Created By: shimaspawn on March 2, 2011 Last Edited By: shimaspawn on March 25, 2011
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Encyclopaedic Knowledge

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Trope
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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.

Film
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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.

Radio
  • 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.
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • March 3, 2011
    TooBah
    We have The Smart Guy and Mr Exposition, which may cover this. If not, how about Walking Encyclopedia for the title?
  • March 3, 2011
    shimaspawn
    Mr. Exposition is about the opposite of this. They know a lot about one thing, the Plot. I don't like Walking Encyclopedia because it makes it sound like it's a character type when really it's only a character trait. Any sort of character personality can have this single trait.
  • March 3, 2011
    Bisected8
    Savants in Warhammer 40 K tend to be characterised like this, especially in the related novels.
  • March 3, 2011
    peccantis
    Western Comics:
  • March 5, 2011
    ced1106
    Hmmm... I *think* I know what your'e getting at, but that means I'm also unclear. And that's a bad thing. Like Too Bah, I interpret "Encyclopediac Knowledge" as *useful* knowledge, which, despite the few encyclopedias I've seen, implies *expert* knowledge. I'm thinking your description of Encyclopediac Knowledge sounds like Mr.Know It All, who is typically a person who will rattle off what he knows about what's going on, regardless of whether or not it's actually useful, accurate, or anyone else gives a flying darn.
  • March 5, 2011
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • Cliff Clavin on Cheers was a fountain of useless trivia on any subject.
  • March 5, 2011
    shimaspawn
    ^^ It's not required that they rattle it off at the drop of a hat. The information needs to be accurate. They can't just think they know everything. They actually need to have a basic grounding in a large variety of things.

    It can be completely on topic and useful. The character just needs to have some basic knowledge of practically everything, but not really in depth knowledge.
  • March 5, 2011
    queenbri
    If you want to do well on a quiz-based game show this is a good thing to have.
  • March 5, 2011
    Game_Fan
    A. J. Jacobs reported becoming this while reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover as part of writing The Know It All. It got so bad that his wife required him to have a reason for any fact he said in her presence. By the end he concluded that he had gain knowledge but not intelligence.
  • March 5, 2011
    shimaspawn
    ^ This isn't a character type. You can't become this. You can acquire it, but it doesn't quite sound like he did that either. It just sounds like he quoted off random things he'd just read. Not like he'd actually retained anything.
  • March 6, 2011
    Amaryllis
    A literature example is Encyclopedia Brown.
  • March 6, 2011
    shimaspawn
    ^ Please give me more than X Just X
  • March 7, 2011
    JoeG
    • Encyclopedia Brown got his nickname by knowing so much about so many subjects that he was like a walking encyclopedia.
  • March 7, 2011
    LeeM
    • Radio/LP/Film/Literature: 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".
  • March 10, 2011
    robybang
    Advertising
    • A line of Bing advertisements feature people who will rattle off short, stream of consciousness-like facts based on what they heard. Meant as a Take That to Google for not being a "smart" search engine.
  • March 11, 2011
    shimaspawn
    ^ Not this trope. It's not spitting out a stream of trivia. None of those people actually have a wide breath of knowledge.
  • March 11, 2011
    Jayrad
    Western Animation: In every episode of The Magic School Bus, Dorothy Ann provides information about the topic of the day from her research.
  • March 11, 2011
    Taelor
    Miyuki Takara of Lucky Star whose ability to always have information relevant to the subject of conversation earned her the Fandom Nickname Miwiki.
  • March 13, 2011
    Sikon
    Jacques Paganel in Jules Verne's In Search of the Castaways.
  • March 15, 2011
    Scooter007
    in Chuck the Intersect acts as this with government information
  • March 15, 2011
    Generality
    • 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.
  • March 16, 2011
    DannebrogSpy
    The droid CP 3 O from Star Wars not only speak six million languages, in the Star Wars Expanded Universe it can also recognise the races who speak them and tell where they come from.

    May overlap with Photographic Memory depending on wether the memory is of specific things or all around.
  • March 16, 2011
    Jmacq1
    Batman is often presented this way, particularly when used in a team environment.
  • March 16, 2011
    TooBah
    There is also "Mr. Know-it-all", a recurring sketch from one of the Bullwinkle series.
  • March 16, 2011
    peccantis
    Anime/Manga:
  • March 16, 2011
    TwinBird
    I don't think Cliff Clavin was an example because he wasn't always right, was he? I mean, he was the original Trope Namer for the Know Nothing Know It All.
  • March 16, 2011
    shimaspawn
    ^^^^ C3PO has detailed information on one subject, protocol. Not a small amount of information on a large variety of topics. He's a specialist.

    ^ Never seen the show, but if he's a bad example, I'll remove it.
  • March 17, 2011
    DannebrogSpy
    Well, C-3PO is best known for his language skills, but he have other knowledge and skills as well. In one of his more famous scenes he is able tell the exact change of navigating safely through an asteroid field, leading to the qoute in top of Never Tell Me The Odds. And in the novel Specter Of The Past he is tasked with going through financial record of the Combined Clans on the planet Bothan. Specialist, huh?
  • March 17, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • 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.
  • March 22, 2011
    X2X
    Video Games
  • March 22, 2011
    TBTabby
    Otto from Time Squad has an extensive knowledge of history which is the only reason the squad ever completes their missions.
  • March 22, 2011
    shimaspawn
    ^ History is one subject. That's depth of knowledge. Not breadth of knowledge. How is she on automotive repair and flower arranging?
  • March 23, 2011
    TonyG
    ^She?? I didn't know Otto could be a girls name.
    • "Mr. Know-it-all" is actually a parody, as Bullwinkle's knowledge is less than encyclopedic. A straight example from the same show is Mr. Peabody.
    • 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.
  • March 23, 2011
    SKJAM
    Chuck reminds me of its distant ancestor, the Disney movie The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. 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.
  • March 23, 2011
    shimaspawn
    ^^ Yeah, not sure how I got she from that example. Can you rewrite the Rocky And Bullwinkle one in some way that doesn't sound like conversation on the main page?
  • March 25, 2011
    Rolf

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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