Humans are naturally curious, and even when Science Is Wrong
we want to know why
. In a fantasy setting, these curious people will found whole new academic fields and professions around studying the strange and fantastic flora, fauna and phenomena that exist in it. Just like some schools of Hermetic
and Vancian Magic
will create Ritual Magic
by analyzing occultism with scientific rigor
, these professionals (not necessarily wizards, though that does help the survival rate) will go about cataloguing, studying and (hopefully humanely)
experimenting with peculiar phyla in a very empirical way.
Possible Fantastic Scientists include a botanist who studies mandragora, a biologist cataloguing griffins, or an epidemon
ologist who studies outbreaks of infectious Demonic Possession
to find a cure. Likewise, you can expect their field of study to have a strange made up name
, like Herbology
or Impology. All the same, they will go about studying these curious classes as if they were real... because in the setting, they are!
As a character, a Fantastic Scientist is often The Professor
or at least The Smart Guy
, possibly a bit of an Absent-Minded Professor
or even Mad Scientist
. They can be amiable enough deliverers of exposition
, background, in need of rescuing from their subject of study, or the cause of some shenanigans (like the above epidemonologist letting loose an improved possession plague). Their motivations can range from curiosity, a desire to discover Potential Applications
, or to gain kingship over this kingdom. Their home or office will usually have a Magical Library
with truly eclectic books and a Bazaar of the Bizarre
composed of their subject of study.
A Magic-Powered Pseudoscience
is more likely to be "alchemy works because of magic" and modeled on that pseudoscience than an attempt by in-universe characters to model the magic as the regular science that this is. It should be noted that alchemy does not fall under this trope due to the fact that it is technically real.
If an Occult Detective
decides to also catalogue whatever it is they detect, they may also be researchers of a Fantastic Science. Research into magic itself
is the subtrope Sufficiently Analyzed Magic
. See also Magic Versus Science
, Admiring the Abomination
. Compare The Spark of Genius
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- Obscure Wonder Woman enemy Doctor Poison calls herself a "Mythobiologist". She studies the biology of mythological beings and their effects on more mundane life.
- Skybound Entertainment 's comic Witch Doctor portrays the realm of supernatural creatures as parasites that are best battled by medical specialists rather then soldiers. The first issue of the mini-series treated a Demonic Possession as being similar to a parasitic infection, with the young victim, after being purged, having to remain inside his family home surrounded by protective runes until the main characters could find a more permanent cure for his condition.
- In Ghostbusters, two of the three original characters, Ray and Egon, are legitimate paranormal researchers that channel their knowledge into the business of "paranormal investigations and eliminations."
- It's not clear what Peter contributes to the research, if anything, though he's stated to have a PhD in parapsychology, and he was the one that came up with the idea of making it into a business after the guys got kicked out of Columbia University.
- Harry Potter: Some of the Classes at Hogwarts operate this way, like herbology. It's basically just botany, but with magical plants. They seem never to study any basic non-magical skills. This is lampshaded by Hermione in the very first book, when she and Harry are confronted with Snape's riddle. She comments that an ordinary wizard may have had serious problems solving it, because they don't learn any math/logic puzzles.
- Fans have run away with the Fridge Horror aspects to propose, for example, that the wizard job market is terribly restricted and the entire system is balanced on the social/economical equivalent of toothpicks.
- Telemain of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a magician who studies the technical side of magic and has a habit of talking in incomprehensible Magi Babble, much to the chagrin of the other characters.
- Theoretical magicians in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell study magic but don't ever practice it.
- In David Eddings's Mallorean series, the Melcene University has schools devoted to alchemy, necromancy, etc.
- Name Of The Wind has this as the setting, in the form of The University. There are various grades of magic, starting with almost-science and ranging all the way to god-mode. To make things more exciting, they're all intermixed. It turns out that chemistry and metalsmithing are much more exciting when you can break the laws of physics.
- Harry Dresden makes a study of magic, describing himself as effectively a magical nerd. When he was entrusted with a Sword of the Cross, he made a study of who would be a suitable person for being a wielder of the sword, and correctly deduced at least one candidate.
- He explicitly keeps Bob around specifically for his ability to be a magic scientist. It becomes a plot point when he discovers that Bob was created for this purpose, and was so successful that Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, wants to destroy him.
- Waldo Butters is also great at this. Originally a pure muggle, when he gets into the spooky side of things he becomes a really proficient magical theorist by applying the scientific ideas he already knew.
- Ponder Stibbons and his fellows at the High Energy Magic Building of Discworld's Unseen University concoct theories of how magic interacts with quantum mechanics, and divide magical force into ever-smaller fundamental particles. The more senior wizards assume they'll grow out of it.
