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Ophelia, by Alexandre Cabanel

"Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,

She turns to favour and to prettiness."
Laertes, Hamlet

In Real Life, of course, mental illness is rarely pretty. But in fiction, there's just something about a lovely young woman, often with long, disheveled hair, running around babbling lyrically about the strange visions flashing through her deranged mind, singing creepy little rhymes, scattering flowers and occasionally bashing people's heads in.

Maybe this particular cutie was just broken particularly hard, maybe it was an illness or maybe she was born that way, but the result is the same, a tragically beautiful, ethereal waif who's mad as a box of frogs. Her beauty is an important point here, underlining her fragility and the sadness of her fate. She usually talks in riddles and rhymes, can be sad or joyfully happy (or switch between these states). Her mind may be so far gone that she's likely to murder people, but she'll always have clear skin while doing it. Sometimes, too, she has important knowledge the sane may lack, in which case she'll often have terrible trouble getting anyone to listen (a classical example of Mad Oracle). The original Cassandra from The Iliad was often depicted as a bit of an Ophelia.

There's often a surprisingly artistic bent to The Ophelia's madness, she may sing, dance wildly, or try to paint her delusions. She is often tied to nature (including walking around barefoot, wearing flowers, etc.), particularly water, probably as a nod to the original Ophelia (in Shakespeare's Hamlet) who winds flowers in her hair before drowning herself. That last bit can overlap with Instant Oracle, Just Add Water if she's also a Waif Prophet and/or a Mad Oracle.

The Victorians fell crazy (so to speak) in love with this trope and Ophelias in the form of wronged maidens and deranged brides go pirouetting and flower-strewing through art, poetry and literature of the period while the "mad scene" for the soprano heroine became a staple of opera. Insanity was linked to female sexuality and desire for independence. (Not coincidentally, the vibrator was invented in this same period as a treatment for hysteria in women.) In fact, psychiatrists at that time used to encourage female patients in madhouses -- especially if they were youthful and pretty -- to dress the part and carry sheaves of flowers.

If a male character is shown the same way, odds are good he's very feminine and delicate-looking anyway.

Compare/contrast with Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant, Cloudcuckoolander, Fainting Seer, Strange Girl, Axe Crazy, Mysterious Waif, Waif Prophet, Hysterical Woman. For the (usuaully) "harmlessly kooky" variant see Strange Girl, Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Perky Goth.

Examples of The Ophelia include:

Anime and Manga

  • Ophelia (duh) from Claymore, who became obsessed with getting revenge on her brother's murderer (Priscilla). Her polite exterior disappears real fast when people interrupt her.. fun. Her death scene after turning into a snake-like awakened being naturally occurred in a lake with her usually-braided hair flowing freely around her.
  • Again, Ophelia (duh), from Romeo X Juliet; a fantastically batshit crazy Half-Human Hybrid priestess to a dying tree-god.
  • Quon Kisaragi from RahXephon is this and/or an extreme Cloudcuckoolander.
  • The Ergo Proxy episode aptly named Ophelia contains liberal amounts of symbolism referencing the titular Shakespearian character. This includes the lead female character's doppelganger floating in a lake and pulling the famous pose.
  • Sunako in The Wallflower is arguably a parody of this.
  • Kotori Monou became one in X 1999, after seeing her mother Saya die and be torn apart as a little girl. She apparently recovered her mind, but some years later she turned into one full-time when seeing Kamui's aunt Tokiko die in the same way. And then soon after, she dies! And at the hands of her Face Heel Turned older brother! It's averted in the anime series since she does kinda manage to hold on her sanity, at least enough to use her Dream Weaver powers while comatose... but like many 100% Ophelias, she still diesThe poor girl can't catch a break...
    • A darker version is Seishirou's mother Setsuka, the previous Sakurazukamori. In the CD dramas she often spoke about things that looked like nosense, then counteracted with something quite unsettling and did so with a smile.

 SETSUKA (has an ikebana arrangement): Camellias. Red camellias.

SEISHIROU: Your favorite flower.

SETSUKA: I love it. I love camellias best when they fall (gets a dreamy look) It falls on the ground.... plop, like a human head. I love it.

