->''"What, exactly, is the function of a rubber duck?"''
--> -- '''Arthur Weasley''', ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheChamberOfSecrets''

Astonishing as it may seem, not all non-{{Muggle}} characters are on a crusade to murder us {{Muggles}}. In fact, their motivations will turn out to be surprisingly mundane--they want to see how us crazy {{Muggles}} operate. I mean, how do we keep from getting cold without any fur? Where does our food come from if we don't have access to FunctionalMagic? And how do we... you know...

This usually non-malicious character type has one primary function in a story--[[RuleOfFunny comedy]]. Because it's hard to beat the humor of someone who doesn't understand human customs trying to make any sort of sense out of them. The FantasticAnthropologist very rarely has long-term story implications due to their job in large part because part of their job is to keep the {{Muggles}} in the dark about what's going on.

In terms of narrative, the FantasticAnthropologist's culture can sometimes be a satire of our own. After all, as wacky as this guy may seem, when it gets right down to it we're NotSoDifferent.

Depending on the point of view of the story can often come off as CaptainOblivious. Frequently an AmusingAlien character. Compare FantasticScience, CrazyCulturalComparison, IntriguedByHumanity, TheXenophile. A subtrope of TheWatcher.



[[folder: Anime And Manga ]]
* Eris from ''LightNovel/CatPlanetCuties'' is sent as an scout by her species the [[CatGirl Catians]] to check Earth as a suitable diplomatic partner. Note that the Catians' outlook is pretty much that of tourists: her reports on Japanese cuisine makes the Catian expedition hurry to establish formal relations.
* In ''Manga/SgtFrog'', whenever the Keronians aren't plotting to take over Earth, they're studying its culture, occasionally getting it hilariously wrong: in one chapter, they assume that Natsumi's {{school swimsuit}} is an amphibious battle-suit based on Keronian physiology, and in another they mistake a bowling alley for a military training center.
* Nagisa Aizawa from ''Manga/MyMonsterSecret'' was sent to Earth in order to study its culture and determine if her planet can open friendly relations with them. Mostly this means [[YouWatchTooMuchX she reads too many manga]]...I mean "historical documents", but one chapter shows a documentary about her efforts where she struggles to identify the purpose of a baby shower cap before deciding it's a decoration akin to the great frilled lizard.

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* Creator/DCComics' ComicBook/MajorBummer was given super powers as a school experiment by aliens, but they were inadvertently sent to the wrong person (Lou Martin instead of Martin Louis).

[[folder: Fanworks ]]
* Lyra Heartstring's ''Fanfic/{{Anthropology}}''.
* [[VideoGame/KerbalSpaceProgram The Kerbals]] end up being this in ''Fanfic/TheNextFrontier''. And are not entirely pleased by what they learn about their new neighbours.

