Shown Their Work

"A writer cannot do too much research... though sometimes it is a mistake to try and cram too much of what you learned into your novel. Research gives you a foundation to build on, but in the end it's only the story that matters."

Although many talents in fictional media show they didn't do their research, some actually did. In fact, sometimes they learned so much and worked so hard to learn it that it would hardly seem fitting to just not show it off. They may also very well have Cast the Expert.

The Shown Their Work trope comes in when the creators tweak their stories to show the viewer/reader what they have learned. The trick is to do it so this advances the story instead of stopping it cold. When it's done right in a well-made work, awards for its educational value can be just as nifty as the artistic awards.

This often happens in older, harder Sci-Fi books, wherein the authors try to keep the science as consistent as possible with currently-understood scientific theories. Of course, since Science Marches On, this may date the book badly.

More often than not, the stuff authors look into won't be things with which the average Joe is is familiar. If it's something particularly unrealistic, the audience might just write it off as typical fiction, even though it actually is a thing.

When an author shows off work they haven't actually done, you've been Dan Browned. Any examples of that list are there, here is about it being done right.

Note that this does not include explicitly educational productions, since they obviously have to be both accurate and explanatory to be effective.

Compare Doing It for the Art, Narrative Filigree (both also about going above and beyond in regards to production quality), Lampshaded the Obscure Reference, and any Artistic License.

Note that this is only as good as the writer makes it. Just because you did the research, doesn't mean it adds to the story, especially if the research is shoehorned in just to show off. Likewise, sometimes it's better just to make things up. Remember that one of the reasons why the Sci Fi Ghetto existed in the first place was because authors of old (and some even now) overused this trope, creating walls of Info Dump instead of stories. If people wanted to have a lecture in science, they would grab scientific essays in the first place.

Also keep in mind that referencing things doesn't by default make a work smarter than one that doesn't.

Try to keep this page from becoming Gushing About Shows You Like.

There's a LiveJournal community for authors conducting such research on non-trivial topics.

If the work is simply using real locations as backgrounds, consider using Real Place Background. If the work contains both real backgrounds and other research, then by all means include it here as well.

Contrast Critical Research Failure and Dan Browned.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • While working for Capitol Sports Promotions/The World Wrestling Council, "Sucio" Dutch Mantel would travel to mainland cities such as New York to eavesdrop on conversations between Puerto Ricans who had migrated from the island in order to figure out which insults would be most offensive to the Puerto Ricans who chose to remain on the island. This made him among the most hated wrestlers on Borinquen, second only to Ox Baker who had killed two men with his bare hands and routinely "attempted" to murder several other wrestlers in the same manner.
  • Brian Alvarez and Vince Verhei of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter were former pro wrestlers and Verhei in addition was a sports broadcaster, so they often bring various details to their analysis that would go unnoticed by most marks and in the latter case, even fellow wrestlers.
  • At the Russian promotion IWF President's Cup 2007 event, Raven made a surprise appearance and cut a promo in Russian.
  • Before acting as a guest commentator for Wrestling Society X, Pitbull made sure to do some homework so as not to come off as lost like previous musical guests.
  • Motor cycle gangs were hardly an original idea for Eric Bischoff by the time 2012 rolled around but Aces & Eights angle in TNA was actually based on a real life group, which members of the TNA version such as D'Lo Brown and The Dudley Boys would allude to and mention the practices of.
  • While Roman Reigns did not invent the jumping "Superman punch" strike, he is unique in that he duplicates the movements of Henry Cavill in Man of Steel as he sets up the move.

Alternative Title(s): Did Do The Research, Did The Research, Show Their Work, Shown His Work, Showed Their Work, Showing Their Work