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Off THEIR Minds: Why Are So Many Villains Doctors?

We put the question to several comic book writers to find out the truth.

Just over a year ago, I brought up the question of why so many villains happen to be doctors. Some of them are actually doctors of some sort. Others...not so much. What is it about being a doctor that makes a person evil and why do villains believe being thought of as a doctor will make them more terrifying? Doctors aren't bad people. Medical doctors save lives and research scientists can do the same with their discoveries.

We could try to come up with reasons but why not ask actual comic book writers this question? That's exactly what we did. Here are their responses.

Did we get the answers we were looking for? Maybe. Maybe not. It's always fun watching the creators think on their feet (or chairs for those sitting).

What are your thoughts on the subject? Does adding "Doctor" in front of a name make the villain sound more menacing?

72 Comments Refresh
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Posted by thechessclub

Dang. Those guys are good at making stuff up off the top of their head=P lol

What convention was that at? Is that old Wondercon footy?

Posted by Pokeysteve

The same reason some people with special abilities are villains. They have an ability, in the doctors case it's their minds, and they use that gift for personal gain instead of helping people. It's really as simple as that.

Posted by Hawkeye446

For a long time it has made me want to get a PhD. I plan to be an evil Doctor as well >:D

Posted by SavageDragon

Dr Evil! haha. Well its an interesting point this article brings up. Maybe its about creators us demonizing positions of power, and when we are helpless or in vulnerable states doctors have much power over us. Plus its a respectable position and one that takes skill to attain so maybe it has to do with the drive of gaining more knowlege more than the average person. One guy mentioned it in the vid and its a valid assumption in the context of "villains".

Posted by G-Man

@thechessclub: This should illustrate that these guys don't get a heads up on the questions. They are basically put on the spot and forced to answer the questions on camera. They're all great sports about it. I love filming these segments and will do more.

This footage was the last bit from Long Beach Comic-Con last October. I've been putting them out once a month. You can find more on the videos page.

Posted by Deadcool

Because a Doctor (tittle) is someone that has a great amout of knownledge, someone like that could be a fearful enemy, and maybe with such knownlege he develop a new way to see the world arround him, and he would try to help the world in the way that seem more favorable to him, in my opinion those are the best kind of villain.

Posted by zackattack529

doctors usually have alotta money. then they go mad and build something like a weapon..then something dramatic and traumatizing happens in their life and theyre driven with rage and they end up using their creations, or weapons or whatever. theyre mind is their weapon. and a stron mind is th emost powerful weapon ever.

and another aspect is that most become doctor because they want some kinda of authoirty over people, they want power and respect. and essentially doctors are people you give respect,money to which adds up to how powerful they can when you throw in RAW power to the mix, such as doctor doom your giving them supernatural ablity. and ANYONE who demands power will abuse power. its all the same.

now that my geekiness is out of the way the REAl reason they become villains is because with movies, TV, and comics its not a sterotype norm that doctors are evil. especially with austin powers and 007. it all started with scfi genre movies. somewhere around that era. but yaa its just a cliche that doctors are sinister in comics.

Posted by KomicKev

Not all Doctors in comics are evil. There's Dr. Strange of course and (the good, female) Dr. Light. Many heroes have a PhD or two such as Reed Richard or Mister Terrific.

Posted by Nerx

Because doctor sounds hella cool

Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k

Maybe because alot of people fear doctors...

Posted by Teerack

Because children look at doctors as villains, and even when we grow out of it putting doctor in front of things still triggers some kinda memory making it sound scarier.

Posted by BoyWander

I always thought it was irony because they were taking lives. (is that irony? I think I'm using that right...)

Posted by Agilix

Well, because doctors have the power of their knowledge, and many people fear them. So an evil doctor is a perfect villain...

Mike Myers' Doctor Evil is my favourite!!!!