  • In Tokyo Babylon, a woman from one of the very last cases (as in post Seishirou's betrayal of Subaru and Hokuto) turns out to be this. She's a young mother whose husband ditched her for another woman, causing her to completely lose her mind and become an Empty Shell that slaps her baby son around, mistakenly thinking that she's punishing herself via beating the child. With help from a Cute Ghost Girl he's befriended, Subaru rescues the baby and confronts the lady, who suffers an emotional meltdown as she explains herself.
  • Dilandau from Vision of Escaflowne eventually dissolves into a male version of this as his mental stability shatters from a variety of influences. Given that he started out as an Axe Crazy Psycho for Hire, that's saying quite a lot. And then it turns out he started out as a girl... more exactly as Selena Schezar, Allen's long-lost sister, used in cruel experiments that shattered her mind and made her into Dilandau. She only recovers at the very end of the series..
  • Charlotte from Rose of Versailles, after she cracks from the pressure on her and right before she commits suicide.
  • Casca from Berserk becomes a nearly mute version of this after she goes mad from the horrible trauma she suffered during the Eclipse. It takes her several years to recover thanks to the Queen of the Fairies, but she's still very disturbed.
  • Full Metal Panic. Kaname acts like this during her Whispered moments, including hallucinations and self-inflicted Clothing Damage.
  • Nina Fortner from Monster, when we first meet her. Overlaps with Creepy Child.
  • Kagami Mikage's mother in Ayashi no Ceres. Kagami himself is a cruel Magnificent Bastard, but his interaction with his mom is pretty much the only Pet the Dog side we see of him.
  • Diva from Blood Plus, who also happens to be the Big Bad. It's perfectly seen in a scene where she's seen happily prancing around in a white gown... and then ruthlessly attacks Saya.
  • Shannon from Umineko no Naku Koro ni. She seems perfectly normal until Will asks her to bring Kanon into the room with her, at which point she quite literally short-circuits. The entire seventh arc is spent showing just how broken this cutie is since she is forced to realize that she is Kanon, or rather, he's her alternate personality --to put it mildly.
    • By extension, not only is Shannon The Ophelia, but also her creator, Beatrice, also known as Sayo "Yasu" Yasuda.
  • Princess Emeraude in the Magic Knight Rayearth OVA's, who is seen in a sort-of dream world that she created after Zagato's death. Uncommonly for the trope, she eventually gets better.
    • There's also the Alcyone of the anime's second season, who mixes this with Empty Shell and Broken Bird when she's not fighting. It's especially seen when she's captured by the Cephireans and is seen with her hair down, in a white dress, and completely despondent to anything save for Lantis' presence... and only because she believes him to be long-dead Zagato.
  • Asuka's mother Kyouko in Neon Genesis Evangelion, after piloting EVA 02 and having a part of her soul sucked into it. Asuka herself touches on this trope after she suffers the Trope Namer for Mind Rape.
  • Tomoe Yukishiro from Rurouni Kenshin has a fit of this after her fiance Akira Kiyosato is murdered. The first time she meets Kenshin, she's drunk and her only reaction to getting splattered by the blood of someone Kenshin just eviscerated is to say that he made it rain blood. She then promptly faints, and Kenshin takes her in.
  • Isuzu "Rin" Sohma, Ren Sohma, Akito Sohma, and Machi Kuragi from Fruits Basket have moments like this.
  • Momo Hinamori and Orihime Inoue from Bleach have moments like this when either's at her lowest point - like when Aizen's corpse is found (for Momo) or when Ichigo is killed by Ulquiorra and his Hollow/Zanpakutou brings him back as a borderline monster (for Orihime). Both of them get better, but it takes them a while.
  • Queen Skyla from Sky Dancers.
  • Gundam Seed Destiny's Stella Loussier blissfully dances her way through her first scene of the series... And, minutes later, shanks her way through the second. It only goes downhill from there.
  • Cordelia Glauca from Tantei Opera Milky Holmes is a humorous take of this trope, complete with flowers. Which unexplainably appear on her hair.
  • An Ax Crazy version is Crimson Miroku from the Sakura Wars TV series. After Sumire kills her and Satan Aoi brings her Back From the Dead, she appears in front of the main cast with her clothes loose, her long hair down, and only being able to speak a Madness Mantra: " Sumire, Sumire... I want your life... I'll take your life..."
