"Ladies and gentlemen of the City Council, I'm just a caveman... Your world frightens and confuses me. When I see your tall buildings and flashing neon signs, sometimes I just want to get away as fast as I can, to my place in Martha's Vineyard. I'm more at home hunting the woolly mammoth than I am hunting a good interior decorator. And when I see a solar eclipse, like the one I went to in Hawaii last week, I think 'Oh no, is the moon eating the sun?', because I'm a caveman... but there is one thing I do know. The new resort housing development proposed by my partners and myself will include more than adequate greenbelts for recreation and aesthetic enhancement. Thank you. (smug grin)"A character, usually a somewhat unassuming one, is inserted into an unusual situation or world. But rather than having difficulty adjusting, the character possesses knowledge, a personality type or physical prowess that allows him to leap up the social ladder to a far higher station than the one he had back home. Can also be a Mighty Whitey (if a European does this in a non-European society) or a case of Villains Blend in Better. Compare Instant Expert and Never Accepted in His Hometown. Contrast Fish out of Water.
— Keyrock, The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, Saturday Night Live
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Anime and Manga
- Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night: Most Heroic Spirits — souls of heroes of (usually) ancient ages given form to participate in a There Can Be Only One tournament — easily adapt to modern day living. This is justified in that, when summoned, a Heroic Spirit instantly receives at least enough knowledge of modern-day living - including the ability to speak the language.
- Whenever a human transfers from Earth to El-Hazard, they gain Personality Powers. A boisterous gym teacher gains Super Strength (when sober). A shy geek becomes a Technopath. A High School Hustler gains a Third Eye. A Control Freak becomes The Chessmaster (offscreen).
- The Devil Is a Part-Timer! is all about this, since it focuses on characters from a Heroic Fantasy universe who cross dimensions and end up in modern-day Japan. The title character goes from Evil Overlord of a demon army to the assistant manager of MgRonald's in a relatively short amount of time; in fact his passion for the job and dedication to the customers are the first sign that just because he's called "Demon King" doesn't mean he's a bad guy. His opposite number, the angel-empowered Heroine Emilia, likewise lands on her feet and has very quickly set herself up with a steady job at a call center. About the only character shown struggling with the transition is the one whose cultural research relied a little too much on Jidai Geki TV dramas.
- Zigzagged in the Battle City arc in Yu-Gi-Oh!; most contestants adapt to the new rules very quickly, but Jonouchi has some trouble, making a mistake in his duel with Espa Robo. He catches on quickly after that.
- Ash Ketchum regularly zigzags with this in the Sun and Moon series of the Pokémon anime. While he often acts like an accident prone Fish out of Water adapting to Alola's different Pokemon and conventions, his experience built up across other regions makes him the most battle competent of his companions, and he adapts to the Z Ring mechanic even quicker than the native trainers do.
- Both Travis Morgan and later Mariah make the changing to living in the Lost World of Skataris very easily in The Warlord. Mariah's easy adjustment catches Morgan by surprise as he did not suspect that the archaeologist was also a champion sabre fencer.
- Superman and other Kryptonian characters are relatively ordinary under the light of a red sun (such as that of their home planet of Krypton). Under a yellow sun like that of Earth they acquire powers and abilities "far beyond those of mortal men."
- What If?
- One issue featured Conan the Barbarian being stranded in the twentieth century, where he promptly becomes a successful gang leader. This was actually spun out of a story arc from Conan's own comic, where he was sent back to his proper time and place eventually instead.
- Another "What If...?" had the Hulk becoming a barbarian king; he did the same in the canonical arc "Planet Hulk."
- Harrison Oogar, the caveman of Wall Street, from the Age of the Sentry miniseries. He beat market five years straight!
- Java, the unfrozen caveman butler, of Simon Stagg in Metamorpho.
- Kang the Conqueror is a villainous example of this. Bored with his life in a peaceful 30th Century, he traveled back in time to conquer Ancient Egypt, and then hopped forward to take over a war-torn 40th Century. He was so successful, he became a few of Marvel's biggest villains.
- Double Subverted by Booster Gold. Originally a screw-up in his native 25th century, he stole some future tech and a time machine to travel back to modern times, figuring he could become a beloved hero. Instead, he gained a reputation as a screw-up. He later does manage to find his niche, but as a guardian of space-time...which requires him to maintain his reputation as a screw-up to ensure that "kill Booster Gold back when he was still a loser" doesn't become the first step in every time-traveling villain's Evil Plan.
