had scripts that said stuff like "Robin can go off here" at numerous intervals.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: He guest starred on a particularly memorable episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?
  • I Call Him "Mister Happy": The Trope Namer comes from the tour and album Throbbing Python of Love (itself named for the routine in which the trope name appears).
  • Improv: Billy Crystal said that you couldn't take him anywhere because he would riff on everything.
  • Irony: Known as a motormouth, he also spent time as a mime.
  • Large Ham: Does this really need justification? We're talking about Robin Freaking Williams here.
    • Perhaps most noticeable when he appeared as the bit character Osric in Kenneth Branagh's HAMlet.
  • Motor Mouth: When he got going, he really got going.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Whenever he starred in a dramedy, you can bet the trailers would play up his comedic scenes.
  • Odd Couple: Paired with (of all people) Walter Cronkite as hosts in the now-long-gone guide videos to the also-now-long-gone tour of the even-more-long-gone Disney animation studios that used to be part of what is now Disney's Hollywood Studios at DisneyWorld, in Florida. Amazingly, they played well off each other.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Williams was a fan of The Legend of Zelda video games and even named his oldest daughter Zelda. He and his daughter were both later given the opportunity to star in the commercials for Ocarina of Time 3DS and Skyward Sword for Western releases. Nintendo had also told him he would be their only choice to play Professor Oak if a live-action Pokémon movie was ever made.
  • Throw It In: Known for fighting with the directors over how far he could vary from the script. Often it came down to "One good take done straight, then you can have fun."

Like any celebrity, Robin got parodied or caricatured a lot in popular media.:

Live-Action TV

  • Non-parody example: In NBC's Made for TV Movie Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy, Robin was portrayed by Chris Diamantopoulos, who did an uncanny vocal impersonation.
  • Community featured a teacher who thought he was John Keating, telling the class to "seize the day", "carpe diem" and the like. His class assignments are things like "tell 10 people you love them today". The kicker? He's an Accounting teacher.
    • There's also a point in that same episode where Jeff is wearing a Mork costume.

Jeff: Shazbot!

  • Sketch comedy In Living Color featured a 1994 sketch where Jim Carrey played an obnoxious, hyperactive Robin at the Academy Awards. He was seen to make light of the Oscar statuette and the late film producer Irving G. Thalberg and interrupting actors playing James Earl Jones and Whoopi Goldberg (the latter of which grows tried of Robin's annoying antics and beats him about the head with an Oscar). Hilarious in Hindsight, as this skit aired just after Carrey's own career took off.
  • A Saturday Night Live "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketch in 2000. Robin is played by Jimmy Fallon who does a pretty good voice impression.
    • Robin actually engaged in some self-mockery in a 1986 episode he hosted in a sketch where he played himself as an Shakespearean actor who can't stop going into his improvisational routines, enraging Shakespeare himself.
      • And of course, there was the skit where Dana Carvey played his hyperactive son.
      • To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Back to The Future, there was a sketch of previously unseen "audition tapes" for the film, in which Jon Hamm played Williams, auditioning for the part of Doc Brown.
  • An episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!! had Eric giving Tim his own Robin Williams (played by professional Robin impersonator David Born), who goes out of control and runs away.

Recorded and Stand Up Comedy

  • Frank Caliendo has a very brief Robin Williams impression that he's been known to do. It goes something like "Joke not working, just switch voices." He even did a whole routine where Williams is in a remake of The Wizard of Oz starring him (in all the roles) and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

"And the tornado comes! Sucks up the house, it's in the air, spinning like Baryshnikov on amphetamines -- I don't care if you didn't laugh at that joke, I did it just for me!

Web Original

  • The Onion has poked fun at him occasionally—he vanishes on a "free association" bender during the shoot of a movie version of My Three Sons when his improv gets out of hand, and in the book Our Dumb Century we learn that scientists warned the U.S. government about "encroaching Robin Williams body hair" in the late 1970s.

Western Animation

  • The first episode of Bob & Doug (the animated series about The McKenzie Brothers) had yet another spoof of John Keating, who does the typical shtick before two police officers show up to take him back to "the home".

Teacher: They can't catch me, not while I have this! (points to shoe, leaps out the window) CARPE DIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEM!

  • Family Guy often mocked him.
    • Pre-renewal, "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story" had a man in the future get an episode of Mork and Mindy beamed into his brain, and laughs like a moron.

"Ha ha ha! Oh, Mork, that's not how you sit in a chair."

    • Not a portrayal, but the episode "Petergeist", the first thing Peter does with the dead Native American skull is use it as a puppet, saying thusly:

"Hey, check it out, Chris, it's Robin Williams. 'Blah Blah Blah, black preacher voice. Blah blah blah, gay Elmer Fudd."

    • "McStroke" showed Peter as Robin's "Jumping off point".
    • And in "Baby Not On Board", a cutaway shows Robin as Patch Adams, doing his routine. One of the kids in the hospital pulls his IV out to kill himself.
    • Stewie outright says he hates Robin Williams in "The Juice Is Loose".
    • "You knew it was going to be a touching comedy, because Robin Williams had a beard." - Brian in "Love, Blactually"
    • In "Brian's Got A Brand New Bag", What Dreams May Come is one of the DVDs that no one wants to buy.
  • Futurama episode "Bendin' In The Wind featured robot Patchcord Adams. Bender wanted to kick his ass.
    • And the movie Bender's Game featured a scene where Mork from Ork is referenced with Orcs as Mork. Then the party kill them while telling them to shut up. It doesn't work.
  • Robot Chicken has had two sketches with Mork in them. The first is a brief appearance during "Swedish Chef's Jaunt" (cute), and the second is in "The Top 100 Final Episodes Ever"
  • The Simpsons: The episode "Special Edna" had a brief scene parodying Dead Poets Society with a John Keating lookalike appropriately voiced by Dan Castellaneta, who replaced Robin as The Genie in Return of Jafar and the Aladdin TV series.
    • The episode "Mypods and Boomsticks" featured The Genie in Homer's dream sequence (voiced by Dan but obviously a caricature of Robin's version).
    • In one of the comics, the family has just gotten a new satellite dish and is channel-surfing with Bart. They come across a show called Celebrity Alien Autopsies and features, you guessed it, Mork on the autopsy table, wisecracking as usual.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian": In a rather dated reference, Robin as Peter Pan is seen flying around outside Amblin' studios. He says "I can fly. Look ma, no wires!" before crashing into something off-screen.
  1. To find it, scroll all the way down through the menu screen then hit the right arrow button at the last option (or click here); if a Parental Advisory symbol comes up, have fun