#3. Robert Kearns, Intermittent Wiper Inventor, Damn It
Fighting the world's biggest automotive companies.
One night in 1953, Robert Kearns had a great idea. Tired of not being able to see clearly out his windshield when his wipers were on, Kearns invented the intermittent windshield wiper. This may not have been the coolest invention in the world (unlike hot dogs with the cheese inside) but it's still pretty awesome.
Kearns took the idea to Ford. After a few positive meetings, Ford told him they weren't interested. Imagine Kearns surprise when a few years later he saw that Ford was in fact interested enough to use his invention on their cars--they just weren't interested in paying him anything for them. Understandably outraged, Kearns prepared to fight to get his patent back.
But there was a slight hiccup in his plan; he went apeshit insane. He didn't just get angry and take a dump on Ford's front lawn, he went honest-to-goodness, call-a-psychiatrist, the-C.I.A.-is using-my-fillings-to-control-the-world's-pancake-supply crazy. For some reason he believed that President Nixon had asked to meet him in Australia to build an electric car. Boarding the local bus for Melbourne, Kearns made it as far as Alabama, where he was briefly institutionalized. Kearns recovered and made it his life's mission to get revenge on the car companies for almost making him go to Australia.
The horrible depths Kearns nearly sank to in his quest
But still, after Kearns sued 27 different car companies (including Ford, for $325 million) he won a few of the suits and was awarded millions. If he had walked away at this point, he would have been number one on Cracked's list of The Top 7 Crazy Guys Who Came Out On Top, So Good For Them.
But Should Have Quit Before...
Hearns turned around and plowed almost all of his earnings into other lawsuits. For him, it wasn't enough that the car companies admitted that intermittent windshield wipers were his invention and paid him for it, he wanted to be the only person to have the legal right to build them. Kearns was a notoriously difficult client and went through five different law firms before finally taking the final, obligatory step in crazy obsessions; he became his own lawyer.
Kearns devoted so much time to his legal battles that his marriage fell apart and because he had no legal training, he was unable to manage his lawsuits and missed several filing deadlines, losing out on his chance to make millions more.
In 1991, a federal judge dismissed all his outstanding lawsuits because Kearns' patents had expired. Exhausted and only partially vindicated, Kearns left the past behind and retired to a big house in the country to devote himself to a new hobby: trying to reclaim his patents.
#2. Hiroo Onoda
To win WWII ... in the 70s.
In 1941, Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda was sent to a small US-occupied island in the Philippines to mess with Uncle Sam's shit. Within the first month, all but him and three other guys were dead or captured. In spite of having all odds against them, they were determined to press on.
In 1945, the enemy began air-dropping pamphlets claiming that the war was over. Being well trained soldiers, Onoda and his men knew the Japanese would never surrender, and it was obviously a foolish attempt by Allied forces to destroy their morale. They also found cleverly planted newspapers in the farms they raided that claimed the Americans had built a bomb that could level cities, but that was obvious bullshit too, right?
But Should Have Quit Before...
World War Two ended. Over the course of the 30-some years that followed, the rest of his troop either defected or were killed by locals during attacks on enemy food supplies. When the locals found the body of his recently deceased comrade complete with his WWII era uniform, they called the Japanese government who dug up the old file on his mission, and put a notice out to the press that there might be some crazy ass Japanese soldier trying to kill Allied soldiers out in the woods.
Eventually a backpacker ran into Onoda and told him the war was over, but Onoda still wouldn't hear of it, and insisted he was simply waiting to be relieved of his post. When the kid returned with Onoda's former commander, who was long retired and now worked in a library, he finally decided that maybe he should reconsider his stance on the war.
#1. Jack Thompson, Anti-Game Crusader
Ridding the world of evil things, most notably Grand Theft Auto. The game, not the theft.
Most of you know Florida attorney Jack Thompson as the anti-video game guy. But even before that he worked overtime as a moral crusader. Be it rap music, Howard Stern, South Park, video games or Janet Reno, Thompson never found an imaginary threat he couldn't exploit, an opponent he couldn't harass or a crime he couldn't blame on the evils of popular culture.
Jack Thompson first came to national attention in the late 80s when he ran for Dade County State Attorney against future Attorney General and UFA Fighting Champion, Janet Reno. At a campaign event, Thompson asked Reno whether she was gay or not. Reno told him that she only liked "virile men" and that's why she wasn't attracted to him. Unlike most people, who would have crawled into a hole for the rest of their lives after having their manhood disparaged by Janet Reno, Thompson launched a public career out of it.
He wasn't man enough for her.
His dick probably permanently shriveled and useless, Thompson began attacking anything and everything he perceived to be a threat. He started by trying to get 2 Live Crew records banned, not on the grounds that they were shitty, but on the grounds that were corrupting youth and spreading indecency. In one of his first of his many jaw-droppingly inane public statements, Thompson likened the release of their albums to firing an AK-47 into a crowded schoolyard.
Thompson also started to refer to himself as 'Batman' and sent people copies of his driver's license with a Batman costume drawn over his face. Clearly, the man meant business. You don't draw a Batman costume on your picture unless you're serious. Or 10.
Thompson continued to look for things to be upset about until he came upon the gold standard for people convinced that kids are too stupid to understand the difference between fantasy and reality: Grand Theft Auto.
Thompson started his crusade in 2003 when he forced his way on to the legal team in a case involving a shooting by a teenager. He attempted to get the defense, the prosecution and the judge to blame Grand Theft Auto for "training" the kid to kill people. Thompson was eventually thrown off the case.
But Should Have Quit Before...
Like most crazy people, Thompson only drew encouragement from his failure. For the next few years, he traveled from state to state, shoehorning his way into murder trials involving kids, trying to get someone, anyone to blame violent video games.
When none of those attempts worked, he then tried to sue the makers of GTA, Take Two Interactive, claiming that the game was "the greatest threat to children since polio." He also sent a letter to Take Two chairman Strauss Zelnick's mother, claiming she had raised him like he was in the Hitler Youth. All of Thompson's cases against Take Two Interactive failed, and he eventually agreed not to publicly comment on or decry their games ever again. He honored his agreement by appearing on CNN to publicly comment on and decry the game.
But all was not lost. The Florida Bar Association, moved by Thompson's quest for public decency, did their part in bringing it about. They permanently disbarred Jack Thompson due to his repeated violations of legal procedures and harassment of other attorneys and judges.
That's right: In the end, Jack Thompson was considered too sleazy to be a lawyer.
Thanks to Marc Russel for giving us the tale of Mr. Hiroo Onoda. To learn about more people who should've quit while they were ahead, check out 6 People Who Died In Order To Prove A (Retarded) Point and The 6 Most Utterly Insane Attempts to Kill a US President.
And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks because you know you could never give up on us.