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I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.
~ Dr. Frankenstein
It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.
~ Victor Frankenstein on his desire to learn godly-like things
Under the guidance of my new preceptors, I entered with the greatest diligence into the search of the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life; but the latter soon obtained my undivided attention. Wealth was an inferior object, but what glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!
~ Dr Frankenstein's wish to cure all diseases (leading to his creation of the monster

Dr. Victor Frankenstein is the most famous mad scientist of all time (although he is far from mad and hardly villainous in the original novel). He appeared in countless stories, along with many parodies, such as Dr. Finkelstein.

History

In the Novel

Dr. Frankenstein originates from the 1818 novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly. Although not actually a doctor in the novel (he is a university student studying Natural Sciences) later depictions show him as a doctor.

His full name is Victor Von Frankenstein, and he is a tragic character who started out as a medical student trying to achieve necromancy. He illegally dug up bodies and sewed them together to make a living creature that would later become known as the Frankenstein Monster.

Victor wanted his creation to be beautiful, immortal, and super human. Immortal and superhuman? Yes. Beautiful? No. The creature was so hideous, that Dr. Frankenstein fled the lab in horror. The monster was gone the next day, but the unhinged doctor started seeing him everywhere.

Victor's fears were confirmed when his younger brother, William Frankenstein, was found dead. On that same night, he saw an evil looking silhouette in a storm. Victor knew that the monster had done it, even when his servant Justine was found with William's locket.

If Victor truly cared for Justine, he did nothing to defend her when she was trialed and hanged (though what could he have done?). Dr. Frankenstein set out to the Alps to find the monster and take his revenge on him. When he found the monster, he berated it with empty threats, and cursed it for its evil.

The monster took Victor to his hut and told him about what happened to him after he abandoned him. Of how he had been hated and shunned mankind. He had lost his mind and set out for revenge against Dr. Frankenstein for creating and abandoned him. He had killed William on finding out that he was a Frankenstein, and framed Justine for the murder. He told Victor that he had reformed, and that all he wanted in life a companion. The monster told Victor that as his father, he owed him some happiness, and promised that if he made him a bride, he would leave human kind alone forever. Victor agreed to do this only for the sake of his fellow man.

Victor did the same thing he did before, and created a female version of the monster. But when he saw the monster watching anticipatedly through window, and thought of giving the monster happiness after what he had done to him, the despicable doctor went into a rage and destroyed the lifeless bride.

He regretted this treachery on his wedding night, when the monster killed his best friend Henry, and his new wife Elizabeth. Victor went insane, and had to be locked up for a while. When he was released, he chased the monster all the way to the Arctic, where he was picked up by a ship.

He told the captain the tale of him and the monster. Victor was in a weakened condition, and when called the captain to talk to him, it would be the last conversation he ever had. He said he no longer hated the monster he created. He now knew that he had failed it, and that he, Victor, was responsible for the acts of evil it committed. But he told the captain that it had to be destroyed, and that he, the captain, had to be the one to do it. Dr. Frankenstein then died of exhaustion.

The Universal Series

Dr. Frankenstein's role in the Universal Frankenstein series was similar to his role in the book. His name was Henry instead of Victor, and he had a hunchbacked assistant named Fritz. Henry and Fritz stole bodies to make the Frankenstein Monster. Henry had separated himself from his friends and family to do his work. In his anticipation, Henry Frankenstein began to go insane.

On the night of the creature's resurrection, he and Fritz were visited by Victor Clerval, a professor who had taught Henry at the University, and Henry's fiance Elizabeth. He ignored their warnings and shot the creature full of lightning to give it life.

Henry was very excited about his creation, and wanted to reveal it to the world. But his twisted assistant Fritz tormented the monster into insanity. The monster killed Fritz, attacked Henry, and escaped. Henry came to his senses after that, and married Elizabeth. But on the wedding day, the monster murdered a child, and terrified Elizabeth.

Henry led an angry mob after the monster. When the team divided into groups, the monster caught Henry and took him an old windmill. Henry woke up and battled the monster at the top of the windmill, the villagers got to the windmill in time to see Dr. Frankenstein being thrown out of the top most window and falling.

In the following movie, The Bride of Frankenstein, Henry is confronted by his old mentor Dr. Pretorius, who is also studying the nature of life and death, and demands that he resume his work. Henry, however, renounced his former experiments.

Meanwhile, the Monster, who had also survived the windmill incident and was on the run from angry villagers, found Pretorius in an old crypt, where the latter tricked him into wanting a bride. Together, the two went to Henry Frankenstein and blackmailed him to create the eponymous "Bride Of Frankenstein".

Under the combined pressure of the monster and Pretorius, Henry was forced to accept. They began making a female from body parts that, unbeknownst to Henry, had been taken from living people.

On the final night, they succeeded in resurrecting a beautiful woman. But when the Bride rejected the Monster, he went mad with misery and allowed Henry and Elizabeth to flee whilst destroying the laboratory and the castle itself with him, the Bride and Pretorius inside.

The Son of Frankenstein and the Ghost of Frankenstein revolved around the sons of Dr. Frankenstein, Wolf and Ludwig respectively.

The Hammer Series

The Baron Frankenstein in the series by Hammer Studios was an on and off lunatic. In every movie he would make a different Frankenstein Monster, all of whom were ugly, vicious, grotesque, and hideous, with the exception of the creation in Frankenstein's Revenge, who ended up loosing control.

Dr. Frankenstein is a conflicted maniac in this series, who was good in some movies and bad in others. He even raped an important character in one of the films. He was played by the late Peter Cushing, who also played Grand Moff Tarkin.

He started the famous concept of Dr. Frankenstein creating monsters for his own demented purposes, rather than for the good of man kind. Often he would create monsters simply to avenge previous monster.

The Faithfulness Trend

A handful of new Frankenstein movies were made to be more reminiscent of the original book than the movies of the Universal and Hammer series. The most well known of these remakes was a movie called Marry Shelly's Frankenstein.

Personality

Dr. Frankenstein is the most well known of all mad scientists. Countless shorts and films feature different versions of the original Dr. Frankenstein, descendants of Dr. Frankenstein, and many mad scientist parodies. The famous concept of Dr. Frankenstein and his assistant Igor/Ygor, has been well known by many.

Sometimes Dr. Frankenstein will be good, but most times not. Usually he'll create monster for tools of evil, but some storylines that bother to explain him, make him a man who's goals are good, but who is willing willing to do evil to achieve them.

Dr. Frankenstein appeared briefly in the Van Helsing movie. He created the Frankenstein Monster for evil, but was betrayed by Igor, and killed by Dracula.