[[folder: Literature ]]
* Arthur Weasley in ''Literature/HarryPotter'' has his recurring hobby of studying {{Muggles}} as a regular tension reliever in the plot. Mrs. Weasley was not amused when on one occasion he went so far as to use Muggle medicine to try and stitch up some serious wounds he had incurred.
** Honestly, its a little bit scary that a person who's ''this'' interested in muggles, to the point of being in charge of our protection by the Ministry of Magic, knows this little about us.
*** Made a bit scarier by the fact that he knows, compared to other witches and wizards, quite a lot about muggles. So there actually is a reason why he has the job he has, he is not only interested, he is an expert.
** Though, to be fair, he does seem to know quite a bit about muggle technology, it's just the social aspects and things like money that tend to confuse him. And rubber ducks, apparently.
** What is especially odd is that there are so many muggle born witches and wizards, and the only reason why one of them isn't given his position is the fact that "mudbloods", as they are called, are discriminated against [[UnequalRites because their magic isn't "pure".]]
* The Creator/IsaacAsimov short story "What is this thing called love" uses this as a FramingDevice. Specifically, as an explanation for why aliens randomly abduct us all the time.
* The Creator/RobertAHeinlein novel ''Literature/StrangerInAStrangeLand'' has this as a PlotTwist to provide Mike with an additional long-term goal for the church he created.
%%* Discordian writer/philosopher Robert Anton Wilson (of ''Literature/{{Illuminatus}}!'' fame) claims that Greg Hill (AKA Malaclypse the Younger, author of the ''Principia Discordia'') is this. Hill fervently denies this.[[note]]''Actually, the Principia is the work of a time-travelling anthropologist from the 23rd Century. He is currently passing among us as a computer specialist, bon vivant and philosopher named Gregory Hill. He has also translated several volumes of Etruscan erotic poetry, under another pen-name, and in the 18th Century was the mysterious Man in Black who gave Jefferson the design for the Great Seal of the United States. I have it on good authority that he is one of the most accomplished time-travelers in the galaxy and has visited Earth many times in the past, using such cover-identities as Zeno of Elias, Emperor Norton, Count Cagliostro, Guilliame of Aquaitaine, etc. Whenever I question him about this, he grows very evasive and attempts to persuade me that he is actually just another 20th Century Earthman and that all my ideas about his extraterrestrial and extratemporal origin are delusions. Hah! I am not that easily deceived. After all, a time-travelling anthropologist would say just that, so that he could observe us without his presence causing cultureshock. I understand that he has consented to write an Afterword to this edition. He'll probably contradict everything I've told you, but don't believe a word he says fnord. He is a master of the deadpan put-on, the plausible satire, the philosophical leg-pull and all the branches of guerrilla ontology.''[[/note]]
* In Creator/RobertSilverberg's "Flies", a human space traveler crash-lands on the planet of a race who are [[HigherTechSpecies able to save him with their advanced medicine]]. In return, they enable him to transmit the feelings of others so that they can study humans, but tragedy ensues when this enables him to inflict grievous suffering without experiencing any effects of remorse.
* Ax from the ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' frequently came across as this in his narration. At one early point he laments that, stuck on Earth, there is no opportunity for military advancement. So he decides he will make the most of the situation and become his species' foremost expert on humans.
* Samuel Colt from ''Literature/SpotsTheSpaceMarine'' is a non-comic example. While his primary mission is weapons evaluation, he studies human customs as a hobby.
* At one point in ''Literature/TheDinosaurLords'' Karyl has an odd encounter with a strange and likely non-human woman who tells him she's visiting dying men to ask them what it's like to be human. Being as he is (amnesiac, naked, cold and dying), he gives her an unflattering description, which she listens to with interest.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* ''Series/MyFavoriteMartian'' Uncle Martin is a Martian anthropologist, and the foremost expert on the planet Earth and Earthlings. As Martians are friendly, but unbelievably advanced, his views on Earth range from bemusement to frustration with Earth's backwardness.
* ''Series/TheTwilightZone'' TOS episode "Mr. Dingle, the Strong". Several alien experimenters (Martian and Venusian) give the title character various superpowers (strength and intelligence) to see how he'll react.
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1963'' episode "Controlled Experiment". A pair of Martians investigate the quaint Earth custom of murder by using a time machine to run an actual murder forward and backward in time.
* The entire premise of ''Series/ThirdRockFromTheSun'' has Dick and his "family" observing what life is like on Earth and reporting the findings back to base. Their ultimate goal, however, remains vague throughout the series. We know they're not trained anthropologists, in part because they routinely received poor job evaluations but also because Dick and Tommy are clearly shown to be experts in hard science while Sally is a soldier (and Harry is some sort of ''pet'', apparently).
** Earlier episodes imply that they are not used to running into planets or lifeforms with diverse cultures or complex emotions. Most notably, their initial stay was supposed to last only a few weeks, long enough to copy over the sum of human knowledge and leave. When they discovered there was ''more'' to humanity than just the dry facts of our history, they decided that Earth warranted longer investigation and extended the mission in order to explore the "human condition" by experiencing it first hand.
** Notably, Dick's love interest and recurring office-mate, Mary Albright, was supposed to be an actual anthropologist, but was never seriously consulted on the study of human behavior (she was involved in more than a few of Dick's experiments in the human condition, though).
** On occasion they would run into other aliens. One such alien was a FantasticAnthropologist with a far more specific goal- determine whether Earth was valuable enough to avoid destroying (since it was [[SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale somehow]] blocking their view of part of the universe).
* ''Series/MorkAndMindy'': Mork, at least theoretically.
* Mr Copper from ''Series/DoctorWho'' Christmas special ''Voyage of the Damned'' claims to be one of these, but doesn't seem to have much of a clue...
** The Doctor himself sometimes come off this way as well.
* Uncle Traveling Matt from ''Series/FraggleRock''


[[folder: Tabletop Game ]]

* Europan Emissaries in ''TabletopGame/RocketAge'' immerse themselves into the social roles of different cultures, to gain a greater insight into the other peoples of the solar system.


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* ''[[Webcomic/GetMedieval Get Medieval]]'' features anthropology student Asher Hane as one of the HumanAlien protagonists stuck in 14th century France.
* ''Webcomic/NotSoDistant'' stars an alien interning as an archeologist in a post-apocalyptic Earth, [[spoiler:only to find a TimeMachine and make the switch to anthropology.]]


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Pleakley from ''[[WesternAnimation/LiloAndStitchTheSeries Lilo & Stitch]]'' is a "Human expert", who among other things believes that you eat cereal with a fork.
* In the ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid'', Ariel is hugely interested in what human life is like. However, she's got some very...''strange'' notions about us, mostly courtesy of her seagull friend whose info is completely off base.
* In an ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' episode, a general anthropologist/historian appears who is absolutely fascinated in Air Nomad culture (and by extension, Aang). Eventually [[spoiler: he chooses to stay in a magical spirit library that contains more knowledge than anywhere else in the world.]]
** In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', [[BigBad Zaheer]] is rather well-versed in Air Nomad culture and philosophy, quoting their texts.
* ''WesternAnimation/ReadyJetGo:'' Celery and Carrot Propulsion came to Earth to study it. They return to Bortron in 'Return to Bortron 7' and give a report on it.