  • Rei Asaka from Oniisama E has her moments as this, and especially when she's drugged. Nanako and Mariko also have some moments as such, especially in the anime.
  • In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed's friend Rose Thomas is either drugged or hypnotized by the Big Bad Dante. In addition to the other terrible events that traumatized her, this makes the poor woman nearly catatonic, vacant, and either completely still or dancing. But she gets better.
  • Misaki from Loveless is arguably a very dark version.
  • Ran Mouri from Detective Conan spends a good part of the fourth movie, Captured in her eyes, as one of these due to a bad case of Trauma-Induced Amnesia.
    • Also, a young woman mentioned in the backstory of the Detectives Koshien arc. More exactly: she was a mentally unstable socialité who commited suicide via hanging herself in a room of her mansion in an island. Her death was wrongfully catalogued as a murder, however, and the main suspect was her young maid, Kana. Kana also became one and shge also was Driven to Suicide, having jumped off a cliff and into the sea after she couldn't prove her innocence (filling an Ophelia's sort-of association with water, coming from the original's watery suicide). The anime expands on this, via including a flashback where the socialité suffers a screaming Heroic BSOD and is shown yelling at Kana and her butler Renzo, throwing things around, etc..
    • In the Kimono Goddess case, one gets introduced to the episode via a scene in which a beautiful, sad-looking Ophelia throws herself off a building in front of everyone in her university. Her name was Sakurako Suzuka, and she ended up that way after being falsely accused of drug trade by two cruel Alpha Bitches, Ema Anzai and Asuka Shibazaki. Five years later, Ema and Asuka would become the case's Asshole Victims at the hands of Eri, Sakurako's estranged older sister.
    • Maya Tachibana from the Beautiful Amnesiac Woman case, who has lost her memories due to injuries and acts like a textbook case. Then it's subverted: she's a Dark Action Girl who was hired to kill Kogoro by a dude that got tossed into jail and then escaped, and while her memory loss was genuine at first, she recovered her memories around halfway the episode and then pretended to still be amnesiac so she could corner Kogoro and murder him. Conan barely manages to save Kogoro and then capture her.
  • The unsettling fate of Mie Iwamoto from Shigurui after a particularly traumatizing incident. Eventually she recovers, but is still deeply disturbed.
  • Kamille Bidan becomes a very Rare Male Example in Gundam ZZ. Understandable: he is barely recovering from having been Mind Raped into insanity by Scirocco. And once he reappears in the series, the Colony Drop on Dublin and Hayato's death in battle take place...
  • In Mai-HiME, the HiMEs who lose their CHILD and therefore their Significant Other (generally a parent, a love interest or a close relative) end up as Empty Shells. Out of them, Akane is the one who's closest to an actual Ophelia, shown as frail and helpless in a mental hospital while screaming for her dead boyfriend Kazuya...
  • Ooku has Ienari's wife Shige, who lost her mind after the death of her son AND being accused of killing him to frame Ienari's mistress O-Shiga. She was faking it: she and O-Shiga, whose kiddo also died, are actually laying low until the moment they can enact revenge on the real killer.
  • Black Lagoon has Hansel and Gretel, who went through absolutely horrifying shit in an Orphanage of Fear and then in the clutches of snuff film makers. As a result, these two cute-looking kids in Elegant Gothic Lolita clothes are the poster kids for Creepy Twins - they kill people, they love doing it, they do it in the cruelest ways they can come up with, and they do so smiling...
  • In Mirai Nikki, Yuno Gasai turns out to be not just a Yandere, but an extremely aggressive example of this.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, several characters show Ophelia traits. The more obvious ones are Sayaka Miki as she's proggressively shattered by the TV series' plot, Mami Tomoe in the third timeline, and later Homura Akemi in The Rebellion Story -- who goes so far in her madness and depression, she ends up having a Face-Heel Turn.
    • Ironically, the one whose Witch form follows Opheliac traits and even is named Ophelia is... none of them. According to the PSP game, it's... Kyoko Sakura.