- Belgian comic Suske en Wiske, has Jerom, an actual caveman who after being unfrozen managed to become in essence a sophisticated everyman, even while retaining his prehistoric Hulk Speak and Super Strength.
- Played with somewhat in the origin of DC villain Vandal Savage - while absorbing the radiation from a meteorite has made him intelligent and cunning enough to thrive in the modern world, it also gave him thousands of years to adapt along with it, and he's still fondly retained some of his old brutish habits (cannibalism, for example).
- An early issue of Fantastic Four had Reed, Ben, and Johnny heading back to the 1700s. Ben had to be convinced to come home after he discovered that while he was a freak of nature back home in "civilized" New York, he made a pretty kick-ass pirate.
- The Adèle Blanc-Sec adventure "Le Savant Fou" has an especially weird example: the (literal) unfrozen caveman turns out turns out to be fluent in French and immediately asks the scientists who unfroze him for clothes, a stiff drink and -if it wouldn't be asking too much- a cigar. The drop-jawed scientists comment that "We'll have to revise our understanding of the Prehistoric ages."
- In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Defenders of Warmth, Alexa is an excellent flyer, even though she was originally a human, not a Pidgey.
- Evil Dead's Ashley J Williams is an subversion. At the end of Army of Darkness, he could have become a king, but he chose to go back and become a clerk at S-Mart again.
- In The Incredible Mr. Limpet, Mr. Limpet [a human played by Don Knotts] is fascinated by fish, and at one point says, "I wish, I wish I was a fish." He gets his wish, and acclimates very quickly.
- In RED, the love interest crosses this with Unfazed Everyman when thrust into the life of espionage. She is surrounded by old and young spies, assassins and government agents who are fighting over her life all the time. She is kidnapped, drugged, shot at, almost blown up, and kidnapped again. What does she say when she is confronted with the death sentence or life in prison if she is caught? "Awesome." And when she is? That her boyfriend will kick the interrogator's ass.
- In Encino Man, an unfrozen caveman (played by Brendan Fraser) becomes the most popular kid in school without even trying.
- Several of the historical personalities in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. In particular, Ludwig van Beethoven immediately masters the use of synthesizers at a music store.
- With Brendan Fraser again, in Blast from the Past he plays a guy raised in a fallout shelter by parents who were sealed in it during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Upon emerging in The '90s, he finds;
- His Omnidisciplinary Scientist father's doting education is better than modern Ivy League colleges.
- His father's boxing training is better than most gang members' bare knuckles street fighting.
- His old-fashioned manners and values render him impossibly charming to the average modern Joe.
- His father's wise investments are worth millions!
- Played with in Never Been Kissed. The protagonist was an outcast in high school the first time and she's on her way to becoming one this time around, despite her theory that she could study her way into the popular clique. Her brother, on the other hand, drops in and becomes the most popular guy in school with no effort. Again.
- This is the implied fate of Dr. Gillian Taylor, a whale specialist from the 1980s who essentially bullies her way into going back to the 23rd century with Kirk and company in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. After Kirk's trial, she takes a post on a science vessel, exclaiming excitedly that she has "three hundred years of catching up to do!" This may be a case of Fridge Logic depending on the nature of the assignment. Unless said vessel is an ocean ship, it would be more than a bit odd that her first act be to ship off and leave the whales to fend for themselves, especially considering that she'd justified coming along with them by the fact that no one in the 23rd century would know anything about taking care of whales.
- The Last Starfighter: Alex Rogan is stuck in a rut in his trailer park, and the only thing he's really good at is a video game. Turns out the game's actually an alien flight simulator that was delivered to his park (instead of Las Vegas) by mistake, and he's scoring in the top percentile. He finds his place in life as a hotshot Gunstar pilot for the Star League, thousands of light years from home.
- Back to the Future Part III:
- Marty McFly travels through time back to the old west. Despite being only a teenager who has presumably never shot a real gun before, he turns out to be an expert at quickdraw and pistol shooting (once he adjusts to the recoil) because of his familiarity with a video game from 1985.
- Despite being considered a crazy, dangerous nut in his own time, Doc Brown's love of the Old West made him fit in perfectly with Hill Valley in 1885. Throughout the third film, he's shown to be well-liked and on first name terms with many local townspeople, including even the Mayor and until he learned that Marty came back to prevent Buford Tannen from shooting him, Doc was quite content to simply live out the rest of his life in the past.
