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Awesomeness By Analysis / Live-Action TV

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Awesomeness by Analysis in live-action TV.


  • In one 3rd Rock from the Sun episode, Dick Solomon wins a racquetball match against a man who's been playing all his life after he realized that the game was about Newtonian physics. His abilities to instantly master almost anything just from thinking about it are shown every few episodes.
    • Another episode teaser shows the Solomons watching the lottery drawing, and hitting all the numbers. They then happily tear up the ticket (either not knowing or not caring about the money, they ARE aliens, after all), and make remarks about how easy the prediction was since it's just physics.
  • The highest-level agents in Agents of SHIELD are able to do this both in combat and in interrogations; Bobbi deduces virtually everything about Bakshi and his motivations from a brief conversation, and figures out the rest of his plan from a minor slip in tense.
  • In Alphas, Kat's Alpha ability is her insane procedural memory, allowing her to learn and keep complex skills remarkably quickly. Unfortunately, this being Alphas, there is the inevitable trade-off: her declarative memory (i.e. everything else) only lasts for about a month, max. she has no idea who she is, or what she's done in her life. This can result in weird situations where she knows that if she has done this before, she'll be able to do it now...but whether she's ever done it before is anyone's guess.
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    • This is basically what Cameron's "hyperkinesis" boils down to; his perception, muscle control, and motor skills are so highly developed that he pretty much automatically uses Awesomeness by Analysis in any confrontational situation to determine the most optimal course of action... which is usually also awesome.
    • There was also a villain of the week named Marcus Ayers who could do this to the point the of purposely creating Disaster Dominoes and Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts effects like the Fringe example below. He was a villain because of his extreme paranoia: he didn't realize only he could do this and thought that every single bad thing in his life was being arranged by those around him.
  • In the first episode of The Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Sheldon try to move a sofa up two flights of stairs. Sheldon thinks that it's impossible because they have little physical strength, but Leonard says that they don't need strength, they're physicists. Unfortunately, it's not that easy.
    • Also subverted in an episode where Sheldon tries to learn swimming and rock climbing on the Internet. It doesn't work.
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  • Parodied in an episode of Bones, where Temperance tries to learn dancing by copying the movements of another dancer onto her own nervous system and muscles. It looks less than graceful.
  • Throughout her time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cordelia was mainly a comic relief queen bee type, a role she also filled for a while after spinning off to Angel. After developing beyond simple comic relief, it was revealed that Cordelia was the best cheerleader in Sunnydale for a reason: she has exceptional muscle memory and coordination, allowing her to perform complex physical routines (such as a martial arts kata) at full speed with relatively small amounts of practice.
    • Angel himself displays this, having a photographic memory (implied to be part of his vampire super-senses) - in Supersymmetry he's able to review his own memory of an event and pick up on details he didn't consciously notice the first time around. Fred, a genius physicist, weaponises her intelligence directly (a giant machine that hurls axes in Fredless and a Rube Goldberg trap to take down Wesley in Billy) and through strategy (during the Jasmine arc of season 4, particularly when she frees Angel from her mind control by shooting him through Jasmine to ensure he's exposed to her blood)
  • Tracy, AKA Dice, in an episode of The Cape is a savant who perceives the world around her on a quantum level, allowing her to make extremely accurate predictions about the future and set events in motion by doing something seemingly innocuous. At one point, she drops a coin, which starts off a series of events that almost result in Peter Fleming's death. She is also able to walk right past any security by picking a moment when no one is looking.
    • For some reason, the protagonist is immune to her calculations, allowing him to screw up her careful planning.
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    • Fleming's people have managed to analyze Tracy's brain and mapped it to a program that can be used to predict stocks with great accuracy. When Tracy demands that Fleming gives her back what he "stole", he casually hands her the tablet with the software, then explains that it's just one of many. Besides, it's about to be released for public consumption anyway.
  • In Cases of the 1st Department, major Vaclav Plisek is the oldest, most experienced policeman who has been with the 1st department (which investigates homicide in Prague) over 30 years. He has excellent combinatory skills and he often connects old cases with fresh ones.
