"I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars in the parking lot. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray pickup truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking."
No detail escapes the notice of our character. With only a brief Sherlock Scan
, he can deduce intimate and accurate information about an individual. With Hyper Awareness
, they will sit down and know how many people are in the area, what they are doing, which ones are important to the plot and what would be the best exit without attracting attention.
For example: During a stroll through a crowded casino while having an important conversation, he can notice that the woman at the outermost Baccarat table is wearing knock-off Dior, yet playing $10,000 gold plaques with abandon, left-handed, and she has a "tell" that is a slight shaking of her left foot.
Sometimes this is an element of a character's personality that has been well set up. Especially in detective / crime shows it may be the entire point of the story.
At other times, it is a new attribute
that only serves the plot
. It may never come up again.
Can overlap with the Scarily Competent Tracker
, Living Lie Detector
and Photographic Memory
. Compare Super Senses
when it is literally that their sense of hearing, sight, smell and touch are hyperactive. May be visualized with things like Fluorescent Footprints
or a stylized Bullet Time Stat-O-Vision
like readout of what they see. Contrast Failed a Spot Check
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Anime & Manga
- Golgo 13. It's practically impossible for the eponymous protagonist to miss out any details that would jeopardize his assignment.
- Mai in Futari Wa Pretty Cure Splash Star remembers positions softball players enter for a split second (for instance, Saki in mid-pitch) accurately enough that she can draw their poses, compare the drawings, and demonstrate how the players are moving differently than usual. She can also remember the faces, well enough to recognize them as classmates, of people she saw flying through the night sky at a great distance. The former looked like horrible writing at the time, but after the latter, seems more like a clumsy attempt at Chekhov's Skill.
- Shikamaru, the lazy genius, has shown this at times, as has Shino.
- Kakashi too, to the point where he was the only one to succesfully see through and analyze the Big Bad's technique and come up with an equally succesful counterattack in minutes. Similarly, and perhaps more on topic, he was able to deduce that Zabuza truly loved Haku.
- In the Konoha 11 filler arc, Ino can tell someone's profession by the condition of their hands, and concludes that the corpse that is supposedly that of the trap ninja they're dealing with is fake because it doesn't have any.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Sagara Sanosuke has a minor level of hyper awareness earned from a life in a gang, allowing him to detect many traps before they go off. This allows him to conveniently play Mr. Exposition for some of Kenshin's fights. It was also used to identify Saito before he could do his big reveal. All this doesn't help him overcome his lack of direction sense.
- Detective Conan
- In addition to the Sherlock Scan, Shinichi Kudo (and hence, Conan) has this gift. At one case, Shinichi sees a girl reaching for her murdered boyfriend's bag on a cabin overhead luggage compartment, remembers something, tells her story and then pulls the bag off the compartment. What we notice is the story she told us, what Shinichi notices is that she used her right hand before she told her story, and then she switched to her left hand afterwards. It was important because the murder weapon is a sharp object; the bra worn by the girl has a detachable metallic strap which she sharpened one of them. She wears the bra during the scene (since she can't throw it away) and sharp edge grazed her skin when she raised her hand and hence, she switched to her left hand.
- Hattori Heiji. Back when they were in Middle School both Shinichi and Heiji solved a case at the exact same pace of deduction, so he must have the same hyperawareness as Shinichi.
- Caerula Sanguis from Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, being a fighter of no mean skill, lives mainly off of this trope, which she partly attained through lots and lots of combat experience. Even before picking up her special ability to read neural impulses, she had long set a rule for fighting with a sword against guns, carefully watching the gunner for his or her tell before each shot, and counterattacking when within a certain number of steps depending on the kind of gun. After she gains her special ability, however, all bets are off. Coupled with her ability to quickly gauge terrain and her drilled-in experience with and against several kinds of weapons, this allows her to take enemy capabilities and personalities — even subconscious reflexes — into account and completely take control of any fight.
- Ryuuguu Rena of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Dangerous when she's infected with the Hate Plague, very useful when she's helping to investigate someone else who is (except that one time when it gets her killed, where her comments about strange details that the infected party is hiding end up convincing him that she is the murderous one).
