mad scientist n.

a scientist who is insane or eccentric, esp. so as to be dangerous or evil: a stock figure of melodramatic horror stories

SF Encyclopedia


SF Criticism

  • 1883 Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales) 4 Sept. 2

    This proposal, however, of some mad scientists…fortunately cannot be carried out without the sanction of the Home Secretary.

  • 1893 Newark (Ohio) Daily Advocate 11 July 6/3

    Nerving myself for the blow, I felled the mad scientist dead at my feet.

  • 1908 ‘R. McDonald’ (title)

    Mad scientist: a tale of the future.

  • 1931 L. A. Eshbach A Voice from the Ether in Amazing Stories May 185/2 page image Lloyd Arthur Eshbach bibliography

    The resulting death of the mad scientist can well be imagined.

  • 1931 M. W. Wellman Disc-Men of Jupiter in Wonder Stories Sept. 523/1 page image Manly Wade Wellman bibliography

    This was the noted ‘joy-lamp’, invented by a mad scientist to administer a new and unheard-of intoxication to all who came into its light.

  • 1934 E. E. Smith Triplanetary in Amazing Stories Jan. 20/1 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    I have heard of mad scientists who tried to destroy the Earth, and of equally mad geniuses who thought themselves Napoleons capable of conquering even the Solar System.

  • 1953 ‘T. P. Caravan’ Cold, Cold Grave in Other Worlds May 97/1 page image T. P. Caravan bibliography

    Did you ever hear of a mad scientist who did something for the benefit of humanity? Of course not. Mad scientists do evil, evil, evil all the time. They have to: it’s their job.

  • 1958 R. Silverberg Recalled to Life in Infinity Science Fiction June 25/2 page image Robert Silverberg bibliography

    Needles plunged into the dead man’s skin; electrodes fastened to the scalp discharged suddenly…. All that seemed missing was the eery blue glow that characterized the evil experiments of stereotyped mad scientists.

  • 1982 S. Farber Ann Atomic, Psychopathologist in Asimov’s Science Fiction May 78 page image Sharon N. Farber bibliography

    As is the wont of mad scientists meeting for tea, they fell to gossipping about other mad scientists…. ‘Chap hasn’t the energy to do forbidden experiments, and he’s quite given up any desire to conquer the world.’

  • 1991 Locus May 31/1

    When people say ‘mad scientist’, we never wonder for a moment if perhaps they mean that the fellow is merely angry.

  • 2005 Amazing Stories Feb. 69/4 page image

    It was a rare chance for the horror icon to portray a character far more complex than the stock heavies and mad scientists he’d been playing with increasing frequency in Hollywood.

Research requirements

antedating 1883

Research History
Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a 1965 reprint of E.E. Smith's "Triplanetary"; Jesse Sheidlower verified the cite in the original 1934 magazine appearance in Amazing Stories.
Cory Panshin submitted a cite from a 1947 reprint of Manly Wade Wellman's "The Disc-Men of Jupiter"; Jeff Prucher verified the cite in the September 1931 original appearance.
Mike Christie submitted a cite from a 1976 reprint of Lloyd Arthur Eshbach's "The Voice From The Ether"; Jeff Prucher verified the cite in the original May 1931 magazine appearance.
Kathleen Miller submitted a 1908 cite from the New York Times.
Fred Shapiro submitted an 1883 citation from a Welsh newspaper.

Earliest cite in the OED2: 1940. OED3 updated in March 2003 with new earliest date of 1908. At some point thereafter, OED3 added an 1893 quotation.

Last modified 2021-03-08 15:36:36
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.