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Adventurer Archaeologist

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"No professional position, aside from perhaps police officer and horny pizza delivery boy, is more frequently misrepresented in film than archaeologist. In movies, archaeologists are all dashing figures, risking life and limb in the pursuit of knowledge while arcane artifacts and ancient traps besiege their efforts. Or else they're perpetually opening sealed, cursed tombs and stumbling into the haunted caves of unspeakable evils in the name of science."

In Real Life, archaeology, or modern archaeology to be specific, is not the most fast-paced of careers. It can involve a lot of research, dirt, and theorizing about small details like diet. A real archaeologist can make their career by the meticulous analysis of the contents of an ancient garbage dump and indeed, they (well, a few) would prefer to find the dump rather than a king's tomb, since the dump can tell them far more about the way ordinary people lived, with far fewer legal and ethical ramifications. Additionally, a dump will have items of low or underestimated value, reducing the allure for tomb robbers who might otherwise have broken into tombs and ruined the information.

Not so in fiction. Since most of the world has the ruins of ancient and powerful civilizations littered under the surface, archaeology is a career that brings one constantly face to face with Temples of Doom, Lost Technology, imprisoned evils, and MacGuffins. Lots of MacGuffins. If the story takes place on Earth and the writers don't make up a culture wholesale, it'll usually involve something like an Egyptian tomb (expect a mummy to pursue the hero) or a Mayincatec temple.

Adventurer Archaeologists are capable of dressing up very well for more intellectual appearances, but forays into studying usually occur off-screen, and it's never implied to take very long. (Compare Badass Bookworm.) An Adventurer Archaeologist has an interesting morality. Ruins are rarely really "abandoned," as the descendants of the Precursors, or their ghosts, or even their mystically preserved selves are very upset when outsiders intrude, and especially when they take the focal points of their culture with them. It's not imperialism if the people who are guarding them aren't even human after all. Of course, real imperialists didn't believe the people around ancient sites were worth considering either. Most people call this "theft", few others would call this "imperialism". In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, it's noted that the title character has been called a "grave robber" (although real archaeologists were once considered that and some still are). However, to an Adventurer Archaeologist, it's okay as long as it goes into a museum. To keep the audience rooting for the Adventurer Archaeologist, they are often pitted against an Evil Counterpart who wants the same treasure for themselves to hoard in a private collection, or to give it to the bad guys or sell to the highest bidder, use it to Take Over the World, etc. Thus, in fiction, it seems perfectly reasonable to use any means to acquire said MacGuffins, no matter how destructive. Who cares if you have to desecrate an ancient temple that could well be thousands of years old and is still frequented by its rightful people? There's a gold monkey at the end! And you get to wear a dashing Adventurer Outfit!

This trope is Older Than Radio, an accomplishment when considering that archaeology as a modern profession is less than two centuries old. Antiquarians, historians, and intellectual grave robbers were a staple of 19th Century gothic horror and ghost stories. They appeared regularly in pulp adventure novels and film adventures dating back to the dawn of talking pictures, including the Universal mummy movies and the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan films. A certain George Lucas and Steven Spielberg series made it big again in The '80s. Indeed, while real archaeology is nothing like the Indiana Jones movies, it's often said that most every western archaeologist since 1981 was inspired by him to become one. The conflation of actual archaeology with the exploits that we see in Indiana Jones has fortunately faded from the public consciousness in recent decades, but adventure and danger can still happen... it's just not inherently more likely to than any other endeavor that involves travel and field work.

It should be noted, however, that this Trope and its origins do come from Truth in err... Literature. Before archaeology evolved into a proper scientific discipline, many "archaeologists" tended to be more concerned about finding fortune, glory, and enticing-looking trinkets than actually discovering information about ancient cultures, or preserving knowledge for future research — let alone respecting or collaborating with the modern descendants of the people whose tombs and temples they excavated. As the Real Life examples below show, their methods were often unconsionable by modern standards, and they usually discarded artifacts that weren't glamorous or shiny, many of which would be considered quite scientifically or historically valuable today. Nobody will ever know how much historical evidence has been forever lost to us through the carelessness of 19th and early 20th century archaeologists. To be fair, Howard Carter's expedition to retrieve Tutankhamen's body and treasures was genuinely sensational. Finding the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang would have been a glorious experience as well. So while you'll likely never have a career as illustrious as Indy himself, you may just be lucky enough to hit the jackpot and discover something of historical, monetary, and popular value.

Additionally, "fighting bad guys over artifacts" in fiction also had a small kernel of truth. Around the time archaeology had finished coming into its own as a respectable field, the world was hit by one major conflict after another, each of which saw archaeology politicized and militarized to a dangerous degree. For reasons ranging from trying to dig up the remnants of heavily mythologized "advanced civilizations" for technological or ideological benefit or as a neat cover to do some spying, preservation and cataloging of the past often had to negotiate minefields of militarized looting, diplomatic relations, and warring superpowers and local factions.

By the time World War I began, most of the archaeologists in such endeavors — like Indiana Jones — tended to be formally trained professionals who tried to do their job properly and to keep military involvement with their work to a minimum. (For example, Ralph Bagnold was an archaeologist who signed up for the British military and used his experience and innovations to help form the Desert Rats.) But it wasn't uncommon for archaeological expeditions to be run like military expeditions, particularly during both world wars. On occasion, these forces and their affiliated armed forces and intelligence agencies even clashed like in any other battle, with people getting killed and some priceless finds being either damaged or destroyed — sometimes deliberately, just to deny them to the enemy. Small wonder that many archaeologists in real life learned to take up arms and get out of tight situations, and that those experiences have been distorted and blown out of proportion in the public imagination.

