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->'' 'You are beautifully and perfectly balanced. In you sanity is personified. Do you realize what that means to me? When the criminal sets out to do a crime, his first effort is to deceive. Whom does he seek to deceive? The image in his mind is that of the normal man. There is probably no such thing actually -- it is a mathematical abstraction. But you come as near to realizing it as is possible... how does this profit me? Simply in this way. As in a mirror I see reflected in your mind exactly what the criminal wishes me to believe. That is terrifically helpful and suggestive.' ''
-->-- '''Literature/HerculePoirot''' to his Watson, Captain Hastings, ''Literature/LordEdgwareDies''

The Watson is the character whose job it is to ask the same questions the audience must be asking and let other characters explain what's going on. Distinct from MrExposition in that The Watson is TheStoryteller archetype, and often allows another character to become MrExposition within the story's context.

Generally, female variants of The Watson will have a bit more CharacterDevelopment and a larger role within the story (but not too much larger). She will be inevitably attractive, serving a dual role -- giving the children someone to like and the [[ParentService adults someone to tune in for]].

Children have it easier. ConstantlyCurious is a popular device, and may even force MrExposition into that role.

Playing The Watson is also referred to as cabbaging, since this role could be played by a head of cabbage.

Science fiction fans may know this character as The Sarah Jane, after (arguably) the most popular of the many companions who had things explained to them on ''Series/DoctorWho.'' In fact, actress Louise Jameson, who played another of the Doctor's companions, explained her decision to leave after a relatively short tenure as being motivated by the fact that "There are only so many ways you can say 'What is it, Doctor?'"

On occasions, you get The Watson being cleverer than MrExposition, which results in some problems, but occasionally works. However, another popular interpretation (especially common in {{Flanderization}}s of the TropeNamer) is to play up the Waton's constant need to question everyone else into comedic stupidity or thickness, making the Watson also a ComicRelief. This version is usually male.

Often in fantasy settings, The Watson is the character with more [[OnlySaneMan "real world" sensibilities]] (sometimes because he's been transplanted ''from'' the real world: John Crichton (''Series/{{Farscape}}'') often got to act as The Watson in early episodes, for example; other times they're an everyman among a group of specialised professionals), prompting MrExposition to explain the "rules" of the fantasy world.

In parody, it is becoming increasingly common for The Watson to be a character who isn't {{genre blind|ness}} to the sillier tropes, often making MrExposition look like something of a buffoon (as in ''Film/AustinPowers: International Man of Mystery'', where Scott Evil [[StatingTheSimpleSolution asks why his father]] [[WhyDontYaJustShootHim doesn't just shoot Austin]], instead preferring to put him in an easily escapable DeathTrap).

Aside from serving as an AudienceSurrogate, the Watson can also play an important but often overlooked role in the story itself. As many of the examples show, the Watson's comments and actions often help the detective in figuring out the mystery. While the Watson may not be able to solve the cases himself, he often gives the detective the final crucial insights that point him in the right direction. They are also often a doctor, to give them a valuable skill that won't show up in the hero.

See also TheSnarkKnight, who makes similar observations but is much less inclined to assist afterwards. Also see NaiveNewcomer

Sometimes The Watson will overlap with FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator, which is when the story is narrated by someone other than the main character of the story.

