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The Smart Guy
Being an actual guy is optional for the title.

Aang: The question is, how are we gonna stop that thing?
[beat]
Sokka: Why are you all looking at me?
Aang: You're The Idea Guy.
Sokka: So I'm the only one who can ever come up with a plan? That's a lot of pressure.
[He comes up with a plan 45 seconds later]

This is the guy in the Five-Man Band whose focus is on intellectual pursuits. This is The Team member who will always be prepared, sometimes Crazy-Prepared. They will be at the computer doing Rapid-Fire Typing. Expect some fancy talk and Techno Babble from this character. Because their role is about ideas, plans, and being Mission Control, they often leave the action stuff to the others.

Physically they are usually short and wear glasses. They may even be a Child Prodigy. The Smart Guy is sometimes written as mousey and withdrawn. If not antisocial, at least non-social, sliding into TV Genius. Can be expected to play a mean game of chess. Weak, but Skilled is definitely not out of the question, either.

Sometimes the Smart Guy is more street savvy then they appear. If this is the case it usually makes The Smart Guy physically as well as mentally capable. This is the path of the Badass Bookworm. They remain firmly planted as the Smart Guy, but are just as ready to fight as everyone else. The results are often impressive, and usually have the advantage of surprise. Who expects the little guy with glasses to be an asskicker?

Powers and skills common to the smart guy include:

His knowledge will allow him to find enemy weaknesses and to serve as Mr. Exposition in order to explain plot points to the less intelligent members of the team (and the audience).

The Smart Guy archetype is often unfairly vilified in shows where Dumb Is Good. Other times, he's not so much the Smart Guy as the Smartass Guy. The Smartass Guy will occur in a team with a Big Smart Guy. The team doesn't need another brainy guy so much, and since Big Smart Guys tend to be Gentle Giants, adding a Deadpan Snarker just seems natural.

In recent years, as casts have become more gender-balanced, The Smart Girl is the one most likely to swap genders. Since the character type is outwardly sexless and non-masculine, turning them into The Smart Girl is not that big a stretch. Mousey, shy and withdrawn work equally well on female characters, and can sometimes be appealing (see Hot Librarian and Nerds Are Sexy). When used in this way, she's usually much less girly than The Chick (see Wrench Wench). In a fantasy setting, she's often the Black Mage, or sometimes the White Mage.

Because Shorter Means Smarter, the Smart Guy may be a often a Teen Genius and can overlap with Tagalong Kid. This will lead to a Little Guy, Big Buddy duo with The Big Guy, especially because their contrast doesn't lead to fights as often as The Hero and The Lancer will. Alternatively he can overlap with The Mentor as a Miniature Senior Citizen. Some teams even replace having a smart guy with having a small guy for the visual contrast with the rest of The Team even if he isn't particularly more intelligent.

In an ensemble cast, the Smart Guy is usually the last character to have a Love Interest if they even bother to give him one at all. He may or may not be asexual. He may also explicitly be said to have no luck with women (we are frequently showed just one instance of this as a pretext to at least answer the question and to completely avoid the romance issue afterwards) and that's often cruelly played for laughs, especially when the Smart Guy's feelings are unrequited. When present, the shoehorned love interest character is often little more than an uninspired female version of himself (a sterotypical Nerd Girl variant), or close to it. Often, this relationship does not last for a number of reasons (a convientent pretext for the smart guy to avoid future romances) or the love interest falls victim to either Chuck Cunningham Syndrome or the Cartwright Curse. Invariably, because smart guys are relatively difficult to write for without relying on tropes and cliches, this allows writers to avoid having to develop the Smart Guy character beyond his basic fuctional role.

If there's a Robot Buddy on the team, he's usually The Smart Guy.

If you're looking for his Evil Counterpart in the Five-Bad Band, it's The Evil Genius.

Oh, and he's also part of the Four-Man Band in a comedy ensemble.