With respect to Values Dissonance, many of the old portrayals of the Adventurer Archeologist — especially those in the 19th and early/mid 20th century — are falling into Discredited Trope territory. Not only is archaeological knowledge becoming much more exposed to the general public, but how they have been portrayed has been facing scrutiny. The Archaeologist adventurers are often depicted as Mighty Whitey types with a paternalistic attitude towards the Hollywood Natives when they're not running away from them. The artifacts that they collect often end up in museums that are outside of their native country, the rationale being that the natives cannot effectively protect them from theft or misuse. How this has been addressed is one of the great issues for modern portrayals.

Often the main character in a Jungle Opera. Related to, but distinct from, the Bold Explorer. See also Raiders of the Lost Parody.


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  • A soap ad from the 1980s had such a character finding his way into ancient baths, which still have perfectly fresh water, sufficient for him to actually use them, along with the advertised product.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Midori Sugiura's university professor and Most Important Person in My-HiME; we only see him in the end, having a stereotypical Adventurer Archaeologist adventure with Midori.
  • Prior to the start of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- this was clone Xiaolang's profession, giving him the seeds of skills needed for his task. (Being trained on the side by an obsessed Vampire Hunter helps too).
  • Yuuno Scrya from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. At age 9. With no parental supervision. On top of this, he's a high-class mage. He's more self-effacing than the usual example of this trope, and has some trouble with self-esteem and romance. However, though he fulfills this archetype before and sort-of during season 1, in season 2, he's introduced to the magically huge and horrendously disorganized Infinite Library. It holds any answer you might need... IF you can find it. He enters and practically never leaves again.
  • Bakura Ryou's father is an archaeologist in the anime and the owner of the Domino museum in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. Supposedly he bought the Millennium Ring on the streets of Cairo. Also, Solomon Muto—he found the Millennium Puzzle in a pharaoh's tomb filled with all sorts of traps.
  • Hunter Steele from Spider Riders may be one. Before he found the way to the Inner World, he had several archaeological tools with him. Also his grandfather may have been one because he found it first. Actually Mantid was first, arriving sometime during the 19th century, which means he may have also been an archaeologist.
  • Nico Robin of One Piece is an ex-Dragon archaeologist assassin pirate.
    • Robin's mother, Nico Olvia, and a group of her fellow scholars set out on the seas of the One Piece world to locate clues to a blank spot in history known as the Void Century — something that the World Government wants to ''keep'' a blank spot by any means necessary, resulting in Olvia and everyone else on Robin's home island being killed and Robin herself having a bounty put on her head.
    • It should be noted that the scholars of said island, as well as Robin herself, are more in line with the standard archaeologist, more concerned with genuinely studying history (the centerpiece of the island was even a giant library) than raiding temples for loot; they just have to have the Adventure aspect to them as well since they live in a World of Badass.
  • Explorer Woman Ray, title character of the anime of the same name. A late 1980s attempt by the anime industry to cash in on the popularity of Indiana Jones and the Girls with Guns genre (EWR's theme music even sounds eerily similar to John William's Indiana Jones theme).
  • Ruby Crescent from O-Parts Hunter is a young archaeologist who meets the main character while looking for her father.
  • Two of Hetalia: Axis Powers's Alfred/America's hobbies are adventuring and archaeology.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, the members of Mahora's Library Club are all Adventure Archaeologists in training. Said library is filled with booby traps, cliffs, waterfall, and magical items. Students are actually banned from going to the lower levels because of the danger. Eventually Nodoka goes even further, spending a good chunk of her time in the Magic World dungeon crawling and searching for artifacts.
  • Master Keaton: Taichi is an archaeologist, though he seldom has much adventure pursuing it. His other profession as an insurance fraud investigator more than makes up for that.
  • Some Hunters in Hunter × Hunter "hunt" ancient ruins and artifacts instead of animals or people. Gon's father Ging earned recognition for his work in uncovering incredible archaeological finds.
  • Pyramid King Brandon, one of the Frontier Brains from Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire; exploring ancient ruins has certainly paid off for him, as he managed to tame Regirock, Regice, and Registeel, making him the most powerful Frontier Brain (and indeed, one of the most powerful trainers in the world). Ash lost to him twice before winning on the third attempt with his four best and oldest Pokémon.
  • The entire premise of Montana Jones, which is essencially Indiana Jones with Catfolk - and Steampunk Animal Mecha.
  • Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Phantom Blood: Jonathan Joestar had studied archaeology with the intent to become an archaeologist. His original goal was to study the mysterious Mesoamerican Mask that belonged to his family, but ended up training in Hamon to fight off the vampires created by the mask.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: One of the possible jobs members of the Adventure Guild can take involve exploring and mapping out ancient ruins for lost and rare treasures. Considering these ruins tend to be filled with ancient traps and infested/guarded by monsters, these are considered high-risk/high-reward missions. One of the most notable adventurers who prefers these types of missions is Kagali, an elf who acts as guild master Yuuki Kagurazaka's secretary in her free time and has made a name for herself exploring and mapping out the ancient ruins of the destroyed elven nation of Soma. Rimuru is impressed enough that with Yuuki's recommendation he allows her to lead an expedition into exploring the dark elf ruins located in the deceased Demon Lord Clayman's domain. Of course, it turns out Kagali is well-equipped for this sort of mission because not only did she live in Soma as elven royalty, she was the one who made the very fortress in Clayman's domain that became ruins because it was once her own domain.

    Card Games 

  • Stand-up comic Mike McRae did a bit imagining that all the undergrads wanted to take Indiana Jones's Intro to Archaeology class because it's a total blow-off. "Every semester he has to go find some ceremonial Aztec staff in Mexico or something like that. Just take it, it's easy."
    • Though one would imagine that he has amazing stories to tell and — oh yeah — looks like god-damned Harrison Ford doesn't hurt. Even if he probably gives really hard assignments inspired by his adventures each time he comes home.