  • Abed from Community is all over this trope. He can correctly predict behavior and conversations a week in advance. He uses this to make student films. On the other hand, the information on which he bases his analysis is Genre Savvy and knowledge of tropes, so this makes sense.
  • Criminal Minds - many instances, of which there are a couple examples:
    • "Tabula Rasa" — Hotchner, under cross-examination in court, profiles the lawyer who is questioning him, and shuts him down: "...Your vice is horses. Your Blackberry's been buzzing on the table every twenty minutes, which happens to be the average time between posts from Colonial Downs. You're getting race results. And every time you do, it affects your mood in court, and you're not having a very good day. That's because you pick horses the same way you practice law...by always taking the long shot."
    • "Lessons Learned" — Interrogating a terrorist, Gideon has him figured out in the first two minutes and spends the rest of the episode out-psyching him into revealing the target of his next attack.
    • "Extreme Aggressor" (the pilot) has us meet Gideon for the first time giving a profile of a killer. At the end of the episode, he walks into a gas station, and the cashier happens to fit the profile. He might've been about to dismiss it as a coincidence if the cashier hadn't pointed a gun at his head. In the following episode, "Compulsion", he tells a group of students about how he told the killer what he knew about him, including the reason he stuttered. The team spends the entire episode trying to figure that out. Subverted when it turns out Gideon was lying to the killer about that last part. Double Subverted because Gideon knew it would stall him long enough to make his move.
    • Reid is frequently Awesome by Analysis. Oftentimes, handwriting analysis.
  • One of the transgenics in Dark Angel had a level of strategic planning that seemingly made him predict the future.
    • In a better example, Max is able to win thousands of dollars from a casino by using physics to predict where the ball will land in roulette. Also, she studies the shuffling deck in poker to figure out who has what cards.
  • DI Richard Poole of Death in Paradise demonstrates this trope rather well, often solving cases thanks to his ability to extrapolate logical scenarios from very small clues.
  • Dexter is a blood spatter analyst able to deduce and recreate a crime scene or a relevant incident within seconds. He finds a match in Lundy, a legendary FBI investigator who is not fooled by some of Dexter's tricks and reverses some of them to deduce the true nature of the suspect: "Law enforcement".
  • In The District, the whole point of CompStat (Comparative Statistics) is apparently so Chief Mannion can demonstrate this trope to bring down Washington, D.C.'s high crime rate.
  • Doctor Who: Used in about every third episode, when the Doctor (or some other smart hero, usually a companion) will come up with a last minute, slightly MacGyverish, down to the wire, last-ditch, just-crazy-enough-to-work scheme that, of course, works because he did something involving a lot of technobabble. In about a quarter of them, however, this is subverted, with something that looks really planned out and life-saving happening, and the Doctor admitting that he made it up as he went along.
    • One example was the realization that the Empty Child in "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" was created with the same type of nanogenes Jack used earlier on his spaceship.
    • "Journey's End": All the sci-fi stuff the DoctorDonna spouts after becoming part Time Lord, which is also how she saves the day.
    • The Eleventh Doctor seems to have "instant replay" vision. Basically, he thinks so quickly, everything around him slows to a crawl while he analyzes the situation and works it to his advantage. The Ninth Doctor did the same, observing a giant propeller fan spinning incredibly fast.
    • The Time Lords have this as an innate trait, being one of the many Time-Sensitive species. This gives them the ability to essentially "see" and perceive the flow of time, "what was, what is, and what could be and what should not".
      Rose: I can see everything. All that is, all that was, all that ever could be.
      The Doctor: That's what I see. All the time. And doesn't it drive you mad?
    • The Tenth Doctor still retains traces of this whilst temporarily rendered human in "Human Nature". In the middle of a conversation, he notices a piano about to fall across the square. Instinctively, he grabs a nearby cricket ball, lobbing it with perfect accuracy to set off a chain reaction of objects that ends with a milk churn falling in front of a baby carriage, preventing the woman and infant from being crushed by the piano when it falls where they would have been otherwise.
