Created By: GorthosFebruary 7, 2012 Last Edited By: GorthosFebruary 9, 2012
Nuked

World-Breaking Genius

The main character revolutionizes his world using his ability to think outside the box

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Trope
This guy's chief virtue is his ability to "think outside the box" in ways that no one else from his universe can anticipate. He's the main character in a story about how he bends his whole world to his will, changing it forever using only his wits. He might be a Machiavellian schemer; he might be a revolutionary inventor; he might be a Sun Tzu-like military commander. He might even be all of those things. He's not the wise adviser who helps the hero - he is the hero. He's a World-Breaking Genius.


Examples:

Light Yagami tried to remake the world with himself as god. Bean and Ender destroyed an alien civilization. Lord Hamster, among other things, destroyed a city using a volcano. Harry Potter from the "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" fanfic is trying to achieve godhood through science.

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • Light Yagami from Death Note tried to remake the world with himself as god. The story focused around Light's use of Machiavellian cunning to beat every move his investigators tried.
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[[folder:Literature]]

  • Harry Potter from the Harry Potter And The Methods Of Rationality fanfic is the defining example of this trope. In a complete break from a thousand years of magical tradition, Harry applies scientific methods to magic with the hope of becoming godlike. He has a deserved reputation for doing the impossible again and again, in ways that most other characters can't even figure out after the fact. And he sure knows how to play the scheming game.

  • Lord Hamster is billed as the Perfect Warlord, and he can bend the strict rules of Erfworld in a way no one else can. He pulls trick after trick out of his sleeve, exemplified by his decision to clear the attackers from the besieged city of Gobwin Knob by erupting a volcano. He isn't quite as powerful as some other World-Breaking Geniuses, but to be fair, Erfworld is a smaller world to break.

  • Ender from Enders Game used his military genius to destroy an alien civilization. He constantly pulled off the unexpected, ranging from his unconventional battle tactics in training to the final blow against the alien homeworld.

  • Hari Seldon from Foundation founded and guided vast civilizations in accordance with his plan to save the galaxy from a dark age. He managed this by creating his own field of science, namely psychohistory, which he used to predict what would happen to society 10,000 years in the future.

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Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • February 7, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Requirement to trope, so that it is not just Gushing, is needed.

    Specify what contribution the character has? Specify how things are different after the character's impact?

    Definable not God in the Head.
  • February 7, 2012
    Gorthos
    As mentioned, the world-breaking genius' impact is some profound change to the world. Hari Seldon created two entire galaxy-wide civilizations in accordance with his plan to save the galaxy from a dark age. Light Yagami tried to remake the world with himself as god. Bean and Ender destroyed an alien civilization. Lord Hamster, among other things, destroyed a city using a volcano. Harry Potter from the "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" fanfic is trying to achieve godhood through science.
  • February 7, 2012
    Koveras
    • Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen invented a lot of Science Fiction tech prominent in the alternate timeline 80ies.
  • February 7, 2012
    Gorthos
    This trope does not apply to Dr. Manhattan - he's not the main character, and his main power is not his intelligence, it's his actual superpowers.
  • February 7, 2012
    Gorthos
    (and he got those superpowers by accident, not because of his cleverness)

    Remember the chief attribute of the World Breaking Genius is their ability to think outside the box in ways other characters can't predict.
  • February 7, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Would this be Cut Lex Luthor A Check, or the opposite of Reed Richards Is Useless?
  • February 7, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    I read it as the opposite to Reed Richards, but the troper is still using ZeroContextExamples, and snowcloning Deus Ex Machina badly.
  • February 7, 2012
    Duncan
    In Neil Gaiman's short story "Changes", Rajit is a doctor who develops a drug that cures cancer ...and also changes the sex of anyone who uses it, which leads to HUGE changes in society.
  • February 7, 2012
    c0ry
    Is this the non-AU version of Alternate Reed Richards Is Awesome?
  • February 7, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Foundation's Edge, one of the last books (chronologically) in Asimov's Foundation series, Golan Trevize is chosen by Gaia to decide the fate of Humanity because he has the ability to make the intuitive leap neccessary to choose the right answer dispite not having all the information needed.
  • February 8, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Wait, how does Light Yagami fit if Dr. Manhattan doesn't? They change the world based on the power they possess, and their intelligence is incidental to the effect of their power.
  • February 8, 2012
    Gorthos
    Light Yagami is admittedly a bit iffy since he doesn't actually succeed in his plan, but the difference between him and Dr. Manhattan is that the whole Death Note story is focused around Light's intellectual game with his investigators. It's true that Light would have little without the Note, but it's a question of where the focus in the story lies. Also note that Dr. Manhattan isn't the main character, which disqualifies him.