Has nothing to do with the ''Series/{{Jeopardy}}''-winning IBM supercomputer of the same name, awesome as it is. Except that they both usually speak in the form of a question.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* We rarely ever get a first-person perspective on ''Manga/{{Akagi}}'''s thoughts - as the point of view is mainly given to Yasuoka (oddly enough a detective), who observes and attempts to decrypt Akagi's genius from the sidelines.
* In ''Manga/DeathNote,'' Ryuk, a {{shinigami}}, often acts as The Watson to Light's plans. That is, when he's not just standing behind Light silently chuckling. Or standing on his head.
** Touta Matsuda in the same series is used as The Watson for the police side of events, mainly due to his being a male version of TheDitz.
** Amnesia!Light and Watari are also this to L, being just different ages in Watson.
* Manta Oyamada in ''Manga/ShamanKing'' acts as The Watson to Yoh Asakura, being the narrator but not TheHero.
* Hiyono in ''Manga/{{Spiral}}'' tends to get dropped into this role, and if she isn't, Kousuke is. Hiyo-Hiyo is reasonably clever, and Kou-chan even more so, but that doesn't say much when the entire main cast is made up of child prodigies.
* Rick Wheeler/Ryu Suzaku in ''Anime/FZeroLegendOfFalcon''. (You know this show as the one that [[AscendedMeme Ascended]] '''[[MemeticMutation "FALCON PUUUUUUUNCH!!!"]]''')
* Normally intelligent Chachamaru in ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' was always and entirely uninformed of any fighting style during the Mahora Tournament. Giving us [[MrExposition Explainer]] Goutokuji for this portion of the series. Normally Asuna, Nodoka, Konoka, and Chisame serve this purpose. Yue bounces between this and MrExposition depending on where in the series you are. When it comes to fighting Negi takes this role, giving the big Exposition talk to Kaede (Ninja), Ku Fei (Kung Fu Master), Kotaro (Dog Demon Brawler Ninja), or Evangaline (Really Old Vampire).
* Despite being from the same magical world as everyone else, Gourry from ''LightNovel/{{Slayers}}'' was enough of an idiot to have to ask questions about what the other characters would consider basic, everyday facts, giving them a reason to explain the rules and mythology of their world.
** In the original {{Light Novel}}s the anime is based off of, protagonist Lina herself is the [[FirstPersonSmartass narrator]] and Gourry, while still uninformed, is no where near as idiotic.
* The titular character of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' frequently had to play this role early on, being a shining example of BookDumb. It's almost mystifying that ten episodes in you'll probably know more about the geography, FunctionalMagic, and infrastructure of the story's world than he did ''when he graduated''. [[note]] This is likely why he failed to graduated so many times. [[/note]]
* Akari from ''Manga/{{ARIA}}'' has some of this. Alicia could have picked a local girl for an apprentice, but instead she chose someone who needs a lot of explanations about the planet she moved to--which then of course raises the question why Akari didn't read a travel guide beforehand.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan'': Depending on the case, and which characters are present at the time, any number of characters will play Watson to Conan's Holmes... Ai, the Detective Boys, Ran, the cops, Eri, Jodie, etc. Conan pretends to be The Watson to Kogoro (the only ''professional'' detective in the series), even though he is invariably the one solving his cases for him.
** On the evil side, Vodka plays Watson to Gin. Since Gin is both smarter and higher-ranked than his partner, he often has to explain his plans and the Organization's to Vodka and thereby the audience.
* Kuwabara from ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' is the guy who asks the questions so that Hiei and Kurama can avoid having to use AsYouKnow when being MrExposition. When he got PutOnABus in the final season to pursue a higher education, the anime attempted to spread this role out amongst the other characters; it didn't work out too well.
* Elsee in ''Manga/TheWorldGodOnlyKnows'' is often asking why Keima is doing what he is doing. The explanations, however, are not always comprehensible (and are often funny because of that).
* Roji tends to play this role in ''Manga/MuhyoAndRoji'', often about the workings of magical law or Muhyo's past. Other times, the clients ask the questions.
* Kotori Mizuki of ''Anime/YuGiOhZEXAL'' is this in regards to the card game.
* Nonoha in ''Anime/PhiBrainPuzzleOfGod'' serves this role as the rest of the main cast are puzzle-solving geniuses, so she gets to stand in for the audience and ask any questions needed about the various puzzles they are confronted with.
* In ''Manga/{{Bakuman}}'', Takagi served this role in the first volume, asking Mashiro about how the manga industry worked (Mashiro happened to have a mangaka uncle). Later on, Miyoshi filled this role as the characters became more familiar with the industry.
* Mahiro Yasaka from ''LightNovel/HaiyoreNyarkoSan'' gets to play an odd combination of Watson and MrExposition thanks to his unique position in the story. As an OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent, he needs explanations about the aliens he and Nyarko encounter; however, as a fan of the Franchise/CthulhuMythos, he can exposit a little about what said alien is within the context of Lovecraft's works once Nyarko has given him a name to work with.
* Jigen serves this role to Lupin during ''Anime/LupinIIIDeadOrAlive''. It's as if Jigen was waiting until the two are actually trying to steal the national treasury before he learned what was going on. Considering his laid-back personality, that may be exactly what happened.
* Stephanie Dora from ''LightNovel/NoGameNoLife'' assists the audience in understanding Sora and Shiro's complicated game strategies. She actually has an at least average intellect but appears rather dumb in comparison to 『  』.
* ''VisualNovel/AoNoKanataFourRhythm'': Kurashina, who has dreamt for years of flying, enrolled at a school where everyone has [[ArtificialGravity flying shoes]], yet has never heard of them before. This is graduate-level cluelessness, so everything gets explained to the audience through her.
* ''Manga/ThePromisedNeverland'' has three protagonists, Norman, Ray and Emma. The latter is usually the one who has to be explained the plans the first two come up with to prepare their escape from their PeopleFarm. She's supposed to be one of the smartest kids in the orphanage, but is still a bit behind the other two when it comes to analysis power.
* In ''Manga/DrStone'', the stone world villagers ScienceHero Senkuu meet all play this role to varying degrees when he starts talking about the things he wants to accomplish by bringing technology back to the world. Of these characters, Chrome has the most knowledge ahead of time because of his own experiments but still needs the more advanced principles and applications of science explained to him.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Comicbook/{{Robin}}, and to a lesser extent Alfred tend to play this role to ''Franchise/{{Batman}}''. This is even part of the reason Robin was created. According to Robin's creator Bill Finger:
-->Robin was an outgrowth of a conversation I had with Bob. As I said, Batman was a combination of Douglas Fairbanks and Sherlock Holmes. Holmes had his Watson. The thing that bothered me was that Batman didn't have anyone to talk to, and it got a little tiresome always having him thinking. I found that as I went along Batman needed a Watson to talk to. That's how Robin came to be.
* Rick Jones of various Creator/MarvelComics sidekick roles. Though sometimes his leading Hero would be the Sherlock, sometimes various experts would be the Sherlock, but most commonly after getting captured, MrExposition would be [[JustBetweenYouAndMe the one who was supposed to be interrogating]] ''him''.
* Crispus Allen plays the Watson in the early issues of ''ComicBook/GothamCentral'', and occasionally later on. As a transferred officer from Metropolis, Allen did not have extensive experience with the "freaks" (supervillains) of Gotham City, so other characters would explain their means and methods to him, [[MrExposition simultaneously infoming the audience as well]]. This particular facet of his character was dropped after a few issues, when he already had his own personal experiences with the [[RoguesGallery rogues]] of the city, but he would later serve as the Watson on more complex issues when characters needed to highlight personal and societal points about Gotham City itself, such as the reason why Franchise/{{Batman}} is important to Gotham for more than just the crimes he stops.
* Once she learned his secret identity, [[SpiderMan Peter Parker's]] [[ComicBook/OneMoreDay wife]], Mary Jane Watson occasionally served this role for him, asking him things about the superhero business. One of the best examples of her being used in this fashion was in the story ''Hobgoblin Lives!'' where Peter had to fill her in on the background for the story (since the stories it happened in were written ''years'' ago) and she asked the simple question that led to a plot breakthrough. And yes, we are aware the [[IncrediblyLamePun Incredibly Lame]] StealthPun at work here.
* In ''Comicbook/DoctorStrange: The Oath'', Night Nurse is along for the adventure at her own insistence (Strange has been wounded and she is a physician). Strange's assistant Wong is also present as a sort of minor Holmes/experienced Watson, answering some questions and asking others.
* ''ComicBook/UsagiYojimbo'': Inspector Nii sometimes serves as this to Ishida, who needs to explain the situation. Other times he explains if to Usagi or a superior.
* In Marvel's comedic spoof, ''What... Huh?'', one issue parodying ''ComicBook/XMen'' has the Cyclops-expy explain this as being Rimshot (Longshot expy)'s role in the team.
-->''As the newest team-member, Rimshot has the right to ask stupid questions. At the very least, it gives him something to do.''