- In Battlefield Earth the cave people of 3000 quickly learn how to fly implausibly still functioning Aircraft and beat the Psychlo who defeated the real military.
- Dick Nelson of Mom and Dad Save the World quickly becomes a brilliant military strategist on the planet Spengo despite being an ordinary American suburbanite simply because all of the natives are idiots.
- In The Gamers interquel episode, it's revealed that Nimble the master thief became a successful lawyer. He's very interested in the possibilities of white-collar crime.
- Two of the modern characters in Michael Crichton's Timeline ends up living with ease and comfort in Late Medieval France. The first is a marine with an uncanny knack for languages. The second is a history grad student with a passion for all things from his period of study; language, clothes, culture, sports, war... The first insinuates himself into a French court. The second lives his natural span, happily married as an English nobleman.
- One of the Choose Your Own Adventure Books was called The Cave of Time, which, predictably enough, involved time travel. In one of the endings, you're aided in your journey home by a man in the colonial US who is dying from TB. Once the two of you return to your time, the guy is cured thanks to modern medicine, becomes a history teacher, and becomes renowned due to his expert knowledge of the colonial US.
- Alan Dean Foster's novel Glory Lane features an '80s punk rocker who gets abducted by aliens along with his brother and a random girl from the local college. He fits in much better in space than he did on Earth.
- Buck Rogers is probably the paramount example of this trope. No matter what version you hear, it's all about Buck, a guy from today's times, being sent a couple of centuries in the future where he turns out to be such a hot shot ace at everything that he single-handedly saves the world, defeats the evil empire, or whatever it is needs doing.
- Lord Jagged of Canary in Michael Moorcock's The Dancers at the End of Time cycle is a time traveller, who ventured to the eponymous End of Time, made his home there, and became more at home there than many of the era's native inhabitants, and being more pro-active than the rather clueless and almost purely hedonistic natives, ends up solving many of their problems, all while cheerfully embracing their (from our point of view) decadent hedonism.
- Pham Nuwen from Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep and A Deepness In The Sky. Medieval prince of a human planet that has lost spacefaring technology. He then has to adapt to life as a programmer-at-arms after his planet is visited by traders from another human civilization, and computers, travel between stars and life extension become commonplace. Millennia after, his corpse is unfrozen and he is confronted by a world where faster-then-light travel, antigravity, and thousands of civilizations of sentient beings, including godlike powers are a reality.
- Matthew Mantrell in Christopher Stasheff's Her Majesty's Wizard (and later, other characters in sequels, including a grad school buddy and Matt's mother), decodes runes he finds in a book in the library, and is transported to a magical kingdom under siege. He finds that not only does he fit in perfectly to this fantasy kingdom, but that being an English major is a distinct advantage in a world where poetry IS spellcasting.
- Also in Christopher Stasheff's works, there is Yorick, the telepathic Neanderthal from King Kobold Revived. (Justified by the fact that he, and his entire tribe of caveman espers, were rescued by a time traveler and relocated to another part of the planet the series takes place on in order to save them from extinction.)
- There is a Poul Anderson short story in which a white-collar worker has his soul switched with a Conan-esque barbarian warlord. In the end, the goddess that switched them offers to return them to their original bodies. They both turn down the offer.
- When Carrot Ironfoundersson first arrives in Ankh-Morpork he has no idea about city life and is completely naïve about nearly everything. By his very next book he's completely at home, in some ways more so than his boss Samuel Vimes, a classic city man who's lived in Ankh-Morpork all his life.
- Justified in that it is strongly implied that he is the rightful king of the city, and thus the whole city bends to his will.
- Carcer in Night Watch is thrown through time and adapts with terrifying speed, to the point that he ends up becoming a secret policeman.
- Zig-Zagged whenever Death Takes a Holiday; his attempts to engage in non-Death activities will either show him to be extremely competent, or extremely incompetent. He gets a job as a cook at a greasy spoon in Mort and excels, turns out to be a great farm hand in Reaper Man, and even has success as a beggar in Soul Music (it's hard to say no to him). But when he turns up on a stage in Wyrd Sisters he fudges his lines (he doesn't forget, he just has a bit of stage fright), has middling success standing in for the Disc's equivalent to Santa Claus in Hogfather, and can't learn music to safe his "life".
- Tom Billings, the hero in Edgar Rice Burroughs The People That Time Forgot, who adapts to life very easily in the primeval Lost World of Caspak and elects to stay there with the woman he loves. Possibly crosses over into Born in the Wrong Century.
