Prev NEXT  


Top 10 Mad Scientist Fails


Dr. Anton Arcane

A deformed, resurrected Arcane wrestles Swamp Thing. Image courtesy DC Entertainment
A deformed, resurrected Arcane wrestles Swamp Thing. Image courtesy DC Entertainment


When it comes to mad science fails, Dr. Anton Arcane is the absolute worst.

Expelled from medical school on a host of ghastly charges, Arcane continued his depraved experiments in the trenches of World War I, where he served as the worst army medic of all time. Unsurprisingly, he also befriended Adolf Hitler.

Two world wars and countless sadistic experiments later, Arcane was living the life. He'd achieved near-immortality, created a loyal army of monstrous Un-Men and plotted global mischief from his castle laboratory -- and that's when he first crossed Swamp Thing.

Yes, for all his depraved genius, Arcane couldn't resist the lure of super villainy. Oh, and a normal superhero wasn't enough either. No, Arcane had to mess with an actual Earth elemental. All his twisted endeavors soon took a backseat to his feud with Swamp Thing. The deranged grudge resulted not only in the end of Arcane's natural life, but it also robbed him of his unnatural, reanimated life on two separate occasions.

Ever since meeting Swamp Thing, Arcane has spent the remainder of his mad science career in and out of Hell. Yes, actual Hell. Here, the once-brilliant scientist endures eternal torment and occasional low-level employment.

The lesson: Again, think long and hard about your immortality schemes, and never tangle with a superhero. An arch nemesis can provide quite an ego boost, but petty quests for revenge suck up valuable research time.

Further study: Immerse yourself in DC Comics' horror-laden "Swamp Thing" series, especially Alan Moore's psychedelic run on the series. Failing that, you have two feature films and two TV series at your disposal.

Author's Note: Top 10 Mad Science Fails

When I was a child, I really wanted to be a mad scientist. I longed for the lab coats, the test tubes and of course the hideous monsters. Luckily, I grew out of that phase because as this article illustrates, mad science is a lonely, nightmarish and doom-ridden profession.

They make great villains and even better tragic heroes, but mad scientists are also a fascinating product of our modern age, embodying humanity's distrust and concern over the advance of modern science. Will we press too far? Will we lose our moral compass or employ science in the pursuit of immoral ends? As we advance through the ages and achieve unprecedented wonders, no doubt the mad scientist trope will continue to haunt the corners of our minds.

I love all the mads on this list and, despite the fun we have with each one, I also love the books and films they call home. My many thanks to all the wonderful authors, artists, directors and actors who gave them unnatural life.

Related Articles


  • "The Fly." Brooksfilms. 1986.
  • "Futurama." 20th Century Fox. 2012.
  • "The House by the Cemetery." Fulvia Film. 1981
  • "The Island of Dr. Moreau." New Line Cinema. 1996.
  • Mignola, Mike. "Hellboy: Conqueror Worm." Dark Horse. March 8, 2002.
  • Moore, Alan. "Swamp Thing Vol. 2: Love and Death." Vertigo. April 1, 1995
  • "The Munsters." CBS. 1966.
  • "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." 20th Century Fox. 1975.
  • Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus." Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones. 1818.
  • "Zaat." Clark Distributors. 1971.


Honey Ryder, Octopussy and 23 Other Iconic Bond Girls

Honey Ryder, Octopussy and 23 Other Iconic Bond Girls

In honor of the 25th 007 film, 'No Time to Die,' HowStuffWorks is celebrating 25 Bond Girls, whose looks all but gave them a license to kill.