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/{{Luminosity}}'', Bella sets up some scientific experiments to prove that the Cullens are really vampires...and once she's convinced she's just fascinated with the fact that they ''exist'' and generally tries to learn more. About everything.
* In ''FanFic/TheTaintedGrimoire'' Luso, and to a lesser extent Hurdy, get things they don't know about explained to them by other characters.
* In the ''FanFic/TamersForeverSeries'', DC fills this role around Gabrielle during ''Silent Sorrow''.
* ''WebAnimation/TurnaboutStorm'': [[Franchise/AceAttorney Phoenix]] plays this role everytime [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Equestria]] and its workings get involved or are discussed. As a character from a mostly realistic setting, he casts doubt on and asks the same things viewers unfamiliar with the ''Friendship is Magic'' series would.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* WordOfGod says that [[CanonForeigner Wybie]] was added to the ''WesternAnimation/{{Coraline}}'' [[FilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] because, unlike [[{{Literature/Coraline}} the book]], a movie can only exposit through spoken words; they just didn't want [[PluckyGirl Coraline]] to be wandering around talking to herself. It works both ways, since Wybie provides her with exposition about the house and the disappeared children. Also, the fans love him because he's {{Adorkable}} and the two kids have moments of ShipTease.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The narrator of ''Film/DasBoot'' is a NaiveNewcomer who has naval experience on surface ships but this is his first voyage on a submarine. He's on board as a journalist, thus it's his job to be inquisitive about everything, and pass on his knowledge. He has the crew and officers sometimes pause to explain what they're doing to him but he often has to figure it out by observation.
* Jack Ryan in ''Film/TheHuntForRedOctober'' plays TheWatson for all the submarine action, letting the boat captains play MrExposition. Similarly, Seaman Beaumont plays TheWatson for sonar terms, letting Sonar Technician Jones explain everything.
* In the DVD commentary for ''Film/{{Ghostbusters 1984}}'', Ivan Reitman says the character of Winston Zeddmore was intended to serve this purpose.
* Marty [=McFly=] fills this role from time to time in ''Franchise/BackToTheFuture'' trilogy, so Doc can explain some of the time travel mechanics.
* Massively subverted by Donnie in ''Film/TheBigLebowski'', who is utterly LockedOutOfTheLoop.
-->Forget it, Donnie, you're out of your element!
* In the movie ''Film/FantasticVoyage'', and in the Creator/IsaacAsimov [[Literature/FantasticVoyage novelization]], TheWatson is secret agent and former combat swimmer Charles Grant. Asimov's version makes him a bit less of a dunce; on occasion, Grant can actually figure something out from his general knowledge of human anatomy, instead of needing the knowledge spoonfed to him.
%%* The ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'' series has one of them for every film:
%%** ''Film/TheTerminator'': Sarah Connor
%%** ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay'': John Connor
%%** ''Film/Terminator3RiseOfTheMachines'': Kate Brewster
%%** ''Film/TerminatorSalvation'': Marcus
%%** ''Film/TerminatorGenisys'': Judging from the trailers, it's now Kyle Reese, with Sarah as ''his'' Sherlock.
* ''Franchise/SherlockHolmes''
** Averted by Watson from ''Film/SherlockHolmes2009''. He is less Watson-y than Watsons from almost any other adaptation and shows intuitive and deductive skills which he picked up from his time working with Holmes. This is truer to the original Watson: a skilled and intelligent medical practitioner, decorated war veteran, and good man in a brawl.
*** In ''Film/SherlockHolmesAGameOfShadows, [[spoiler:he and Simza save the day with deduction and quick thinking while Sherlock and Moriarty are having their little scuffles outside.]]
** On the other hand, Nigel Bruce pretty much created the "Bumbling Watson" stereotype when he was teamed with Creator/BasilRathbone's sharp and decisive Holmes in 1940s film and radio. Even so, in the radio series Bruce's Watson was given a few occasions to explicitly show that, while he was a lousy detective, he was an extremely competent doctor, able to diagnose medical problems as quickly and easily as Holmes could deduce anything else.
* John Myers in the first ''Film/{{Hellboy}}'' movie, especially since no such character exists in the [[ComicBook/{{Hellboy}} comics]].
* ''Men in Black''
** James Edwards/Jay in ''Film/MenInBlack'', who's new to the [=MiB=] organization.
** In the [[Film/MenInBlackII second film]], [[TheMentor Kay]] fulfilled this role, having had his memory wiped and thereby needing reminding about the various duties and technologies of MIB.
* Dr. Karen Jenson in the first ''Film/{{Blade}}'' film. She's left out of the remaining series because there's no need for her anymore.
* In ''Film/{{Amadeus}}'', the priest to whom Salieri tells his story.
* Vittoria Vetra in the film adaptation of ''Film/AngelsAndDemons''. Thanks to editing for time constraints, it's pretty much all she's there for.
* Ariadne in ''Film/{{Inception}}''. She asks the questions about inception and extraction that the viewer would be asking. Saito is also this to some extent, at least in the beginning of the film.
* ''Film/{{Apollo 13}}'': Jim Lovell's youngest son, Jeffrey, asks his father about his upcoming mission, i.e. how long it'll take to get to the moon and the function of the lunar module. Jim also explains what went wrong in the Apollo 1 disaster, briefly depicted in the beginning of the movie.
* ''Film/{{Thor}}'s'' Darcy asks genius astrophysicists Jane and Erik to translate their {{Technobabble}}. A role enthusiastically taken up by ComicBook/CaptainAmerica, who has no scientific background and hasn't seen technology since the forties, in ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'' for [[ComicBook/IronMan Tony Stark]] and [[TheIncredibleHulk Bruce Banner]], who use their scientific expertise to hunt down the BigBad.
%%* Staff Sergeant Lyman in ''Film/X2XMenUnited''.
* Caleb from ''Film/ExMachina''. He often asks the same kind of questions the audience is thinking of so that Nathan can provide the exposition.
* Jacob Kowalski in ''Film/FantasticBeastsAndWhereToFindThem'' serves this role, being a {{Muggle}} ([[SeparatedByACommonLanguage or No-Maj, as they're called in America]]) and therefore needing to have various aspects of the magical world explained to him by the wizards he accompanies, especially those not previously explored in the ''Film/HarryPotter'' films.
* ''Film/TheExMrsBradford'': Paula is the female variant that plays a bigger role than the usual Watson, but she asks most of the questions.