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

We need to reclaim the word doctor, Reed should now be called Dr Fantastic because it sounds way cooler than Mr

Posted by TruthTellah

I think so many villains are doctors or scientists for two reasons.

One: Many villains have origin stories based around medical or scientific research accidents. So, their being a doctor gives an easy setup for the story and establishes them as intelligent individuals who are also in harms way when it comes to dangerous, possibly gamma ray-related experiments.

Two: There is a classical concern about medical and scientific research, where some experiments and concepts are so beyond the everyday that they become almost like magic to the general public. Magic, the unknown, is often feared. So, villains as doctors or research scientists tap into a general distrust in the public. Of note may be the rise of comics during the Cold War era, where scientists were both revered and feared, for they both constructed weapons of our feared demise and technology which could take us into the stars. Many people don't quite understand medicine; so, a doctor carries an air of mystery. Many people don't understand broader science even less; so, a scientist carries an even greater air of mystery. The unknown, mixed with the idea of individuals tinkering with powers beyond general comprehension, is a rather compelling reason for paranoia and suspicion in the general population; thus, making a doctor or scientist a perfect villain for people to project their concerns onto.

Posted by LordRequiem

The Doctors i.e. Doctor Doom, tend to be very intellectually adept, and thus they will always want more, normalcy cannot offer this. I'm surprised Reed Richards hasn't gone over the edge yet, he's done things that could be considered taboo.

Posted by Arevish

I think they call themselves doctors because a doctor is a man who is a master in what he does. Master of Fate, Master of Doom. Well Doc ock is a doc with lot of arms, so isn't hard to understand his name

Posted by BlackArmor

Allot of origins require not only intelligence but also expertise in a scientific subject.

Edited by Nefarious

Because doctors are awesome.

Posted by Atary77

Because of evil medical school?

Posted by jubilee042

because for villains it is more easy to disect heroes when u know which organ u r cutting and which causes the most pain

Posted by Grim

the smarter you are, the more you see solutions that others do not. Where most people fall apart and loose hope, these super villains see technology and science that can salvage their lives. Sometimes they miscalculate, and sometimes these over-moralized heroes ruin things when there would be very little harm done. And if your a doctor, more than likely your a little obsessed with success...

Intelligence+Ruin+Obsession= Super villain.

Posted by Herx

Becasue of student loans. I mean if they've been working towards a doctorate, be it a medical one or a phd they've been in school for a very looooooooong time and have a huge loan to pay back. So whats the easiest way to achive this? A life or crime. :P

Posted by thanosrules
Posted by nbradsher

do you mean villainous?

Posted by red_rover

@Herx: Ha!

Posted by Watcherg6

@Nefarious: Like Doctor House!

@Atary77: you know there are times when, i've heard people ask, where did Doctor Doom get his Doctorate?

@spiderbat87: ok what about bill nye the science guy? or mr wizard? macgyver?

Posted by Krakoa

During the Golden Age, many villains were created as doctors to play on children's fears of visiting the doctor.

Posted by Decept-O

Simple reason. Doctor Doom sounds much better than Nurse Practitioner Doom.

Just sayin'.

Posted by feargalr

Why are so many villains doctors? Dude have you tried doing a PhD, that would drive anyone insane

Posted by DocFatalis

Because we have to start by studying a lot in order to assemble dreadful machines and evil yet cunning plans for World domination.

It's not everyone who can build an army of robots or a time machine before the age of thirty.

Posted by loktarogar

They've been watching Grey's Anatomy. It's all about the chicks.

Posted by KidSupreme

Doctors are awesome lol :D

Posted by nonfiction91

Not sure, But I suspect Doctor Octopus started out in gynecology.

