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When a character needs to be shown as a genius without devoting an entire scene to backstory or problem-solving to demonstrate this, the creator will have them solve or play around with a Rubik's cube. This is done to quickly establish the character's intelligence in as little time as possible so that the plot can start as quickly as possible. The quicker and more casually the character manages to solve the puzzle, the more intelligent they are meant to be[[note]]While it's basically impossible to brute-force solve a Rubik's cube, you can figure out how to manipulate the blocks into any orientation you want if you're well-versed in set/group theory...or just look up the shortcuts on the internet[[/note]]. This trope can be employed in any genre and has been around for nearly as long as Rubik's cubes.

This trope was named by Creator/MattSloan and Craig Johnson, of ''WebVideo/ChadVader'' fame, in their online movie review show, ''WebVideo/WelcomeToTheBasement''.

See also SmartPeoplePlayChess, GeniusBookClub and JeopardyIntelligenceTest.



[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Franchise/{{Batman}}''. The villain The Calculator has been known to carry a Rubik's cube around to occupy his time, as he's apparently so smart that he gets bored easily.
* Played with in the ''Series/TalesFromTheDarkside'' comic "Black Box": Brian Newman has a habit of playing with Rubiks cubes, and invariably solves them in the space of a few panels - if not immediately. However, this isn't because he's a genius: it's because he's a RealityWarper with [[PowerIncontinence zero control over his powers]]. For good measure, it's common for the "solved" cubes to instantly turn completely black, usually as a sign that his EnemyWithin is getting troublesome.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* In a ''ComicStrip/FoxTrot'' comic, [[InsufferableGenius Jason]] buys a Rubik's Cube at a garage sale after hearing it was ''the'' puzzle of the '80s. He solves it quickly, failing to see how anyone could have found it "hard".