- The main point of Jared Diamond's nonfictional Guns, Germs, and Steel is based on this trope and how, under the right circumstances, this applies to literally everyone on earth.
- There is a Frommer Files story where Erich Brunner, a disaffected aristocrat living in the late 21st Century, develops time travel and sends himself back to 1919 in an attempt to (of course) stop Hitler. He fails miserably, but winds up as a medievalist historian at Cambridge and works there happily for the rest of his life.
- The downtimer community in the Time Scout series adapt to varying degrees. Some are Fish out of Temporal Water, some are this trope. The same is true of people who travel to the past. Some are conspicuous tourists, others are invisible. Being a downtimer tourist is only possible down a gate developed for that; uptime is more friendly to downtimers. They even provide counseling.
- In Leo Frankowski's The Cross Time Engineer series:
- Conrad rapidly adapts to being stranded in medieval Poland. Justified in that he is college educated, military trained, and is unwittingly receiving assistance from the time travelers that stranded him.
- In Conrad's Time Machine, a whole time traveling society known as the 'Killers' revel in joining ancient societies, especially in combat. At the same time, subverted by the other time traveling society of 'Smoothies' who are incapable of coping with so much as a scraped knee.
- Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is completely out of his depth for nearly all his adventures in space, but eventually tries to settle down on a nice peaceful planet and live a normal life. The people there are primitive, so he hopes to use his comparatively advanced knowledge to aid them, only to realize he has no idea how any earth technology actually works. Getting depressed, he makes himself a sandwich, only to discover that the locals have never seen one before and think it's a stroke of genius. He becomes a highly respected member of the village as a sandwich artisan.
- Susan Shaw in Edward Ormondroyd's Time at the Top was much more at home living in the 19th century than in the 20th.
- In the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, someone figured out how to clone neanderthals. It turns out they are a bit different from homo sapiens, most importantly, they are unable to lie. This leads to a literal caveman lawyer, a neanderthal who figured out how to deceive others by not saying the whole truth. As everyone knows his kind is unable to lie, he promptly became a successful lawyer.
- H. Beam Piper's Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen. He quickly goes from State Trooper to Great King.
- John Carter of Mars gains superstrength on Mars, thanks to Earth's higher gravity. When he arrives on Mars he's an ordinary warrior (albeit with exceptional fighting skills). By the end of the third book, he's Jeddak of Jeddaks, Warlord of Barsoom, and in charge of the Twin Cities of Helium and Lesser Helium. In later books he conquers even more cities/civilizations.
- Lampshaded in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Cao Cao is referred to by a man known for evaluating people thus: "You would be a capable minister in peaceful times and an unscrupulous hero in chaotic times." Cao Cao bears it out: before the Yellow Turban Rebellion, he's a loyal, if minor, magistrate. As the land descends to chaos, he comes out on top of the feudal lords of central and northern China. His line would eventually supplant the Han.
- This is fairly common in the book. The civil war offered opportunity to minor nobility to go far farther than they would have normally, assuming they had the talent to survive the turmoil. Of the other two emperors of the titular Three Kingdoms, one was the son of a merchant. The other was distantly related to the emperor, and starts the novel selling shoes and weaving straw mats.
- Quite a few people who lived normal, uneventful lives in the year 2000 in Virginia become extremely rich and/or influential when thrust back in time to 1632 Europe in the 1632 novel series, due to their knowledge or political acumen.
- In Dune, one of the signs of Paul's Messiahdom is that he is able to, among other things, perfectly utilize a stillsuit without instructions.
- The full awesomeness of the Dune Prophecy is "He will know your ways as if born to them."
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court has the title character replace Merlin as court mage, eventually gaining much power and even an army.
- World War Z mentions people like this, mostly paranoid survivalists or gangs of thugs who managed to carve out an area for them to 'rule' when civilization collapsed.
- In Abarat, everyone notices how quickly outsider Candy gets used to Abarat. Most outsiders take weeks to fully adjust to its quirks. Foreshadowing, of course, since Candy was an Abarattian princess in a former lifetime.
- Leviathan: Deryn never fit in as a typical Edwardian young lady, but when she sneaks into the Air Service, she not only fits in with the other middies but is shown to be the best of them all.
- In the Guardians of the Flame series, a group of college students is transported into a fantasy world and end up using their modern knowledge to establish a kingdom dedicated to liberty and equality - and defended with gunpowder and machinery.