  • "Crazy Jane" by Richard Dadd fits this trope to the T. So much so that she was inspiration for the character's name in Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol (While that other Crazy Jane does NOT fit this trope).


Comic Books

  • Delirium from The Sandman is sometimes portrayed this way.

 [Some] say that Delirium has no tragedy, but here they speak without reflection. For Delirium was once Delight. And although that was long ago now, even today her eyes are badly matched: one eye is a vivid emerald green, spattered with silver flecks that move. The other eye is vein blue. Who knows what Delirium sees, through her mismatched eyes?

  • Ginny, the post-traumatic fairy in Aria. Her cousin Kildare, the protagonist, refers to her as "beautiful and damaged" (or some permutation).
  • Subverted in the Yoko Tsuno story "The Prey and the Shadow". Everyone thinks that Cecilia, the local Ojou, is one of these after the death of her mother... but she's actually sane, and it's her Evil Uncle who makes everyone think otherwise so he can set her up for an "accidental" death to get the riches she's about to inherit. Too bad the Body Double he forced to pose as Cecilia in public, Margaret, decides to ask Yoko and Co. for help...
  • Alice, the first major villain in Batwoman, has many hallmarks of an Ophelia, dressing in bizarre Victorian-esque clothes, speaking almost entirely in quotes from Alice in Wonderland, carrying a poisoned razor blade in her mouth and frequently having her makeup run down her face. She also turns out to be Elizabeth "Beth" Kane, Kate Kane's long-lost twin sister, and there's a heavy implication that she underwent serious Mind Rape after she was captured in the shootout that killed their mother when they were 12.


  • Andy of The Goonies flips her shit and begins babbling nonsense about "having a beautiful body" shortly before the group encounters the corpse of Chester Copperpot... which doesn't help the situation.
  • Brittany Murphy's characters in Don't Say A Word and in Girl, Interrupted
  • Rachel Weisz plays twin sisters in Constantine, one of whom is a sort of peripheral Ophelia - confined to a mental hospital, she commits suicide by leaping from a building, plunging through a roof and into a swimming pool (a cross-shaped one to boot) where, naturally, she can float all flowing-haired and dead. The other twin begins to manifest aspects of the trope - visions and immersion in water - without actually losing her mind.
  • Crazy Cora in the Tom Selleck movie Quigley Down Under goes between this and being more or less sane. She has very long hair which is sometimes down and tangled, though no flowers or water motif as it takes place in the Australian Outback.
  • Kirsten Dunst's character Justine in Melancholia could be a variation of this trope. She has few of the above mentioned traits, but a certain aesthetic scene in the movie is a clear reference to her. Justine is also mentally ill, but this is portrayed in a much more realistic and thus even more heartbreaking way.
  • Lucy Barker from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street after her attempt at suicide, brought on by being raped and having her daughter taken away.
  • The Italian film The Best of Youth centers around the lives of two brothers. A pivotal moment at the beginning of the film that ultimately influences their life choices is when the brothers meet Giorgia, a mental patient who has been subjected to electrotherapy. One of the brothers, Nikola, comments that they were both kind of in love with Giorgia at the time.