    Comic Books 
  • The Thief from Dan Hipp's Gyakushu is a great example of the trope.
  • Fred Perry's Gold Digger is made of this trope, starring the Diggers sisters Gina and Brittany and Brianna, prime examples, as well as numerous archaeologist rivals, allies, and even Gina Digger's students in adventure archaeology.
  • This was the Secret Identity of the Golden Age Hawkman, who has returned as the current Hawkman.
  • Archaeology is second only to research scientist on the list of "most Super Hero Origin-prone professions".
    • The DCU's Golden Age Blue Beetle Dan Garrett found the scarab that gave him his powers while looking through an ancient tomb.
    • Rex Mason, who was transformed into Metamorpho by an artifact in an Egyptian tomb.
    • The original Doctor Fate's father. Lot of superpowers in them tombs...
    • Jared Stevens - who had a brief stint in the 90s as Fate - was a treasure hunter.
    • This trend may have been due, in part, to the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in the 1920s. Egyptology was so popular in the 1920s and early 1930s that the Chrysler Building's architecture was modeled after ancient Egyptian designs. This carried over into The Golden Age of Comic Books, when many super-heroes got their start.
      • Golden Age Hawkman was also an archaeologist, and it's been suggested that his civilian name, Carter Hall, was a deliberate Shout-Out to Howard Carter, the discoverer of Tutankhamen's tomb.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Dr. Helena Sandsmark, mother of Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark, has spent time discovering ancient magical artifacts which Cassie later uses to become a superhero and which Helena has used for self defense and also had a fling with Zeus at some point in her studies of Ancient Greece.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Prof. Ainchent is an Egyptologist in a world where this means encountering immortal Pharos, vengeful mummies and tombs full of fully functional traps.
    • Dr. Sandsmark's friend and mentor Julia Kapatelis, who Diana lived with in Wonder Woman (1987) and who introduced the Sandsmarks to Wonder Woman, is another archaeologist who has worked with magical artifacts, visited pocket dimensions and more even before she started hosting an Amazon princess in her home.
    • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): The more recent versions of Wonder Woman’s iconic villain Cheetah is an archaeologist convinced that the Amazons and other myths are true and sets out to prove it by getting entangled with those myths.
  • The Warlord (DC): Mariah is an archaeologist who becomes a sword-swinging heroine upon her transport to the Lost World of Skartaris.
  • Goofy's cousin Arizona Goof from the Mickey Mouse Comic Universe is a spoof of this trope (or just Indiana Jones).
  • Boom! Studio's Hunter's Fortune is proudly a poor man's Indiana Jones.
  • Armando Catalano, the central character of The Scorpion, is an adventurer tomb robber as the comic is set in the 18th century and the science of archaeology doesn't exist yet.
  • Oklahoma Smith from the Cherry Comics parody "Oklahoma Smith and the Lost Temple of Doomed Raiders".
  • Abbey Chase of Danger Girl, at least before she joined the titular team of spies. She's actually wanted in several countries for graverobbing, among other things. The PlayStation Licensed Game of the comics even have her final mission being excavating a ancient tomb in India which is the hideout where the Hammer Empire's developing their doomsday device, in a scene lifted from the Indiana Jones films.
  • Scrooge McDuck — if the treasure exists, he must find it! His adventure in "The Seven Cities of Cibola" was actually Spielberg's inspiration for the first Indiana Jones film!
  • Annabelle Riggs of Fearless Defenders is an archaeologist, and one who apparently consciously modeled herself on Indiana Jones.
  • Oklahoma Bones is a Funny Animal Indy parody, a prairie dog who appears in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! as an expert on the mysterious statues on Easter Bunny Island. And his sidekick, Whipley the snake.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader introduces Doctor Aphra, basically a gender- and moral-flipped Indiana Jones (her first scene even parodies the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark). She describes herself as a "rogue archaeologist", who specializes in retrieving rare and ancient objects (especially weapons) that she then sells to the highest bidder. Vader recruits her to act as his agent, helping him to build the resources necessary to stage a coup against the Emperor, and by the time the series reaches an end, she's become popular enough that she gets her own.
  • Robin (1993): Janet and Jack Drake shared a hobby of recreational archaeology and spent more time at exciting archaeological sites and at business meetings than at home with their son. After Janet's death Jack also indulges in his love for archaeology when he travels for his wedding to Dana Winters.

    Fan Works 
  • The Writing on the Wall features Daring Do being Wrong Genre Savvy because of her profession; she assumes that the ancient, imposing building constructed to last forever in the middle of the desert, surrounded by metallic spikes to keep intruders away, is an Ancient Tomb, and that the room full of writing in dozens of ancient scripts, the eponymous writing on the wall, is nothing more than a curse meant to keep future explorers away. The building isn't a tomb, and the writing isn't a curse, much to the detriment of everyone involved.
  • Waking to Another Sky is a Stargate SG-1/Sword Art Online Deconstruction Crossover where the staff Adventurer Archaeologist points out that the pressures of fighting the Ancient Astronauts force him to do his job completely wrong.
    Dr. Daniel Jackson: What I do isn’t science, Janet. Science would be careful. Science would take time to develop theories and test them by experiment, instead of rushing through translations and hoping I get it right before something else blows up. What I do - it’s not science. It’s rescue archaeology. We pick our way through the ruins and yank out anything that might be worth saving, because god only knows if the planet will be there tomorrow.
  • Voyages of the Wild Sea Horse features Penelope laFloo, an archaeologist from the East Blue kingdom of Frauce so fascinated by the lost ruins and ancient relics of the world that she decided to mount a one-woman expedition to the Grand Line. Being unable to get any patrons to financially support her, she decided that the most logical method of proceeding was to sign on with a pirate crew, even if that meant having to help them in looting and plundering. Luckily for her, she signed on with the Kamikaze Pirates, who don't do a lot of plundering merchant ships or ransacking innocent villages... but do enjoy fighting with marines and rival pirates for the sheer hell of it.