- Full Metal Panic!
- Nami (from the novels) claims that she was able to tell that Sōsuke was trained as an AS pilot due to callouses on his wrists and elbows that she briefly noticed while he was changing. Lemon, on the other hand, is convinced she was just checking him out.
- Sōsuke himself has developed a preternatural sense of danger — in The Second Raid anime, Wraith mentions how he flips out whenever she points a sniper rifle at him for fun.
- Several characters in Hunter × Hunter do this, including the main character, Gon. It's often taken to Charles Atlas Superpower levels (though perhaps justified by the setting's Ki Attacks), especially with Senritsu, who has a truly insane sense of hearing.
- In Katekyo Hitman Reborn! hyper awareness is one of the things that links Tsuna to the first head of the Vongola family. It's actually in his blood though it's unknown if other Vongola boss possess the same traits. In the anime, the test of intituation is the one Tsuna could pass with closed eyes if he wanted to AND if Verde wasn't trying to experimenting on them.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, several of the girls in Negi's class qualify for this, but Yue in particular is very very good at noticing minute details.
- Black from Pokemon Special, but only when he's using his Munna's abilities to cancel out his Super OCD.
- The main character from Lock On has this in his left eye which he calls his Shutter Eye. It is so powerful that he can even use it to detect freshly made dents in a wooden floor to track where a friend had walked off to. However it is shown that if he overuses this he becomes incredibly fatigued. To limit it he usually wears an eye patch over it.
- Nishigami from Shindere Shoujo To Kodoku Na Shinigami has this in spades, useful for an Amateur Sleuth.
- Doctor Alex Brisbane from Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, when the he, Yugi and his friends go to the inner places of a temple, says that he observes his surroundings since his childhood, preventing that they go into traps. It is the second time that he enters the temple. Apparently not true because he's currently possessed by Alexander The Great's Enemy Without who knows every detail of the temple.
- Batman has this sometimes, in addition to being Crazy-Prepared.
- From Gotham Central, we have Josie Mac. She has the psychic ability to walk into a room and tell if anything is out of place and where it actually belongs. Frustrates her co-workers to no end when they keep hiding her coffee mug and she finds it with no problem every time.
- Amadeus Cho, of The Incredible Hercules, has a similar ability with similar floating purple equations as part of his super-intelligence.
- Superman post Infinite Crisis. In addition to having Super Senses, his memory and super fast thought processes have allowed him to make such observations as noting changes in the average heart rate of the average Metropolis citizen, stated numerically (indicating an overall increase in anxiety after an attack on the city.)
- He's so good at this that he can pick out the heart beats of individuals he is familiar with.
- G.I. Joe's Native American tracker Spirit got retconned as having this ability in the new IDW continuity, to do away with the "Native American Tracking Master" stereotype. He's still Native American, but descended from the Pueblo tribes (city dwellers) and was raised in the suburbs. He was diagnosed with hyper-awareness as a child, and started living in the wilderness to avoid overstimulation, while learning to focus his ability.
- Marvel's first Captain Mar-Vell (not to be confused with the original Captain Marvel) was gifted with Cosmic Awareness, that let him perceive everything around him. The limits of this ability weren't clear, but when he got it, he sensed without any mirror that his hair had turned from white to blond. He also could find the best timing to avoid a hit or to attack himself, and was also a plot point when Thanos became the entire universe thanks to the Cosmic Cube.
- Top 10 has Synaesthesia Jackson, who has this with a twist - while she's quick to pick up on subtle details, she also has, well, synaesthesia, which means they're processed through different visual feeds. For instance, in one early issue, she starts picking up notes from "Ode to Joy" at a crime scene... only to realize several issues later that it was from the "Joy" perfume the killer was wearing.
Films — Live-Action
- In the first movie remake of Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise's character meets his IMF superior for a debriefing after a botched Impossible Mission. He looks around the cafe and, despite Latex Perfection, recognizes around him another IMF team that had also been present at the botch.