    • "Dalek" reveals that the title aliens have this as well. The Dalek opens the door to the cage while its gunstick is broken by calculating the combinations for the lock (over a billion) in seconds with its plunger manipulator.
  • Elementary features a lot of this as you'd expect from a Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Unlike a lot of examples, the series does show the amount of work Holmes puts in to studying and maintaining the mental skills he uses to make his deductions. It's also made clear that this skill can be taught to people who are willing to put in the effort to learn. So far he's taught both Joan Watson and Kitty Winter how to do this and Detective Bell has also been shown to have picked up some of Holmes' analytical style. By contrast in season 2, Sherlock expresses frustration with his brother, Mycroft, who he acknowledges has the raw intelligence and basic analytical skills but doesn't put any effort into developing them.
  • Firefly's River: "Also, I can kill you with my brain." And we see just how true this is in "War Stories", where River comes upon Kaylee, who is pinned down by gunfire from three separate enemies. River glances at their positions does the math, takes Kaylee's pistol, and proceeds to headshot all three of them with her eyes closed''. Later lampshaded by Kaylee during a discussion of the incident in "Objects in Space":
    Kaylee: She just...did the math...
  • A villain-of-the-week in Fringe could predict events with great accuracy by analyzing everything around him. He used this to plan fatal accidents for his targets, starting the "domino effect" by innocuous actions (e.g. dropping a pencil). He fails to predict Olivia's actions, because that episode took place in the Red universe and since Olivia comes from the Blue universe her behavior was subtly different to that of a native.
  • Will Graham in Hannibal, through a combination of his skills as a former homicide detective and his own unique "pure empathy", is able to work out a killer's method and motivation simply by analyzing the crime scene. While this makes him a skilled profiler, it also makes him unstable because he has trouble getting back out of the killer's heads once he's done analyzing them.
  • Jung Hoo in Healer, as exemplified in the fourth episode when he figures out he just needs to knock over one loose pole to cause a disaster dominoes effect that will allow him and Young Shin to escape while maintaining his cover as the cowardly awkward and incompetent Bong Soo.
  • In Heroes, Sylar's original superpower was analysis. By "understanding how things work", he's able to take the superpowers of others, and also rapidly master those superpowers while their original owners either had trouble using them, or couldn't stop using them uncontrollably.
    • Contrast with Monica Dawson in Season 2. She has the ability to automatically copy any physical action she sees without any analysis whatsoever.
    • In Season 3, Peter absorbs Sylar's ability in order to use it to understand the show's plot. No, really. He's trying to avert a future he visited but realizes he isn't smart enough to take all the factors into account, especially since in the Heroes-verse, the future has a way of putting itself back on track (sometimes).
    • Interestingly, Sylar's power appears to be hereditary. When he finds his real father, he finds out that the old man has the same core power as him. In fact, both of them have telekinesis, meaning his dad also found some poor schmuck with the power and cut it out of him. This is the first time a person got the same power as their parent, although Peter and Arthur came close. Word of God states that Arthur and Peter actually have different versions of the same power based on their personalities; while Peter puts himself into the shoes of others and empathizes with them, Arthur would rather take everything from everyone.
    • Not quite: Parkman and his father both have Telepathy.
  • Inspector Morse once revealed to Sergeant Lewis that he seriously contemplated suicide as a teenager. Morse being Morse, he approached the issue of how to go about it as analytically as anything else: he wanted to spite his family and calculated how each method would affect each family member. He realized it would be a shame to waste such a brilliant mind.
  • In Intelligence (2014), Gabriel is this trope: he can seamlessly integrate almost any electronic source of information and combine it with his on-the-ground experience of a situation and use this ability to do some pretty impressive things.