Live Action TV
- Shadowrun had parabiologists and parazoologists. They studied Awakened (magical) plants and animals, respectively. It also had academics who studied the theory of magic but couldn't actually do magic themselves.
- In GURPS, thaumatology is "the academic study of magical theory". Occultism has specialties like vampirology and pneumatology for more specific areas of study.
- Pneumatology is from the Greek (πνεύμα) and means "the study of spirits."
- Artificers from the Dungeons & Dragons setting Eberron are described this way.
- The Ravenloft setting's various sourcebooks on monsters, the Van Richten's Guides, are presented as the work of scientifically-minded researchers of the supernatural.
- Exalted uses the term 'savant' to denote anyone who has a scientific understanding of the fantastic forces at work in and beyond Creation, as opposed to people who are just operating on superstition and folklore. Also, anyone who works extensively with Magitek is called a sorcerer-engineer.
- And it also uses the term "motonic" for a major field of high-tier scientific study, related to the way that everything in its world is composed of motes of Essence.
- EON plays it straighter than an arrow, since, in this universe, magic is science!
- In Cthulhu Tech, sorcery is something you can learn in college. You might not actually want to though ...
- Pokémon professors. Professor Oak studies Pokémon-human behavior and interactions, Elm does Pokémon breeding, Birch studies Pokémon ecology, Rowan studies Pokémon evolution, and Juniper studies Pokémon origins (i.e. evolution in the speciation sense as opposed to Pokémon metamorphosis).
- The Tales Series is fond of this, along with Sufficiently Analyzed Magic:
- Tales of Symphonia has Raine Sage, who is a magical historian with a focus on healing arts and magitechnology.
- Tales of the Abyss has Colonel Jade Curtiss, who (along with his former friend Saphir) used to be a sort of magical geneticist, and goes back to it after the game. Saphir Neis and Guy Cecil both focus on fontech, although Guy is really more of an enthusiastic hobbyist.
- In Arcanum, the Tolkienesque world is undergoing an industrial revolution which has given rise to a very scientifically minded academia. There are many in-universe scientific texts on such matters as The Nature of Magick and Technology or Supernatural Selection which explores, among other things, the genetic ancestry of elves and orcs and how it relates to humans.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, the eponymous Court studies the extranormal from time to time. Kat Donlan discovered that the Shadow Men actually have mass, and the Suttons are botanists/gardeners who restore magically-animated trees to their original state.
- The Court uses the term "Etheric Sciences" to describe their studies of magic, which they call "ether." The do this because they believe everything can be explained, so "magic" is a misnomer to them.
- Adventurers! gives us powerfologists. See Bishonen Line for more.
- Tedd of El Goonish Shive seems to be heading in this direction.
- Professor Hannah Teal of Rank Amateur is a Dimensional Physics Engineer. She designed hyperdrives, alternate reality gateways, and the Dimension Cannon. Clearly none of this is possible with science as we know it.
- Pastel Defender Heliotrope presents us chatoyanics the study of chatoyance. A form of radiation energy particular to the physics of that universe.
- Fairy Dust 's doctors have dozens of fantasy races' biology to puzzle through.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Dr. Karl Archeville is a Multidisciplinary Scientist with degrees in several subjects, including "Hypertechnology", "Metabiology", and "Intertransferral Physics". That is, the study of technology that's beyond cutting edge, the study of the biology of superhumans, and the study of interdimensional energy sources.
- In Prolecto this is how Silverlight gained its stuff. Vivian's mom was a major scientist who lived this, and Daniel Gilden, head of Silverlight, turns out to be The King in Yellow.
- From Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, a couple of nerds were trying to start the scientific field of Figmentology, since imaginary friends are real on that show.
- In Wakfu, the lost tech of the Eliatropes is described as "magical science". Nox, the Big Bad of season 1, is also such a fantastic scientist, studying the principles behind the wakfu and time magic to attempt Time Travel. Even before finding the Eliacube, as a humble clockmaker he was able to built a flying pocket watch — which just lacked a durable power source.
- Dr. Thaddeus Venture, among other characters on The Venture Bros., is a self-classified "super scientist", despite never having finished his degree.
- Twilight Sparkle shows signs of this in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, especially when she hooks up Pinkie Pie to a monitoring device to gather 'scientific' data on how Pinkie is able to predict the future outside of real magic. Fanfic authors have naturally run with this version, ranging from Mad Scientist (with lab as shown in the episode) to conducting elaborate experiments (and blowing up things, of course). One even had the Doctor nod in appreciation of what she did to an Equestrian computer.