The nearly impossibly smart guy
; A Stock Character
exemplified on Gilligan's Island
. Probably started off as a Teen Genius
and is capable of many an Ass Pull
, Deus ex Machina
, or, um, Polarity Reversal
. May or may not rely on Techno Babble
. Is the source of much Applied Phlebotinum
, but is incapable of providing a solution that would thwart the show's premise (the Professor couldn't get the rest of the gang off that darn island, Ziggy couldn't bring Sam home on Quantum Leap
). Often gets to be Mr. Exposition
. Fluent in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness
and Sounds of Science
. If he plays a game, it's inevitably chess
, because Smart People Play Chess
. He's also very likely to be a TV Genius
Compare Omnidisciplinary Scientist
and Absent-Minded Professor
, may study a Fantastic Science
instead of a regular one. May have hints of being a Spock
, but this is usually not central to the figure. Combining this figure with the Mad Scientist
is a common subversion. Sometimes, in fact, The Professor is
an ex-Mad Scientist
who has pulled a Heel-Face Turn
and now works for the good guys. Or just a Reluctant Mad Scientist
or sufferer of Science-Related Memetic Disorder
who happens to not be evil. Or a regular Mad Scientist
among Villain Protagonists
may also happen to be a Bunny-Ears Lawyer
who has wacky hobbies and idiosyncrasies, sometimes heating up Cup of Noodles soup in a test tube with a bunson burner or wearing wildly mismatched clothing. Despite these oddities, he will still prove to be amazing brilliant at his field of study and his quirks will be good-naturedly Played for Laughs
Contrast the more pragmatic Gadgeteer Genius
who is more of an eccentric Mr. Fixit
who constructs elaborate Rube Goldberg Devices
. The Professor
can be Mr Fixit too, provided he gets it working on the first try
The Professor is quite often the least action ready of the team. This may be due to age, infirmity or just being physically weak. For this reason, the Professor may be left at headquarters while the more able characters handle the physical action. Occasionally, in a two man team, the Professor's teammate is there to specifically act as a bodyguard and handle the physical stuff. Sometimes, this bodyguard may be a government agent.
If The Professor is quite older than the Five-Man Band
/ Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
/ True Companions
he works with, he's very likely to be the Team Dad
or Team Grandpa
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Anime and Manga
- A staple in almost every Super Robot series. Some of the quintessential examples are:
- Dr. Kozaburo Nambu from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman.
- Dr. Umatarō Tenma and later Professor Ochanomizu (aka Dr. Boyton and Dr. Elefun, respectively) in Tetsuwan Atom/Astro Boy.
- Dr. Isaac Gilmore from Cyborg 009. Also of the "ex Mad Scientist" type, one of the most memorable episodes of the 2001 series depicts with very brutal details how Gilmore, with his reputation in tatters after a failed experiment, is taken in by Black Ghost and later defects, unable to deal with their horrible methods anymore. There are also Dr. Finder, Dr. Ross and Dr. Kouzumi...
- Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards of the Fantastic Four.
- Charles "Professor X" Xavier of the X-Men.
- The Beast fits this role even better, despite being a Doctor...
- Forge also had elements of this while on the team.
- Professor Calculus from Tintin, invents some remarkable devices ranging from a submarine to a sonic weapon, works on a Moon rocket, somewhat eccentric, quite deaf.
- The Count in Spirou and Fantasio can extract almost any chemical from mushrooms, build a submarine and electronical mind-control countermeasures, is old fashioned in his way of dressing and speaking, and can be very absent minded at times.
- Adhemar from The Adventures of Nero, who looks like a baby in a smoking.
- Gyro Gearloose in Donald Duck comics.
- Favalli in El Eternauta
- Kalish in Universal War One.
- Professor Emil Hamilton in the Superman comics, at least when he's not in one of his villainous phases (like right now).
- Evangelion 303: Dr. Ritsuko Akagi. She is Project Evangelion's head scientist and she is also responsible for crew assignments.
- Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy. Also exhibits qualities of a Mad Scientist.
- The movie Arachnophobia has an entomologist named Prof. Atherton, who is usually referred to by John Goodman's character as 'The Professor'.
- The Professor in charge of filmy students in Diary of the Dead turns out to be ex-military and so the best person suited to guiding the teen-cast through the zombies.
