Encyclopaedic Knowledge YKTTW Discussion

Encyclopaedic Knowledge
(permanent link) added: 2011-03-02 20:24:59 sponsor: shimaspawn (last reply: 2011-03-25 16:57:18)

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Some characters just seem to know a little of everything. It doesn't matter what the subject is, they can rattle off a couple of facts on the subject. They might not have much depth of knowledge, but they certainly have breadth. The possessor of this knowledge doesn't have to be alive in the traditional sense. Robots, AIs, sentient books, and the like count as well.

Sometimes these little titbits can serve as a Chekhov's Lecture when the information comes in handy later, sometimes they'll provide just the right details needed right then to solve a problem, and sometimes they'll just sound like Non Sequiturs. This trope is often used to make a character's intelligence more than just an Informed Ability.

Note: This isn't for characters who think they know everything. They need to actually have real accurate knowledge. It also is not for characters that just know everything about one subject i.e. history, maths, or automotive repair. They need to have a little knowledge about everything.

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • The Devil's Dictionary in Requiem Chevalier Vampire, but then of course, he's a dictionary demon...
  • Batman is often presented this way, particularly when used in a team environment.

  • In the Disney movie The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, a college student gets all the knowledge contained in a computer's data banks (mostly filled with educational material) and represents his school in a College Bowl type competition. What he doesn't realize is that the computer also had a criminal organization's records of its illegal activities. Hilarity Ensues.

  • Encyclopedia Brown got his nickname by knowing so much about so many subjects that he was like a walking encyclopedia.
  • Jacques Paganel in Jules Verne's In Search of the Castaways.
  • In The Dresden Files the girl Harry calls "Ivy" is The Archive of all magical knowledge. If you write it down, she can see it.

Live Action TV
  • Bones has Mr. Nigel-Murray who spouts off random facts as a way to keep himself focused.
  • John Doe has this Up to Eleven, for supernatural reasons. Supposedly he is actually omniscient, but in practice his knowledge is limited to things that could be learned via research.
  • In Chuck the Intersect acts as this with government information, martial arts, hacking skill, and linguistical abilities to name a few fields.
  • Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory knows just about everything (as long as it isn't pop culture related, or about driving, or about social interaction), and does not hesitate to point it out, whether he is asked or not.

  • Vivian Stanshall's Rawlinson End stories feature Reg Smeeton, whose encyclopedic knowledge of trivia is triggered by word association, e.g when he hears the word "shrewd" he rattles off facts about shrews. Of course nobody ever listens to him, and his inner monologue consists of complex chains of association that all lead to the conclusion "me = zero". This is true in the LP, Film, and Literature versions as well.

Table Top RPG

Video Games

Western Animation
  • In every episode of The Magic School Bus, Dorothy Ann provides information about the topic of the day from her research.
  • There is also "Mr. Know-it-all", a recurring sketch from one of the Bullwinkle series.
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