- Flores Quintera, the old girlfriend Jonathan Thomas Meriwether accidentally helped summon in the first book of Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, became acclimated to that universe's way of life rather easily, to the point of happily going off with a talking rabbit at the end of the second.
- In the Emberverse novels, some characters and groups take more readily to the end of technology than others. Especially noteworthy is Norman Arminger, who parlays an influential position in the Portland chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism and a decent theoretical knowledge of medieval combat tactics into a neo-feudal kingdom that emerges from the chaos as one of the major military and economic powers in the region.
- Harry Potter spent 11 years being told magic didn't exist. Within a few months of learning that brooms could be used for flight, he became the youngest Quidditch Seeker in a century and proceeded to have a nearly undefeated run (the only times he ever lost were due to outside influence, such as Dementor attacks or taking a bludger to the skull).
- Hermione Granger is muggle-born, and so likewise grew up without even knowing she was a witch until age eleven. Her naturally studious nature makes her the best and most knowledgeable student in her class.
- In Domina, Adam Anders was just a rich kid with mild sociopathic tendencies who got thrown into a city of criminals who like using a Bio-Augmentation device to turn themselves into monsters, and then the Composer showed up with zombies. Turns out sociopaths are pretty good at killing without remorse. He even makes quite a bit of money on the side hunting non-human monsters.
- Waldo Butters from The Dresden Files lacks any major talent in magical abilities in a world of gods, angels, demons, necromancers, The Fair Folk, and a whole slew of other things in the Fantasy Kitchen Sink. However, his analytical mind and understanding of proper theory is beyond the hero Harry Dresden, who is a very powerful and dangerous wizard. So, with the right aide in magical theory and proper battery he goes from one trying to deny magic exists despite being attacked by a necromancer who revived his coworker as a zombie, to a curious coroner who studied Harry for some biological answers to making some minor Magitek, to dressing light Batman to fight evil when Harry was out of commission, to becoming a Jewish Jedi Knight of the frikking Cross complete with a holy blade in the form of a lightsaber.
- Jerin Whistler of A Brother's Price is a country bumpkin, and when he receives an invitation to spend some time at the royal palace, he is bored at first, because there is absolutely nothing to do. Then, as tends to happen in novels, he finds out about an intrigue against the royal family, and puts to use his hobbies, which include code breaking and lockpicking, as some of his ancestors were spies and the family upholds traditions.
- In the short story "Gun for Hire" by Mack Reynolds, a hitman is time-scooped to a future utopia to kill a dissident who's threatening to upset this. So the hitman just offers his services to the dissident instead.
Live Action TV
- Doctor Who:
- Nimrod the neanderthal adjusts pretty well to being a butler in the serial "Ghost Light", and later an interstellar explorer.
- As does Ancelyn, the medieval knight catapulted to the late 20th century in "Battlefield". He manages to hook up with Bambera, the commander of UNIT in that era, and get a job as a gardener for then-retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
- "The Curse of the Black Spot": 17th-century pirate Captain Henry Avery is able to immediately identify the major controls of the TARDIS and how they work, as well as later pilot an ancient alien ship, because, well, "a ship's a ship".
- John Crichton, star of Farscape has his season-or-so of being a regular Fish out of Water. However, after that season ends, the series sees John pull stuff that not even the Evil Plan-wielding villains had ever once considered- with the possible exception of Scorpius. And, boy, was he just getting started... Heavily justified as though every other race is stronger, faster, tougher, and/or smarter, Crichton has three little aces up his sleeve; first, he's the only man in the Uncharted Territories who is not from a Planet of Hats, making him both familiar with most of those Hats and fairly skilled at facilitating communication between different ones; second, he simply doesn't know when he's been beaten; and third, he is completely and totally batshit insane. By the end of the series, Crichton is willing to strap a nuclear weapon to his hip and stroll right into The Empire's most secure facility and blackmail them as part of a rescue mission - and it works!
- This sentiment is expressed in the series finale "Bad Timing", though (presumably) not meant to be taken literally.
John: What did you imagine for your life?
Aeryn: Service, promotion, retirement, death. You?
John: This is exactly what I imagined... and a couple of kids.
- This sentiment is expressed in the series finale "Bad Timing", though (presumably) not meant to be taken literally.
- Lisa on Green Acres, who ironically wants to return to New York, but adapts better than her husband to the unique ways of Hooterville. Justified in that she is a Cloud Cuckoolander and Hooterville is prime Cloud Cuckooland real estate.
