There are certain tropes and characters in storytelling and popular myth that have real staying power. From the charismatic anti-hero, to the comedic side-kick, certain archetypes have become a commonplace component of some of our most beloved tales across all mediums.
And when it comes to villains, there’s a literal rogue’s gallery of characters to choose from. Whether you prefer your baddies in the form of evil wizards or double-crossing charlatans, there’s a host of brilliant movies, games and books to enjoy that feature them. While villains are as old as the stories we tell, certain roles have only managed to come about more recently. One of the best examples of this is the mad scientist. In our tech-saturated world, this character is increasingly commonplace in popular fiction, though they’re a relative newcomer on the block.
After all, to be a mad scientist, you must first be able to perform science! Modern science, as we understand it today, was a product of the 17th century enlightenment, and it is from this time period that we naturally begin to see the first characters we can ascribe to this moniker.
Yet in spite of the fact that these antagonists have only been doing the rounds for a couple of hundred years, some of our best known villains belong to this esteemed club. Below we’re going to be taking a look at some of the greatest mad scientists in modern fiction – geniuses with plots ranging from taking over the world to resurrecting the dead! Let’s jump in.
Dr. Victor Frankenstein
Alongside Dr. Jekyll, Doctor Victor Frankenstein is widely credited with giving shape to the mad scientist trope we’ve come to love. The key protagonist of Mary Shelley’s early gothic novel, Frankenstein, the book follows his quest to play god by giving life to a body made from stolen parts. To do this, he utilizes the then little understood power of electricity to give his progeny the spark of life.
Many assume that the monster he creates – generally depicted as a hulking zombie-like figure with bolts protruding from its neck – is Frankenstein itself, though the creature is more accurately known as Frankenstein’s Monster.
These characters found a new lease of life during the golden age of Hollywood where they featured in a string of commercially successful films including Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman and House of Frankenstein.
While Dr. Toonz may find himself talked about in academic literary circles like his colleague Dr. Frankenstein, he’s a firm favourite among the gaming crowd. Toonz first made an appearance in the first two Reactoonz slots titles developed by big name industry developer, Play N’ Go.
Building on the extraterrestrial thrills of those games comes Dr. Toonz, the mad scientists’ very own spin-off. In this game we assist Dr. Toonz in conducting his nefarious experiments while he rides a rodeo-bull in the corner of his lab.
This six reel slot title features all manner of symbols from DNA helices to the Reactoonz themselves, and is widely considered to be one of the most visually appealing and innovative examples of the genre to hit the market in recent years. Rest assured, if you like your mad scientists with a side of quality gaming, this is one to check out.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Blofeld is remembered as the ultimate Bond villain and featured heavily in both Ian Fleming’s 007 novels and Eon Productions’ immensely successful film adaptations of them. Head of the international criminal organisation SPECTRE, Blofeld was often to be found pulling the strings of whatever nefarious plot Bond uncovered in each of his missions.
In several films, among the most memorable in the series, Blofeld serves as the primary antagonist – where he features his iconic grey mandarin suit and fluffy white cat – the direct inspiration for Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers films.
Blofeld first makes appearances in From Russia with Love and Thunderball, but his major reveal comes in You Only Live Twice where Bond must, with the help of an army of Ninjas, infiltrate his hidden space-port concealed beneath a Japanese volcano to foil his scheme of hijacking satellites from orbit.