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MrPeabodyAndSherman''. Subverted. UsefulNotes/AlbertEinstein is seen playing with a Rubik's cube. He appears to have solved it, but finds one tile out of place and smashes the whole thing in frustration. [[note]]A single tile being out of place is a sure sign that someone has sabotaged the cube. It's impossible to get from a 1 tile switched around cube to a solved cube, and vice versa, without either taking the cube partially apart or switching the stickers. Maybe he just doesn't like cheaters?[[/note]]
* ''WesternAnimation/WallE''. After EVE has arrived on Earth, WALL•E takes her to his "house" and shows her the (unsolved) Rubik's cube. The camera moves away following WALL•E and when it returns only a few seconds later, EVE has solved the Rubik's cube.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan'': Peter Parker begins solving a freshly scrambled cube his uncle handed him. Because of how casually it is done, it is implied that Peter has solved the cube before and this is something that Uncle Ben does regularly.
* ''Film/{{Armageddon}}'': In an interview, a few main characters are asked to solve a Rubik's cube. Rockhound solves a Rubik's cube. Upon completion he says that it was a "piece of cake" and flippantly tosses it aside, his entire demeanor suggesting that he considers it insulting. Then he lays out his entire resumé, from child prodigy to globe-trotting oil-drilling KavorkaMan geologist.
* ''Film/BeingJohnMalkovich'': Charlie just fiddles around a bit with a Rubik's Cube for a few seconds. A cuber's habit is to toy around with Cubes while not solving them. Charlie throws up the Cube while it spins in the air, and then catches it.
* ''Film/{{Brick}}'': The Brain is playing with a Rubik's cube when he's introduced.
* ''Film/DonnieDarko'': While Donnie is lying down in bed, thinking, he is playing with a Rubik's cube. Notably the Rubik's cube is a black and white one, quite possibly with M.C. Escher paintings on each side of the cube, instead of the regular white-blue-red-green-orange-yellow ones.
* ''Film/DudeWheresMyCar?'': Inverted. Over the course of the movie Chester solves a Rubik's cube, [[spoiler:which is revealed to be the Continuum Transfunctioner the aliens are looking for]]. This is done despite the fact that Chester and Jesse are shown to be complete idiots.
* ''Film/{{Hellboy}}'': Subverted. Abe Sapien is recovering in his aquarium and tries to solve a Rubik's Cube. He talks with Liz Sherman and complains about his inability to solve the Rubik's Cube despite being indicated as highly intelligent as a member of the GeniusBookClub. Furthermore, he claims to have only solved two sides over the course of three decades.
* ''Film/LetTheRightOneIn'' and its American remake ''Film/LetMeIn'': Eli/Abby is shown to have solved a Rubik's cube prompting Oskar/Owen to inquire how she solved it.
* ''Film/ThePursuitOfHappyness'': During a taxi ride with Mr Twistle, Chris says that he is able to solve a cube; after Mr Twistle states that it is impossible, Chris solves the whole cube. This opens Mr Twistle's eyes, and Chris is later invited for an interview.
** Chris's actor, Will Smith, has stated in interviews that the jump cuts weren't there to help him cheat; the director made sure he leaned to solve it properly.
* In ''Film/{{Citizenfour}}'', Edward Snowden plays with a Rubik's Cube as a predetermined signal to identify himself in a restaurant to a person he's never met.
* In ''Film/{{Megaforce}}'', one of the MegaForce troopers solves a Rubik's Cube in a matter of minutes, while en route to a mission.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BarneyMiller''. Made shortly after the Cube became a national phenomenon, Wojo has one he's playing with. A Perp of the Week is a Mensa member who is a professional thief who had broken into the Mensa offices to steal. He doesn't particularly ''want'' to be smart, he always wanted to be one of the guys. Just before he's taken away to Manhattan South for processing he picks up the cube and solves it quickly. "Sorry, force of habit."
* The second episode of ''Series/ThePretender'' had a scene where Jarod found one on a colleague's desk and solved it in about a minute. The fact that Jarod was kept isolated from popular culture from a young age and had never seen one before makes it even more impressive.
* TurnedUpToEleven on one episode of ''Series/{{Scorpion}}'', where Walter and Sylvester are racing to see who can solve '''TEN''' cubes the fastest. Walter shows off by solving the last one behind his back.
* On one episode of ''Series/TheDailyShowWithJonStewart'', UsefulNotes/NeilDeGrasseTyson walked onstage with a solved Rubik's cube. Once he'd done his bit, Jon Stewart tells the audience that they'd given Tyson the cube thirty seconds ago.
* An episode of ''Series/TheFreshPrinceOfBelAir'' had [[BrilliantButLazy Will]] impress an Ivy League college interviewer by solving a Rubik's Cube in a few seconds like it was nothing. The trick does not work when Carlton tries to adopt the same laid back attitude as Will for the interview, and fumbles around with the Cube without actually solving anything.
* ''Series/MythBusters'':
** Deconstructed; one of the JustForFun/TropesExaminedByTheMythBusters. Exploited, although not exactly "busted" by the [=MythBusters=]. They demonstrated that there are numerous ways for a not-particularly-smart person to succeed at solving a Rubik's cube just for appearances.
** They also invoked the trope during the first Viral Videos episode as a means of demonstrating how easy it is to create misleading video footage. The finished clip shows Adam and Jamie each quickly solving a Rubik's cube, Jamie while blindfolded and Adam using only his feet -- after showing the clip, however, they explain that they'd actually started with solved cubes and filmed themselves scrambling them, then played the footage backwards to make it ''look'' like they were solving the cubes, even taking the pains to have a third character walk through the scene (backwards in real life, so that it looks "normal" in reverse) to "prove" that the footage wasn't doctored.
* Channel Four TV clips show ''Series/RudeTube'' gathers together Internet clips of note. One was of an American muscle-builder displaying proficiency at one-handed push-ups - whilst solving the Rubik's Cube one-handed with his free hand. He performed the feat in about [[http://youtu.be/930AihL3Q90 thirty seconds]].
* ''Series/DeathInParadise'': Played with in "Stumped in Murder". Humphrey finds a Rubik's Cube in the evidence and starts attempting to solve it to take his mind of his personal problems. He fails completely until he has his EurekaMoment. He rushes to TheBigBoard and starts rambling to himself, twisting the cube without looking at it as he does so. Florence then points out that he has solved it.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/ZenoClash'' Golem carries around a Rubik's cube. It helps mark him out as very different from the Zenos. Firstly because it shows he's more intellectual (as opposed to their MightMakesRight form of government). Secondly because it completely clashes with the StonePunk aesthetic of every other piece of technology. [[spoiler:''VideoGame/ZenoClash2'' reveals it's also a sign he's incredibly ''bored'' (from standing guard to make sure none of the Zenos leave Zenozoik).]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheSims2'', Knowledge Sims will sometimes play with a Rubik's Cube when idle.
* In ''VideoGame/MapleStory'', Kinesis, a character with PsychicPowers (and of the Magic User class, which usually has very high Intelligence Scores), is shown solving a black and white using telekinesis in the cinematic opening where he is introduced.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Subverted in [[http://awkwardzombie.com/index.php?page=0&comic=110507 this strip]] of ''Webcomic/AwkwardZombie''. [[OnlySaneMan Marth]] and [[IdiotHero Roy]] both fail at solving a Rubik cube. Then, [[IdiotHero Link]] grabs the cube and solves it immediately.
* In ''Webcomic/TruLifeAdventures'', Bert solves one while explaining to someone why speedcubing doesn't qualify as a suitable challenge for his title of the King of All Gamers.
* In ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'', the rabbit student shows his new cube to his fairy friend 'Snuffles', who's never seen one before. She solves it in her head in only 30 moves, despite [[GeniusDitz not being to count past ten]]. He claims he can do it in 20.
* Agatha from ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' is seen solving a Rubik's cube in the Radio Theatre interludes.
* From ''Webcomic/TheWorldIsFlat''; in one of comic, a teenage girl attends a masquerade party social dressed as one because she wants to date someone smart. "You have to be smart to get into ''these'' pants!" she exclaims.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Ironically, this Trope was Deconstructed and Defied in ''WesternAnimation/RubikTheAmazingCube'', a short-lived series meant to capitalize on the toy's popularity. Pretty much every character could solve it within a minute, and while the main cast had an excuse (Rubix was powerless if his colors were scrambled, which happened [[OnceAnEpisode by accident rather often]]) it made little sense for anyone else.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheDatingGuy''. VJ shows his simultaneous smarts and lack of social skills by solving a miniature Rubik's Cube inside his throat.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfJimmyNeutronBoyGenius'', Jimmy uses a device that turns Sheen into a genius. One of the things Sheen did after that was solving a Rubik's cube blindfolded in about 5 seconds.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. When Homer becomes of above-average intelligence, he solves several cubes while not even thinking about them particularly hard.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'': Parodied. In one episode, Sandy makes a Rubik's cube that solves itself.
* In ''WesternAnimation/WhateverHappenedToRobotJones'', Robot Jones (being a superintelligent robot) is the front runner in a Rubik's Cube competition. His rivals, the Yogman twins, cheat by switching two of the tile labels of Jones' cube to make it unsolvable.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'' episode "Little Gift Shop of Horrors", one of the signs of Waddles' increased intelligence during the "Abaconings" segment is that he's able to solve a complicated puzzle box, the What-The-Heck-Ahedron, that Dipper was struggling with earlier.
* Subverted in ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'', where [[TheDitz Billy's father]] solves a demonic Rubik's Cube in seconds by [[CuttingTheKnot switching the stickers around]].