- Jason Bourne of The Bourne Series series has this because of his Treadstone training.
- In the third movie this was cranked to insane levels. He was able to direct a journalist through a train station with instructions from a cell phone, all the while avoiding the cameras himself and identifying and disabling The Men in Black agents who are trying to track the journalist down.
- In the Hitman movie, Agent 47 is shown to have this ability. He's also Crazy-Prepared, and The Chessmaster to boot.
- The T-850 Terminator in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines revealed that he had basic knowledge of human physiology and was able to deduce whether or not a human was lying or otherwise being deceitful.
- Colonel Hal Moore in We Were Soldiers seemed to have a situational awareness that seriously bordered on pre-cognition with him being able to read the tide of battle a little too well. In this case it was a form of Genre Savvy resulting from decades of military service, one shared by the North Vietnamese commander in turn.
- The Robert Downey, Jr. Sherlock Holmes film shows the downside of this: it never turns off and he's almost constantly being overloaded. In the sequel, the gypsy queen asks, "What do you see?" Holmes replies, "Everything. That is my curse."
- In Raising Arizona, Bounty Hunter Leonard Smalls tracks his prey to a trailer home. Upon seeing the chaos inside (two men had just had a destructive fight there), he immediately picks up the one clue he needs, a scrap of paper.
- Used by Kato in the Green Hornet remake. It's used to explain how he can fight so efficiently. It is also parodied and then used straight by Brit when he spends several minutes staring into space while working out the plot twist and then to save Kato, respectively.
- In Casino Royale, Bond and Vesper trade instant analyses of one another on the train.
- Limitless is built on this trope. One dose of the drug and sherlock scanning becomes a natural reflex.
- In Men in Black, this is one of the reasons why James Edwards was selected to become Agent J.
Zed: "May I ask why you felt little Tiffany deserved to die?"
Edwards: "Well, she was the only one that actually seemed dangerous at the time, sir."
Zed: "How'd you come to that conclusion?"
Edwards: "Well, first I was gonna pop this guy hanging from the street light, and I realized, y'know, he's just working out. I mean, how would I feel if somebody come runnin' in the gym and bust me in my ass while I'm on the treadmill? Then I saw this snarling beast guy, and I noticed he had a tissue in his hand, and I'm realizing, y'know, he's not snarling, he's sneezing. Y'know, ain't no real threat there. Then I saw little Tiffany. I'm thinking, y'know, eight-year-old white girl, middle of the ghetto, bunch of monsters, this time of night with quantum physics books? She about to start some shit, Zed. She's about eight years old, those books are WAY too advanced for her. If you ask me, I'd say she's up to something. And to be honest, I'd appreciate it if you eased up off my back about it." (pause) "Or do I owe her an apology?"
- Dr. Gregory House. At one point he walks down a line of patients waiting at the (much hated) clinic and diagnoses entirely on their physical appearance and general behavior. More then a few episodes are dedicated to showing how he is certain that there was some little thing that he might have missed that is key to the problem of the week. In one episode, he manages to deduce he is in a coma-induced hallucination by a combination of in-universe fourth wall awareness and that everything is running too smoothly. Yes, House's Hyper Awareness is sufficient to allow him to break free of a hallucination made by his own mind.
- Lieutenant Columbo.
- Adrian Monk. In one episode, a rock is thrown through his psychiatrist's window. He recognizes the rock. You really can't get much more hyper aware than that.
- Shawn Spencer from Psych was trained by his police father to pick up on small and unimportant details. He even has special effects showing the audience how he notices things. And turns his head sideways and left with a silly expression that Gus now mocks. Even people who've only just met him figure out when he gets a clue.
- Doctor William Zimmerman of the Sanctuary can join these ranks.
- James Watson has all the analytical abilities that Zimmerman has but turned up to eleven.
- Jim Ellison in The Sentinel has this as his super-power.
- Just about everyone on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, most especially Gil Grissom. His flashback in the episode "Rashomama" is a good demonstration.