- The film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen puts Nemo in this role, and Jekyll to a lesser extent.
- North By Northwest has a character who is literally referred to as "The Professor," although he's less of an impossibly brilliant man of science! and more of a cloak-and-dagger spy type.
- Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Jr. Ph.D. from the Indiana Jones movie series is also a professor of archeology when he is not fighting Nazis, Thuggees, or communists.
- X-Men: Dr. Charles Xavier earned his "Professor of Genetics" title from the University of Oxford. Even before he became a paraplegic, he was considerably less action-oriented than the other mutants on his team, and is often protected by a combatant (e.g. Cyclops, Beast). Professor X serves as the Team Dad for the X-Men.
- Leonard of Quirm, in the Discworld novels. An exaggeration of Leonardo da Vinci, Leonard sometimes appears to be a one-man Industrial Revolution.
- Partially subverted in that Lord Vetinari keeps him locked up in a prison (though Leonard is having so much fun inventing stuff he doesn't notice) so he can't throw off the balance of the city or give gadgets to the heroes.
- On the other hand, it's pretty hard to imprison a man who lives mostly in his own head, forgets to eat and often doesn't see how people could to turn his Moving Mountains Out of the Way Device (for mining, obviously) into something more sinister. Leonard of Quirm has all the cunning of a concussed duckling, and Vetinari keeps him supplied with, well, everything, and tucked safely away behind booby traps he himself designed.
- Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula. Is there nothing he doesn't know about? Could also be seen as a forerunner for the idea of the genius with the funny foreign accent (he's Dutch) as well as a medley of eccentricities.
- Several novels by Jules Verne, especially The Mysterious Island.
- Early example: Merlin of Arthurian Legend is a magical version.
- Arbat-Elivat-Estoni from Animorphs.
- Hermione Granger and Remus Lupin from Harry Potter.
- Professor Pike of the H.I.V.E. Series is the school's head engineering instructor- and also the source of the many technological advances that fuel G.L.O.V.E.'s reign. Also the Team Grandpa.
- Professor Adelung in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar.
- Faust is possibly the granddaddy of this trope. Although he has been presented in different lights, Christopher Marlowe depicted him as the most learned scholar on earth but so hungry for more knowledge that he sold his soul for it. Once this happens, instead of doing anything intelligent, he hits the pope with a fish. It makes sense in context.
- Professor William Race of Temple by Matthew Reilly.
- Blackberry of Watership Down, given his limitations as a rabbit, is also The Professor. He may not understand the physics involved, but he'll devise plans that rely on buoyancy, tensile strength or leverage just the same.
Live Action TV
- Marco Pacella (and, later and to a greater degree, Dr Kevin Burkhoff) from The 4400.
- Professor Wickwire of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr..
- Walter White of Breaking Bad exemplifies this trope. From breaking into a high security chemical storage facility using the thermite from an etch-a-sketch to using mercury fulminate in order to blow up an entire floor of a drug dealer's headquarters, the man's chief weapon is his degree in chemistry.
- On Doctor Who, Ace called the Seventh Doctor "Professor". Despite his irritation at this sobriquet, all of the Doctor's incarnations have had at least an element of The Professor about them.
- And, of course, there's Professor Yana from Utopia. However, he cheerfully admits it's an invented title, since there hasn't been an university around in centuries.
- On the spin-off of Doctor Who. The Sarah Jane adventures episode "Death of the Doctor" says that Ian and Barbara became Professor. note
- The actual Professor from Gilligan's Island (his rarely-used real name was Dr. Roy Hinkley) used lots of Bamboo Technology.
- Mohinder Suresh from Heroes.
- Sayid is LOST's Professor, creating and fixing all sorts of gizmos using only what he can find in the plane wreckage or the hatch. Of course, none of these gadgets got him off the island though he did indeed get home in season 4.
- Until they introduce Daniel Faraday who is, in fact, a theoretical physicist.
- On Stargate SG-1, both Dr. Daniel Jackson (Cunning Linguist and Adventurer Archaeologist) and Major Samantha Carter (physicist and a female Mr. Fixit) fill that role. Both became a prime example of the Hot Scientist trope.
- Scotty from Star Trek: The Original Series.