  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins has not one but two Ophelias, Anne Catherick, the titular woman in white, and her near-doppelganger, (and secret half-sister) Laura Fairlie. Both are sane (although seemingly at least a bit odd in Anne's case) when confined, in turn, to an insane asylum by the villain in a Batman Gambit involving substituting one for the other, but both are driven mad by their incarceration there.
  • Catherine of Wuthering Heights has attacks of this towards the end.
  • Jeanne from Charles Baxter's Shadow Play could have had a touch of this in her young years: she was apparently rather pretty, but lived in her own universe. When she got older, she turned into a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • In The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott, a bride carried off and raped on her wedding day wanders the highlands decked with flowers and singing.
  • While still a child, Jane Austen parodied the hell out of this in her spoof romance Love and Freindship (sic). When the husbands of the two heroines suddenly die in front of them, they each exhibit the standard Gothic romance reactions -- one swoons, while the other has a fit of madness. This proves the healthier choice, as lying unconscious for two hours on the wet grass gives the other girl a cold that ultimately kills her, and she dies exhorting her friend "Beware of swoons, dear Laura. . . . A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is I dare say conducive to Health in its consequences--Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint."
  • Fuchsia Groan in Gormenghast.
  • Subverted with Elfine in Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons -- Elfine runs around in a green cloak "like a Pharisee of the woods" (i.e., a faerie), making cryptic remarks, until the main character, Flora, gives her a makeover and sets her up with a cute guy. Then she's normal.
  • In the YA novel Black Jack by Leon Garfield, the hero finds himself falling in love with Belle, a fragile young girl who's first encountered in a wood, having a vision of "A white tower with a shining top." She's been swinging between gentle strangeness and violent hysteria since an illness in childhood. Much of the drama turns on whether her madness is the result of an illness exacerbated by neglect and isolation (in which case it's assumed to be curable) or hereditary (in which case it's not).
  • Margaret Atwood has an interest in the trope and deconstructs it in The Blind Assassin. The narrator's sister, Laura, is a beautiful, intensely spiritual young woman given to loopy statements, odd activities like painting "the colour of people's souls" onto old photographs and falling/jumping into rivers. She seems incapable of fending for herself and is revealed on the first page to have driven a car off a bridge, killing herself, at the age of twenty-five. However it later appears that it's only in the arid context of pre-war upper class society that she can't function, and there are people who have a vested interest in discrediting her insights as mere insane babble.
    • Charis in The Robber Bride has also exhibited symptoms of this, the more so during her university days. Arguments can be constructed on both sides of the crazy/not crazy spectrum.
  • The Warlord Chronicles takes a moment out of deconstructing the King Arthur mythos and pulling it into The Dung Ages to deconstruct this trope in the person of Olwen the Silver, an insane Cloudcuckoolander first used by Merlin, (her etheral beauty, a little paint and special effects convinced people that she was a spirit and Merlin was summoning the old gods back to Britain) and later by Merlin's Knight Templar former pupil Nimue.
  • In Mary Jo Putney's The Wild Child', the titular heroine appears to be mutely insane or at least mentally handicapped, but in the pretty, well-groomed way. However it turns out she's just really stubborn and unsocial.
  • In Harry Potter Ariana Dumbledore, minus the Talkative Loon part.
    • Luna Lovegood has shades of this.
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: Lady Pole looks like an Ophelia to the casual observer. In fact, she's under an enchantment that forces her to spend every night dancing to exhaustion in Faerie and causes her to speak nonsense whenever she tries to tell anyone about it.
    • Adding to it, once one of her friends is taken away to Faerie to join the dances she attempts revenge on the man responsible with a pistol, though she fails.
  • Odiana in the Codex Alera is something like this trope... as well as most of the others listed under "compare/contrast". She's also an Unhappy Medium, a powerful empath driven completely nuts by slavery, gang-rape, and brainwashing. She's gorgeous, cheerfully open about her own insanity, and way out there.
  • Sorcha, The High Queen of faerie in Wicked Lovely seemed to become one temporarily in the fourth book, due to missing her son, Seth.
    • Her twin sister, Bananach is a murderous and mercilessly cruel version of this trope. In the Blood?
      • Well, Devlin and Seth seem fine. Although they are male.
  • In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Blue Angel, the Doctor is basically like this. Since he's the Eighth Doctor[1], the prettiness and long, unkempt hair are a given, and he's rather sickly and delicate, he wanders barefoot through his garden (in the snow, even!), and either all of Doctor Who is actually just his psychotic delusions, or he's a Waif Prophet Dreaming the Truth. And, like Ophelia, he's pregnant. Sort of.
  • From The Hunger Games:
    • Katniss falls into this state near the end of the third book, after her younger sister Primrose is killed in front of her and after killing President Coin (the one who sent her to her death) both to avenge Prim's death and to stop her from becoming exactly the same tyrant that President Snow was..
    • Annie Cresta fulfills this trope much more consistently, being unstable at the best of times. She even has the water motif (she's from the seaside District 4 and won the Hunger Games when she was young by swimming through her flooded arena while the other tributes drowned).
  • In Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles, the supporting character Auri is a shy young woman who lives underneath The University, hiding from almost everyone. She makes grave but completely nonsensical statements and presumably was driven mad by the University's demand on her mental faculties.
  • Eponine from Les Misérables is actually compared to the Trope Namer.
  • In Dragonlance Raistlin and Caramon's mother is written as never having been quite sane and likely driven mad by her latent magic. She's described as being ethereal, beautiful and will often talk to people who aren't there or randomly start dancing. Eventually she slipped into an episode that killed her when she couldn't be woken up.
  • Isabelle Angelfield in The Thirteenth Tale. Highlighted and foreshadowed by an incident where she falls into a lake at a picnic.
  • In And Then There Were None, Vera Elizabeth Claythorne pretty much has become this at the end of the book.
  • Summer from Memories of Summer, before her lack of self-care starts making her look decidedly not beautiful and she develops cruel, violent tendencies towards her loved ones.
  • Gena of the novel Gena/Finn becomes this after a fire on the set of her favorite show kills one of its stars...who also happens to be her old friend and castmate from a sitcom she did as a kid.