  • The titular character in the short-lived series John Doe has this as a superpower: he knows everything (except anything about his own past) and has the intelligence to apply that knowledge in whatever situation he's in. The show showed that despite this he wasn't infallible: some situations could have multiple explanations and he didn't always choose the right one, with a prime example being an episode where he was asked to help figure out how a thief had managed to sneak a rare gem out of a museum without being seen on the security cameras. Doe quickly demonstrated how knowledge of where the cameras were and their limitations, a convenient sculpture, and use of the environment could pull it off. When the guard who actually stole it finally confesses, it turns out he simply swallowed the gem and walked out the front door.
  • Kyle and Jesse from Kyle XY both have super advanced brains and can copy anything by watching or doing the math. A good example is when Kyle joins the basketball team at school and can make any shot just by measuring the angles or learning how to fight by watching martial arts movies(he also learned Chinese this way).
  • Eliot of Leverage has a duel with the Badass Israeli of a rival team this way: They see each other, and the possibilities for the fight run through their minds, ending in a draw. One shifts position slightly, and the fight runs again, differently. Eventually, they decide to postpone actually fighting.
  • As in the film, Limitless has the Fantastic Drug NZT that gives its users this power. It allows them to retain and access every memory, make connections between abstract pieces of information, and calculate everything around them.
  • The Mentalist: Patrick Jane too. He may be a Magnificent Bastard, but the man knows people. For bonus points, Shawn from Psych is a big fan of the show.
  • Detective Adrian Monk suffers from extreme OCD, which just so happens to make him a peerless detective and investigator. Picking up small hints and details everyone else missed or passed over. At one point solving a local hit and run, and a murder which took place in France from home, while looking for leads on another case in the newspaper.
  • Avoided in NUMB3RS, wherein the super-brain Charlie Eppes tries, among other things, golf and sniping, and learns that knowing math simply isn't enough. It requires some kind of instinct or gut feeling to get it right. But the Aesop the whole way through the series is one of synthesizing maths with the everyday skills of the FBI... Or something.
    • Averted when Charlie and Larry become college basketball coaches. They only manage to get their team their first win in years when Larry hires professional basketball players as his graduate assistants.
  • In Person of Interest, this is the main superpower of the Machine. She has access to the NSA surveillance feeds plus any electronic device she can hack on the fly (meaning really any device connected to a network), excellent knowledge of human nature and the processing power to simulate thousands of scenarios in the span of a few seconds. Small wonder then that receiving direct instructions from her has acquired the in-series nickname "God Mode".
  • Avoided in an episode of The Pretender (mostly) when Jarod must learn how to beat a pool hustler at his own game. Being a super-genius he figures it'll be an easy task since it's just "simple physics" and initially does very poorly. Fortunately for him, he learns very quickly.
  • Psych: Shawn Spencer. It doesn't matter how complicated your plan is, the minute that little glowy montage starts, you are going down.
  • An episode of Quantum Leap showed a variation of this, where Al uses a holographic projection of ball trajectories imposed over a pool table to allow Sam to impersonate a skilled player.
    • In these cases it's completely justified. Professional pool players are so good due to Awesomeness By Analysis in the first place.
  • Subverted on Red Dwarf, when a white hole was causing chaotic time jumps and needed to be plugged, Holly, whose IQ had been increased into the tens of thousands, calculated a trajectory to fire an explosive that would use one planet to knock another into the white hole. Lister looks at the plan, realizes she's playing pool with planets and manufactures his own plan using only his mad pool skills, performs a trick shot using three planets and their solar orbits, sinking the last one. "Played for and got".
  • Sanctuary has James Watson, who is Sherlock Holmes (or at least the inspiration for the figure). Will is a not-enhanced version, and they start their brief acquaintanceship by analyzing each other.
  • Seinfeld: When George can't have sex for a while because his girlfriend has mono, his brain stops obsessing over sex and he becomes a genius Omnidisciplinary Scientist, able to hit several consecutive home runs in baseball using only his newly acquired knowledge of physics. He also unintentionally becomes fluent in Portuguese just from hearing his cleaning lady speak it. This is ultimately what causes his undoing, as while he originally intended to abstain from sex forever and keep his intellect, his Portuguese helps him hook up with an attractive Portuguese waitress. He does the math and determines that it's a once in a lifetime chance, so he takes it, and promptly becomes an idiot again.