    Films — Animation 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire fits this trope in regards to genre to a 'T'. The colourful cast that make up the crew (including a linguist, engineers, excavators, demolitions experts, doctors, soldiers and more) are for the most part just in it for the money. It's explained that most of this crew have been on more than one "archaeological adventure" together. It's worth noting that there is not one particular character that is an adventurer archaeologist, but the story itself is right up this trope's alley.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!: Professor Jeffries is a bold and fit man who is obsessed with finding the lost kingdom of Shangri-La. Ultimately, he's a negative example of the trope, as he's mainly concerned with padding his own pockets from a diamond mine that isn't his to take.
    • Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? has Velma become one of these, as well as having another one as her friend and yet another one, this one a Corrupted Character Copy of Lara Croft, as a villain.
  • Tad, the Lost Explorer is about a bricklayer who becomes one of these. The third movie even mockingly lampshades the differences to actual archaeology when Tad attends college classes with a heavy emphasis on dust-cleaning brushes.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Indiana Jones re-popularized this. Makes sense, as the movies are basically Genre Throwbacks. But it's occasionally justified with the idea that (a) the adventures we see are a small fraction of Indy's overall work, and (b) he's considered pretty unorthodox. Maybe that's why he was denied tenure. Most of this is Fanon, but occasionally it's mentioned in supplemental material, which shows him actually spending most of his time teaching and analyzing artifacts, as well as a few Lampshades in the films themselves:
    • Heavily lampshaded in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where Indy is seen lecturing his class that "70% of all archaeology is done in the library", and that it isn't about uncovering ancient cities or finding Buried Treasure, and "X never, ever marks the spot". He promptly ditches the class to go on an action-packed adventure that involves pretty much all those things. At one point he even says the exact words ""X" Marks the Spot!" — though it's a Roman numeral on the floor of a library rather than the indicator on a Treasure Map. It's further lampshaded by Henry Jones Sr.'s insistence that the Grail quest isn't actually archaeology.
    • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, set fairly late in Indy's career, shows his students as pretty desensitized to his adventuring habit — to the extent that they see him barreling into the library on a motorcycle and sliding under a table as an Unusually Uninteresting Sight.
  • The O'Connell Family from The Mummy movies and cartoon act like this, even though none of them are officially archaeologists (Rick O'Connell is a military defector looking for treasure, and Evy is trained as a librarian rather than an archaeologist).
    • Their even-sillier-than-Indy antics as compared to actual archaeology are lampshaded briefly in the second movie. It opens with them having excavated a lot of mundane pottery from a tomb (pottery is very useful for historical reconstruction thanks to the evidence it gives about building materials, diet, and so on), and the three minor villains who show up complain that the pottery is all "useless junk". Shortly after, when they have to break through a tomb wall, Evie holds up a small brush and a tiny pick, while Rick totes a pickaxe. The pickaxe is used.
  • Classic early appearance: in the opening scene of the original Boris Karloff version of The Mummy (1932), a graduate student is studying a scroll at a table when the mummy's bandaged hand reaches past him to touch the parchment. As the mummy walks away, the man starts laughing hysterically, later saying to his mentor "He went for a little walk!" One of them notes in a later scene: "He was still laughing when when he died two years later." Yep, life is tough on graduate students and archaeologists in general.
  • Charlton Heston appeared as Harry Steele in Secret of the Incas. Costume designers credit this film as being the inspiration for Indy's getup.
  • Benjamin Gates (played by Nicolas Cage) from Disney's National Treasure franchise is a historian and amateur cryptologist who does all that work to be prepared to find the treasure and he only keeps looking for it so as to protect it.
  • Professor Robert Langdon from The Da Vinci Code and other films in the series, is a symbologist who regularly finds himself involved in stopping terrorist plots that require him to uncover historical clues. Fun fact: symbology isn't an actual academic field, and most of the academic claims are conspiracy theories, nonsense, or outright bullshit.
  • Most of the main characters in The Adventures of Captain Marvel movie serial from 1941. Interestingly, the main exception to this is Billy Batson himself, who is chosen by the wizard Shazam to become Captain Marvel because he's the only person on the expedition except the native guide Tal Chotali who suggests maybe smashing one's way through tombs and grabbing whatever is in there isn't such a good idea. Later, Batson is entrusted with the scroll which explains how the serial's MacGuffin, the Scorpion, works because he "is probably the only one among us who can't translate it."
  • Leslie Howard's "Pimpernel" Smith, a 1941 take on The Scarlet Pimpernel, is not only an Adventurer Archaeologist, but a Nazi-fighting Adventurer Archaeologist forty years before Indy himself.
  • Darius Biederbeck, played by Robert Quarry, in Dr. Phibes Rises Again.
  • Two Brothers has a something of a subversion of the trope. McRory dynamites apart old temple ruins to sell statues to the highest bidder.
  • Wu Xie from the mainland Chinese show The Lost Tomb and its film spinoff Time Raiders is a Wide-Eyed Idealist legitimate archaeologist at the start of the show, but his entire family have been tomb robbers for generations and he quickly gets sucked into their ways.
  • The Librarian (and its successor series The Librarians), while based around the adventures of librarians, definitely adhere to this trope—though usually in a knowing and ironic way.
  • In Itsy Bitsy, Walter Clark was apparently the "steal important cultural artifacts from living cultures" sort.
  • Anaconda: Professor Cale introduced having just hiked back through the jungle searching ahead for the anthropological documentary and is quite knowledgeable about the native lore and area.
  • The Hong Kong pulp adventure hero, Dr. Wisely Wei (a clear Indiana Jones Expy), is featured in a series of Hong Kong films inclouding The Seventh Curse and Bury Me High.
  • Jet Li plays one of these in an Acting for Two role in the movie Dr. Wai in "The Scripture with No Words": as a writer in 1990s Hong Kong struggling with writer's block, trying to bring to life his fictional creation "Dr. Wai", and the titular doctor who in his adventure stories is trying to prevent an ancient scroll with supernatural powers from falling into the hands of the Imperial Japanese army in the 1940s.
  • In Gentlemen Explorers, Marcus O'Riley's motivation for doing what he does is to finally earn his doctorate and because he believes the mystic artifacts he locates belong in museums. His partner Charles, on the other hand, is Only in It for the Money.


