Unlocking the Talent
A character who is brilliant or otherwise skilled, but isn't out using their skill- perhaps they are unnoticed/underappreciated, lazy, or just plain crazy. Perhaps they don't even know how skilled they are. They might just be an Almighty Janitor. Generally this is the main character of the work. Cue the plot, teach them to use their ability. This involves someone "helping" them to recognize/develop their skills, usually some variety of Mentor. By the end of the work, they've used their skill to achieve a better and brighter future, having conquered the initial handicap to display their true potential. The central premise is that their flaw is something to either fix or work around. Compare Brilliant but Lazy, where the person's fault is laziness and this may not be "fixed" by the end of the work, especially when they aren't the main character. Contrast Bunny-Ears Lawyer where the flaw isn't overcome but ignored or incorporated. May lead to a Family-Unfriendly Aesop if the character in question is bullied into something they don't want to do, especially if the character doesn't like the end result.
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- Nathaniel Ayers from The Soloist
- Akeelah Anderson from Akeelah and the Bee
- Will Hunting from Good Will Hunting
- Chris Gardner from The Pursuit of Happyness
- Real Genius. Lazlo Hollyfeld is a brilliant former student at Pacific Tech who had a mental breakdown when he learned that his research was being used to design weapons. He ends up helping the protagonist Mitch.
- Tora Ziyal from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Subverted. Due to a harsh life, she was late to art and characters and the audience don't learn for even longer that she was being mentored until after she'd earned a prestigious university place by merit (she didn't want her father pulling strings for her). Experts considered her art to be a callback to both a great Bajoran artist and a great Cardassian artist. Her dream was to use her mixed heritage and the fact people could see both Cardassian techniques and Bajoran techniques in her work as a way of trying to bring the two enemy worlds together. The university professors even thought she had the talent to pursue that dream. And then she's murdered.
- Liara T'soni from Mass Effect, starts out as a simple archeologist with the same amount of biotic training as every other member of her species. After being influenced by Shepard, she winds up as a powerful and deadly information broker.
- In Die Anstalt, Lilo appears at first to be a dimwitted autistic, having difficulty solving a jigsaw puzzle with only two pieces. But as you treat him, you'll find that he's capable of solving advanced algebra problems. Only his psychological trauma prevents him from doing so.
- Former American Football kicker Martin Gramatica grew up playing soccer, and didn't try out as a kicker until his senior year in high school. He ended up being a decent NFL kicker, and was selected to a Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl ring.