Pair the Smart Ones
Image by kel20. Used with permission.

Pierce: Hey, I was thinkin', we might die here. Anything y'all want to get off your chest?
The Boss: Come on, Pierce; don't go talking like that.
Oleg: No, he's right. Were Kinzie here, I would pour out my heart.
The Boss: WHAT?!
Oleg: It is rare that I find an intellectual equal.

If a show features two highly intelligent characters of similar age and compatible sexual orientation, chances are they'll end up together. Works particularly well if they're Teen Geniuses. An in-universe invocation of the Geeky Turn-On.

It's common for such relationships to start cleanly and quickly, avoiding Will They or Won't They? altogether, and proceed somewhat more smoothly than whatever other characters may be in a relationship, thus often turning them into a Beta Couple. Apparently, love doesn't make you dumb if you're a genius.

If the writers don't do it, the shippers will.

See also Genius Breeding Act, which is where a government tries to force or motivate this.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Averted in Bakuman。; Takagi is made to choose between two girls who had been vying for his attention. He rejects Iwase (who had a one-sided academic rivalry with him and is one of the top students at their school) due to the fact she wouldn't let him continue to write manga, and instead picks Miyoshi (who doesn't get very good grades) because she promises to support him, even if it meant he'd have less time to spend with her.
    • There is, however, a point in which Miyoshi thinks this is happening, when she discovers a copy of Iwase's book with a letter from Iwase to Takagi (which he didn't know about). She then thinks of how Iwase is smarter and more talented in other regards than she is, and becomes very depressed until things are cleared up.
  • Digimon Savers: Nanami tries to invoke this and tempt Touma into a Face–Heel Turn, but he doesn't bite.
  • Shikamaru and Temari are commonly shipped in Naruto (with significant Ship Tease in their scenes together, including a literal case in the anime with Temari's subordinates teasing her about it); Shikamaru has an IQ of 200, making him the smartest of the Rookie Nine and one of the smartest characters in the series (if not the smartest), and Temari is noted in-story and in the databooks to be very intelligent. Even In-story potential love interest and local Cute Bookworm Shiho (who has a crush on Shikamaru, who may or may not be oblivious to it) is a member of the Konoha cryptanalysis team. In the epilogue, Shikamaru and Temari are married.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 


  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Death Star, we learn that part of the reason why Grand Moff Tarkin loves Admiral Daala is that he's always wanted someone smart and ruthless and efficient enough to keep apace with him. Whether or not this is actually shown in the books.
    • Tarkin does, of course, overestimate his own intelligence. And the novel Death Star reveals that virtually all of Daala's appearances have come after she suffered severe brain damage.
  • Otto and Laura of the H.I.V.E. Series are this. Both are hackers of the highest caliber the school has ever seen. Their Big Damn Kiss occurs in the school library.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space stories, the Earth is so overpopulated that in order to have children at all, one has to be extraordinarily talented (high intelligence, good teeth, superior eyesight, cancer resistance, etc). A very few Einstein-level geniuses get Unlimited Breeding Licenses that basically allow them to have all the kids they want.
  • Played with in Artemis Fowl, but considering the main character was cool, collected, smart and strangely Badass, and his potential love interest was... not...
  • In A Wrinkle in Time (and its sequels) Mr. and Mrs. Murray are both extremely intelligent scientists in different fields. Local gossips suggested this meant Charles Wallace was retarded before he started talking.
  • In It Can't Happen Here, Doremus and Lorinda have been having an ongoing affair. Lorinda is shown to be much more of an intellectual and spiritual equal for Doremus than his wife, Emma.
  • One of the reasons Alaric falls for Laeshana in The Quest of the Unaligned is that she's the only one who he can have an intelligent (or even intelligible) conversation with.
  • A Mage's Power: Eric and Annala, two school nerds, quickly become friends and later Twice Shy. This is engineered by Tasio, who knew he would fawn over a "cute and sweet nerd".
  • Don't Call Me Ishmael! has Scobie and Prudence. They are both (nearly) geniuses and wear glasses. The first time they meet, Prue is impressed by Scobie's debating.
  • In Born Wicked, clever and level-headed Cate falls for Finn, the smart son of a bookstore owner.