- An interesting villainous example in Lois & Clark. A time-traveler from the 30th century, a time with no war, crime or poverty, visits the 20th century. He's so enthralled by the violence and vice of the era that he decides not only to stay but to try and take it over.
- Elizabeth Bennet in Lost in Austen adapts to the 21st century a lot better than the nominal heroine adapts to Regency England, despite her assumption of being Genre Savvy from reading and re-reading Pride and Prejudice, the book she's trapped inside.
- One of the escaped souls in Reaper was a Hun. Although initially unfamiliar with the modern world, being frightened off by Sam's cellphone, by the next time they encounter him he's fully adapted businessman.
- Keyrock, the unfrozen caveman lawyer, from the Saturday Night Live sketch. The former Trope Namer. Keyrock becomes a sleazy lawyer who repeatedly uses his past to help make his arguments in court.
- When John meets Sherlock he quickly becomes used to the kookiness of his friend and hands ass to two villains, and a lot more.
- Space Precinct: Intelligent races tend to homogenize and eventually follow rules as a manner of etiquette. Then Faster-Than-Light Travel was discovered, they started interacting, finding that they had different forms of etiquette, and parts of their civilizations started rediscovering crime. Solution: find a race that still practices criminal investigation and recruit them as Space Police!
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Scotty from Star Trek: The Original Series becomes one in "Relics", as he tries to show that his engineering expertise is still useful in the 24th century, despite all the advances in technology since his time.
- The original series featured Khan Noonien Singh, who within 24 hours of being awakened from over 200 years in cold sleep had studied the Enterprise's technical manuals and learned them well enough to take control of the ship. Of course, being a genetically-enhanced superman who can outdo even Spock physically and mentally doesn't hurt.
- Captain Kirk quickly becomes the greatest gangster of them all in "A Piece of the Action".
- On Supernatural, when Sam and Dean get sent to prison, Dean adapts to the situation with ease and actually seems to be enjoying his stay. It gets to the point where Sam asks, "Dean, doesn't it bother you how well you seem to fit in here?"
- This is the basis for the short-lived sitcom Cavemen, featuring modern-day Neanderthals who evolved alongside "modern" humans. The opening credits even show cavemen involved at different points in world history, such as one caveman accompanying George Washington crossing the Delaware River.
- Arthur Dent becomes one of these towards the end of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but given the things he's seen by that point it's not surprising that he's desensitized to the bizarre.
- Zoey from Left 4 Dead was doing poorly in college and spent most of her time watching horror movies about zombies. After the world is overrun with zombies, she is Genre Savvy enough to survive.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, despite most potential Wardens having fairly humble origins, they have the potential to become a better Grey Warden than the more experienced and Templar-trained Alistair. For example, the City Elf and Dwarf Commoner Wardens are self-taught fighters with no formal combat training, the Dalish Warden have little knowledge of the world outside of their clan and the Human/Elf Mage Warden is simply a Badass Bookworm. Justified as most Grey Wardens recruits are often picked precisely for this reason, having unique qualities that can be honed to make them excellent at fighting Darkspawn.
- Eddie Rigg of Brütal Legend not only fits in better than the natives of his new land, he picks up battle-axe usage oddly quickly, and is even genuinely shocked they would think he'd want to go home again. It's foreshadowing, of course. Both his mother and father were from that world; his dad was a human hero, while his mother was the queen of demons and said battle-axe had belonged to her.
- In Mass Effect, the entire human race comes across as this to the other alien races, who are a little perturbed how quickly humanity is adapting, integrating and rising to prominence within the galactic community. Especially since humanity went from discovering mass effect technology and unsealing their Mass Relay, to making first contact, to gaining a seat on the Citadel Council in just under forty years.
- Present in Persona 4 with Teddie. The rate at which he adapts to living in the human world is startling, given the fact that just less than 2 months earlier, he didn't even know that "Evidence" isn't a type of food, that a human hand isn't edible or what filming is, among many other things. In fact, he didn't even have a humanoid body until a short while before entering the human world, yet within a mere span of days he is part-timing at a Department Store, pleasantly enjoying modern commodities and flirting through half the female population of Inaba. Some concepts do remain unfamiliar to him for a longer while, but they are not the ones you would expect.
- The main characters of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series seem to be pretty competent at fighting even though they're actually humans. They can even beat legendaries despite the fact that they're at their first evolutionary stage most of the time.
