Doing Research

"I'm going to the crime scene to see what I can find out. You guys research the Polgara demon."
Buffy, "Goodbye Iowa" and most other episodes

A new monster has arrived in town and itís already beaten off our heroes once. Is it time to get dangerous?

No. Itís time to hit the books.

Our characters head to the Magical Library to consult the Great Big Book of Everything and the Tomes of Eldritch Lore. They search the Omniscient Database and scan samples with the Everything Sensor, possibly with the help of a Hard-Work Montage. Only when all avenues have been exhausted will they summarise their findings and formulate a new plan.

Doing Research is the favourite pastime of Mr. Exposition, The Smart Guy, the Badass Bookworm and The Team Normal, and it is most common on Monster of the Week shows, although Mystery of the Week has its fair share.

Where Science Hero revels on this, Action Hero revels on Training from Hell and Time to Unlock More True Potential to achieve their goal.

Not to be confused with Shown Their Work, which is about writers doing research.


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    Films — Animated 
  • In "The Science of Magic" short preceding the film My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Ė Friendship Games, Sunset decides to look into how the Humane Six's new magic works, with science. She ends up battered by magic and the results themselves are inconclusive.
    Sunset Shimmer: Finally, after all this testing, I've come to a definitive conclusion! [cough] I have no idea how magic works in this world. [groan]

  • Once a book in Harry Potter, generally undertaken by Hermione.
  • Alice's entire purpose as the scholar for The Witch Watch involves doing research and so it's not surprising her first reaction to the situation is to hit the books.
  • In Simple Complications this is how Abigail contributes to both the ghost and coded documents plotlines.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, before she goes to Norway, Nikita has her half-brother Kosma do research on berserks and Norse gods. She also repeatedly sends Karma photos and data about the Red Shirts she killed so that the tech genius can figure out who hired them.

     Live Action TV  
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer involved research nearly every episode, although generally Buffy was patrolling while the other Scoobies hit the books.
    • Angel had the same thing. Fred and Wes traded off or went together for research roles, sometimes with Cordelia joining in, though Gunn occasionally got in on it in season 5. Before Wesley joined the team in season 1, Cordelia did most of the research, often using the internet. Fred became part of the team in early season 3.
  • Chloe on Smallville regularly played this role.
  • The science montages in the CSI Franchise are halfway between this and Hard-Work Montage.
  • The title character of Merlin does this very often, usually with the help of his mentor Gaius.
  • Many episodes of Supernatural involve one of them, usually Sam, trying to find out what they might be facing and/or how to kill it by this method. This is mostly done by him searching the web for odd occurrences first, then researching in the library.
  • JAG: Bud Roberts often had this role, in the earlier seasons.
  • This is one of Artemus Gordon's responsibilities on The Wild Wild West. He's the one who dives into the books - sometimes piles of them - in order to dig out and correlate any relevant bits of data. He's also usually the one who gets in touch with the "research department" and other sources of information back in Washington, D. C.
  • Every episode of MythQuest. Alex and Cleo's father is lost somewhere inside a myth. Alex and Cleo take turns going into myths to look for him, but they never know what myth they'll be going into until they're in it. That, combined with the fact that changing the outcome of the myth would destroy the real world, means that one of them is constantly doing research about mythology and the specific myths they're in.

     Tabletop Games 

     Video Games  

     Western Animation  
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: One of Uncle's many Catch Phrases is "We must do reeesearch!" Of course, given that many of the threats the cast faces are ancient and tend documented in historic texts and legend, it's generally applicable to the situation.