  • The eponymous protagonist of Sherlock. Admittedly, this trait is par for the course with the character, but still worth mentioning. He even manages to scare the Triads with his skill. Interestingly, his brother Mycroft is smarter (when they were kids, they thought Sherlock was dumb before they met other children), but he only ever applies his skills to help run the country.
  • The Borg in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek: Voyager. They analyze anything used against them and adapt to it, rendering the technique useless in short order. At their first encounter, Starfleet phasers killed a few drones, but the Borg quickly developed personal shields that were immune to those phaser frequencies. The only serious threats to them were Species 8472 and possibly the complex picture developed by Starfleet although the latter was never used.
  • Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation is MADE of this trope. He can take in information, and process and understand it, so fast that his primary limitation is that the computer interfaces he uses to do this are simply not able to go as fast as he can (being made for organics). One outstanding example occurred when Starfleet was trying to reveal Romulan involvement in the Klingon civil war. When Picard's idea fell apart, Data conceived of a new method, researched it, implemented it, and used it to unmask the Romulan ships in the space of a few MINUTES, while dealing with a crew ready to mutiny while commanding a ship in battle.
    • In "Time's Arrow", whilst trapped in the past Data gains money by hustling poker players, which the implication that he did so by counting cards, something he intentionally doesn't do during ship poker nights. In "Cause and Effect", Worf and Riker speculate if Data truly is randomizing the deck each time he's the dealer. It turns out one of the clues that allowed them to finally break the time loop the Enterprise was caught in was Data subconsciously rigging the deck.
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Carbon Creek," the Vulcans survive on Earth by making money hustling pool.
    • Tuvok tried the same thing on Star Trek: Voyager when playing pool on the holodeck. Unfortunately for him, he didn't account for the table being slightly off-balance.
    • This may have been influenced by Barbara Hambly's Star Trek: The Original Series novel Ishmael, wherein Spock, trapped on the 19th Century Earth, excels at pool without thinking about it, later commenting to a surprised onlooker that it is nothing but simple geometry and physics.
  • Low-stakes example: In an episode of Step by Step when the nerdy (at the time) Mark plays a mean game of pool thanks to his mathematical prowess. One time, we see him preparing to shoot, and a mathematical formula circles his head.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Subversion: In Engine Sentai Go-onger, the villain Hiramekimedes is all about calculation, analysis, and fighting via mathematics. Several of his attacks are even based around angles of triangles. However, the Go-ongers and Go-on Wings always decimate him, with Go-On Gold explaining that it's precisely because Hiramekimedes is so logical that it's easy to predict his attacks. This causes Hiramekimedes to go crazy and swing to the other extreme of Game Theory: the completely random player who attacks with random mathematical fallacies (like 4 divided by 189 is exactly 100). He beats the crap out of the logical Go-On Gold but is defeated by Go-On Red because his attacks are not based on logic or randomness, but pure Hot-Blooded power.
  • In an episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron does this to win at pool on her first try. A perfectly Justified case, since, being a robot, she can not only calculate the angle and force needed for each shot, she can accurately achieve them.
  • C.J from Tower Prep has this, in the power to analyze body language.
  • This trope is why Ryan Stiles never played the host during a game of "Party Quirks" in Whose Line Is It Anyway?: he's able to figure out the quirk in thirty seconds.
  • Averted once in Xena: Warrior Princess. One episode started with Gabrielle explaining to Xena that she had analyzed one of Xena's more complex somersaulting moves into separate stages. Gabrielle then attempted to duplicate the move by following those stages in sequence. She spent the rest of the episode limping with a sprained ankle.
    • And played straight in the Groundhog Day episode. Xena spends the penultimate day of the cycle ignoring all the events she has to stop to break the cycle in order to calculate angles, measure distances, and observe what the environment is doing. Then, when she wakes up (again), she's able to do everything in mere minutes with her carefully planned actions and well-aimed chakrum throws.


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