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The Lab Rat
aka: Lab Rat
Any character who performs scientific analysis. Forensics people, usually. If on a show about those people, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spinoffs, he will be the member of the team who deals with the most technical and specialized aspects.

They will often be fairly geeky, and/or members of other subcultures. Not looking out of place on the catwalk is optional. Sometimes they will leave the lab and have adventures, or even become a more major character. Often the Plucky Comic Relief if they get any character development.

Examples

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     Anime and Manga  

     Literature  

  • The Dresden Files has Waldo Butters, whose adventures outside the lab result in him very firmly returning to it, and only leaving while wearing a Bullet Proof Vest.
  • Sword of Truth: In the Palace of the Prophets, Wizard Warren becomes known as The Mole for stopping leaving the underground libraries. It takes Richard to draw him out again. Warren turns out to be both brilliant and a power combat-wizard, so it was mainly shyness.
  • Every chapter featuring Melodie Crookshank in Tyrannosaur Canyon emphasizes her technical expertise and discoveries specifically in her basement laboratory. The fact that she has no friends and few coworkers strikes her as dangerously isolating over the book.

     Fan Fic  

     Live Action TV  

  • Nigel Townsend from Crossing Jordan. He was as much a main character as anyone who wasn't Jordan could be throughout the show's duration, but his overenthusiasm at tackling any overly technical problem, quirky sense of humor, ambiguous personal life, and arguable ability to fall into the goth subculture place him squarely in this trope.
  • Greg Sanders from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, whose nickname at Television Without Pity inspired this entry's title. He has now become a CSI in his own right.
    • His role has been taken over by multiple people- David Hodges (Trace Analysis, endearingly annoying), Archie Johnson (Audiovisual) Mandy Webster (Fingerprints), Henry Andrews (Toxicology) and Wendy Simms (DNA, lower rung love interest). They got a Lower Deck Episode with the hilarious "You Kill Me".
      • Also, the aptly named "Lab Rats" episode, and the (also aptly named) "Field Mice".
  • CSI: Miami had Natalia Boa Vista, who has upgraded to full CSI.
    • Maxine Valera also does this job.
  • CSI: NY has Adam Ross.
  • Marshall Flinkmann, the Mission Control from Alias.
  • Broots from The Pretender, whose job description rarely entails leaving his electronics lab at Villain HQ.
  • Abby Sciuto, the Perky Goth lab tech from NCIS. A major case of Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
  • In Bones, either Zack, Hodgins or Brennan (in that order or probability) depending on the episode and the context.
    • Called "squints" in-universe by Booth. Because they sit in the lab and squint at things.
      • Also the rotating team of 'Squinterns', Dr Brennan's interns.
  • In Fringe, Massive Dynamic's Brandon Fayette, and for pretty much the final two seasons, Astrid Farnsworth.
  • While "serial killer" is a better description, blood-spatter analyst Dexter Morgan is considered The Lab Rat in his public life.
    • If anything, Dexter is a subversion. At his job, he's seen as one of the lab rats, but the audience knows better. His co-worker Masuka, on the other hand, is a dead-on example.
  • Chloe O'Brian from 24.
  • Samantha Carter from Stargate Verse.
  • Fred (and later Knox) in Angel.
  • Early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer have Willow doing this, before it becomes less "chemical analysis" and more "potion-brewing".
  • In Dollhouse while Topher has pretensions of being a Mad Scientist he's really just one of these, his assistant Ivy even more so.
  • Agent Pendrell in The X-Files.
  • Lester in Beakman's World is a literal lab rat. Well, lab guy-in-a-rat-suit, but you get the picture.
  • Eve Lockhart in Waking the Dead also qualifies.
  • Phil and Lem from Better Off Ted.

     Video Games  

  • Ema Skye in the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Apollo Justice Ace Attorney.
    • Technically, a detective who really likes science, but the spirit is still there.

     Webcomics  

     Western Animation  

  • The Lab Rat from Grossology actually goes by this name.
  • A sort of literal version of this occurs in Creature Comforts, where a couple of lab rats in a maze being voiced by two real-life scientists talk about their day jobs.


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alternative title(s): Lab Rat
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