Dr. Jack Griffin worked for Dr. Cranley, assisting him in his food preservation experiments alongside his friend Dr. Arthur Kemp. Griffin was deeply in love with Flora Cranley, and the two planned to marry, but Griffin, afraid that he had nothing to offer her, began experimenting with an obscure and dangerous drug called monocane hoping the results of his work would make him rich and famous, and therefore a worthwhile husband for Flora.
It's not known how, but Griffin discovered that when combined with other chemicals, monocane made a formula capable of rendering a person invisible. Too excited by his discovery to think clearly, Griffin injected himself with the formula over the course of a month, and became invisible. It was only after Griffin had attained invisibility that he realized he hadn't thought of how to turn himself visible again.
Panicking, Griffin knew he had to get away from Kemp and the Cranleys, and so went to the remote town of Iping and got a room in the Lion's Head Inn where he began trying to create a formula to turn himself visible again. During this time, he rendered himself visible by wrapping his head in bandages and wearing dark goggles.
The prying eyes of curious locals, combined with the maddening side-effects of monocane and the frustration that came as a result from his repeated failed tests, drove Griffin insane. After assaulting Jenny Hall and severely injuring her husband, Herbert Hall, Griffin shed his clothing, becoming totally invisible, and eluded the police. He sought help from Kemp, but by now the monocane had driven Griffin so over the edge he was seriously entertaining thoughts of world domination, and wanted Kemp to be his visible partner and assistant.
Not even a visit from Flora and her father helped ease Griffin's mounting insanity. He vowed to kill Kemp after his old friend had alerted Inspector Lane to his whereabouts, and despite intensive police protection surrounding Kemp, Griffin eventually made good on his threats. After killing Kemp he sought refuge from the cold in a farmer's barn. The farmer summoned the police, who set fire to the barn. As Griffin fled the burning structure, he was shot by Inspector Lane who could see the Invisible Man's footprints in the snow.
Griffin died from the gunshot wounds in the hospital, apologizing for his crimes with the immortal line, "I meddled in things man must leave alone." The effects of the invisibility formula wore off in death, and Griffin's body became visible again. He was survived by his brother, Dr. Frank Griffin.
Amazon Women on the Moon
In the 1987 compilation comedy Amazon Women on the Moon, a "son" of the original Griffin appears in a short spoof of the 1933 Claude Rains film, entitled "Son of the Invisible Man." Played by Ed Begley, Jr., this individual, also named Griffin, tried to repeat his father's experiments, and rented a room in the Lion's Head Inn the same as his father had, and "injected [himself] with every drug known to man" trying to figure out what drug was the key ingredient in his father's formula.
This apparently drove him mad, as by the time Griffin summoned his friend Trent to the Lion's Head, he had deluded himself into believing all the drugs worked and that he was now invisible. He would run about naked (to be 'totally invisible') and play pranks on the inn's patrons, all of whom humored him and pretty much just left him to his own devices. Trent was not so lenient, and called the police on Griffin, who arrested him for indecent exposure.