Let’s take a look at what motivates a scientist or genius to go a little crazy. You do know there’s a link between genius and madness, right?
Creating Life from Death
Ahhh…the old life-triumphing-over-death motive. That’s one thing science has really yet to accomplish. Today, we think about cloning to create a perfect replica or someone or something deceased. Then, we can use biotech to keep people alive, even if they’ve technically died.
But this is something special.
These mad scientist are driven to bring back lost loved ones or just overcome what we think of as physical death.
It never ends well.
Popular mad scientists with this motive: Dr. Frankenstein and Herbert West from Re-Animator.
Making The Best Weapon
Scientists get roped into making weapons. Some cash the check. Others do it for their countries. A few want to inflict pain on other humans. The most destructive thing scientists have made (so far) is nuclear bombs. It’s mutually assured destruction for sure.
Originally created to end World War II, mankind got out of hand making more of them. That meant testing in Pacific atolls, which irradiated wildlife. And they rapidly grew into monsters.
I’m really more afraid of Godzilla and his frenemies than Russia dropping one. Anyway, chalk this one up to unintended consequences.
Trying To Save Humanity
Science finds ways to solve humanities problems. Sickness is one them, especially cancer and infectious diseases.
But sometimes those well-meaning cures lead to something horrible.
Generally speaking, this is where bioengineered viruses run amok and destroy the world. Even the scientists who invented it never find a cure (in time), and the world as we know it ends.
Mother Nature still finds a way to deal with the plague, but humanity suffers.
I Am Legend perfectly sums up this motivation.
World Domination Just Because
What happens when you think you know best and have resources to do something about it? You make world dominating monstrosities to help out.
To save the world, you have to rule the world. Really, this falls more under the evil genius part. To stop the world from killing itself, you give it something else to attack. It could be an evil empire or monsters created intentionally. Anyway, the common enemy is always a useful ploy.
Take Modok of AIM: A synthetic humanoid genius that took over its syndicate, then infiltrated governments to launch a hostile takeover.
They Never Say Why
This is probably the creepiest reason: The mad scientist never says why they do what they do. They just go about their horrific experiments with cold, focused precision.
The Dread Doctors from Teen Wolf sum this motivation pretty well. If you’d call it a motivation.