* The trope namer is Dr. John Watson, the narrator from the ''Franchise/SherlockHolmes'' stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, who often asks the title character to explain his baffling logical leaps. Holmes then explains the logic used in solving the case, allowing the author to describe the finer points of the story without disrupting the narrative flow. Unlike the character found in some lesser adaptations, Watson is not a chubby dullard, but a very intelligent and bold man who occasionally contributes his own observations to cases, though he is not always completely correct. Holmes often makes use of Watson's medical knowledge and fresh perspective to keep his deductions sharp. In ''A Study In Scarlet'', a puzzled Watson rattles off all the unanswered questions about the case, and Holmes commends him for pointing out the main difficulties. It's implied that Holmes is glad to have someone who he can fruitfully discuss the case with, which is more than can be said for [[PoliceAreUseless Inspectors Lestrade and Gregson]]. Holmes even acknowledges Watson's importance in providing him with critical insights, saying, "...you are not yourself luminous, but as a conductor of light, you are unparalleled!"
** In a few comments and the stories written from Holmes' own perspective, it's revealed that Watson intentionally leaves elements he noticed himself out of the stories just to make the reveal at the end more surprising to the reader, a practice that greatly annoyed Holmes.
** In fact, Watson often ''doesn't'' act very much as The Watson (i.e., asking Holmes to explain what's going on throughout the plot) because Holmes usually dislikes explaining his reasoning as he goes--the stories' mystery often hinges on the fact that we (and Watson) have no idea what's going on in Holmes's head. Watson usually either a) picks up on it himself and explains it to the readers via narration or b) wryly notes that Holmes is loathe to explain his conclusions until he's sure he's right, and just follows along patiently waiting for him to solve the puzzle. The "Watson" trope is most likely derived from film adaptations, where Watson's narration in the books understandably needed to be replaced with dialogue, or from the books' various famous prelude scenes in which Holmes drops some near-telepathically-accurate deduction about Watson's personal affairs out of the blue, and an astonished Watson asks him to explain how the hell he knew that. And even that is becoming something of a DiscreditedTrope in modern adaptations. ''Series/{{Elementary}}'', for example, eventually makes Waston Holmes' ''apprentice'', and she becomes an investigator at or near his level, to the point where [[spoiler:Moriarty considers Watson her second WorthyOpponent. Because Watson beat her.]]
* Captain Hastings in several of Creator/AgathaChristie's Literature/HerculePoirot stories, on the other hand, was most definitely The Watson--in fact, he resembled the [[{{Flanderization}} flanderized]] Watson more than the original Watson did. The context of the page quote is that Poirot is refuting Hastings' belief that he has learned a lot from him, as he doesn't want or need Hastings to be a second-rate Poirot. (This is a contrast with the numerous occasions that Watson does correctly deduce something using Holmes' methods, or figures out the source of a deduction Holmes made a moment earlier.) He readily {{lampshaded}} this fact too, calling himself "the humble Watson" in jest.
** Dr. Sheppard fulfills this role in ''Literature/{{The Murder of Roger Ackroyd}}'' when [[Literature/HerculePoirot Poirot]] is on a BusmansHoliday. [[spoiler: However, it turns out he's the killer.]]
* Literature/ErastFandorin is basically a Russian Sherlock Holmes with a large dose of Franchise/JamesBond added in, but in only one book of the 14-novel (so far) series does Fandorin have a Watson. In ''Literature/SpecialAssignments'' he takes on as a protege Anisii Tulipov, a rookie cop who is brave and good-hearted but by no means an expert in deduction. Tulipov has to have pretty much everything explained to him by Fandorin all the time.
* Most stories about a {{Utopia}}, particularly those written before the mid-twentieth century, tend to feature a lead character who is a Watson combined with a NaiveNewcomer. The plot generally consisted of the Watson being led around the utopia asking questions about how it works. The ExpositionFairy who lived in the utopia would then explain how the utopia worked in exhaustive detail. Really poorly thought out utopian novels ''did not'' combine this trope with the NaiveNewcomer and hence had the ExpositionFairy tell TheWatson things they already knew for no apparent reason. Generally declined in usage after modern exposition techniques (i.e. "ShowDontTell") were developed. Examples include Julian West from ''Literature/LookingBackward'' by Edward Bellamy, Guest from ''Literature/NewsFromNowhere'' by Creator/WilliamMorris, and the Botanist from ''A Modern Utopia'' by Creator/HGWells. An example of a Watson who ''isn't'' combined with the NaiveNewcomer is Alice from ''Ralph 124C 41+'' by Hugo Gernsback.
* In the ''Literature/AubreyMaturin'' series, Stephen Maturin acts as a Watson in all matters nautical, conveniently (for the reader) refusing to learn to tell one sail from another however long he lives on a ship.
* Often, the limitations or rules of Literature/{{Deryni}} magic are explained in answers to questions posed by characters who are ordinary humans or otherwise inexperienced:
** As the coronation duel unfolds in ''Deryni Rising'', Nigel fires a series of anxious questions at Morgan and Duncan. Nigel is particularly disturbed at the tactical "mistake" of giving Charissa the first blow, but [[MrExposition Duncan explains]] that [[DoubleStandard allowing a woman the first blow, even if she issues the challenge, is one of the rules]].
** The younger Kelson, especially in the first year or so of his reign, was tempted to use his powers directly against the archbishops (Loris and Corrigan) who were undermining his government by persecuting Deryni generally and Morgan in particular. Morgan and Duncan must remind him (and the audience) why such a direct to route towards conflict resolution is no solution.
** Derry asks key questions about the distance and using the spell when Morgan teaches him to join in long-distance rapport for his first reconnaissance trip in ''Deryni Checkmate''.
** Early in ''The Bishop's Heir'', Dhugal is present when Kelson uses his powers to question a sleeping Caulay [=McArdry=], and more questions follow when Kelson breaks off to answer Morgan's distant Call and needs Dhugal's help to establish so distant a mental contact.
** Kelson reverts to being the questioner when working with Prince Azim Hur Hallaj to prepare for his role as a Moving Ward for Liam's killijálay in ''King Kelson's Bride''.
* In Umberto Eco's ''Literature/TheNameOfTheRose'', Adso (the narrator) is the assistant of a Medieval detective named William of Baskerville, and inquires into the latter's deduction methods as the reader would. [[MeaningfulName Unsurprisingly]], both characters were inspired by Watson and Sherlock Holmes.
* ''Franchise/StarWarsLegends'':
** In ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'' Captain Pellaeon serves as the villainous ([[AffablyEvil somewhat]]) Watson to Grand Admiral Thrawn. He's also the best possible versions of CommanderContrarian and a protege.
** Definitely a protege. In the [[Literature/HandOfThrawn later duology]], he may not reach Thrawn-levels of skill, but his tactical sense and intuition have clearly been honed.
** Interestingly enough, official artwork shows that he actually ''[[http://images.wikia.com/starwars/images/6/69/PellaeonYVW.jpg looks]]'' kind of like Watson--or at least the Watson played by [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBI_5Rzf1aI Edward Hardwicke.]] Which rather fits, as it's easy to imagine Jeremy Brett with blue skin and glowing red eyes as Thrawn.
* In the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series, Haven's [[ReignOfTerror Committee for Public Safety]] stations a PoliticalOfficer on each ship to watch over (a.k.a. second guess) naval officers. They play a darker version of this trope because captains often have to explain and justify their decisions to people with no military training while avoiding any appearance of disloyalty to a regime that [[YouHaveFailedMe executes captains to fail to carry out their orders]] [[DisproportionateRetribution and their whole families]].
* Literature/InheritanceCycle: Eragon is always asking questions, [[LampshadeHanging to the point where a description of him one character gives to another includes "always asking questions"]].
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'':
** Ron is constantly making suggestions, forcing Hermione to sigh and explain that, if only he'd read ''[[GreatBigBookOfEverything Hogwarts: A History]]'', he'd understand why it's impossible to... Creator/JKRowling said she would never have Harry or Ron read ''Hogwarts: A History'' because it was too useful an expository device. This even gets a {{Lampshade}}; Hermione asks if they're ever going to read the book, and Ron says "Why? We can just ask you."
** Harry is just as much of a Watson as Ron, albeit one who serves a different purpose. Having grown up with Muggles, there's a lot he doesn't know that people who grew up in the wizarding world would take for granted (Quidditch? What's that, some kind of illness?). Ironically, it's often Ron who gets to be Mr. Exposition in those situations, since unlike Hermione, he grew up in the wizarding world, and is therefore the only one of the main trio to have that sort of knowledge.
** EVERYBODY is this trope for [[TheChessmaster Albus Dumbledore]]. There's a [[InfoDump "Dumbledore Explains It All" scene]] at the end of every book, except the sixth when it's not at the end. There's even one of those scenes in [[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows the last book]], [[spoiler:''[[SpiritAdvisor even though Dumbledore's dead at the time.]]'']]
** A minor example is [[CameraFiend Colin]] in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheChamberOfSecrets''--his opening scene is spent following Harry around asking him questions, allowing him to briefly explain Quidditch rules to anyone who didn't read the first book.
* Literature/TomSwift generally has one of these on hand. In the [[http://Literature/TomSwift.bobfinnan.com/ts2.htm "Tom Swift, Jr."]] series of books published in the 1950s, it was Bud Barclay. The RecycledINSPACE! series which followed in the early 1980s had Benjamin Franklin Walking Eagle. One ContinuityReboot later, TheWatson was Rick "test to destruction!" Cantwell.
* Archie Goodwin, Watson to Literature/NeroWolfe's Holmes. Archie is a capable detective in his own right, and would frequently figure out the murderer just as Wolfe does. Since he writes his "reports" for an audience, however, he usually doesn't let the reader in on it until Wolfe explains the mystery.
** Like Watson, Archie frequently gets [[{{Flanderization}} flanderized]] into a dull-witted womanizer in adaptations, with only his outstanding memory being kept.
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's ''Literature/ConanTheBarbarian'' story "Literature/BeyondTheBlackRiver," Balthus. Conan repeatedly explains his acts, both how and why, to him.