- In Pikmin, Olimar becomes a pikmin-chucking badass pretty quickly for a humble space freighter.
- The Player Character of Knights of the Old Republic takes quite well to Jedi training for a junior Republic Navy crewman. Of course, the Tomato Surprise subverts this by having them a member of the sith.
- Parson Gotti of Erfworld, Justified in that he was specifically summoned in order to be able to adapt rapidly. Also, the spell was supposed to summon someone who would find the place familiar.* There's also the fact that he's by reputation a hardcore (and pretty ruthless) wargamer, and Erf is a wargame. In his mind, he's been living in a series of close cousins of Erf for years, his biggest problem is that he doesn't know what the rules are at first. As soon as he finds out, he begins finding ways to subvert them.
- Rina Lee in The Dragon Doctors, a girl turned to stone and left in an abandoned mine for 2000 years before being rescued by the magical doctors. Society has actually been destroyed fully four times in a row over the course of 2000 years and is currently more or less back at the same level that Rina is able to relate to, though she's still horribly traumatized at first. The doctors point out that if she had been frozen during one of the Dark Ages she wouldn't have fared nearly as well. It also helps that she already knew magic before emerging into a magical world.
- In Schlock Mercenary, Gav, the former webcomic artist who wrote Nukees, was a Human Popsicle for a millennium (ever since the 21st century). When he was defrosted, he became... a wormhole physicist. Justified as he was defrosted just as an alien technology-suppressing conspiracy was broken, meaning he has an untainted viewpoint.
- The Compozerz is set in modern times, with five famous classical music composers inexplicably transported to the desert of the American Southwest, where they suddenly speak perfect English and get used to modern conveniences in no time. With a little help from their new friend Connie.
- The Time... Guys: Caveman the intern, a native of the 40th millennium B.C., is leagues more competent than Dr. Chronos, D.D.S..
- Nordkapp Man, a member of the Global Guardians. Within a few years of his being thawed out of the glacier he'd been trapped in for 30,000 years, Nordkapp Man (a neanderthal with superpowers) had become an university professor, a regular club-hopper, and, of course, an ice-wielding crimefighter.
- In Dragonbored, Jimbroth is a Barbarian Hero from Skyguard thrown into the real world, who ends up stealing his former player's promotion at work after he successfully applies the rules of medieval warfare to that of the corporate business structure.
- Turnabout Storm: Unlike Phoenix, the Judge takes the whole "Unwillingly summoned to a land full of colorful equines" issue lightly. He adjusts to Equestria almost instantly, and is thrilled to explore and meet its inhabitants.
- A number of humans in The Jenkinsverse fit just right in, especially post-contact (once A) humans gain proper sentient status instead of their former classification as "non-sapient fauna" and B) translators are generally programmed for human languages). Justified because in that universe Humans Are Superior, not only physically but compared to most of the galaxy, mentally as well.
- The plot of Caelum Lex begins with Leta Adler, a doctor from a wealthy planet, getting dragged onto a Space Pirates ship. Does she cry? Does she panic? No - she treats the wounded and becomes part of the crew in a flash, and she's happy about it, because she's been looking for passage off planet for months.
- In Adventure Time, when Betty jumps through a wormhole into the present, she has no trouble adjusting to the land of Ooo and immediately manages to beat a monster whose Anti-Magic had thwarted a whole legion of wizards. Within a few months, she's elbow-deep into research about the origins of magic, something she apparently was investigating pre-Mushroom War. This doesn't work out as well for her.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force did a joke with a caveman who kept on ripping off Frylock's inventions while pretending to be just a stupid cave man.
- Duck Dodgers is a pastiche of Buck Rogers, and is made a captain because IQ High is Wrong Genre Savvy, who expects him to be better at everything because he's from the past. He wises up pretty quick, but Dodgers still has his uses as no one else in the 2250's is stupid enough to attempt some pretty crazy stunts. And some of those stunts actually work. Some.
- Fry makes several comments throughout the series about how he fits in better in the future. While he's still a naive delivery boy, he is much happier with his now futuristic life. He eventually is the most important person in the universe. For more than one reason.
- When Fry's ex-girlfriend from 1999, Michelle, shows up, she is confused and terrified by the world of the future; Amy and Leela point out that Fry was a bizarre outsider in his own time, and so he has adapted much better to the bizarre world of 3000.