Live Action TV

  • Joss Whedon loves his gibbering brunette Ophelias. There's River Tam from Firefly, who is also a Cassandra of course, but her lyrical madness fits the trope to the letter, and Ophelia's river is even there in her name. She has a faithful Laertes in Simon.
    • And here's Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "Do you like daisies? Hmm? I plant them, but they always die. Everything I put in the ground withers and dies."
    • Fred recovers relatively quickly, but gets in a fair amount of babbling and scribbling on the walls first. "You're not real! Or I'm not real. Somebody here isn't real and I suspect it's you..."
    • Glory's sanity stealing powers provided an entire season of these at the ready. Most notably, Tara.
    • The ensouled Spike has his own moments of Male Ophelia Syndrome. This is my place! You need permission to be here! You need a special slip with a stamp!
    • And frankly, Restless turned the entire cast of Buffy into this.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Wife", Idris/ the TARDIS is this when she's put into human form. Of course, experiencing your own past, present and future at the same time would make anyone a bit mad.
  • "All the Sinners, Saints", a thoroughly depressing, Shoot the Shaggy Dog episode of Without a Trace, features Katie, a beautiful young woman who's suffered from a severe and apparently untreatable mental illness for years and believes she's possessed and vanishes after suffering visions of a murder. after discovering that she committed the murder in question, she slits her wrists in a bath, fulfilling the trope's association with water.
  • Anorexic Cassie of Skins is an Ophelia who just about manages to function socially, except for when she... doesn't. When thoroughly out of it as she attempts suicide, she is seen dancing ethereally in floaty clothes on a hilltop bench against the setting sun.
    • Subverted in the second series. The Ophelian tendencies go out of the window and it's just plain disturbing when she's out of it.
      • Effy straddles the line between "pretty" and "disturbing" during the fourth series.
  • There was an age where many Hispanic Soap Opera heroine snapped in a Ophelia Phase if broken enough. Given its roots in Victorian romantic literature, it's not a surprise. They tended to get back into sanity in time for their Roaring Rampage of Revenge, although by the time they snapped back they had already do something unforgivable, like giving their newborn to beggars.
  • Morticia Addams' older sister (also played by Caroline Jones in the series; seen for about two seconds in the movies) fits much of this trope. She wears flowers in her hair (if you try to pluck one, her leg lifts up); she's vague at least, though not babbly; and she's very good at karate, not noticing that it hurts when she flips men to the ground. Oh, did I mention her name is Ophelia?
  • In an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena is driven mad by the Furies. Oh, she can still kick butt(in a Three Stooges style) but she suddenly wants to weave daisies in her hair.
  • CSI New York has a suspected murderer, who seems dazed and begins babbling about law procedings. As it turns out, she's just a sleepwalker that only just woke up. Bonus points for her name actually being Ophelia.
  • Annie from Community, especially back in her Adderall days.
  • Daisy on Being Human. Bit of an Actor Allusion, as the actress Amy Manson also played Lizzie Siddal, the model of the famous pre-Raphaelite painting Ophelia on Desperate Romantics.
  • In Game of Thrones , this combination of prettiness and madness makes the Royally Screwed-Up Viserys Targaryen slightly sympathetic, even though he's both bratty and horribly abusive towards his sister Daenerys aka Dany. And then there's Dany herself, who generally holds herself well, but definitely has a touch of her family's madness.
    • Lysa Arryn -who is not stunning but very well kept for somebody so insane- might also fit.