Not to be confused with the series Smart Guy.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comics 

    Fan Fic 

    Films 
  • The Super Hero spoof film The Specials from 2000 includes a brainy gadgeteer member of the titular superteam whose nom de guerre is simply "Mr. Smart".
  • Star Wars: There's a reason C-3PO refers to RD-D2 as his counterpart: They split the usual Smart Guy duties between them, with R2 handling the practical side and 3PO handling the exposition side.
  • Kevin Sandusky of Tropic Thunder is the one who knows what is going on the most. He recognized the Heroin Processing plant, he can read the map, and he's the only one of the actors who had actually read the script and the book.
  • Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight Saga. He runs Wayne Enterprises, either invents or improves upon most of Batman's tech, and can come up with an antidote to Scarecrow's fear gas in the span of a night.
    Bruce: (after Lucius explains how he made the antidote) Am I supposed to understand any of that?
    Fox: No. I just wanted you to know how hard it was.
  • Bruce Banner in The Avengers. While the "other guy" gets his share of action, Nick Fury brings Bruce into the plot specifically because he knows more about gamma radiation than anyone on the planet. Tony Stark, Insufferable Genius extraordinaire, doesn't even mind playing Bruce's assistant.
  • Breaker from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
  • Pete from Neighbors.
  • Hank McCoy/Beast from the X-Men films, is incredibly intelligent and a brilliant scientist who has invented most of the nifty tools and gadgets (X-Jet, Cerebro, etc.) that the X-Men use.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • In Classical Mythology, Athena is this among the Olympians. Hermes sometimes fill this role in a trickster-ish sort of way.
  • Among mortals, Odysseus is the "ideas man" for the Greeks Achaeans in the Trojan Cycle (including The Iliad and his very own story, The Odyssey). Pretty much every actual strategy mentioned in relation to the Trojan War starts with him, including (ironically) both one of the reasons for the war (the Achaean kings agreeing to protect whoever married Helen, to keep them from fighting over her) and the reason it ends (the Trojan Horse, of course). Naturally, Athena favors him and helps him out a lot (against the wishes of her uncle Poseidon, whom he had somehow offended).
  • The Biblical prophet Daniel (aka Belteshazzar) was a brilliant scholar and a top-notch administrator.

    Toys 

    Web Comics 

    Web Animation 
  • While not part of a Five-Man Band, computer programmer Raimi definitely fulfills this function in Broken Saints.
  • Iridescence from Dusk's Dawn, sort of. It's inferred that she's an expert in the medical field by her Cutie Mark, and she senses something bad is happening in the De Noir's castle.

    Web Original 
  • On the group Team Kimba in the Whateley Universe, Phase is probably the smart one, even if Chaka seems to be best at coming up with ideas in the middle of a fight. Phase is over-educated for a freshman in high school, is most likely to use the big words, and is a smart aleck too. The Smart Guy they go to for gadgets is Bugs, who is a Hot Scientist.
  • While not intelligent to a superlative degree, Chip from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes proves on several occasions that his reservoir of book knowledge can prove beneficial in making it out of various tight spots the heroes get into.
  • Open to debate, since none of the characters are all that bright, but in Redvs Blue, Simmons is arguably the smartest member of either team when it comes to pure common sense.

Sickly Neurotic GeekIndexed and NerdyTrekkie
The Big GuyJustForFun/Tropes of LegendThe Chick
Friendly SniperThe SquadCommunications Officer
Small Steps HeroHeroesSmith of the Yard
The LancerFive-Man BandThe Big Guy
Sixth RangerThe Index TeamThe Sneaky Guy
Sins of Our FathersOlder Than FeudalismSmashing Hallway Traps of Doom
The Short Guy with GlassesIntelligence TropesSmart People Build Robots
Absent-Minded ProfessorBrain ChainTeen Genius
Bridge BunnyCharacters/The Osmerian ConflictAuthority Equals Asskicking
Skyscraper CityImageSource/Star WarsWe Used to Be Friends
Face-Heel TurnOverdosed TropesFridge Horror

alternative title(s): Smart Guy; The Smart Girl; The Smart Gal; The Smart One; Smart Gal; Smart Girl
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