Aliens and characters from The Future
all seem to be familiar with advanced physics, propulsion, computer software, hardware, astronomy, biology, etc, and display deep understanding of these and other specialized principles, at least enough knowledge to save the day, that has apparently been generalized across most of the population. If an eight year old in The Future
is supposed to take calculus in school, this trope is in effect. Similarly, almost every character of a Mildly Military
organization, whether they are The Captain
, Mr. Fixit
, or the ship's doctor in the future is shown to be able to hack alien computers, jury-rig futuristic devices and technologies, and in general act as a one-person squad
with technical skills beyond what could be expected of their actual role or profession.
This is in contrast to the observed trend in Real Life
of technical knowledge becoming increasingly sophisticated and specialized over time, especially since industrialization, as more and more distinct professions and specialties emerged. This, despite the protests of characters that they are a doctor/engineer/scientist/pilot/soldier, not an (insert unrelated profession here)
Compare Proud Scholar Race Guy
, Proud Warrior Race Guy
, Planet of Hats
- Star Trek franchise:
- Star Trek: The Next Generation and the other modern Star Trek spinoffs are the worst offender. If kids in grade school are supposed to learn calculus, are they expected to learn the alphabet as babies? Or is education just that super-streamlined that they go from 1+1 to E=MC^2 in three or four years? By high school they're learning the basics of Warp Theory. This is reinforced by Jake and Nog's homework assignments in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the the lessons the Borg kids and Naomi are taught in the later seasons of Star Trek: Voyager. Any Starfleet officer (except maybe Troi) can hack a Federation or an alien computer if the Reset Button depends on it. Everyone seems to know enough about Warp Theory and transporters to be a functional if not competent space mechanic to the point that they know all the normal ways of fixing their Applied Phlebotinum and are stopped only by unexpected problems like Unobtainium shortages.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: In the 1987 animated series, Donatello is the resident genius and Omnidisciplinary Scientist. The other Turtles can't understand his Techno Babble. This almost makes it an aversion, if Donatello's knowledge of distinct scientific fields didn't make him practically omniscient with regard to alien and experimental technologies... he even knows their names after three seconds of computer research. No one scientist has been that much of a Renaissance Man since the actual Renaissance.
- An episode of Futurama has it that Leonardo da Vinci is actually a Really 700 Years Old alien from one of these. His home world's citizens are so smart that he left for Earth because he was considered an idiot by their standards.
- Star Wars: Luke learned to fly an X-Wing Fighter by operating a civilian skyhopper built by the same design team, who made the X-Wing controls similar to the civilian aircraft as a way of secretly training pilots for the Rebellion before they officially defected to the Rebels from Incom Corporation. This, despite Han Solo's remarks that "Flying through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, farmboy." So, apparently there's a whole galaxy of restless farm boys learning to pilot military starfighters in their dads' old beaters.
- Until The End Of The World: Twenty Minutes into the Future, some children opt not to sleep because sleeping is "out." How and why they do this is never specified but strongly implied to be drugs that allow kids to go without sleep and learn twice as much, so an eight year old would be almost a young adult. The kid who has that line shows up in one odd scene looking drugged-out, bored and acting spoiled rotten... rather like a sixteen year old. The "Doctor" he video-phoned might have been his supplier.
- Manly Guys Doing Manly Things parodies this. In this strip, Sarah Jones asks Commander Badass (a time traveller from the future) to help fix her laptop.
Commander Badass: Why d'ya think I'd know th' first thing about fixin' yer computer?
Sarah: Because you're from the future! Aren't you guys like worlds ahead of this technology? This should be like a toy for you!
Commander Badass: Tell ya what, how about while I'm busy with that, you take a stab at fixing my broken abacus.
- Babylon 5:
- Accomplishes this by emphasizing both the military and technical specialization aspects of Earthforce. People generally stick to their technical roles while doing double duty as military personnel assigned to a specific task.
- Every member of Earthforce and even some Psi Corps agents knows how to pilot a Starfury, but Starfuries don't get stolen by civilians every couple of weeks like shuttlecraft in the Star Trek series, and characters remark on the degree of skill it takes to pilot these fighters.
- Battlestar Galactica rarely ever uses technobabble and the difference between different military divisions like the enlisted and noncom "Knuckledraggers" (flight deck mechanics) and the pilots, who were all officers are very clear from the beginning and reinforced throughout. Within the pilots (when they had enough pilots, starting out), there was a sharp division and friendly rivalry between the skills and status of Viper pilots versus Raptor pilots (though that line blurred probably due to increasing personnel shortages as humanity died by the hundreds every week).
- Unlike most sci-fi characters who seem to be able to pilot most alien vessels, when D'argo picks up a mysterious, ancient ship built by his own people, it's totally unfamiliar to him; he doesn't speak his own ancient language (and why should we expect a "modern" alien to know their planet's ancient languages?) and it takes him almost a year... err, "cycle," to learn how to fly it competently. Several episodes in the third season show him learning to operate the ship, and he doesn't really become a decent pilot until almost the end of the season.
- Peacekeeper "Techs" (technicians) are looked down upon by soldiers, even very low ranking ones, who almost seem proud of their ignorance of science and technology. When John found that Aeryn knew basic prowler maintenance, he ribbed her by pointing out it was "tech stuff" and Aeryn hastily seemed embarrassed and rambled off some Peacekeeper internal propaganda that justified a pilot repairing her own ship being efficient. It's made pretty evident by the series that the Peacekeepers would be nowhere without the Techs.
- Blake's 7: Without Zen, the all-knowing but sometimes unhelpful alien computer, the Seven could never have learned to pilot the alien ship Liberator. Different characters' skills are usually relevant to their profession and some characters are to shown to have difficulty learning how to operate things like the teleport controls. Villa, a lockpick and a thief, is otherwise one of the least technical members of the group (when it's not a door or a lock he's working on). Avon, a computer expert, and Jenna, a space pilot and smuggler, tend to display the most technical skills, but even Avon admits on occasion that he only partially understands how the advanced alien technology on the Liberator works.
- Idiocracy: The title says it all, but to be specific, the most average man the military can find becomes a Human Popsicle and wakes up a thousand years in the future, where the average intelligence of every human being has fallen drastically.