  • This is more or less Katie-Jane Garside's (Of Daisy Chainsaw and Queenadreena fame) stage persona. Actually, imagine the girl in the picture at the top of this page stumbling around in a terrified daze and you're practically there.
  • The basis for the Emilie Autumn album Opheliac, which was described by Autumn as "being another drowning story". And as the album is somewhat autobiographical, the attractiveness part is arguably passed too.
  • Yoshiki Hayashi in both stage persona and Real Life is a male example of the trope, though somewhat less, both as he's gotten older and as therapy for the conditions from which he has suffered has improved from what it was. Arguably, from Yoshiki's autobiography, Yoshiki's father was also a Real Life male Ophelia, one whose life sadly ended from suicide at 33.
  • Florence + The Machine used this idea in at least The Drumming Song off Lungs. Other songs also feature this idea.
  • The video for Ricky Martin's "Fuego de noche, nieve de día" (Fire by day, snow by night) is from the POV of a guy whose lovely yet mentally ill girlfriend ends up becoming one of these.


  • "Mad Scenes" were a popular convention of early 19th Century French and Italian opera, frequently afflicting the soprano heroine.
    • Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. She stabs her forced bridegroom Arthur to death, then shows up babbling (re: singing) madly in the middle of the wedding party - blood splattered dress and all, few before she passes away as well. (In the original novel, Walter Scott's "Bride of Lamermoor" which was Very Loosely Based on a True Story, Lucia's madness is surprisingly un-aestheticised, so doesn't count).
    • Linda in Linda di Chamounix has the unusual good fortune of getting over it and having a happily-ever-after.
    • Margeurite in Gounod's Faust goes mad after falling pregnant and committing infanticide, and sings, of course, about flowers.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan parody the type with Mad Margaret in Ruddigore. Her supposed madness does no more than make her a Cloudcuckoolander (and a sympathetic one, to boot). In the second act, she's mostly reformed but sometimes bursts into hysterical fits. These fits can be quieted by reminding her of the word "Basingstoke" (an English town which is noted for not being Birmingham; both towns start with the same letter as Bedlam, though this is not mentioned in the play).
  • Male example: In the Stravinsky opera The Rake's Progress, Tom imagines himself as Adonis after he goes insane.

Tabletop Games

  • In Vampire: The Masquerade we're provided with an entire vampire clan of these, courtesy of the Malkavians. Subverted, in that while some of them are genuine Ophelias, just as many are Ax Crazy or Psychopathic Manchildren, or have less obvious kinds of crazy like personality disorders or compulsions, and a fair number are just pretending to be The Ophelia to put the rest of the world off their guard.
  • Then, there's Dolores Whateley in Deadlands. Ethereally beautiful? Check. Long, raven-black hair? Check. Access to mind-breaking knowledge? Check. Dancing through the graveyard at night singing nursery rhymes to her "friends" in the graves? Ooh. That's a big check. In the short-lived Deadlands CCG, she provided some of the best Flavor Text, such as the quote on the "Event Card" where every aced character became playable again for exactly one round.

 Everyone's coming out to play!


Video Games

  • Ophelia (duh!!!) from Blood: Caleb's backstory mentions her home was burned down by the Cabal after her husband tried to leave them. She is left there for some time, mindlessly babbling on and blaming her husband's cowardice for the death of her son. She, well, gets better, then worse, then better again.
  • Yeesha from Uru has a touch of this- her speeches have her dancing about the room, using odd phrases, and describing the flow of water.
  • Princess Charlotte from Adam Cadre's interactive fiction work Varicella.
  • F.E.A.R.'s Alma appears to have many Ophelia-esque aspects, particularly in Project Origin. She is shown singing in several hallucinations, and in the prequel videos she dances around a doctor who she's been gleefully mindraping. Water shows up often in her hallucinations, which makes sense, as, like Ophelia, she drowned to death (in her case, in amniotic fluid). And her hair in her "child" form tends to be wild and frazzled.
  • Penny from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin vacillates between being an Ophelia and being Ax Crazy, mainly depending on the wishes of her stuffed Mr. Bear.