    Live Action TV 
  • The 100: Season 2 has genius mechanic Raven hooking up with genius engineer Wick; they actually have their first almost-kiss in the excitement of solving a technical problem.
  • Angel: Aversion on the usual formula with Wesley and Fred as it was less than smooth and took multiple seasons and lasted exactly one episode.
  • Babylon 5: John Sheridan and Delenn, both of whom are incredible strategic minds with immense curiosity about and respect for other races. All through the series the two's feelings for each other are never shown to waver, in fact only growing deeper and stronger with time. There's never much doubt that They Will - it's just a matter of a) how long it will take and b) whether or not they'll ever get a chance to, considering those pesky wars they're always fighting. They Do indeed, and wind up Happily Married and team-running the galaxy by the show's end.
  • Beverly Hills 90210: Averted with the Andrea and Brandon Ship Tease. They are best friends and she has a big crush on him in early seasons, but nothing ever happened between them.
  • The Big Bang Theory: All of the main characters are smart (except Penny), but Sheldon is the most intelligent and is paired up with Amy, who matches his level the most and is introduced as the most similar to him personalty-wise.
  • Bones:
    • Played straight with Daisy and Sweets considering one is smart enough to be one of Bones' grad students, who are all supposed to be highly intelligent and the other was already working as an FBI profiler/psychologist and has multiple doctorates, and won a fulbright and a Rhodes, all before he was 23. Still, with the number of geniuses on that show, it was fairly inevitable that this trope would have to happen at least once over the course of the show.
    • Subverted on an early episode. Bones' old professor comes back and they slide into their previous relationship... which ends remarkably poorly. In general, Bones is a fairly good at averting this trope, considering the number of geniuses in the lab. Between Brennan, Jack, Zach, and Cam, not to mention all the interns, there have been surprisingly few hookups between geniuses.
  • Boy Meets World: Minkus thought this would happen during his one-season stint. However, Topanga was destined for Cory, instead.
  • CSI: Grissom and Sara although it takes six seasons of Will They or Won't They? before they actually get together.
  • Doctor Who: Rattigan explains his master plan for a new world to the other Teen Geniuses he'd collected, and mentions that he's written up a breeding program. They are appropriately appalled.
  • Dollhouse: Topher and Bennett, with their Dating Catwoman and Slap-Slap-Kiss. And then Bennett is hit with the Heel–Face Door-Slam and shot in the head.
  • Eureka: Almost every couple naturally as the whole town is populated by geniuses.
  • Firefly: genius doctor Simon and the genius mechanic Kaylee. Though they won't... until The Movie, that is (the epilogue of the movie, no less).
  • Friends: Ross's girlfriends include Asian and Nerdy Julie in season 2 and Hot Scientist Charlie in season 9 and 10. Both relationships didn't last though.
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • One of the reasons that Rory Gilmore and Jess Mariano were such a popular couple among the fans was that they were both incredibly intelligent and very too smart for the small town of Stars Hollow. Despite their compatibility, Jess's personal issues drove them apart.
    • To a lesser exent, Logan and Rory. Interestingly enough, Logan and Jess seem to be the two sides of the same Brilliant, but Lazy coin.
    • All of the relationships Paris was involved in qualify - she seems to have a thing for the intellectual type.
  • Gossip Girl: Dan and Blair.
    Blair: Dan and Blair. Individual entities. Two proper nouns separated by a conjunction.
    Dan: Or a comma, if mentioned in a list.
    Blair: Which is rare. Since we have nothing in common and are in fact, opposites.
    Dan: The kind of opposites who do not attract.
    Blair: Most definitely not.
    Dan: No.
    Blair: The world just wasn't ready for a Humphrey-Waldorf friendship. It's been nice not being friends with you.
    Dan: Let's not do it again some time.
  • Home and Away: Dexter Walker and April Scott.
  • Knight Rider 2008: Lampshaded and Subverted in the first post-movie episode.
    Billy: Listen! Zoe! I have advanced degrees in Applied Physics, Quantum Physics Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, as well as Discrete and Applied Mathematics.
    Zoe: And I speak 9 languages! We should make a baby.
    Billy: Really?
    Zoe: No.
  • Luther: A darker take on this, as Nietzsche Wannabe and Self-Made Orphan Alice Morgan is attracted to the titular detective because he is one of the few people in the world smart enough to deal with her.
  • The Naked Brothers Band: Cooper Pillot and Patty Scoggins. Though they still call each other by their last names, they stand as a bastion of stability amidst the show's romantic chaos.
  • NCIS: Abby and McGee exhibit some elements of this. The facts that they aren't quite an official couple, that in general Abby is fairly affectionate towards all her colleagues, and that Duckie is arguably at least as smart as either of them does water the trope down a bit.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Subverted. It would seem things are going that way for Cookie/Evelyn in season 3, but they end up with different people.
  • Noah's Arc: College professor Chance paired with clever, strategic businessman Eddie.
  • The O.C.:
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton. They get engaged and marry at the end of The Movie Grand Finale
  • Smallville: A very humorous (but oddly cute) version appears in "Fortune", wherein two very different kinds of genius wind up alone together and very drunk. The result? Tess Mercer and Emil Hamilton making a Home Porn Movie. Both are suitably embarrassed afterwards; whether the relationship continued was undisclosed.
  • Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis: Averted with Samantha Carter and Rodney McKay. The two are Earth's smartest persons, The Smart Guy of their respective show and McKay is attracted to her, but nothing beyond that. In fact, Carter is as annoyed by McKay as most people are, while McKay gets into a relationship with Dr. Keller later. Though Carter does visit one Alternate Universe where she learns that she had married (and divorced) McKay.
  • The Suite Life on Deck: The studious twin Cody is paired with Bailey who is just as smart and nerdy as he is.
  • Veronica Mars: Mac got two of these relationships, with Beaver (season 2) and Max (season 3).