  • Professor Robert Langdon from The Da Vinci Code, is an adventurer symbologist. This is not actually a real field of study, and despite the protestations of the author, pretty much all of the history/iconography/etc is hilariously wrong. But that doesn't seem to slow him down all that much.
  • Dirk Pitt's day job is to be one of these OFF THE COAST!
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • Professor Bernice Summerfield, although she is a little bit of a subversion. She actually wants to be a respected academic who does serious archaeology and carefully peels back history, however she has the drawback of travelling with The Doctor. It means she does get to explore history and see firsthand how it used to be, in ways that she can extrapolate into academic work, but it also means people will be trying to kill them a lot and that most of the artefacts the Doctor is interested in will turn out to be lost superweapons or something. According to Sky Pirates!, her book Down Among the Dead Men Again has a back cover blurb from "I. Jones" claiming that she taught him everything he knows. This may not be true.
    • Some of the novels cast the Fifth Doctor in this role in particular; The Sands of Time and The Ultimate Treasure see the Fifth Doctor join archaeological expeditions in ancient Egypt and on a distant planet to investigate an Osiran tomb and find a legendary treasure respectively.
  • Professor Michael Murphy, in the Babylon Rising series.
  • Mortal Engines has two of these: the cowardly Small Name, Big Ego Nimrod Pennyroyal is more of a subversion (and a Gilderoy Lockhart-style novelist - sadly, his one attempt to write a true story of what happened never becomes popular, or believed), while the driven, hard-edged Thaddeus Valentine plays it deadly straight.
  • Amelia Peabody and her husband, Radcliffe Emerson, Victorian Egyptologists in a series of mysteries by Elizabeth Peters. These two go out of their way to subvert several aspects of the trope: they regard their adventures as interruptions, most of the time, and are always itching to get back to The Dig; and they are stridently clear about Egyptian artefacts belonging to the Egyptians, not, for instance, the British Museum, and make frequent derogatory remarks about the treasure-hunting approach of their predecessors and some of their contemporaries.
    • This may have been inspired in part by Agatha Christie and her husband Sir Max Mallowan. She accompanied him on a lot of his digs and used the locales in her books.
  • An anthropologist and zoologist rather than an archaeologist, but Professor George Edward Challenger from The Lost World (1912) and its sequels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle otherwise fits the bill to a T.
  • Lucinda Carlyle from Ken MacLeod's Newton's Wake is a self-described "combat archaeologist." This involves mostly jumping through wormholes and gunning down post-singularity alien robots.
  • Averted with professional archaeologist Jacob Ramsey in Christie Golden's Dark Templar trilogy. Though described as a "maverick" by his peers, he points out that archaeology is not all adventures and being chased by boulders and he doesn't go about trying to manhandle his way into the Xel'Naga "temple".
  • Discworld:
    • Miss Alice Band is a "stealth archaeologist" who also teaches traps and climbing at the Guild of Assassins. Any similarity to Lara Croft is entirely coincidental.
    • Adora Belle Dearheart qualifies as this in Making Money. She travels about the Disc, looking for a digging up old golems.
    • As mentioned below, the Guild of Archeologists is portrayed as this in Discworld Noir, including "tomb excavator" Loreda Cronk. Averted by The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide, which portrays the Guild as very interested in dusty old pots that, to the layman, don't look any different from other dusty old pots. The head of the guild is named Mr Robinson, and the Guild stamp shows him as looking like Mick Aston.
  • Hand of Mercy features Helen Hawthorn. Technically Helen is an antiques dealer, but that doesn't stop her rifling through ancient artifacts, and theft and trespass at Isham house.
  • Surprisingly, the predecessor or unbuilt form of this trope is Older Than Feudalism: A piece of Egyptian literature from the 1st century CE, Setna-Khaemwase and Na-Nefer-Ka-Ptah tells the story of Setna, a prince of Egypt and a powerful wizard, searching necropoleis for the magical Book of Thoth which grants the reader great power. It does not end very well for him.
  • The Takers by Jerry Ahern, though it's actually the Big Bad who's the archaeologist. The protagonists are an action-adventure novelist, and his girlfriend who writes books on UFOs, Atlantis and the occult.
  • In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, a sci-fi novel by S.M. Stirling set on John Carter of Mars-type world made plausible with Bio Punk technology. The archaeologist protagonist jokes about the differences between himself and the tomb raiders of the movies. "I don't even have a bullwhip!" His colleague points out that (due to the dangerous Martian environment and culture) he is carrying a gun and a sword.
  • The ruinmen in Star's Reach operate like this, though they’re more interested in salvaging raw materials for profit.
  • Aemelia Harsh in Stephen Hunt's The Kingdom Beyond the Waves.
  • Dr. Roger Burrows of the Tunnels series thinks about himself this way. In reality, while he is an archaeologist and he does go on a perilous adventure, he is too much of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander to really fit the mold.
  • Dr. Nina Wilde in Andy McDermott's The Hunt For Atlantis and subsequent sequels; she specializes in mythological legends such as Atlantis and Excalibur. Her parents were also archaeologists and were murdered on an expedition to the Himalayas to find evidence of Atlantis.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch, the crew of the Even Odds are often in line with this trope. Technically they're a retrieval squad, but they usually have a genuine archaeologist or two among them. While research is implied to be their primary activity, the resident archaeologists certainly participate in the actual retrievals, which usually involve the sort of excitement you don't find on genuine digs.
    • In the Star Trek: Mirror Universe, the novel Worst of Both Worlds has Jean Luc Picard of the Mirror Universe as a treasure hunter and slave to Gul Madred. He eventually runs away and uses the treasures and wonders he's found to destroy the Borg Cube that invades the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance.
