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Sometimes the plot needs a character to be very wealthy without ever actually doing anything or being particularly clever. When such a thing is needed, the character will be credited with inventing something very simple, useful, and everyday. Note that the character is not inventing cold fusion or something very complex, but rather something like, say, velcro
In other cases, the character is shown to be someone who isn't necessarily a great scientist, but clever and practical minded. Perhaps the character won't get famous or wealthy off of the invention, but their product at least will be a household name.
Compare with Weekend Inventor
when inventing is a hobby rather than a lucrative living. See also Bungling Inventor
and Mr Fixit
. If the inventor was an ancestor, then it is Royalties Heir
. In a number of cases this also doubles as a Shout Out
or a Namesake Gag
Live Action TV
- The father from Holes spent the entire novel trying to invent the perfect odor-eater. He finally succeeded not only at inventing it, but marketing as well.
- Good Omens has a list of people who invented things that, once they were invented, became so ubiquitous no-one remembered they ever needed inventing. They all have names like Device or Gadget.
- One Daniel Pinkwater featured a protagonist taking a summer job working for his uncle, who had invented the things they put on the end of shoelaces ("aglets", according to The Other Wiki, but carefully not given a name in the novel).
- Mentioned as a gag in the Legendary Frog toon where Kerrigan decides to become an inventor and make millions. She says to her boyfriend "Remember John from next door? John Velcro?"
- Time Squad had plenty of these making appearances. Whether they actually got around to inventing their mundane inventions was completely subject to plot convenience.
- Inverted with Al Gore, who did not actually invent the internet. Though apparently, strictly speaking, Al Gore never claimed to have invented the internet.
- This troper's grandfather was one of the original inventors of air hockey.