- In the Angel episode "Supersymmetry", Angel was able to use his Photographic Memory to exactly reconstruct a crime scene and identify a suspect. While in earlier episodes he had demonstrated an impressive memory and other exceptional mental talents (he speaks several languages and can recreate faces almost perfectly), that particular ability had not been shown before.
- Stargate SG-1: When Jonas Quinn is placed on the SG-1 team, he shows to have skills at recall and noticing tiny details that other characters found spooky. Though it serves the story for him to quickly be able to replace Daniel Jackson on SG-1, it is indicated to be because he (or possibly his species) is slightly more evolved than Earth-based humans in one episode of the series.
- This is clearly demonstrated in an episode where they are investigating a small town after a strange call. Teal'c and Jonas are sitting in a diner, and Jonas easily points out the strange things people are doing, such as a guy who is reading the same page of a newspaper three times, or another who has put a dozen teaspoons of sugar in his coffee. He's never showing actively looking around him and seemingly notes things at a glance.
- Supernatural: Do you think you would be able to notice a single fingernail embedded in a chalklike wall in a dimly-lit cellar? Or a small symbol carved on the inside of a vase you happen to be walking past? Sam Winchester can.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation's Data, being an android with perfect recall, has this and exasperating his crew mates by picking up on tiny details that are not at all relevant.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles tried to teach Buffy that the Slayer should have a sixth sense about vampires and be capable of identifying one without seeing fangs. Buffy deduced one individual being a vampire because their fashion choice was "20 years out of date."
- The original movie said that the Slayer actually had a built-in vampire detector because they will feel muscle cramps when one is nearby. As Buffy said, "Great... PMS is my secret weapon."
- Used and subverted in Burn Notice. Michael explained that especially when your adrenaline is high and with the training a spy would have, your mind can play tricks on you and you start seeing things that really aren't there. But there are multiple times in the series where Michael does demonstrate a keen sense of observation, considering he is a former spy.
- In Lie to Me, the leads have this. However, this can also engender Hyper Awareness in the viewer, as you try to catch the little tics the characters notice before they're pointed out.
- The Mentalist
- River in Firefly fits this well, though perhaps more in Serenity. Taking one quick look at three gunmen behind cover, then ducking back and shooting them all dead without aiming, is for example rather impressive. However, it's difficult to tell when she's using Hyper Awareness and when it's her Psychic Powers coming into play.
- Parodied with Father Jack from Father Ted, who fits this trope when it comes to alcohol. He can not only tell that a bottle contains alcohol, but the actual vintage of the wine just from the clinking sound. He is considerably less aware when, for example, being asked if someone should stop pouring him alcohol.
- Pretty much how crimes are solved in the Japanese drama Kimi Hannin Janai Yo Ne?, combined with extraordinary amounts of deductive reasoning and the main character's powerful Photographic Memory. Sakura can deduce actions and entire methods of murder just by piecing together scraps of evidence.
- The Doctor from Doctor Who. Most notably in the episode "The Eleventh Hour", where he is able to analyze every detail of an area he glanced at while passing.
- Played for laughs in the Frasier episode "Ham Radio." Apparently, Frasier can tell a person's religion by their voice.
- Michael Scofield from the TV series Prison Break. It is established that he has low latent inhibition combined with high intelligence, which gives him Hyper Awareness. See Real Life, below.
- Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones. When he notices Arya, who has been disguised as a boy for weeks and whose disguise no one else has been able to see through (besides Gendry Waters who is also quite good at deducing things), he doesn't even need to hear her speak to see through the deception at first glance.
- Comedian Adam Carolla claimed to suffer from hyperawareness during his radio show. His actual complaint was more along the lines of not being able to ignore the little things wrong in a situation the way most people can. (Notable example: on multiple occasions, a caller would phone in and their smoke detector's "low battery" chirp would be overheard on the call. It would drive him nuts that they didn't replace the battery the instant they first heard the chirp.)
- In Warhammer 40,000, followers of the eldritch god Slaanesh have honed their senses to an incredible degree, able to distinguish between the subtlest differences in any of their myriad senses. Why? To enjoy their senses more, of course! This has the unfortunate side-effect of eventually requiring more and more stimulation to reach the same high. Eventually, the worshiper is rendered unable to be roused by anything except the most audacious, perverse, and extreme stimulus.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The psionic power Hypercognition does exactly this.