* Both played straight and parodied/heavily lampshaded in Creator/AAMilne's ''The Red House Mystery'', where the AmateurSleuth Anthony outright asks his friend Bill to play Watson to his Holmes, specifically defining Bill's role as asking stupid questions and needing even the most obvious things explained to him. And indeed, this is what Bill does -- but half the time he's asking the questions because Anthony tells him to rather than because he's actually incapable of figuring out the answers, and sometimes he gets fed up with his friend's Sherlockian pretensions.
* In the ''Literature/SimonArk'' short stories, Simon's publisher (who is also the narrator of the stories) fills this role.
* A variety of characters fill this role for Horne Fisher, the central character of Creator/GKChesterton's ''The Man Who Knew Too Much''.
* The naive but pure-hearted Ten Ox plays this role to the cunning and knowledgeable sage Li Kao in ''Literature/BridgeOfBirds''. There's actually an early draft of the book that reveals the author had originally intended for Li Kao to be the narrator and Ten Ox to be only a peripheral character. Comparing this draft with the final product shows just how much the promotion of Ten Ox to this character role (and the addition of many plot elements) improved the book; for one thing, Li Kao's narration of his life story isn't quite as effective when he tells it in a drunken ramble to a skull in a pool as when he tells it to Ten Ox to assure him that he's not going to give up in his quest to heal the ill children of Ten Ox's village.
* Detective Sergeant Mary Mary in the ''Literature/NurseryCrime'' novels is a pastiche of the trope in British detective drama. Coming from outside the area she's somewhat GenreBlind to the mixture of detective and nursery rhyme tropes that dominate Reading, so DI Spratt has to clue her in on this as well as explaining the case to her.
* Peter plays this role in ''Literature/PeterAndTheStarcatchers''. There's a whole chapter where Molly has to give him a long CharacterFilibuster to explain the history of the Starcatchers.
* [[Literature/JeevesAndWooster Bertie Wooster]] sometimes has to grill Jeeves at great length to figure out what, exactly, is going on. Creator/PGWodehouse was a big ''Franchise/SherlockHolmes'' fan and occasionally threw in a reference to the characters.
* Sister Fidelma, Irish nun and law official in the books by Peter Tremayne, has the Saxon monk Brother Eadulf, later her husband (which was allowed in the Celtic Church). In some of the stories where Eadulf doesn't appear, Abbot Laisran serves the role, creating an interesting dynamic since he's her superior in the church, but not in the courts.
* In the ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' novel ''Literature/TestOfMetal'', Doctor Jest often serves this purpose, giving Tezzeret someone to converse with and explain things to when the story demands it.
* Many [[{{UsefulNotes/Buddhism}} Buddhist]] sutras are framed as a dialog with a disciple, usually Sariputta, asking Siddhartha questions that were or would be asked by others trying to understand.
* In David Pirie's Creator/ArthurConanDoyle / Joseph Bell mysteries, Doyle plays TheWatson to Bell's Franchise/SherlockHolmes. However, this is also a subversion: Doyle is not less intelligent than Bell, just decades younger, and their working relationship is often TeethClenchedTeamwork instead of friendly.
* The first book of ''Literature/AnnalsOfTheWesternShore'', ''Gifts'', has Emmon the lowlander asking Orrec and Gry about the titular "gifts" of the Upland domains, which allows them to tell the audience about them and how they shape society.
* ''[[Literature/AMagesPower A Mage's Power]]'': Eric starts off as this trope, asking questions to inform the reader because he's new to the world of Tariatla. Then he spends nine days in a library and doesn't have to after that. At that point, he will recall stuff he'd learned at times where he would otherwise ask.
* In ''Literature/TanteiTeamKZJikenNote'', this is Aya's role when the KZ investigates. Her verbal abilities isn't the most useful in investigations, so her main role is to make detailed records in the eponymous case notebook.
* Journalist Hutchinson Hatch serves this role in ''Literature/TheThinkingMachine'' stories; giving Van Dusen someone to explain his brilliance to. In the radio adaptations, his role is expanded and he becomes the narrator of the stories, much like the original Watson.
* In ''Literature/TheDivineComedy'', the author writes himself into the story as an observer unfamiliar with the reality of the afterlives, putting him in the position to ask theological and moral questions that Virgil or Beatrice can answer. He also fits the trope by being the narrator of the story who is largely secondary to the plot, since the author can only get through Hell due to the holy protection of Beatrice.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'': Gunn and Fred juggle between this role, with Gunn showing irritation whenever he meets another vampire he's not allowed to kill.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Ros's function, particularly during the first season (besides being MsFanservice), is to receive exposition. She was apparently created for the show to avoid "AsYouKnow..." conversations.
* In ''Series/{{Monk}}'', Sharona Fleming (season 1-season 3) and Natalie Teeger (season 3-8) are this to Adrian Monk.
* In ''Series/MagnumPI'', Magnum had an annoying friend named Rick. His function in the series was to serve as a sort of surrogate for the audience on the more outrageous story points. He was always protesting, "C'mon, Magnum..." as in, "C'mon, Magnum, there's no way those crooks would trust us with $7 million in gold coins. It's ludicrous." (And this is exactly what the audience was thinking at that point.) Magnum would then calmly explain to Rick just exactly why the crooks would, indeed, hand over $7 million in gold. Rick would be convinced, and in theory, the audience protests would have been addressed as well.
** This page was, it should be noted, once named The Rick.
* The classic (1963-1989) series of ''Series/DoctorWho'' featured countless characters that filled this role. The female companions evolved as the series went on, tending more towards the ActionGirl; the last before the series was cancelled was Ace, a punk-rock teen who loved explosives and was willing to rush at a Dalek with a baseball bat if she saw one.
** In one ep (just after he's 'lost' another one), the Doctor starts babbling to thin air, and then stops cause he realizes no one's listening.
** Interestingly enough, for the classic Who TV serial [[Recap/DoctorWhoS14E6TheTalonsOfWengChiang The Talons of Weng-Chiang]], this role is NOT played by the companion Leela. As [[http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/doctor-who-classic-the-talons-of-weng-chiang-63742 the AV Club]] noted, the side-characters Jago and Litefoot fulfill the story's role of Watson - Jago behaves as the traditional film depiction of Watson being a pompous, boisterous, easily puzzled sleaze while Litefoot behaves as literature's Watson being a quiet, calm, observant gentleman.
** The serial ''Recap/DoctorWhoS14E3TheDeadlyAssassin'' is the only one in the classic series to feature no companion, and was done to show Tom Baker that one was needed, since there was no Watson to act as audience surrogate to explain the plot to.
** Funnily enough, Sarah Jane herself gets her own Watsons in ''Series/TheSarahJaneAdventures'', in the form of Maria, Luke and Clyde (and later Rani). In this show it's the boys, and not Maria, who tend to get captured more often... though they are still savvy enough to get themselves out of it too.
** In the newer episodes of ''Series/DoctorWho'', the Doctor himself is often TheWatson, asking the natives of whatever time and place he's landed in [[WhatYearIsThis what's going on]] and [[ArmorPiercingQuestion why they're doing what they're doing]].
** Parodied in the Music/MitchBenn song [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1QgCx1CIaQ "Be My Doctor Who Girl":]]
---> Be my Doctor Who girl, follow me a lot\\
Ask me heaps of questions\\
So I can explain the plot
* Gwen gets to fill this role on ''Series/{{Torchwood}}''.
* On ''Series/{{House}}'' the role of House's Watson is played by ''every single character''. One memorable example had House saying his staff's diagnosis was wrong, because they weren't wearing the right shoes--if the diagnosis was right, they'd all already be at a bowling alley.
** Since Gregory House is heavily based on Franchise/SherlockHolmes, James Wilson is the main analogue to John Watson.
** Once when House was separated from his regular Watsons, he drafted three random travelers and a janitor to serve as Watsons in a pinch. The janitor suggested [[MemeticMutation Lupus]] as a possible diagnosis.
* Every single character in every single episode of every single ''Series/{{CSI}}'' can be the Watson. They find some rash or bacteria or wound or something on the corpse and then go on explaining what that means to the nearest character. Since that character is [[AsYouKnow supposed to know that stuff as well]], the whole dialogue turns into a circus of finishing sentences for the other character.
** In Grissom's last episode, Hodges says he's Watson to Grissom's Holmes. Grissom reminds him that Watson was a genius in his own right.
* The [[TheDitz ditzy]] lab assistant in the "Science Fiction Sketch" on ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' is very much a parody of the type; she exists simply to look pretty and have Graham Chapman's character explain the plot to her. He eventually becomes so frustrated with her stupidity that he knocks her out and explains the plot to himself instead.
* Gus from ''Series/{{Psych}}'', one of the few characters in on the {{Masquerade}}, whose fair intelligence and relative lack of observancy make him just short of an {{Expy}} of Watson himself. The gap between his character and Expy status closes even further when you consider how often his pharmaceutical knowledge (an update of Watson's medical training) plays into solving cases.
* In ''Series/RedDwarf'', the Cat, Lister and Rimmer tend to share Watson duties, with Holly and Kryten acting as MrExposition. This becomes extreme in the scene explaining the stasis leak, where Cat has to ask "What is it?" four times to get simpler and simpler explanations.
* In ''Series/{{Lost}}'', it's Hurley. Officially; it was lampshaded by the executive producers in a podcast.
* Clark Kent from ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' fits this in that he's usually the one giving Chloe an opportunity to rattle off a short explanation of whatever clever trick she came up with. He usually wears his [[FanNickname Big Dumb Alien]][[TradeSnark ™]] expression to complete the cliche of Watson being a bit slow.
* Applies to Maddy, Carla and now Joey in ''Series/JonathanCreek''.
* Whenever somebody in ''Series/StargateUniverse'' explains something about how the Stargates function, they're explaining it to Eli. He's by far the least experienced of the bunch, though arguably more intelligent than most of the people explaining stuff to him.