  • In the introduction to Thrill Me, Stephen Dolginoff reminds the reader—who is likely directing or perthat Richard and Nathan are intellectual equals. This is quite likely the reason they're as close as they are: they'd both graduated college by 19, and it's all but outright stated that no one else could keep up with them. It's a sign of how much Richard cares when he goes from saying, "I'm a superman," to, "We are supermen."

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Steins;Gate pairs eccentric would-be Mad Scientist Okabe Rintarou with Teen Genius neuroscientist Makise Kurisu - a pair so nerdy and obsessed with science that their Big Damn Kiss was followed by a discussion of the hippocampus's role in it.
  • Three of the paths in Katawa Shoujo have the Bookworm male lead, Hisao Nakai, being paired up with very booksmart girls:
    • Lilly Satou: She wants to be a Cool Teacher and is Class Representative for her class, meaning she has the highest scores there.
    • Hanako Ikezawa: She seems able to keep up with the class despite her bad attendance record, although Mutou suggests she isn't a "star student," and she and Hisao find a shared interest in their mutual love of reading.
    • Shizune Hakamichi: One of the criteria for being named a Class Representative in a Japanese highschool is to have the highest test scores from the year before, and there's the fact that she and Misha are usually the first people in 3-3 to finish Mutou's assignments.
  • If you want to make the protagonist of True Love Junai Monogatari score with either Student Council President Remi or local artist Miyuki, it's best to work on rising either his Scholarship (smarts) or Art. In fact, if the MC doesn't max out his smarts and get the highest scores in the tests, he won't be able to hook up with Remi.

    Web Comics 
  • Eerie Cuties: The het part of the fandom ships Ace with Brooke, since both are mature for their agenote  and share the Only Sane Man position in the comic. As such, it was the closest its ever had to a normal, stable couple. Which is why it wasn't allowed to last.
  • Freefall: Florence and Winston are easily the smartest characters, and they've shown strong attraction for each other since their first meeting, culminating so far in several kisses.
  • Girl Genius: Subverted with Gilgamesh Wulfenbach and Agatha Heterodyne. They looked like they were going this way, and then things got — complicated. It would have been so much simpler if Agatha hadn't been a Heterodyne. Not that Gil isn't smitten, and Agatha isn't interested, but circumstances have interfered. They're still the Alpha Couple of the story, despite not being a couple. There is evidence they will be together in the future. This is frequently lampshaded by everyone (including her castle) commenting on how well they would fit together, much to their annoyance.
  • Aradia and Sollux were paired before (if that concept makes any sense in the context) the events of Homestuck. Well, sort of.
  • Matt and Kiley of Ménage à 3 may be fumbling their way towards a somewhat serious relationship, despite their shared Selective Obliviousness to the fact. This may be related to the fact that they are among the few characters in the comic with some level of social intelligence, and an interest in and willingness to talk to other people (and listen to what the other person says). However, that relationship also has some serious problems.
  • See Helen and Dave of Narbonic (though Dave isn't as much of a genius as Helen... he's even more brilliant).
  • In Sinfest, Fuchsia tries to pose as smart and bookish to invoke this and win Crimney.
  • For a while in Sluggy Freelance, Mad Scientist Riff was dating occasional-mad-tinkerer Sasha. It wasn't a huge part of her character, but she was able to build her own Dimensional Flux Agitator.

    Web Original 
  • In Demon Thesis, this is the backstory of how Alain and Clady wound up together. Clady's friend Val sums up the flashback detailing how the lovers first met with this line:
    And you lived nerdily ever after, I get the picture.

    Western Animation 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Simon was an honors student and the most sensible of his brothers. When the Chipettes entered the picture, years later, he was eventually paired with Jeanette, who was his Distaff Counterpart. They provide the page image.
  • Jeremie and Aelita from Code Lyoko. They fit the Beta Couple mold, contrasting the complicated Sissi/Ulrich/Yumi/William love square. They're also the only pairing in the show confirmed by Word of God.
  • Xanatos of Gargoyles gives this as one of the reasons why he wants to marry Fox.
  • Kim Possible: Kim and her genius brothers are the result of a union between a rocket scientist and a brain surgeon.
  • Happens near the end of Megamind between Roxanne and Megamind. The male part of the couple at one point explicitly says "I need your help because you're the smartest person I know."
  • Winx Club: Tecna and Timmy, the fairy of technology and the tech expert of the Specialists respectively.
  • Daria:
    • In later seasons, Teen Genius Daria is paired with her intellectual equal, Tom Sloane.
    • Jodie Landon and Mack Mackenzie are the Token Minority Couple and two of the smartest and most well-adjusted characters in the series. The former is the Go-Getter Girl overachiever, the latter is the only smart guy in the football team (in contrast to the other Dumb Jocks football players).