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Dr. Jack Griffin.jpg
Name: Dr. Jack Griffin
Gender: Male
Portrayed By: Claude Rains

Griffin, also known as the Invisible Man, is a fictional character who first appeared as the protagonist of H. G. Wells' 1897 science fiction novel The Invisible Man. In the original work, Griffin is a scientist whose research in optics and experiments into changing the human body's refractive index to that of air results in him becoming invisible. After becoming invisible, he wraps his head in bandages and dons a pair of goggles or glasses in order to enable others to see him. Unable to reverse the invisibility process, he descends into insanity and becomes a criminal.

The character and variations thereof has been featured in various media, including films, television series and merchandise. The most famous non-literary incarnation of Griffin is portrayed by Claude Rains in the 1933 film The Invisible Man, distributed by Universal Pictures. The film spawned a number of sequels that feature different invisible characters. Griffin and the 1933 film have become iconic in popular culture, particularly in regards to horror fiction. An adaptation of the original novella and remake of the original film, again titled The Invisible Man, was released in 2020.

In the novel

Griffin is a gifted young medical student with albinism who studies optical density. He believes he is on the verge of a great scientific discovery, but feels uncomfortable working under his professor named Hobbema (whom he calls a "thief of ideas"). To ensure that he gets sole credit for the discovery, he leaves the university and moves to a dingy apartment to continue his experiments alone.

To finance his experiments, Griffin robs his own father, which drives the father to commit suicide (because the money had not even been his own). Working as a recluse in his flat, Griffin invents a formula to bend light and decrease the refractive index of physical objects, making them invisible. He intends from the start to perform the process on the neighbours' cat and then on himself, but is forced to rush his experiments due to persistent intrusion from his landlord, who is suspicious of his activities and considers him to be a vivisectionist. He processes himself to hide from his landlord and sets fire to the building to cover his tracks. He winds up alone, wandering invisible and naked through the streets of London, struggling to survive out in the open, unseen by those around him.

To make himself visible again, Griffin steals some clothes from a dingy backstreet theatre shop, including a trench-coat and hat. He wraps his head in bandages to conceal his invisibility, covering his eyes with large dark goggles. He takes up residence in the "Coach and Horses" Inn in the village of Iping so he can reverse his experiment in a quiet environment, but complications arise with locals unnerved by his appearance (particularly Teddy Henfrey, the clock-jobber who considered him to be a criminal evading persecution and Mr. Cuss, who first encounters his invisibility). As a result, his progress slows and he has insufficient money to satisfy the inn owner Mrs. Hall. To pay the bill, Griffin burgles the home of Reverend Bunting. The police pursue him and in a fit of frustrated anger, he reveals his invisibility by throwing off his clothes and escaping.

Now driven insane by his inability to reverse the experiment, Griffin seeks assistance from a tramp named Thomas Marvel. He has Marvel carry money for him, but Marvel runs away with the money. Griffin pursues him to the town of Port Burdock where he runs into his old schoolmate Dr. Kemp. Still bitter and angry towards the rest of humanity, Griffin attempts to convince Kemp to be his visible partner and help him begin a "reign of terror". Kemp, rather than assisting the crazed Invisible Man, alerts Colonel Adye of the Port Burdock police. Furious, Griffin vows to kill Kemp, but is forced to flee. Kemp rallies the people of Port Burdock, who find and overcome Griffin when he attempts a one-man siege on Kemp's house. Griffin is surrounded and savagely beaten by navvies. His last words are "Mercy! Mercy!", prompting Kemp to call off the mob and administer first aid, though it is too late. Griffin dies, becoming visible again, revealing a brutally battered corpse.

Universal Classic Monsters

In the 1933 film The Invisible Man, Griffin's first name is Jack (the novel never reveals his first name). He was played by Claude Rains.

Jack Griffin works for Dr. Cranley, assisting him in food preservation experiments alongside his friend Dr. Arthur Kemp. Griffin is deeply in love with Cranley's daughter, Flora, and the two plan to marry, but Griffin is poor and thus afraid he has nothing to offer her. He begins experimenting with an obscure and dangerous drug called monocane, hoping his work will make him rich and famous—and a worthwhile husband for Flora. Griffin discovers a combination of monocane and other chemicals that makes a person invisible. Too excited by his discovery to think clearly, Griffin leaves Kemp and the Cranleys to complete the experiment in solitude. He injects himself with the formula over the course of a month and becomes invisible. Only after he is invisible does he realize that he does not know how to reverse the process. Panicking, Griffin goes to the village of Iping and rents a room in the Lion's Head Inn, where he begins searching for a formula to reverse the invisibility. He makes himself appear visible by wrapping his head in bandages and wearing dark goggles. Curious locals, the maddening side effects of monocane, and frustration from multiple failed tests drive Griffin insane. After he assaults Jenny Hall and severely injures her husband Herbert, Griffin is confronted by the police, but sheds his clothing to be invisible and eludes them. He seeks help from Kemp, but the monocane has so affected his mind that he succumbs to megalomania and plans world domination with "invisible armies". He wants to make Kemp his visible partner and assistant. Not even a visit from Flora and her father helps ease Griffin's increasing insanity. He vows to kill Kemp after his old friend alerts Inspector Lane to his whereabouts and despite intensive police protection surrounding Kemp, Griffin eventually makes good on his threats. After killing Kemp by tying him up in his car and sending it over a cliff, he seeks refuge from the cold in a farmer's barn. The farmer summons police, who set fire to the barn. As Griffin flees the burning barn, the Chief of Detectives, who can see his footprints in the snow, shoots at him, the shot passing through both of his lungs. Griffin dies from the gunshot wounds in the hospital. During this, the effects of the monocane begin to wear off and Griffin returns to sanity apologizing for his crimes by saying "I meddled in things that man must leave alone". The invisibility also wears off in death and Griffin's body becomes visible again.

The film portrays Griffin more sympathetically than the novel. The novel's Griffin is callous and cruel from the beginning and only pursues the experiment for wealth and his ego. The movie shows Griffin as an honorable man who is misguided. His insanity is purely a side-effect of the invisibility drug and his motivation for the experiment was a misguided desire to do good for science and mankind, born primarily out of his love for his fiancée.