Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Mad Scientist Lab Rulebook

"Rat Fink... fiddles with a beaker that's smoking and bubbling as per the Mad Scientist Lab Rulebook." -Ed Harris, Agony Booth
Since Ed didn't provide a link, I think we should make our own rule book, both for Hollywood and woo stereotypes.

1. All scientists work with weirdly shaped bottles and flasks of colorful chemicals. These chemicals are always bubbling or smoking. It doesn't matter what kind of scientist he is. Colorful chemicals equals credibility.

2. If your introductory scene doesn't involve you carefully pouring something into a test tube, you're not a scientist.

3. A scientist's talent is directly proportional to the thickness of his German accent. The same is true of his madness.

4. Science is subject to the Storm Trooper Effect. A lone scientist working in a remote place is much more likely to produce earth-shattering breakthroughs than countless scientists and lab assistants working in a prestigious university in the center of a metropolis.

5. Atheist scientists are soulless ultra-materialists who reject the existence and importance of emotion. Religious scientists always make breakthroughs that involve, or at least hint at, the supernatural and are ridiculed and never believed until the climax.

6. There's usually someone who steals the scientist's secret/inventor's prototype for use in the eeeee-ville military. If the scientist/inventor explicitly expresses anti-military views, the probability jumps to 100%.

6a. If the scientist has a daughter, she will be kidnapped for use as a bargaining chip to acquire the secret or force the scientist to work for the kidnappers.

7. Scientists never believe that their new inventions can cause environmental problems or cause side effects.

7a. If they are convinced, they probably already knew and just don't care.

8. If magic exists in the movie, science and technology are always evil. Magic is always environmentally friendly, and all nature scenes are nice and pretty. Swamps and wastelands are always the scientists' fault.

8a. When used against the giant monster, technological weapons built by optimistic scientists always fail where the magic sword of legend will succeed.

9. Scientists are always socially inept, absent-minded, and unable to party.

10. Magic tends to show up only after science bombs everything back into the stone age.

Okay, that should be enough to get you started.


Anonymous said...

My father worked in an Air Force lab doing, well, stuff, back in the late fifties. They built an extraction line of some kind-you know, metal rods, glass tubing, bunsen burners, flasks and the like. The damned thing never worked. But it was real impressive to watch gurgling and clanking away, so rather than tear it down, they kept it under a tarp and fired it up whenever a congresscritter or general showed up to tour the facility. Funding rolled in regular as clockwork.

Anonymous said...

Good list, but Final Fantasy 6 (certainly not 7) did it better I think. Magic pretty well destroyed that world and science helped save it (science also had a part in the bad stuff but that's how it is). In no way was magic "nature friendly" and the gods themselves were the standard jealeous and wrathful gods who helped destroy the world with their holy wars against each other. The day is saved when your characters destroy the source of all magic, housed in someone who is totally insane. I like that game a lot.

Bronze Dog said...

True, FF6 was anti-cliche in that case, and it was a great game.

Pereque said...

* Don't forget that the scientist is ALWAYS male.

* Corollary to # 3: the scientist is ALWAYS white.

* If the scientist has an assistant, this is invariably some deformed male with no will or self-respect (and optionally, with German or Slavic accent) and usually is abused by the scientist.

Rhoadan said...

Of course, since this is a Mad Scientist's Handbook, the scientist's response to disbelief and ridicule is to "Show them. SHOW THEM ALL!" (evil cackling).

BTW, if any of you haven't seen this yet, check out Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio about a female mad scientist.

King Aardvark said...

Good list. I liked #2, as I've seen it in real life: a newspaper photographer will come to a science lab and just get somebody to look like he's pouring one random chemical from one test tube to another for no good reason.

Bronze Dog said...

Okay, Rhoadan, I was expecting not to have to make up a lot of work hours this week, but reading that comic from the start is lowering my productivity to levels my conscience can't handle.

I love it.

Randy Kirk said...

Which of these stereotypes is true?