** Jack O'Neill of ''Series/StargateSG1'' was the same. While a ColonelBadass and good leader, he'll still have to ask the two geniuses or the alien about whatever bit of AppliedPhlebotinum is about. Whether or not he was portrayed as ''generally'' unintelligent, or merely needing to leave [[RememberWhenYouBlewUpASun blowing up suns]] to Samantha Carter, wavered. Seldom if ever did Jack O'Neill fail to grasp what was going on. He was just a huge fan of ObfuscatingStupidity and had little patience for TechnoBabble.
* The core cast of ''Series/{{Lexx}}'' had a pretty clear division between Holmeses and Watsons. Kai was 2000 years old with thousands of strangers' lifetimes in his memory, 790 was a robot with knowledge of every sector in the universe (and wireless internet directly to his brain), and Stan and Xev were illiterate fugitives from a world where humans lived in boxes and were taught nothing more than needed to do their jobs. They not only needed explanations for PolarityReversal and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_lifting star lifting]], but also for concepts like ''books.''
--> '''Kai''': Books contain useful information... sometimes. And interesting stories... less often.
* Illya Kuryakin played TheWatson at the climax of the third season ''Series/TheManFromUNCLE'' episode "The Five Daughters Affair, Part II":
-->[''THRUSH operative Randolph, having gotten Dr. Simon True's seawater-to-gold extraction formula away from U.N.C.L.E., is gloating before Solo and Kuryakin'']
-->'''Randolph''': Imagine, tons of gold, tons! Pouring into our storage vats. [''Kuryakin raises his hand''] Yes?
-->'''Illya Kuryakin''': Won't this Midas-land master plan defeat its own object? [[WorthlessYellowRocks With gold as plentiful as dust, won't it lose its value]]?
-->'''Randolph''': We will control its rate of release, don't you worry.
-->'''Napoleon Solo''': We won't.
* Wallace Fennel is the Watson to ''Series/VeronicaMars'', especially at the start of season 1, since he is new to Neptune.
* Donna usually played this role in ''Series/TheWestWing'', at least in the early years. Her job was to badger Josh with all the questions the audience was asking, "But Josh, why is policy x important?" "Josh, why should we loan Mexico millions?" In the later seasons she received CharacterDevelopment and moved beyond this role, occasionally needing her own Watson.
** In scenes involving the military and the Situation Room, President Bartlet would often serve this role. While hardly the everyman, it was frequently discussed how he had had no military experience prior to taking office, and so would frequently need his military advisors to explain things to him (and consequently the audience).
* Booth to Brennan in ''Series/{{Bones}}'', though it could argued that they really ping-pong the role between them depending whether they're dealing with the forensic or detective aspect of the investigation. But when you consider Booth's past as a soldier in the Middle East and the fact that Brennan is a doctor consulting to law enforcement you can clearly see their fictional lineage. The Squints are unquestionably the Baker Street Irregulars.
* The police with whom the BAU team up in ''Series/CriminalMinds'' often serve this purpose. Each episode has a scene where the team deliver a profile explaining the killer's psychology to the police, and thus also to the audience.
** Occasionally subverted when the cops grab the wrong end of the stick and completely misunderstand the profile, or think about it and realize it applies to half the local population.
* On ''Series/TheATeam'', Face was usually this to Hannibal when he explained that episode's plan, bringing up potential snags and problems that they could run into, but Murdock, B. A., and/or (in the early seasons) [[TheChick Amy or Tawnia]] could fill this role instead or simultaneously.
* In ''Series/PrisonBreak'', Sucre was TheWatson to Michael during the first season. Lampshaded by the actor, who commented on how his main role in the plot was to ask Michael "what are you doing?" or "what do we do next?" In later seasons, this role would fall to whoever happened to be with Michael at the time, such as Lincoln and Sara. Mahone also had his own Watson during season 2, but since Mahone was a baddie at the time, it didn't quite play out the same way.
* Tori Vega in ''Series/{{Victorious}}'', as a NewTransferStudent who is a talented musician but untrained, is this with her asking questions that the rest of the cast can then explain what certain theatrical or musical plot relevant terms mean in case the audience don't know.
* Teresa Lisbon to Patrick Jane in ''Series/TheMentalist''.
* In ''Series/{{Eureka}}'', [[TheSheriff Jack Carter]] is the Watson to most of the other characters in rapid succession so they can all have a go at explaining the [[MonsterOfTheWeek current threat]] and science behind the [[AppliedPhlebotinum solution]].
* Daphne played this sort of role in ''Series/{{Frasier}}'', asking the Cranes to explain what the hell they were talking about whenever they got involved in something pertaining to their younger years or family affairs (which was many, many episodes). This was so the Cranes would have a legitimate reason to tell a hasty expository story that they all already were clear on about their past so the audience knew what the problem they had this time was. Roz occasionally fulfilled this role too.
* On the BBC modernisation of the TropeNamer, ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'', this role is filled by Doctor John Wat-[{{Beat}}] [[CaptainObvious Ah. Right.]] He didn't replace a head of cabbage though, [[spoiler:he replaced a skull]].
-->'''John:''' ''How''--[[LampshadeHanging Oh, never mind]].
** This mean-spirited bit of dialogue from "[[Recap/SherlockS03E03HisLastVow His Last Vow]]" sums it up:
--->'''John Watson:''' I don't understand.\\
'''Villain of the Week:''' You should put that on a t-shirt. ''[continues to explain]''
*** Notably, ''exactly the same joke'' is made by [[Franchise/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox about Arthur Dent]], who has [[ActorAllusion also been played by Martin Freeman]].
** As for his competence in everything not relating to asking Holmes about something, consider a scene in A Scandal in Belgravia: There is a fight going on. The combatants are a bunch of mooks versus Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, Irene Adler, dominatrix, and John Watson, ex-soldier. Of the three, who does not down an opponent? Yeah...
* Every UK detective drama features a stolid Detective Sergeant or Constable who the Detective Inspector can explain things to.
** Series/InspectorMorse had Sergeant Lewis, then Inspector Series/{{Lewis}} had Sergeant Hathaway.
** DCI Jim ''{{Series/Taggart}}'' had DS Michael Jardine and DS Jackie Reid, then DCI Jardine had DS Reid and DC Stuart Fraser. Currently DCI Matthew Burke, DI Reid and DI Robbie Ross have DS Mita Rahim.
** ''Series/MidsomerMurders'': DCI Tom Barnaby had Sergeant Troy, replaced first by Sergeant Scott and then by Sergeant Jones, who continues to serve as the Watson to Barnaby's SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute cousin, DCI John Barnaby.
** DI Jack Frost of ''Series/ATouchOfFrost'' has a rotating cast of sidekicks. The most prominent ones are DS Hazel Wallace and DS Clive Barnard.
** The ITCH episode of Neveneffecten is a play on all the tropes in police detective series and uses the Watson to explain the concept of the Watson with the following dialogue.
*** Winne, I don't understand.
*** Of course you don't, that's your function.
*** What do you mean?
*** This allows me to explicitly explain things.
* Similar to the ''Series/{{Frasier}}'' example above, Robin was this in the first two or three seasons of ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'', asking questions about situations or conversations that relied on backstory from Ted, Marshall, and Lily's long, closely-shared history together so that the characters (or Future Ted) had an excuse to explain it to the viewer. It's implied Barney has had most of these things explained to him before 2005. By season 3-4, Robin (and the audience) had already gotten a huge amount of pre-series backstory and isn't much of a Watson anymore, and so the writers started to rely more on in-show established continuity to form the basis of these kinds of stories, usually heralded by Future Ted remarking "Kids, remember how I told you about that time..."
* Mike Rowe of the documentary series ''Series/DirtyJobs'' is a professional Watson, learning the ropes of his latest dirty job from his bemused temporary co-workers.
** In fact, many presenter-led documentaries use this technique.
* An interesting variation happens on ''Series/{{Columbo}}'' where the Watson is played by the ''murderer of the week'' who tries to use this relationship with the eponymous detective to try and veer him off their scent. It never works. They always slip up somewhere, and Columbo picks up on the critical clue.
* ''Series/TheInspectorLynleyMysteries'' has both the main characters do this! Frequently it's {{Deuteragonist}} DS Barbara Havers to her partner (the titular DI Thomas "Tommy" Lynley), but it's not uncommon for ''him'' to be ''her'' Watson as well.
* Carter fulfills this role in the first season of ''Series/{{ER}}''. He's the the new medical student so the other doctors (mostly Benton) explain how things run at the hospital and many medical stuff too.
* In ''Series/MurdochMysteries'', Crabtree, Brackenreid, Dr. Ogden and Dr. Grace all play this role at different times in different episodes. Later episodes have Constable Higgins do this, especially when Higgins is trying to understand why Murdoch wants something done. Murdoch and Brackenreid often rely on Crabtree to do much of the legwork in interviewing witnesses, looking into interesting leads, and so forth.
* Joan Watson of ''Series/{{Elementary}}'', naturally. Like her namesake, she is exceptionally bright in her own right; her main purpose for the audience is to ask the necessary questions to get inside Sherlock's head, since otherwise no one would have the slightest idea what's going on upstairs with him.
** Ironically, this Watson is begins to avert the trope a little as she increasingly becomes a competent detective under her own steam and needs fewer and fewer explanations from the main man. As of the start of Season 3, [[spoiler:she's taken Sherlock's role as a private detective and police consultant, due to his absence.]]
* Jesse takes this role in ''Series/BreakingBad'' whenever Walt has to explain the chemistry behind what he's doing.
* On ''Series/TheXFiles'', Scully plays Watson to Mulder's Sherlock, especially in the early seasons. The only time this switches is when Scully is performing an autopsy, though even then she's forced to try and decode Mulder's unusual thought process and the strange leaps of logic he's taking with the information she's in the process of giving him.
* ''Series/TwinPeaks'': Diane, a character who is never seen or heard. When recording his observations and thoughts on tape, Special Agent Cooper addresses her by name. She is most likely his secretary at FBI headquarters, although her identity is never actually stated.
* Jane Doe, the protagonist of ''Series/{{Blindspot}}'', has IdentityAmnesia and works with a team of {{FBI Agent}}s to find out why. Given her [[ActionGirl incredible skills]], she probably once had a working knowledge of whatever the team might be discussing in any given episode, but since she can't remember any of it, she is the one asking such questions as, "The dark web? That sounds bad, what is that?" so that the audience can learn.

