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Brainy Brunette

Stereotypically speaking, in fiction, blondes are lacking in intelligence, redheads are lacking in feminine charm, so, out of the trio, brunettes are all brain. Like the Dumb Blonde, the brunette varies quite a bit. They can bashfully hide behind their books or glasses, with their hair done in pigtails or a bun or they can boldly use their smarts for their ambitions. Whichever it is, their knowledge is real—if she's on your side, then you can always count on her smarts in a fix. She may be a Hot Librarian, a Hot Scientist, or even a Wrench Wench. If so, her Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and/or Techno Babble will turn people on. And she always has nice, thick, brown locks. What they don't (necessarily) have is strength, like the Squishy Wizard (who may be The Smart Guy himself), as they care more about their mind than their body. That's what makes a Badass Bookworm so interesting, a rare combination.

This trope doesn't mean that blondes and redheads can't be the brains of the outfit. It's just more common for them to have brown hair, especially if they're female, though there are a couple of male examples.

If she's part of a Four-Temperament Ensemble, she's probably Phlegmatic.

Contrast Dumb Blonde and Fiery Redhead. And, as with both of them, this character can be either good or evil. Compare Redheads Are Uncool who might stand out as much as the brunette but have less confidence than even the bashful brainy brunette.


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • The Brown M&M seems to be this, with glasses and all.

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    Comics 

    Fanfiction 

    Films — Animation 
  • Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast is treated like an outcast in her village because she loves to read books. And yep, she's a brunette.
  • Jane Porter from Disney's Tarzan is similar to Belle from above. She's a professor's daughter, who clearly has been encouraged to be intelligent. And yep, she's a brunette.
  • Edna Mode from The Incredibles.
  • Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon. He manages to figure out a way to make Toothless able to fly again.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the film version of Starter for 10, the character of Rebecca is a brunette and intuitive. She holds various protests and is often seen informing the main character, Brian Jackson, of her ideas.
  • Evelyn in The Mummy. She's also a Hot Librarian.
  • Mocked in Where The Truth Lies:
    Lanny: My favorite catches were the intellectuals. They'd be the ones in the straight black dresses, severe black hair. Your basic neurotic, eyeglasses, cool jazz, liberal, "I'll fuck any black guy as part of my personal apology for racism in America" type.
    • The person reading his letter then looks across the room and sees a bookish-looking brunette. And you automatically imagine her doing one thing and one thing only...
  • Jenny in An Education dreams of getting into Oxford, and she's got the brains to do it. She has a foil in Dumb Blonde Helen.
  • Inverted in Jennifers Body. The brunette Jennifer is a vapid Alpha Bitch (both before and after she is possessed), while the blonde Needy is a Hollywood Nerd, complete with the glasses.
  • Ariadne in Inception.
  • There's magazine writer Summer from Definitely, Maybe.
  • Emma from No Strings Attached, who studied at MIT, is a doctor in Boston, and turned up to a pajama party in actual pajamas in her college days.
  • The film Baby Mama paired Fey with blonde Amy Poehler. Guess what their characters' personalities were.
  • The previously blonde Trillian became this in the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • X-Men:

    Literature 
  • Hermione Granger from Harry Potter is the cleverest student in her year, and she also is a brunette.
  • Lessa from Dragonriders of Pern qualifies as she is not only the one to figure out Threadfall patterns and trick a Dragonrider into challenging a Lord Holder to a death match, but she also figures out how to save the planet and then does it against the wishes of everyone else involved.
  • Tiffany Aching of the Discworld books, who read the dictionary for fun when she was a girl, always pestered traveling scholars with difficult questions, and turned out to be very clever and talented for a witch her age.
    • Another Discworld example is Adora Belle Dearheart the city's leading golem expert. She even speaks their language, reputed to be very hard for humans to learn. She's also one of the series' biggest examples of Deadpan Snarker. And this is Discworld!
  • Jo March in Little Women has thick chestnut hair, "her one beauty", and is a devoted writer.
  • October "Toby" Daye in Rosemary And Rue is a tough and savvy private investigator who servers both mortal and faerie clients.
  • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish from A Song of Ice and Fire is an Eerie Paleskinned Brunette and is not only a financial genius but a Magnificent Bastard who has the whole continent of Westeros dancing to his tune.
  • Amelia Marsh in Darkness Visible borders on the black end of the spectrum and is very intelligent/educated for a woman of her era. She speaks French, paints beautifully, and, to Lewis's surprise, can play chess. Mrs Emiline Pound also counts, though her hair is going gray. It is her tireless work in the Warden's archives which finally reveals the identity of the traitor among them.
  • Claudia's sister Janine from Baby Sitters Club is an exaggeration with her Asian and Nerdy ways. Claudia feels bad when she compares herself to her genius sister.
  • Anji Kapoor, from the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures, is a genius or very close to it when it comes to economics, to the point of seeming to be a bit of a nerd when you get her started on the topic.
  • The Baudelaire siblings from A Series of Unfortunate Events since they are able to escape from many dangers relying only on their skills and knowledge.
  • Jane Eyre, the title character of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, shows us that this trope is at least Older Than Radio. She's an intelligent woman with brown hair, who works as a teacher.
  • Magdalena Swärd, the female protagonist in "De skandalösa" by Simona Ahrnstedt, is similar to Jane Eyre in both background, personality and appearance. So of course, she too is an intelligent woman with brown hair.
  • Keladry, the protagonist of Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small, is described as having mousy brown hair. She's a Genius Bruiser whose favorite subject is math, and her classmates frequently ask for her help. During the dull stretches of managing her refugee camp in the fourth book, she amuses herself with engineering projects.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Fred Burkle on Angel. She was adorable, sexy, funny, and her high intelligence was a great asset to the "Fang Gang".
    • Wesley, who was also one on Buffy the Vampire Slayer before upgrading to Badass Bookworm.
  • Speaking of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Brainy Brunette for this series is, surprisingly, Xander Harris. Despite the fact that he hides behind a facade of being a goofball and a simple loser, he's actually one of the deepest of the main characters, and is much more talented than the rest of them at not only thinking outside of the box, but ignoring the existence of the box entirely.
    • Double Subverted with Cordelia in Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Cordelia was shown as an example of the Brainless Beauty. Though, after exams, it was revealed that she actually had very good grades which she simply chose to hide from her peers, thinking it would make her less popular.
  • Firefly:
    • Kaylee, the resident Wrench Wench had very light brown hair, but it was still brown, and she was a mechanical genius. Simon fancied her, and she was a favourite with everybody.
    • River Tam, who was a Teen Genius and a Waif Prophet, though she was also completely nuts.
    • Simon Tam has fierce knowledge of medicine and ability to organize a heist in one episode. Dark-haired.
    • Inara may make her living with her body, but her brain is no slouch. She has a working knowledge of many subjects that a Courtesan would be expected to converse intelligently about. She's well-versed in human psychology and the arts physical, martial arts, swordplay, history, religion etc.
    • Zoe is an expert on setting traps, organizing missions, and leading attacks, all of which were skills she picked up while serving in the military.
    • Let's not sell the good captain short, here; Mal Reynolds shows moments of tactical genius, cunning, deductive reasoning and an at-times scary penchant for hyper-focus.
  • Summer Glau's character Bennett Halverson on Doll House.
  • Summer Glau as Orwell in The Cape.
  • Liz Lemon on 30 Rock. Emphasized by the fact that the show's two other female regulars are both Dumb Blondes. In fact, every character ever played by Tina Fey.
  • Chuck in Pushing Daisies has a great general knowledge and speaks seemingly every language known to man.
  • Joey Potter on Dawson's Creek.
  • According to the series pilot of Gilmore Girls, Rory Gilmore harbours a long-held dream to study at Harvard University, and it is for this reason she transfers from Stars Hollow public high school to the prestigious Chilton Preparatory.
  • Sarah Mackenzie from JAG.
  • Bones:
    • Temperance Brennan,
    • They're all brunettes.
  • NCIS:
    • Abby Sciuto. Underneath her punk groupie looks, she's a scientist and Mensa member.
    • Ziva is clever, with her smart-ass comments, multiple languages, skill with weapons, and Photographic Memory.
  • Most of the brunettes in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation probably qualify; Sara Sidle definitely does.
    • Carries over to Series/CSINY and probably CSI: Miami as well. All the casts have several smart brunettes.
  • At least in the later seasons, Chloe O'Brian in 24.
  • Possible subversion in Privileged: Megan, the Yale graduate, is shown as a redhead; however, in the first episode, we're told that she dyed it red and we never really learn her natural colour, so it's possible she's simply a Brainy Brunette in disguise.
  • Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl.
  • Elena Gilbert on The Vampire Diaries.
    • Also, Bonnie Bennett.
    • Meredith Fell.
  • Detective Kate Beckett from Castle.
  • Lindsay Weir on Freaks and Geeks.
  • Emily Prentiss from Criminal Minds. Her predecessor, Elle Greenaway, was also intelligent, but Emily gets more credit because she has yet to be dumb enough to kill someone in cold blood. Special Agent Doctor Spencer Reid also qualifies.
  • In Doctor Who, Zoe can blow up a computer with her brain. And Romana I is repeatedly shown to be smarter than the Doctor. Of course, Barbara was the very first brainy companion, being a history teacher. And let's not forget widely beloved Intrepid Reporter Sarah Jane Smith, who is repeatedly shown both on Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures to be quite intelligent, considering she saves the Earth roughly every week. In NuWho there's medical student Martha. Also Clara, who's graduated from nanny to schoolteacher since she was introduced and whose alternate Victorian governess self was relatively blasé about the TARDIS being Bigger on the Inside.
  • Annie Edison on Community.
  • Averted and played straight in No Ordinary Family. Stephanie is a world-class research scientist who graduated from MIT and is blonde. Her nerdy yet attractive sidekick Katie, also shown to be very intelligent, is a brunette.
  • George from Being Human is described as having a brain like a "planet" and is said by several characters to be able to carry a much more prestigious job than hospital janitor if he wanted.
  • Carrusel has Valeria, Carmen, and Alicia, to a lesser extent. All 3 girls have jet black hair and are good students. Valeria is a talented painter. Carmen is very good with people. And Alicia is very mature and has common sense.
  • Dr. Helen Magnus of Sanctuary, Omnidisciplinary Scientist extraordinaire, whose long brunette locks are a stark contrast to Amanda Tapping's former role as the short-haired, blonde, and equally brainy astrophysicist Major Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1. This was probably deliberate.
  • The younger Dunphy daughter, Alex, on Modern Family.
  • Maggie from Unnatural History.
  • Amy Farrah Fowler and Leslie Winkle (both Ph.Ds) from The Big Bang Theory.
  • Rocky Blue from Shake It Up.
  • Allison Argent from Teen Wolf. She is smart, logical, capable, strong and she's of course a brunette.
  • Prue Halliwell in Charmed.
  • Chuck 's big sister Ellie Bartowski.
  • Sharon "Shaz" Granger from Ashes to Ashes, who despite having a low ranking in CID (as was actually the norm for woman in 1980s Britain) is far smarter than Ray or Chris and often provides valuable information when solving cases.
    • As is shown by her running after an armed shooter in 1x07, shooting down a bent copper in her wedding dress in 2x08 and by her disarming a armed criminal at gunpoint and turning his weapon against him in 3x08 she can be just as much a brave Badass as Gene and the others.
  • Diana from The Secret Circle. She is the smartest one of the core group and often takes the lead because of her smarts and capability. Later on, Cassie seems to take the lead more often alongside Diana as Cassie begins to accept her witch ancestry.
  • Spencer Hastings from Pretty Little Liars is a slight deconstruction: She's extremely smart, but she can't tolerate even the slightest slip. Sometimes the pressure of being The Smart Girl gets to her.