- Indeed, any character with a high Wisdom score and a good modifier for the sensory skills can end up in this trope, in any D20 system game.
- In New World of Darkness game Changeling: The Lost, changelings with high Clarity gain a bonus to their senses.
- Possible with the Super-Senses power in Mutants & Masterminds. In this version, it is actually possible to have Hyper Awareness with sonar as though you're a mixture of Daredevil and Sherlock Holmes.
- Similarly, the Hypersenses mutation in Paranoia. Great for gathering information on your (many) enemies, but (this being Paranoia) with a measure of Blessed with Suck (sensory overload, hallucinations, what have you).
- In Exalted, characters with Perception, Awareness and/or Investigation scores of 3 or above (to say nothing of the corresponding Charms) will very likely be doing this regularly.
- With the corresponding Charms, you get people doing things like critiquing the mating dances of insects or identifying every illicit affair at a high society event through scent.
- Spirit Of The Century has stunts that can make a character Hyper Aware. In particular there are the Focused Sense and Impossible Detail stunts. The former allows the character to have a single hyper-developed sense (and can be taken multiple times to apply to multiple senses), while the latter removes any penalty to notice a detail because it's too small or subtle.
- In Aberrant, characters can take points in Mega-Perception. With Mega-Perception, noting and remembering all the license plate numbers in the parking lot, Bourne-style, is level one on a five-level scale.
- Fallout has the perks Awareness and Friend or Foe. With Awareness you are able to see how many Hit Points the target has and which weapon he's wielding, with Friend or Foe you can instantly distinguish between friendly and enemy NPCs. Black Isle apparently decided the latter was a dick move and just allowed any and all PCs to discern this from the start. There's also the Empathy perk, which effectively tells you which conversational options will make a person happy or sad without having to resort to Save Scumming.
- The "eagle vision" of the Assassin's Creed series is an inherited Hyper Awareness passed down through a family line, being possessed by every main character across the ages. A person with this trait becomes clued in to their surroundings, instinctively identifying friends, enemies, and any number of other clues and signs relevant to them. It is implied that this ability was gifted to this genetic line by an ancient race of pre-human Precursors living on Earth. Being put in the Animus awakens this latent ability in Desmond Miles, who's story acts as a framing device for those of his ancestors.
- Condemned: Criminal Origins and its sequel Bloodshot uses this as an ability of protagonist Ethan Thomas, a detective serving in the FBI's Serial Crimes Unit. Described as a "gift", he possesses a certain instinct for finding clues, which borders on being supernatural. There is some implication in the games that it might actually be supernatural.
- Zael from The Last Story is noted to have exceptional eyesight, being able to spot things the other characters don't notice at first. This becomes Fridge Brilliance when you realize that this is because the player can control the camera, giving you (and by extension, Zael) a higher awareness of the surrounding area than the NPC party members.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution allows Adam Jensen is able to gain this through a few augs. In particular, the social enhancer, which allows Jensen to analyse, and notice things that players wouldn't particularly notice. It helps with persuading and convincing NPCs of doing what you want them to do. (With the help of pheromones.)
- This could be called Ace Attorney's Apollo Justice's and Trucy Wright's "superpower" and is mainly used to call out Character Tics. Oh, and by the way, it's In the Blood.
- It's subtle, but events early on in Fate/stay night show that Shirou has extraordinarily good eyesight; he's able to pick out a single person standing on top of a skyscraper while being on the ground himself. He also has a form of super sense through his magecraft that instinctively lets him know how something is broken, where it is broken and how to fix it just by touch. He pales compared to the supernatural servants, however: Servant Archer can pick out single people in perfect detail from kilometres away, and can instantly identify and discern all details of crafted objects through a cursory glance. Shirou ends up siphoning this ability from him due to the time paradox.
