Impossible Genius

"Niv-Mizzet is the smartest living thing on the plane of Ravnica. This does not mean his SAT score would be 1 higher than the second smartest being. This means that he is so smart that he could, using #2 lead of course, fill in his little ovals in such a pattern that, when scanned by the computer, would reprogram it, giving him a perfect score and everybody else a zero, then the computer would shut off its fans, overheat, and burst into flames. Oh, and he'd be able to do this in the time it takes the other testers to open their booklets."
Matt Cavotta, describing this Magic: The Gathering character.

You know how you would hear jokes about how The Professor in Gilligan's Island could build anything out of coconut shells and sand? This is when you have a character (or group of characters) who can actually do stuff like that. It's Played for Laughs, but in-universe they aren't joking; the character or group really is that good.

Sometimes a characteristic of an Omnidisciplinary Scientist, Evil Genius, or The Smart Guy. Might involve Bamboo Technology. See also The Spark of Genius, Mad Scientist. Overlaps with It Runs on Nonsensoleum if the parts or the principles involved are sufficiently ridiculous. If it's made clear that the character's invention only works because they're making it work with magic or superpowers, that's Magic-Powered Pseudoscience.

Niece-trope of The Ace. While The Ace can accomplish any feat imaginable because he's Just That Awesome, these characters can do physically impossible feats of engineering and construction because they're Just That Smart. They may casually dismiss such feats as being (from their perspective) pathetically easy. See also Testosterone Poisoning, for characters who are Just That Manly. Compare Techno Wizard.


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     Comic Books:  

  • In All Fall Down, both IQ and IQ Squared are these. The former built doomsday weapons, the latter created a software empire worth billions.

     Live Action Film:  

  • "Tony Stark was able to build this in a CAVE! With a box of SCRAPS!"
    • This being the power source for an entire weapons platform and armor system for those who haven't seen the movie. The trope is Invoked in this case, since the above quote was shouted at a man who had just said that it was impossible to make a reactor that small (while fully aware that Tony Stark had done this impossible feat). It's further invoked by his reply as to why he can't.
    I'm not Tony Stark.


  • The Smarty-Pants from Gordon Korman's Nose Pickers From Outer Space books. The final exam for admission to their ranks includes memorizing the infinity times-table, and they've harnessed the power of the coleslaw molecule.
  • Willy Wonka has harnessed nonsensoleum to such ends as creating a television-based teleporter and a flying glass elevator that is kept aloft by "candy power" and/or "skyhooks" and can function as a spacecraft if necessary.

     Live Action TV:  

  • MacGyver, although his reputation "aren't you that guy that can build a time machine out of three paperclips?" was far less realistic than the actual character.
  • If there's an alien baddie threatening lives, you can be sure The Doctor will use his incredible scientific genius and planning to stop it, and save the day. That said, by the standards of his own race, he's nothing special.
  • MythBusters has tested a number of myths of this sort. In a number of cases they actually succeeded in accomplishing the seemingly unlikely in Real Life, for example, building a rope out of toilet paper, but usually only after days of work using large amounts of raw material.

     Tabletop Games:  

     Web Original:  

  • The Webcomic Girl Genius has Sparks, hyper-geniuses that regularly laugh in the faces of all laws, human or natural, with their wacky creations.
  • Casey and Andy can build anything that does anything, as long as you describe it as a "[main purpose or function]-o-mat". At one point, Quantum Cop asked for their aid and described what he wanted the device to do; they refused since the idea was impossible. They had no problem at all when he corrected himself and just asked for the appropriate -o-mat.
  • Basically any mad genius in the Narbonic / SkinHorse universe. In one memorable instance, one makes a subspace teleporter out of all of the coat hangers in a walk in closet. It's powered by "Spring Power"

     Western Animation:  

  • In Phineas and Ferb, the title characters. Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Agent P also have a touch of this.
  • Egghead Jr., the small chicken in Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.
    • In one episode, Foghorn was babysitting Egghead, so they're playing hid-and-go-seek. While Egghead is counting, Foghorn hides himself in a nearby trash can, chuckling that "he'll never find me in here". Egghead then pulls a pencil and some paper from Hammerspace, does some calculations, and proceeds to dig Foghorn out of the ground. He is absolutely shocked, and rushes over to the trash can...and then decides against it, saying that he "just might be in there too.".
  • Gadget from Rescue Rangers. She can build pretty much anything a situation calls for out of scraps and bits of garbage lying around, and on the spot at that! Like a rocket sled thrown together from a shovel, blowtorch and c-clamps in the middle of a chase scene.
  • Og in Mike, Lu & Og only needs to be described a modern-day device in order to build a replica of that device using parts found around the tropical island where they live. In other words, he can build nearly anything out of the jungles and beaches around him with no effort—he just needs ideas to start from.