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    Video Games 
  • Jennifer Willis, from the original Splatterhouse.
  • Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2.
  • The default player character from A Dance with Rogues has black hair and is really the only character who ever fits the role of The Smart Guy on your team.
  • Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins, whose intellect is beyond question (though she does seem to spend a lot of it on thinking up more ways to insult Alistair).
  • Both April Ryan The Longest Journey and Zoe Castillo from Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. And the Word of God is that the stereotype played (possibly without realization) a role in their design.
  • Angela Delvecchio of Backyard Sports.
  • Rita from Tales of Vesperia.
  • Ace Attorney has Mia Fey (a defense attorney), Lana Skye (the Chief Prosecutor), and Ema Skye (Lana's younger sister, who is a police detective).
  • Mei Ling and Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear.
    • Solid Snake (160-point IQ, speaks six languages) and Otacon (expert programmer, Gadgeteer Genius, creator of Metal Gear Rex) are male examples (although Otacon's hair is more gray-brown than conventional brunet).
  • Princess Zelda in her only remotely brunette incarnation, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, is noted by her former tutor to have been an excellent student. She's also the chosen disciple of the Goddess of Wisdom, so it's only logical.
  • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Lana and her expy Manna are kind, sensitive, and very intuitive White Magician Girls. Also Oifaye, who was The Strategist in the first part and then became the Big Brother Mentor to Celice's group.
  • In the second Dark Parables game, Cinderella is implied to have been this, based on the fact that her husband constructed a library in her memory.
  • Stern, the Material of Wisdom from the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games. Unlike the light-haired Nanoha whose form she was based on, Stern's hair is dark brown.
  • Makoto Nanaya from BlazBlue plays this trope under the cover of the paradoxical Dumb Blonde stereotype. Unlike Noel, who has a hard time picking up on material, Makoto has no appreciation for studying and is a notorious goofball and sexual deviant (though to be fair, she keeps her dirtier fetishes to herself). Where this trope applies is that what she lacks in academic smarts (that's Tsubaki's territory), she more than compensates for in practical smarts and common sense, which serve her to no end in her job as an Intelligence officer.