* ''Theatre/CyranoDeBergerac'':
** Le Bret. Half of his dialogue is asking Cyrano the same questions the audience must be asking (why in hell did you do something so jerkass/ stupid/ self-destructive) and letting [[JerkJustifications Cyrano explain what's going on]]. The other half of his dialogue is scolding Cyrano for being a jerkass.
--> '''Le Bret:''' But these strange ways, \\
Where will they lead you, at the end? Explain \\
Your system—come!
** Subverted by the Duenna. She asks Raguenau [[DrivenToSuicide why he intented to kill himself.]] After his response, [[JerkAss she changes the conversation]].
* Mary Lennox in the musical version of ''Theatre/TheSecretGarden'' takes on this role temporarily when Mrs. Medlock introduces her to her new home, conveniently telling Mary all the backstory of the home and the family for the audience to hear.
* Little Sally from the musical ''Theatre/{{Urinetown}}'' is a parody of this.
* What happens when two of the dullest Watsons ever are left to themselves and try to ask one another the questions? ''Theatre/WaitingForGodot''. (Pozzo tries to be one too, but they're too incoherent to explain anything.)

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The various Snakes of the ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' franchise seem to serve this role well, although the exact reason why is pretty [[PlayerCharacter obvious]]. The original idea behind the [[AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent protagonist switch]] was that Snake would have someone to be TheWatson ''for'' him instead of being TheWatson himself, letting him come across as more astute and mature. (Creator/HideoKojima even cited inspiration from ''Franchise/SherlockHolmes'' and ''Series/DoctorWho'' for the idea.)
** And he happens to be the most (only?) reality-grounded character in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Brawl'' to boot, making for some hilarious codec calls where he [[MetaGuy tries to come to grips with the weirdness of the game]].
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'':
** Barret in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' is always the person asking the obvious question and saying what the audience is supposed to be thinking, which has the effect of allowing Cloud to come off as knowledgeable and experienced. When Cloud tells the story about what happened in Nibelheim, Barret's frequent questions highlight details that the audience [[{{Foreshadowing}} ought to be paying attention to]], like when Sephiroth mentions his mother having the same name as the unspeakable monster the party had previously encountered. There may be some connection to his epiphany in late game where he decides he's a lot better at being TheLancer than being a leader, and appoints Cid leader just so he can have someone to ask questions to.
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'', the PlayerCharacter Tidus fakes amnesia so that he can play the Watson to the rest of the cast (he actually has a real reason for not knowing the the things he asks about, but it doesn't fly too well with the xenophobic people he hangs around with). Unfortunately in order to make sure that every player is keeping up with the plot, Tidus finds himself ''constantly'' bugging people for exposition, to the point where his friends aren't sure if he's actually amnesiac or just an idiot. Fortunately for everyone, he gets better as the plot goes on.
*** It gets to the point where Lulu starts explaining things before he even asks, leading him to comment that she's gotten so used to him asking questions that he barely needs to ask anymore.
*** A quote from Lulu after one too many explanations : " Are you sure it's not your brain that's the problem?"
* WordOfGod has this as Dom's role in ''VideoGame/GearsOfWar'', to give the audience a voice without bringing players out of the experience as [[TheStoic Marcus.]]
* Leonard, the main character of ''VideoGame/WhiteKnightChronicles'' (as opposed to your avatar who represents you, but has little story relevance). The other characters start [[{{Lampshade}} Lampshading it]] early on, with a random chatter once the game proper kicks off involving two characters remarking on how bizarre it is that Leonard knows nothing about Bigelows -- who form the backbone of communication in TheVerse, with their flight and ability to transmit images and voice between a pair allowing them to act as the setting equivalent to e-mail.
* [[AmbiguousGender Lion Ushiromiya]] plays this role to the detective [[TheFettered Willard H. Wright]] in the seventh arc of ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry''. After a while they even start to refer to each other as "Watson" and "Holmes".
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', Liara takes this role. Due to Shepard having an entire library of Prothean data downloaded into their mind via one of their Beacons, this leaves Liara, as a Prothean expert, to try to delve inside the sheer masses of information present in Shepard's mind and attempt to understand what their visions actually mean.
** Shepard him/herself, particularly in the first game, to the point of making, "What can you tell me about [thing]?" a minor meme. Most of this dialogue is optional, but Shepard still serves the purpose of letting other characters speak at length about various things, even when there's really no clear reason why Shepard wouldn't already know what they tell him/her.
** James Vega, the only new (non-DLC) squadmate in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', is essentially this, serving as an outside observer of the merry gang and connections network that Shepard gathered in the previous games and easing in the introductions for new players.
* George tends to be this to Nico in ''VideoGame/BrokenSword''. George is a clever adventurer and problem-slover, but he knows virtually nothing about his environment (Paris). Nico's main contribution to the plot is reminding George being a foreigner allows Nico to be MrExposition for the player without seeming like she's repeating pedantic information.
* Various [=NPCs=] and companions in the ''Franchise/DragonAge'' franchise fill this role as needed to either the Warden or Hawke. The dialogue wheels for both {{player character}}s allow the player to ask questions, or not, about the background of Thedas and the history of the Grey Wardens and whatever else they don't already know, depending on how many times they've played the game.
* You, as the [[NoNameGiven unnamed protagonist]], fill this role to Creator/EdgarAllanPoe's Literature/CAugusteDupin in the ''VideoGame/DarkTales'' PC games. Dupin is, in-universe, the master detective and hero of the games, but as the player character, you're the one who actually does all the work; Dupin mostly functions as MrExposition.
* Simultaneously suffering from [[AmnesiacHero amnesia]] and having lived most of his life in his family's manor with little to no exposure to the outside world, Luke from ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'' makes for a perfect Watson.
* The Avatar in ''VideoGame/UltimaIX'' is a prime example of this trope done poorly. Having not only been to Britannia multiple times, but helped shape much of its history, suddenly he's given the option to ask about even the most basic things even though [[AsYouKnow he should be familiar with them already.]]
--> '''Avatar''': [[MemeticMutation What's a paladin?]]
* Fina from ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'' knows almost nothing about any of the civilisations of Arcadia, having grown up in isolation in the Silver Civilisation. Ergo, it is her job to ask the questions that the audience cannot. And get a laugh or two out of them as well.
* Eric in ''VisualNovel/ZeroTimeDilemma'' is a rather dark example of this trope. When he doesn't understand what's going on, he tends to demand answers from the other heroes at gunpoint.
* Very late into ''VideoGame/{{Persona 5}} a very complex GambitRoulette is pulled off with the end result being [[spoiler: the Protagonist barely avoiding getting killed by Akechi, with him none the wiser.]] Most players won't completely understand what happened, so it ends up being explained in-universe to [[spoiler: Sojiro, who's confused as to why the media is reporting that the Protagonist committed suicide and how they figured out that Akechi was planning to assassinate him.]]