  • In the Virals series by Kathy Reichs, Tory Brennan and her fellow virals are this when trying to find a female pirate's treasure.
  • In the Harry Potter series, Ron's badass older brother Bill is said to work as a "curse-breaker" in Egypt. It's implied that this line of work involves being a cross between this trope and a Bomb Disposal technician.
  • The old Star Wars Expanded Universe has a side character, never featuring clearly, named Corellia Antilles who is basically a Gender Flipped Expy of Indy. Her name is similarly "place plus common last name" - her real name is Henrietya - she specializes in "dangerous artifact collection" aka treasure hunting, and she was the subject of a popular series of holos.
    • The new canonical Star Wars Expanded Universe has a similar character named Doctor Aphra, who works for Darth Vader.
    • Galaxy of Fear's Hoole is actually more of an Adventure Anthropologist - or xenoanthropologist, whatever word would be used for the study of different sentient species - but he gets roped into a spot of archaeology in Spore, when some miners have Dug Too Deep and found a Door of Doom with weird inscriptions on it.
  • Justified in the Earth Girl trilogy: In the 28th century pre-history teams are digging through the ruins of Earth That Used to Be Better for one reason, and one reason only: To uncover Lost Technology and fundamental research preserved in stasis boxes before their power supplies fail or the places where they are buried become even more inaccessible due to fallen skyscrapers or collapsed land rafts. Thus they actually cannot afford to dig out and brush off stuff slowly. Explosives and laser cutters are often used and rubble is just unceremoniously piled up next to an excavation.
    • But all of that pales in comparison to the adventures of Jarra, Fian, their dig team, their pre-history class, and Asgard 2 dig team over the course of three books: They remember the Ark caves to evacuated the handicapped to, excavate a rubble-buried crash-landed spaceship, dig out and reactivate alien tech, make first contact with an alien probe, run away from a space ship armed with a frigging Laser beam and fake their own death, survive an attack of a missile-filled space ship, get Alpha Sector to allow Earth to join them, get the Earth government to be democratically elected, have her immune system replaced by a risky potentially fatal experimental technology to be able to leave Earth and is the first disabled person in history to go on an extrasolar travel, figure out the chimera could still be around, become pioneers in xenoarchaeology, have a statue/memorial for her and her teams, win at life.
    • Earth and... sees Jarra and her school History club training to be this trope as they search the ruins of New York for ancient artifacts. Although school History groups only use the Fringe dig sites rather than the much-more-hazardous Main sites, Jarra and her group still see some action. In Earth and Air, Jarra tells Wren about the time she, aged eleven, had to be lowered into an oil tank to save a group member as she was the only one who could fit and they were running out of time.
    • Felipe tells the class a thrilling tale of being lowered into a narrow space to use a laser gun to free a trapped colleague. In fact, he did no such thing; he stole a story about Valeshka Orlova, a genuine example of this trope, to make himself look cool.
    • In the prequel, Scavenger Alliance, Tad, along with Phoenix and Braden, try to be this but fail miserably. They do successfully reach New York and find the Rosetta component, but manage to get their aeroplane destroyed by falling debris having left it in the lee of a building to protect it from the wind. This leads to their having to appeal to the Resistance for help and kicks off the plot.
  • Tanner from She Fell Among Thieves is a treasure hunter more than he is an archaeologist. He's wanted in both Mexico and Cambodia for smuggling artifacts. Miller joins in on his illegal activities when they decide to steal the statue.
  • A Merritt's lush 1924 fantasy novel, The Ship Of Ishtar: John Kenton was this, and had intended to go on a major expedition to unearth Babylonian treasures until World War I intervened. Now he's an embittered Returning War Vet Stranger in a Familiar Land. The original ship, a model carved of semiprecious stone, is sent to him by a fellow archaeologist who went in his place on the Babylonian expedition, and he has no trouble reading the cuneatic script on the stone block in which it was inclosed. He has a room full of "his spoils from many a far away corner of the world", some of which he uses to disguise himself when he goes aboard the real ship.
  • Clive Cussler's adventure works continue with the Fargo Adventures series, starring Sam and Remi Fargo, who constantly travel the world to find the greatest treasures, to return to their rightful owners, almost invariably facing the entire spectrum of human scum and villainy from whom they will have to protect the treasure; from drug lords and silly-but-ruthless little rich girls who will do anything to get what they want, to terrorists and the Eastern European gangsters who supply them. Sam is an engineer, while Remi is an anthropologist/historian; otherwise they fit the archetype.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge: Janov Pelorat is a Foundation historian fascinated with the myths of humanity's origin. When Trevize asks why humanity couldn't have arisen on multiple planets (as convergent evolution), Pelorat prepares to launch into an in-depth explanation, but recognizes the enormity of information and instead requests that Trevize trust him. He wants to visit the Library on Trantor to read more second-hand accounts of humanity, but Trevize convinces him that they should physically go to the sites and see for themselves what is there. So they head to the Sayshell system to learn about Gaia. Their archaeological adventures (conspiracies and physical violence) continue in Foundation and Earth.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen, The Inscrutable Machine encounter Emilia St. Daphne, a "legally ambiguous archaeologist" who breaks into sites involving mystical threats, sometimes to learn about their history and sometimes to disarm something that might destroy the world. Either way, her approach involves having to find a way past a lot of ancient traps. By the end of the book, and within the next few books, Ray becomes her apprentice.