    Webcomics 

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Velma Dinkley of Scooby-Doo: Throughout her various incarnations, Velma is usually portrayed as a highly intelligent young woman with highly specific interests in science (which in the Scooby and Scrappy Doo series leads her to pursue a career as a NASA research scientist) or merely being very well read on obscure fields, such as ancient Viking writing (as in the third Scooby Doo series The New Scooby-Doo Movies).
  • Jeanette of the Chipettes is both the brainy one and the brunette in the Chipette trio.
  • Inverted on The Powerpuff Girls where the red-headed Blossom is the brainy one, while the brunette Buttercup is the aggressive spitfire. (Bubbles is still the Dumb Blonde, though.)
  • Bushroot's Hot Scientist love interest Dr. Rhoda Dendron from his origin story on Darkwing Duck. Morgana the successful businesswoman and scholar counts as well.
  • Daria Morgendorffer is a combination of this trope and Deadpan Snarker. It helps make her a famous Snark Knight.
  • Azula, from Avatar: The Last Airbender, is terrifyingly intelligent and a Manipulative Bastard par excellence. And Katara isn't dumb, either, though her brother Sokka is "the Idea Guy" of the Gaang. Of course, all but one character in the show are or were dark-haired.
  • Total Drama has Noah (book smarts), Courtney (legal smarts), Cody (mechanical smarts) and Alejandro (people smarts).
    • Heather specifically lampshades this in Action where she was looking for new hair and said: "I'm too smart to be Lindsay blonde, but Courtney's hair would be perfect."
  • Played mostly straight with the Kanker sisters in Ed, Edd n Eddy. May (the blonde) is Too Dumb to Live; Lee (the redhead) definitely has the attitude; and while Marie has blue hair and isn't overtly bookish, she comes up with the smartest ideas.
  • The Simpsons: an episode's B-plot focused on Lisa joining the debate team and ending up dyeing her hair brown to prove that they didn't take her seriously before, due to being blonde.
  • On Recess, Gretchen and Spinelli invert their typical hair tropes, as Spinelli (brunette) is fiery and Gretchen (redhead) is brainy. Gretchen did have black hair in the pilot, though.
    • T.J. subverts this, as he's quite ditzy when it comes to academics, but is a genius when it comes to his schemes on the playground.
    • Miss Grotke plays this trope straight.
  • Mike Chilton in Motorcity. He's a bit more subtle than other examples, but he is a strategic genius from his cadet training. He often relies on his Indy Ploy, however.
  • Dan Vs.:
  • Connie from Steven Universe, a black-skinned version.
  • Dipper Pines from GravityFalls is one. His twin sister Mabel technically counts too, but she's more of a Genius Ditz.

Aloof Dark-Haired GirlHair ColorsEerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
Blonde, Brunette, RedheadThis Index Is BrownBrown Bag Mask
Weaksauce WeaknessEliminationHoudini/SurvivorToo Dumb to Live
Brainy BabyIntelligence TropesBrilliant, but Lazy
Brainy BabyAdded Alliterative AppealBrandishment Bluff
Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsImageSource/Live-Action FilmsInept Mage

alternative title(s): Brainy Brunet
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