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'': [[LovableRogue Sun]] grew up in [[ApocalypseAnarchy Vacuo]] and is being educated in [[{{Dystopia}} Mistral]]. He has never been associated with the [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters White Fang]] or visited the [[LittleBitBeastly Faunus]] island of [[FantasticGhetto Menagerie]]. As a result, he isn't privy to the inner workings of the terrorist organisation or the realities of life on Menagerie. As [[DarkAndTroubledPast Blake]] is from both, she is able to teach him what they're like; through this the audience learns how the White Fang turned from a peaceful civil rights group to a terrorist organisation and why life on the island is difficult.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In the webcomic ''Webcomic/{{Erfworld}}'', the character Parson acts as both TheWatson inside the narrative and MrExposition through a diary.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' tends to give these to its villains:
** Redcloak has a procession of short-lived hobgoblin cleric assistants that can cast ''Transmute Redcloak to MrExposition'' at will. WordOfGod says that this was always the same guy, Jirix; he just kept getting resurrected off-screen.
** Qarr the imp has become TheWatson to the Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission.
** Chancellor Kilkil serves as this for Tarquin.
* Seonga is this to Frost's SherlockHomage in ''Webcomic/DrFrost.'' Justified, in that she's a psychology major who lacks experience, but has proved incredibly helpful and insightful. She's also growing as a budding psychologist.
* As pointed out in ''[[http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=210 Hark, a Vagrant!]]'' Dr Watson does seem to get unfairly [[{{Flanderization}} flanderized]] in most portrayals outside of the original Sherlock Holmes novels.
* In ''Webcomic/TemplarArizona'', Ben is the Watson most of the time, because the work is partly about this weird town, but there are aspects of the alternate-historical universe familiar to Ben but not us; for this, there is a new Watson ([[http://templaraz.com/?p=1611 Mesmer]]) with an even more sheltered upbringing.
* Anna and Susan both act as this in ''WebComic/{{Sire}}''.
* ''Webcomic/TheSanityCircus'': Attley's lack of understanding about magic conveniently means that the audience can get filled in on [[MagicAIsMagicA this universe's system of magic too]]. She also doesn't appear to know anything about Scarecrows, even though Fletch does - prompting explanations from Mr. Sparc.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Pohatu rapidly became this in the ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'' serial ''The Powers That Be'', as he was trying to solve a murder mystery with the increasingly Holmsian [[TheStoic Kopaka]]. Given his RunningGag of asking for clarification every time he hears a new name, this makes sense.
* This is a big part of Sparadrap's role in ''Franchise/{{Noob}}'', in addition to ForgetfulJones tendencies that allow him to ask the same question at different points in the story or re-ask basic questions that should have realistically been dealt with before the story even started.
** ''Film/NoobLeConseilDesTroisFactions'' has [[spoiler:Tenshirock and Judge Dead]]'s family therapist play this role to avoid ContinuityLockout on their situation. Gaea also spends a big chunk of the movie with nobody to talk with besides Meuhmeuh, making the latter ask her questions so she can explain her plan.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The entire ''premise'' of ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' is Fry ending up in situations that need to be explained to him because of the thousand years that went by without him. Holy crap, there's a theme park on the moon!? Hilariously, on multiple occasions a new character will be thawed out (Fry's ex-girlfriend and That Guy from TheEighties) and become ''Fry's'' Watson, which not only demonstrates his [[CharacterDevelopment considerable ability to acclimatise]] (read: there's still TV and beer, so he's just dandy), but also gives him a chance to show how little he retains of what he's learned.
** Originally, the creators envision the show being about Fry's difficulties adapting to the future. They were surprised at how quickly he adapted, so they instead started to focus on Fry being stupid instead. Watching an episode from the first season then one from the most recent season, there is a clear difference in both the plots and Fry's attitudes.
* Gus Griswald from ''WesternAnimation/{{Recess}}''.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode "[=MMMystery=] on the Friendship Express", Pinkie Pie tries to investigate who sabotaged a cake she was guarding, and forces Twilight Sparkle (normally TheSmartGuy) into the role of "my lowly assistant who asks silly questions with obvious answers." When Pinkie's methods (which largely consist of making wild, baseless accusations) prove ineffective, Twilight manages to get Pinkie to switch roles. Once Pinkie starts to understand the importance of getting all the facts, they switch again so she can solve the mystery of who ate all the other desserts on the train.