    I added some other explanations to the original post. Emphasizing in each case the outside-the-box thinking that these characters use to gain power.

    Also: the Chessmaster is a closely related trope. Most of the examples here would also qualify as Chessmasters in one way or another. If a Chessmaster is the protagonist and in a quest to wield power on a scale beyond anything seen before, he's likely a World-Breaking Genius.
  • February 8, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    " Also note that Dr. Manhattan isn't the main character, which disqualifies him." Yeah, no; I'm ignoring that, because if the main character having this is tropeable, then so is a secondary character with this trait.

    What is outside the box about Light?

    How do you know Erfworld is smaller than Stupid World?

    What strict rules has he broken?

    Your Ender example is just "wins". That is not tropeable.

    How does a "brand new" field of science predict the future?

    What, exactly is the distinction between this and Guile Hero?
  • February 8, 2012
    Gorthos
    The reason he needs to be the main character is that the story has to focus around his incredibly cunning rise to power so great it breaks the world he's in. Can't do that for just a secondary character.

    "What is outside the box about Light?" - for example, he literally joins the taskforce that is trying to find him and becomes its leader.

    "How do you know Erfworld is smaller than Stupid World?" - I don't know what Stupid World is, but Erfworld is based around a war game that operates in turns over a hexagonal grid of terrain. The grid is 2 dimensional, which doesn't lend itself to the existence of outer space. Far-off lands aren't mentioned. It's not impossible for it to be gigantic, but there's no indication that it's much larger than the places the story mentions. It seems to be a game board, not a planet. Of course, I could be mistaken about this.

    "What strict rules has he broken?" - do you mean Lord Hamster? He strictly speaking does have to operate within the rules, but he uses them to his advantage in ways completely beyond what anyone else thought was possible, such as Uncroaking a Volcano.

    """Your Ender example is just "wins". That is not tropeable.""" - Ender doesn't just win, he does so in ways thought impossible or completely unexpected by his opponents. For example, his use of wires for unpredictable maneuverability at Battle School, or his willingness to sacrifice his human fleet to destroy the alien homeworld despite his earlier reluctance to risk human lives. The aliens tried to close his avenues of _retreat_, not realizing what was happening until too late.

    "How does a "brand new" field of science predict the future?" - in Foundation, that's what it does. Here's an article about it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory_(fictional)

    Guile Hero is in fact pretty close. Make him the hero, make him a lot smarter than the average Guile Hero, and give him ambitions of grandeur, and you probably have a world-breaking genius.
  • February 8, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    You... Completely didn't understand. Ender is a secondary protagonist in the Shadow of Ender series. His older brother, Peter is always a secondary character, but he becomes Leader of Earth. Which involved uniting three major world factions, and outsmarting hundreds of other geniuses, without getting the specialized training that they had.

    That's not out of the box thinking. For one, he didn't seek it out himself. He was given a choice; join the investigation, or not. The choose was a fake one, as if he chose not to join, "L" would have decided that was proof that Light was Kira. For another, as shows like Criminal Minds have shared, certain types of serial killers try to become a part of the investigation, anyway. So Light is actually following a prescribed pattern by joining the cops investigating his killing spree.

    Stupid World is the world Parson that comes from. Named by Stanley the Tool. There are a number of far off kingdoms mentioned. Perhaps the simplest example is the Magic Kingdom itself. The only known access method is by teleportation. Which could mean it's not even on the same plane. There is never a boundary discovered, at any of the cardinal points of direction, so it is effectively infinite in length. Infinity*infinity is equal to infinity*infinity*infinity. Because it's infinity.

    Then the line about him breaking the strict rules is false. You haven't shown him to break any rules.

    No-one else had wires, and the secondary character Bean had obtained them, not Ender. At least you mention The Enemy Gate Is Down, now.

    Yes, I know what it is. I daresay I know it better than you. Your example says nothing. Certainly newtonian physics was a new branch of science when he invented it, but it didn't change the world. Nor has Einstein's special theory of relativity.

