Our sense of smell is a more primitive sense, tied directly into our limbic system, which controls memory emotion. In this way, smell is a much more direct and powerful sense than sight. It evokes emotions and memories directly.
Perhaps it's because the sense of smell is harder to visualize, but it tends not to show up as often among the suite of heroic powers. Heroes have magic eyes, villains have magic noses.
You can also expect an unpleasantly creepy unwelcome love interest to spend a lot of time sniffing a girl.
See also The Nose Knows
for general strong-nose incidents.
These examples stink
- Prince Humperdinck from The Princess Bride is an expert tracker, and can identify iocaine powder by smell, despite that it's said to be odorless.
- In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the Child Catcher figures out there are children around by smell.
- The creature, Mbwun, of The Relic has worse eyesight than a person, but a much better sense of smell, which is explicitly stated to be more primitive and emotional, leading the creature to go on a rampage during the museum party.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Elves and good Men have keen eyes while creatures of Mordor have keen noses. In particular, the Ringwraiths are often depicted as sniffing for their Hobbit quarry throughout their chase in The Fellowship of the Ring.
- The protagonist of the novel Perfume is a mutant autistic sociopath, who primarily experiences the world by smell.
- In Roald Dahl's The Witches, children give off a scent of fresh dog's droppings, which only the titular witches can detect.
- The Family of Blood chased the Doctor across time and space using their sense of smell and spend their episodes sniffing sinsterly.
- When Xander gets infected by the spirit of a Hyena in the first season of Buffy The Vampireslayer, he spends a lot of time sniffing at Buffy.
- Killer Croc repeatedly tells Batman "I've got your scent" in Batman: Arkham Asylum and uses his sense of smell in his Easter Egg cameo appearance in the sequel.
- Although it's a largely unexplored ability of his, Zexion of Kingdom Hearts is able to "smell" the scent of other characters' darkness.