 Penny: "Hee hee! Penny likes you...but Mr. Bear HATES YOU!"

Will: "Why are you helping me?"

Penny: "...Because Mr. Bear told me to."

  • Lilian in Laura Bow
  • Tira from the Soul Calibur games, who leans towards the "Ax Crazy" variety.
  • This is a fairly popular fanon characterization of pre-zombification Jockey in Left 4 Dead Gender Flip fanworks.
  • A few fanon portrayals of Flandre Scarlet give her Ophelia traits.
  • This is the backstory of Nadia Grell in The Old Republic, bar that rather than being mentally ill, her talent with the Force was awakening and her species had no history or awareness of the Force. She snaps out of it when the Jedi teach her how to control her powers.
  • Ophelia's Super-Powered Evil Side in Brutal Legend. Lampshaded as she uses a lot of metaphors for drowning when commanding her army to attack.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Lady Sara from Fire Emblem Thracia 776 is believed to be this by the members of her grandfather Manfloy's Lopto cult.. She isn't, however: she has traces of Strange Girl and quite the Psychic Powers, but is otherwise sane.
    • In Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade, Ninian is a Shrinking Violet who becomes this during a particularly harrowing period in her life: when she and her brother Nils escape capture from the Black Fang, but Nils goes missing and is believed dead. She doesn't recover until Nils reappears and snaps her out of it.
    • Fire Emblem Fates is uncommon in that the local Ophelia is a man: Prince Takumi of Hoshido. He's normally a skittish but good-hearted mix of Tsundere and Kuudere, yet he becomes a full-blooded example of this trope during the Conquest path, where the Player Character (his long-lost brother or sister) chooses to side with Nohr rather than Hoshido. As a result, his increasingly muddled and pained feelings over what he sees as the PC's betrayal to their birth family consume him, drive him into madness, and ultimately leaves him open to being subjected to More Than Mind Control from the Big Bad.. As a bonus, Takumi is a beautiful young man with long Rapunzel Hair.
    • It's easy to see Prince Dimitri for Fire Emblem: Three Houses as another genderflipped example and especially at the beginning of his/the Azure Moon path.


  • Arkady of Freak Angels
  • Lucy of Bittersweet Candy Bowl after Michael is believed to have died during the hiking trip
  • Young Reisen of A Broken Winter is a rare male example. We're introduced to him sitting on the desk with his headphones in and the fire extinguishers merrily destroying his room, while he muses as to the music of the gods. It's portrayed as a very classic Ophelia moment.

Western Animation

  • Quinn from Daria babbles nonsense and rubs mud on her face after she eats the "glitterberries" along with the rest of her family, save the title character.
  • Princess Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender strongly resembles the trope towards the end of the series, as loses her grip on reality and falls into a Villainous Breakdown state...

Real Life

  • Besides the aforesaid iconography of mentally ill Victorian women as Ophelia, theater stories tell of an 18th-century actress named Susan Mountfort. She was accustomed to playing Ophelia, then went insane after being jilted. Susan escaped from the nuthouse, went to the theater where Hamlet was playing, and took the place of that night's Ophelia, literally running onto the stage ahead of her. Reviews said she was fine. Unfortunately, Susan died a few weeks later.
  • Lucia Joyce, daughter of James Joyce. Schizophrenic. Institutionalised. Pretty (rather Flapper-like), with an artistic temperament: she was a skilled dancer in her youth, good enough to train with Isadora Duncan.
  • As mentioned above, Tennessee Williams's beloved sister Rose was also schizophrenic and also ended up institutionalized.


  1. who is undeniably somewhere in the top three of the Doctor's prettiest incarnations
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