  • Priscilla Hutchins is a spaceship pilot, but she often flies for archaeological expeditions on alien worlds, and while the novels stress the Boring, but Practical aspect of archaeology she somehow manages to have a lot of life-threatening adventures. In Chindi she's working for the Contact Society who are wealthy enthusiasts hoping to make First Contact with aliens, and she gets into several arguments with them because they're more inclined to act like this trope.
  • Gavin Kane in Sheba by Jack Higgins is an archaeologist hired by a woman to find her missing archaeologist husband in 1939. It just so happens that the temple site said husband has found is also being used as a base by ... Nazis! Sheba was actually one of Higgins' earlier books — initially published as Seven Pillars to Hell in the 1960s — but it's no wonder he had it republished after the success of the Indiana Jones movies.
  • Flin Brodie in The Hidden Oasis by Paul Sussman is an archaeology professor at the American University in Cairo who has often gone on expeditions into the desert — and does so again in the story. He is named after Flinders Petrie.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick and Mary got invited on an archaeological dig. Dick showed up dressed like Indiana Jones and waving around a bullwhip. It turns out he's Wrong Genre Savvy and the dig is actually realistic.
  • Examples of this trope IN SPACE are apparently common in the Verse of Babylon 5, among them Sheridan's wife, who disappeared on an archaeological expedition.
    • Max Eilerson, from the short-lived spinoff Crusade, is an archaeologist who joins the crew of the Excalibur to gallivant across the Galaxy exploring the ruins of ancient alien civilizations. Of course, Max, working for a corporation, is mainly concerned with financial gain from any alien artifact or knowledge. This frequently puts him in conflict with the rest of the cast, who only do this out of necessity.
  • Though an anthropologist rather than an archaeologist, Dr. Temperance Brennan of Bones appears to harbor the occasional delusion of Lara Croft-hood. The series has established that she's an accomplished martial artist, markswoman and survival expert:
    Caroline: Fine. Stop me when I get something wrong. Trained in three types of martial arts, two assault charges, registered marksman with the NRA, hunting licenses in four states...
    Booth: You hunt?
    Brennan: Only for food.
    Caroline: Shot an unarmed man...
    Brennan: He was trying to light me on fire!
    • The pilot episode hangs a few more lampshades on this, as the first five minutes show her returning from some South American jungle with a carry-on full of skulls, for which she neglected to obtain the proper importation permits, and then executing vigilante justice on Cleo Eller's murderer when it looks like the man will escape prosecution.
      • To be fair, as she said in the above quote, he was trying to light her on fire.
    • It is worth pointing out that, while she does enjoy joining Booth in the field, from what she's described of her anthropological excursions, she doesn't go looking for adventure. She gets plenty of excitement just looking at the skeleton in a lab. It's just that the places she goes aren't exactly known for being safe (identifying victims in a mass grave in a war-torn country, for example). Her combat skills, etc. are for her own protection.
  • Castle: Will Medina the victim from Wrapped up in Death is described as "a modern day Indiana Jones once waking into a rain forrest with just a backpack and coming out a month later with a priceless artifact. That being said, he wasn't above tricking natives into leading him to a sacred burial chamber, or selling a mummy that wasn't login to be displayed on the black market.
  • In the CSI: NY episode "The Cost of Living", one of these breaks into a disused part of the New York City Subway and retrieves an item, in a large-scale homage to Indiana Jones that probably left many viewers wondering what they were watching... Then the team find his corpse:
    Stella: Seems James [Sutton] fashioned himself a real Indiana Jones.
    Mac: Until someone made this his last crusade.
    • Late in the episode it is revealed that the adventurer archaeologist was a fraud. Having purchased the identity of a legitimate archaeologist, the man proceeded to live the fantasy of an adventurer archaeologist. He ended up being more successful than the person whose identity he was using.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" has an aversion: although Toby Zed is the archaeologist of a team of explorers sent to a dangerous Eldritch Location, he's not a soldier or any kind of fighter, he's just there to take a look at the artefacts retrieved.
    • Doctor, later Professor, River Song.
      • In "Silence in the Library":
        The Doctor: Tell me you're not archaeologists?
        River: Got a problem with archaeologists?
        The Doctor: I'm a time traveller. I point and laugh at archaeologists.
        River: [grins, holds out her hand] Professor River Song, archaeologist.
      • He quickly learns not to underestimate her, because when you have a time travelling archaeologist, you get awesome. In fact, they're married!
        Rory: So... What kind of doctor are you?
        River: Archaeology. [shoots alien behind her] Love a tomb.
      • Being a time-travelling archaeologist gives River plenty of foresight for her schemes. She had no need to fear Flemming in "The Husbands of River Song" because she dug him up.
  • The Flash (2014) Season 3 introduced Julian Albert, who in the past embarked on an expedition to finding the Brahmastra (or Philosopher's Stone). He donned a fedora and an attire much like that of Indiana himself. Later when Team Flash visit Gorilla City in Earth-2, Julian tags along once again wearing the same outfit, not wanting to pass up a trip to a parallel dimension that housed sentient apes.
  • On Friends a department store saleswoman flirts with Ross, using the absurd equation "paleontologist+works out=Indiana Jones." Talk about laying it on with a trowel. Ross is pleased, however (it helps the woman is gorgeous, much to Rachel's chagrin).
  • Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2 introduces Nate Heywood, who is actually a historian, but also joins the time travelling team. He gets a lot more adventure than his typically literature job offers, being able to meet the historical figures and places up close.
  • Charlotte from Lost may fit. She's been identified as an anthropologist rather than an archaeologist, but in her first scene, she was butting in on a dig to unearth a Dharma polar bear in Tunisia and the show runners even addressed the archaeologist/anthropologist/Indiana Jones issue in a podcast. She also appears to be something of an Action Girl.