- "That Guy" (Steve Castle), another stereotypical 80's guy, picks up right where he left off as a successful corporate raider. Granted, he and Fry met in a counseling group for unfrozen people. A caveman at that group was having the hardest trouble coping with the fact that his wife was on display in a museum. "That Guy" is a Disco Dan who should be even more out of touch than Fry, having been frozen since The '80s. Nevertheless, his business acumen and ruthlessness serve him well, and he's able to run a business despite initially not even knowing what it does. The only reason it didn't last is he forgot to have his terminal disease cured.
- While being an academic bookworm made Aimee unpopular in her old earth high school, in Galaxy High it's what makes her a member of the popular crowd. Opposed to Doyle who finds his poor grades turn him from the big man on campus, to the biggest loser in school.
- Gargoyles: Brooklyn, Lexington, and Broadway take pretty quickly to the world of 1994, despite being a thousand years out of date. All the Gargoyles have shades of it, really, but it's most noticeable with the trio.
- Hudson too, once he discovers television. And reclining easy chairs...
Hudson: Well, now. This isn't too bad!
- Hudson too, once he discovers television. And reclining easy chairs...
- Over the Garden Wall: Wirt is socially awkward in his hometown, but is considered a pilgrim of sorts in the Unknown; at least, according to the members of the tavern.
You're a pilgrim! You're the master of your own fate!
The maker of your own destiny!
- The animated series Martin Mystery has a character named Java, a caveman that was frozen in ice for 200,000 years. He works at the titular Martin's high school as a cook and janitor and helps him and his stepsister Diana solve supernatural mysteries for The Center. He's rather wary of technology and has terrible hygiene and grammar, but otherwise has adapted to 20th century life quite well.
- And of course, the character is based on a character of the same name from an Italian comic, and works as an assistant and sort-of butler for Martin Mystère. No bad hygiene or wariness of technology is evident, in fact, he almost seems to fit everyday modern life a bit better than his boss. His only seeming flaws are his lecherousness and 'wandering hands'.
- The titular Samurai Jack quickly becomes this in the future where Aku flings him. The demon had intended him to be lost and helpless in a world where HE rules, but the samurai rapidly adapts quite well seeing how most of it feels like a Kurosawa movie. That said, for four seasons he prefers living simply and using future technology only when he must, and is a disaster behind the wheel whenever he takes it, sheepishly saying "I like to walk". In Season 5 he's adapted fully to using futuristic weapons and vehicles, but by that point he's been in the future for fifty years.
- Inversion: "Gorak" from South Park. Frozen in the ice nearly 32 months previous; after thawing, was difficult to train in "modern" communication, unable to adapt to "modern" ways, and ultimately moved to Des Moines, Iowa, because they're nearly three years behind everyone else.
- In "Go God Go", Cartman has great trouble adjusting to life 500 years in the future. In "Go God Go XII" (which is the very next episode), he has lived there for some time, has formed a tenuous alliance with the Otters and gets around much more confidently.
- Steven Universe:
- Lapis has hydrokinetic powers that only seem limited by the volume of water she has access to, and so proximity to Earth's ocean makes her a Person of Mass Destruction. However, the gem Homeworld and its terraformed colony worlds completely lack water, implying she is much weaker in her original residence. Ironically, Lapis doesn't really care about this power, and initially wanted to leave Earth for Homeworld (which was one thing she couldn't do without Steven's help).
- When Navy tries to join the Crystal Gems, her congenial personality seems to let her adjust to life on Earth almost instantly, much to Lapis' resentment. As Navy turns out to be a Heel–Face Mole, this was mostly likely part of her act—or at least an exaggeration, as she did seem to like Earth even before the deceit began.
- Lars is a human, and not a strong or well-adjusted one. However, when he gets stranded on Homeworld, it's discovered Homeworld relies a lot on automated machines that detect gemstones, which humans don't have. To gem Attack Drones and security scanners, Lars is invisible. He uses this, along with a general uptick in confidence, to turn the Off Colors from a desperate band of fugitives to a crew of Space Pirates who managed to repeatedly elude Homeworld and hijack several ships.
- Rose Quartz/Pink Diamond has powers over plants and animals which would be useless on the sterile Gem Homeworld and it's colonies but on earth she has a source on extra muscle and defence.
- In one episode of Timon & Pumbaa, Simba finds himself with the duo in Rome, Italy. Simba is not at all bothered by his Fish out of Water setting as opposed to this usual appearances in either the Pridelands or the Jungle, and adapts to his location quite well. Even going along with Timon and Pumbaa's antics!