    You still don't explain your concept. It's just looking like gushing about Guile Heroes You Like.
  • February 8, 2012
    MarkThis
    Usually a Guile hero doesn't break the setting he is in: think Wesley from The Princess Bride, Zorro, Old Captain Jack giving 'em what for, and so on and so forth. And the example you are looking for in Watchmen is Ozymandias, not Dr. Manhattan. For one thing, there isnt any main character to Watchmen. That, and Ozy is the Young Conqueror that changes the wrld: Doc is only a tool, in more ways than one. And whle they already fit the definition, I suggest we add examples of inventors that developed fileds of science and/or technology that forever changed the world around them. Such as Nobel and dynamite, or Edison and electrical stuff (he never invented anything: he paid eggheads to do that: he focused on finding out what would have the most potential to change the world, and on helping it reach that potential, making him filthy rich in the process, and changing the world forever).

    The concet is obvious enough; an in-universe Munchkin who exploits Loophole Abuse, Rules Lawyering and Didnt See That Coming to completely change the status quo around them.

    Also, Rational!Haarry is a subversion: he thinks he'll pull it off because of all the low-hanging fruit and the obvious opportunities a xenophobic, reactionary, unscietific Magical Britain offers, but then he finds out that the game is a lot more complicated than it seems at first glance, there are no refrees, no-one will tell you the rules, and the dealer has a permanent grin affixed to his face, on account of being the freaking Grim Reaper. It's adult business, and he ain't ready for it.
  • February 8, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Define "break the setting". Wesley took down a kingdom. Zorro took away California from the selfish rich, and gave it to the hard-working poor. Jack toppled the east india trading company, and replaced a supernatural grim reaper with a friend.

    There's something here, but gushing about heroes you like is not it.
  • February 8, 2012
    MarkThis
    Wesley merely stormed a castle and humiliated a Prince. He didn't even kill him, and their fates are left uncertain. Zorro... can you actually write that ssentence with a straight face? He may have taken steps towards it, but he didn't fundamentally alter the status quo besides helping it change hands from Mexico to the USA. As they would say in A Fistful Of Dynamite, they're still stealing my chickens. Jack simply toppled the evil boss of the East India. As far as I recall, its humongous fleet remained mostly intact, and there was absolutely no question of who would win, between them and the mangy grimy pirates, in the long row (har har).

    See, the average Guile Hero operates on a small, personal scale. Even if they get to participate in world-changing events, their goals will still be personal, small-scale, and will certainly not involve "changing the world". Even, say, Monky D Luffy or the eponymous Revolutionary Girl Utena, who basically delcared war on the entire system before them, only did so in the capacity that the system stopped them from acieving ehti personal goals, curtailed their personal freedom, or hurt their personal friends. They're still "thinking small". Paul Atreides, from Frank Herberts Dune, started off fighting a mere family feud, but along the way it became much more than that for him, as he became a Messiah. Liet is a much more straight example of a man who changed a world with just his brains. Without his work, there would have been no story to be told.
  • February 8, 2012
    aurora369
    Vladimir Lenin? Seriously, the guy changed the entire world history with his revolution.
  • February 9, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Not a castle, the castle. He went into the kingdom's castle, with their defenses raised against an attack by foreign nationals, tied up and humiliated the highly intelligent (and not very well-liked) prince of the country, and ran away in the night with their beloved princess. Yeah, that's taking down the kingdom; the four are not caught, regardless of which ending you read. There's no one in power he didn't make a fool of, and no way Humperdick can blame Guilder for it.

    Yes, I can say it with a straight face, because in many continuities, it was Zorro who allowed the village(s) a chance to vote. The barons would use their power to prevent it, but Zorro would steal the voting boxes away for "true democracy". In some continuities, this took generations of Zorros to accomplish. The barons only had power by representing the Mexican government.

    There was no question who would win, when they had a supernatural ship and a visionary leader. You must've missed the line where gibbs said the company was retreating.
  • February 9, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Most Chessmasters operate on a personal scale as well. What's your point?
  • February 9, 2012
    LobsterMagnus
    Live Action TV: Zephram Cochrane, the inventor of the warp drive in Star Trek.

    Real Life: Paradigm shifting scientists like Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein.

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