Quiz Announcer: Okay, the colors of the Italian flag are Red, White, and what? Bart: Blue! Homer: Yellow! Bart: Orange, Red, Patty: Green! Homer: Black, White, Green! Contestant: Green! Homer: I was right!
A device employed by writers to demonstrate that a character is particularly intelligent or knowledgeable. A character (often the TV Genius
) will be shown watching a game show on television and instantly blurting out the correct answer to every question. May be played for laughs if the questions are obscure and esoteric to the point of absurdity
. In some cases, this leads to the character being urged by his friends to apply as a contestant on that show.
In America, the game show is most likely to be Jeopardy!
, as it has garnered a reputation for being the most difficult of the popular game shows, not to mention because of its distinctive, relatively fast-paced game structure. In the United Kingdom, the notoriously difficult, long-running University Challenge
fills this role.
Of course, it should go without saying that trivial knowledge has little relation to intellect, but this is just a quick and easy way for writers to establish a character as smart.
A common subversion is for the character to have watched the episode before and memorized all the answers.
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- The Ultimate X-Men version of Doug Ramsay got into a private school for mutants due to his smarts, exemplified by his record-breaking streak on Jeopardy!.
- This is done with the hero of Stephen King's "The Moving Finger". In the original story, he was actually watching Jeopardy!, but in the Monsters adaptation, it was a generic quiz show.
- An ex-con in Jodi Picoult's Salem Falls does this every night. He started doing it to protect himself from Prison Rape by making a bet with the other convicts that he could always beat the scores of the televised contestants.
- His passion for the show is key to getting the student he supposedly seduced to confess that she made the whole thing up..
Live Action TV
- In one Shoe comic strip, one character is watching Jeopardy! and getting all the answers right, but at the end another character leans over and says, "What is 'rerun'?"
- In The Fairly Oddparents, Cosmo and Wanda conjure up a set reminiscent of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to prove that Timmy "knows everything".
- Parodied in The Simpsons. When the host asks which German leader gave his name to the capital of North Dakota, Homer yells "Hitler!"
- A Pinky and the Brain short on Animaniacs had Brain go on the quiz show "Gyp-Parody" in order to raise enough money for a device to Take Over the World. He gets every single question right, but bombs the final question and loses everything. Of course, the answer to the final question was Ralph Kramden, which Brain would have known if he had listened to Pinky earlier in the episode.
- The Arthur episode "Arthur and the Big Riddle" started off with Arthur correctly answering the riddles on the game show Riddle Quest, including answering the final riddle before the reigning champion. At Buster's urging, he decides to go on the show himself.
- Him makes The Powerpuff Girls take their SAT tests as part of the series of riddles he forces them to solve in "Him Diddle Riddle." Bubbles, whose SAT card was penciled in with a pattern of a flower, scored the highest.
- The Watson computer made by IBM went on Jeopardy! to prove its intelligence.