- In Girl Genius, Agatha Heterodyne builds the ultimate coffee maker which brews coffee so perfect it induces this state in those who drink it, very similar to the knurd state of Klatchian Coffee in Discworld.
- Ravenwing teaches this to the scouts of the Clan of the Hawk in Wandering Ones. At the same time, others in the clan are taking the awareness to a metaphysical level.
- Quantum Cop from Casey and Andy is so aware he has to wear sunglasses all the time in order not to go mad.
- El Goonish Shive
- Hedge has been shown to be adept at information gathering. Maybe he's no Sherlock Holmes, but he grasps any clue present, like occasional slips of Elliot knowing Grace or Grace being in a relationship.
- Diane also displayed this ability when determining that Ellen and Grace were new to Moperville South. She was even wearing a Sherlock Holmes outfit for one panel.
- Alex Mann from Action Man has an ability called "The AMP Factor" that allows him to be aware of everything in a given situation, the physics of things moving, likely results of actions, etc. Expressed visually by everything turning blue and numbers floating around.
- King of the Hill invokes this in "Peggy's Turtle Song"; Bobby is diagnosed with ADD, and is given Ritalin that hones his attention to super power levels.
: (sniffs) There's some milk in the fridge that's about to go bad. (beat
) And there it goes.
- There is a real-life physiological condition called low latent inhibition which, coupled with a high intelligence, can produce real-life "sherlockholmesian" Hyper Awareness.
- People with ADHD are often more sensitive to changes in their environment, but it usually doesn't have the same effect as Hyper Awareness. Some notice every little detail around them, which just means they can't focus on any one thing.
- Low-level ADD also can manifest as this, so that people who can otherwise control a tendency towards distraction may seem to be doing the Sherlock Holmes routine.
- Same goes for many people with autism.
- Around 15% to 20% people are Highly Sensitive People (HSP), which can be mistaken for autism or ADHD.
- Psychologists working with police deal with this condition. Unfortunately, it's much less a condition that grants Sherlock Holmes superpowers than something that makes it difficult to distinguish between real and imagined threats, often causing considerable harm to the the officer's social life. The technical term is "hypervigilance" and is one of the component symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- It is well known that Conan Doyle based Holmes' perceptive and deductive abilities on medical school professor Joseph Bell, the father of Forensic medicine. According to his wife Doyle was no slouch at it himself.
- On the flip side, as some of the above examples imply, hyperawareness can be a bad thing at times due to false positives. Hyperawareness is a bad thing, because you simply don't have enough brainpower to process every last detail of your environment in depth. That's the very reason they are usually filtered before being passed to consciousness. You are basically experiencing a constant sensory overload.
- Sensory Processing Disorder, a condition currently trying to gather enough evidence to be included in the DSM-5, is basically those negative aspects in a nutshell. People with the condition are so sensitive to stimulation, that they can have emotional breakdowns when it gets too much, often to the complete bafflement of everyone around them.
- One British ASW captain made a habit of taking earphones connected to his ship's sonar when going on maneuvers. One time, he woke up and said "that's a submarine". It should be noted that originally sonar did require a living person to analyse the echoes they were hearing, so a trained operator would need to be able to recognise things like that in order to do their job. Identifying it in your sleep is another matter, however.
- This is very frequently a symptom of giftedness, and gifted individuals often find themselves misdiagnosed with a disorder such as ADHD because of it.
- A version of this related to reading people as opposed to the environment commonly springs up in people who grew up in or otherwise lived long-term in an abusive home. Victims can become very good at picking up on a person's unconscious indicators of mood and emotion, even the subtlest ones, and monitoring how it is changing without even consciously trying, sometimes without even being aware that they're doing it—a skill learned, for example, by a small child who needs to know exactly how Mom or Dad are feeling so they can discern what the course of action necessary to escape as much violence as possible is. It can get to the point that they put some (fictional, supernatural) empaths to shame. And while this may sound like an amazing, real-life superpower, it and the psychological baggage attached to developing it generally hinder much, much more than they help once the affected person is out of a dangerous environment and around people who generally like them, want them to succeed, and will not inflict violence on them.