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's appeared in countless stories, along with many parodies, such as Dr. Finkelstein.
Dr. Frankenstein originates from the 1818 novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly.
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.
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, who was supposed to have died at the end of the previous movie, appeared to have been only injured. It is revealed that he was conducting his experiments on the instructions of a fellow, and much more evil, mad scientist, who was furious that Henry had renounced their work, and beseached him to continue. Henry refused, and was determined to go straight after that.
This was, however, impossible. The monster, who had also survived a presumed death, was determined to reseave fellowship. He met the mad scientist who had been manipulating Henry, and developed limited powers of speech. He went to Henry Frankenstein and demanded that he make him a bride.
Under the combined pressure of the monster, the scientist, and all his assistants, Henry was forced to accept. He and the other scientist began making a female from body parts that, Henry didn't know it, had been taken from living people by the evil scientist's assistants.
On the final night, they succeeded in resurrecting a beautiful women. But when the bride rejected the monster, he went mad with misery. He told Henry and Elizabeth to clear the building. The monster kept the bride and the evil scientist there while he blew up the building.
The Frankenstein movies after that revolved around the monster, who was usually called Frankenstein. The Son of Frankenstein and the Ghost of Frankenstein revolved around the sons of Dr. Frankenstein, but other than that, the monster was the heart and soul.