- On The Next Generation, Geordi Laforge and Data often trade off on this role. Whenever the crew needs to do something that doesn't involve diplomacy or combat, it's good odds one (or both) of them will develop the Applied Phlebotinum solution.
- Dr. Helen Magnus from Sanctuary is a hot scientist who specializes in crypto-zoology and xenobiology. Very much The Professor.
- Ray Langston from CSI, who actually picked up the nickname "The Professor" due to his being one before becoming a CSI.
- Space1999 gives us Professor Victor Bergman, Omnidisciplinary Scientist, Cool Old Guy, mentor figure for Commander John Koenig (in times past and on the "present" of Season One), and very much the Ensemble Darkhorse (enough that three of the written-long-after-series-cancellation official novels go through some length to bring him Back from the Dead after an off-screen Bus Crash between seasons).
- Daedalus from Greek Myth makes this Older Than Dirt, having build the Labyrinth of the Minotaur and pairs of wings that allowed him to fly, among many other things.
- In his footsteps follows Archimedes, a Greek inventor from the Greek colony Syracuse in southern Italy. He is best known for his work on lever action and bouyancy. While it's not entirely clear what kind of devices he actually invented and how well they worked, but he had a massive reputation as an inventor even during his lifetime.
- Imhotep was a genius who lived in Egypt 2600 BC, credited with strongly contributing to the founding of the sciences of engineering, medicine, and architecture. His service to the Pharaohs was so remarkable that he became the only commoner ever to be elevated to godly status after his death.
- Bally's Dr. Dude is one of these, as he invented the Molecular Mixmaster and his EXcellent Ray to make himself the epitome of cool.
- The unnamed scientist from Zaccaria's Time Machine, who directs the player through time.
- Daedalus from Mad Daedalus counts, as an ancient Greek inventor who reverse-engineers a crashed alien spaceship and uses the scientific knowledge to elevate King Minos' realm with technological wonders.
- Inorder to stop Dr. Gearck’s conquest of the entire world with the power of the evil gears called the “Warugiano” in the Yu-Gi-Oh! metaplot, Professor Kross created the Gear Heroes known as the “Geargias”!!!
- Professor Frankly of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
- It is repeatedly stated in the Pokémon universe that Pokémon Professors are the highest authorities in the world when it comes to the wonderful creatures that inhabit it. This is especially true in Gold/Silver/Crystal/HeartGold/SoulSilver, where Professor Oak gets celebrity treatment all across the Johto/Kanto area, though every region has its specialist.
- Half-Life is full of these. The first game has them as allies who will open security doors for you (portrayed with three or four generic character models) while the sequels all have specific characters, most notably Dr. Kleiner who fits the archetype to a tee. Dr. Vance appears to be the team leader, though he comes of more like a Cool Old Black Guy. Dr. Freeman appears to be more of a lab technician, but he is a theoretical physicist working on teleportation as well.
- Professor Layton, full stop.
- Elco from the Sleeper Hit Western RPG Sudeki pretty much nails this on the head and drills it home with magical laser guns. He does actively participate in a lot of fighting, though, so he's a bit different from the standard all-support role.
- Dr. Light from Mega Man.
- Professor Mordin Solus of Mass Effect 2.
- Roughly half the cast of the Metal Gear games qualify for the trope in at least a few respects, although Otacon probably comes closest to fulfilling it.
- Grant Florian of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny, the father and creator of the Florian sisters. A brilliant and benevolent, if sometimes overenthusiastic, scientist who devotes most of his time trying to find a way to reverse the death of his home planet.
- Dr. Andonuts from EarthBound. He's pretty absent minded however, as he forgot he even had a son.
- Horace from The Last Story functions like this. He proclaims himself an archaeologist, but he seems to know a lot about architecture, geology, and dark magic (merely as an academic curiosity, of course), aiding the protagonists in a series of optional chapters.
- "The Professor" from Ape Escape
- Dr Ein of the Bomberman franchise.
- Dr. Amos Messing of the Amazing Three, in the Whateley Universe. Not that he's a parody of anyone else on this list whose initials might be 'RR'...
- A minor character in Darwin's Soldiers: Card of Ten is referred to only as "the professor."
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe has both Herr Doktor Archeville and The Academician. The former is a world-renowned scientist who uses his advanced technology to fight crime. The latter is the leader of the People's Republic of China's official hero team. Both are among the smartest men in the world.