Posted by nonfiction91

@LordRequiem: yeah, hes done some pretty wild stuff, somebody else said he should become Dr. Fantastic, I agree with that, lets work him into a status above hero, Dr.Fantastic...Master of the Scientific arts! *poses with peace signs conducting electricity*

Posted by CanucksXVX

jim palmiotti...what the hell are you talking about

Posted by durkadurka

As a PhD student in a scientific field myself, i find it very easy to understand all the evil doctors around. I mean, do you realize how frustrating it is doing the same experiment over and over and over because one little thing messed up? It's literally MADDENING! I mean, that's pretty close to the definition of insanity, but it's totally expected in the scientific field. Then you need to try to get grants and submit manuscripts and get responses from people that don't know what they're talking about half the time, or want you to do inane bullcrap that doesn't work the first three times and on and on and on......

As you can see, i myself am one disfiguring experiment-gone-wrong from becoming a super villain. I hope the Guild of Calamitous Intent has some sort of analogue in the real world. Anybody got David Bowie's number?

Posted by Lvenger

Perhaps the description of doctor should now include: If involved in serious scientific accident, one might become a supervillain, turn to a life of crime and fight a new arch-hero only to be beaten every time, thrown in jail then escape and fight the superhero again. :P

Posted by Durakken

Because our culture is anti-science and anti-intellectual. People that are smart and like to think about things and to delve deeply into subjects are seen as evil and thus that is reflected in our media. It's really simple...

Posted by DIOMJK

probably because in a universe where spilt chemicals can give you super powers, you have a lot of scientists/doctors getting these powers on both sides (the flash, Mr. terrific and the hulk on the hero side, doctor octopus and doctor doom on the other) and there's usually dozens of villains running around for each hero, so you see why theres so many doctor villains

Posted by Bestostero

commanding respect, i like that...

Posted by durkadurka

@Durakken: While i agree with you that our culture does seem to be increasingly anti-intellectual, at the time when the vast majority of the major evil Doctor characters were created it was just the opposite.

Posted by HugoGlz

Because dum villains only get to be henchman, and the smart ones go to collage and gradute school then they do internship in A.I.M. or something like that. My point is that they are not the mayority of evil people just the ones that are on top.

Posted by Sammo21

Not so much doctors as scientists specifically. The answer: boundaries. Scientists are meant to think they have no boundaries yet most of them adhere to those boundaries, be it personal or societal. These super villains either cross or want to cross those boundaries and some of them are driven mad by it. Some of them would be bad people with or without the doctorate.

Posted by MetallicMercury

It shows that you're a professional evil-doer and take you work very seriously.

Posted by AskaniSon295

Originally the dr. pre-fix was used to covey to the reader that this particular villian was intelligent and would have the reader think how can generic hero beat dr. whatever he hasn't even finished college/highschool. Then through the hero's natural goodness he would defeat the evil dr. showing that good triumphs over inteligence. Now the root of the villian Dr. most likely comes from Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll. If you also look at the earlier 1900's you find many dr.'s both real and fictional did horendously immoral acts in the name of science. Nowadays in the really world people are more aware that just because someone is a Dr. it doesn't mean you should trust them that they may have a degree in something or other but it doesn't mean they are right, and if they are trying to make you believe something stupid like there isn't alternate realities where super-heroes really do exist. Than you just ignore them because oviously there imaginations are dead and there perception of reality is as fragile as an eggshell.


Its a pride thing I think the title strike your ordinary person as of higher intellect. Plus your dim villians need someone inteligence to lead them.

Posted by Killer_of_trolls

@Durakken: that the dumbest most stupid thing I have ever heard.

although Victor Von Doom is a doctor, Reed Richard is a professor which is even higher.

Doctor strange, Doctor Fate, The Doctor...

the flash has super thinking and super memory.

I have at least 300 examples of smart characters as heroes only from marvel and dc alone

and half of them have fought against dumb, mindless, or average intellegence villains.

Posted by DocFatalis

@nonfiction91 said:

Not sure, But I suspect Doctor Octopus started out in gynecology.

That made me laugh. Congrats.

Posted by nonfiction91

@DocFatalis: welcome, and Your name at first glance looked like lord phallis, so thanks for that

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