  • In the Murdoch Mysteries episode "Murdoch and the Temple of Death", the Victim of the Week is an Adventurer Archaeologist who found the Holy Grail in an exact duplicate of the Hagia Sophia built in Canada by another Adventurer Archaeologist, who took it from the real one. Crabtree is inspired to write a novel about "a swashbuckling archeologist", although Murdoch thinks It Will Never Catch On. The whole thing is, of course, an Indiana Jones pastiche.
  • Power Rangers, Super Sentai:
    • GoGo Sentai Boukenger's theme is "adventure". It's even part of their roll call.
    • In Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, the English localization of Boukenger, the Rangers spend the bulk of the season generally following in the footsteps of their mentor/the father of Red Ranger. This unique combination of Big Damn Heroes and Adventurer Archaeologist tends to result in a lot of property damage to ancient temples/exotic locales, not just their City of Adventure.
    • Power Rangers Zeo: Prior to the events of Mighty Morphin' Alien Rangers, Tanya was left in an African village while her parents ended up disappearing. When Yellow Ranger Aisha, her and most of the world altered by Rita and Zedd putting the world back in time, came to retrieve a fragment of the Zeo Crystal, the two swap places. Not only does she become the new Yellow Ranger, being this allows her to rescue her parents and retrieve Auric the Conqueror.
  • In the show Relic Hunter, Sydney Fox (played by Tia Carrere) is a globe-trotting "relic hunter" who hunts for ancient treasures and artifacts so that she can bring them to their her university’s museum or the descendants of the original owner.
  • In The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg is an anthropologist but has serious Adventurer Archaeologist moments such as taking out a bad guy with a vending machine and jumping out of an airplane into the South American jungle with Jim to rescue Simon & Daryl Banks. Not bad for a neo-hippie witch doctor punk.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Daniel Jackson is a "purer" example in flashbacks, but modifies the way he works once he joins the SG team. He is occasionally mentioned to be on more traditional archaeology digs when his schedule permits, and some episodes show this - on Earth, and on other planets. It's frequently implied that if Daniel had his way, he'd have the Stargate be used solely for this purpose. Daniel's status as this (as well as the levels in badass he's taken) are lampshaded in one episode when one of the soldiers on the team that SG-1 will be guarding mentions how much safer he feels knowing that an archaeologist has his back. Daniel responds by holding up a knife and asking which end he's supposed to put the bullets in. Also lampshaded when the team questions a man that claims to be an archaeologist about his weapon[1]:
    Jack: What kind of archaeologist carries a weapon?
    Daniel: Uh, I do!
    Jack: (pause)...Bad example.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Vash, sometimes a love interest for Captain Picard, is a student of archaeology. But she is a dishonest rogue motivated by profit, and said to get into hazardous adventures (mostly off-screen) while searching for ancient treasures.
    • In "Captain's Holiday", Captain Picard meets Vash while on a resort planet for vacation. The two of them go on an adventure to find an Ancient Artifact, while trying to avoid being targeted by Vash's dangerous former colleague.
    • Vash appears again in Deep Space Nine's "Q-Less". This time she has returned from adventuring off-screen with the omnipotent being Q. While Q tries to convince Vash that she can continue on countless wonderous adventures if she stays with him, Vash herself is mostly interested in selling the historical artifacts she has gathered for a substantial profit.
  • Briefly lampshaded in Warehouse 13, when the agents are sent to unearth Warehouse 2 in Egypt, Helena Wells changes into a very Lara Croft-esque outfit. When asked by Myka what she's doing, Helena explains that she's done research what female archaeologists wear. Myka corrects her, explaining that this is what American film-makers think female archaeologists wear.
  • Janice Covington, from a clip-show episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, was clearly this trope in action (she had a Gatling gun in her tent!) who was obsessed with finding evidence of Xena's travels. She fancied herself a direct descendent of Xena, and was initially disappointed to find out that she was a descendant of Gabrielle instead.
  • Interestingly, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles mostly averts this. The show was intended as edutainment, and only one episode, Treasure of the Peacock's Eye, follows the traditional Indy Treasure Hunt formula. The DVD sets include documentaries about people and events in the show, including one about what real archaeology is like. The trope is even deconstructed in the very first episode:
    Indy: I'd like to be an archaeologist.
    T. E. Lawrence: Maybe you'll add a new page to history. Or discover a treasure beyond price.
    Indy: And get rich!
    Lawrence: No, Henry. Archaeologists don't get rich. Archaeology doesn't steal from the past. It opens it, so that everyone may learn from its treasures.

  • Ain't Slayed Nobody:
    • Professor Henry was an archaeologist conducting research alongside his assistant Kate Caldwell, who failed a few too many sanity checks and became a devotee of Shub-Niggurath, summoning one of her Dark Young and performing a "Freaky Friday" Flip on it and Kate. By the time the Posse encounter him, he's an eccentric old hobo going by "Sparky".
    • Professor John Wilkinson, who debuts in Episode 4, is employed as a chemistry professor by the newly established New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, but his true passion is archaeology. He ropes the Posse into helping him conduct an expedition to the mines and caves under Baylor Peak in search of evidence of Indigenous inhabitation or a lost conquistador expedition. It turns out these caverns are infested with ghouls, with the conquistadors having fallen prey to them.
  • The Twilight Histories episodes “The Isle of the Lost” and “The Drowned City” have you in this role. In the former, you explore the ruins of Atlantis, while the latter see you explore a Mesopotamian city that has been abandoned under mysterious circumstances.
  • The Magnus Archives: An early episode, seemingly unconnected to the Myth Arc, revolves around an unusually realistic take on the trope: A moderately down-on-her-luck archaeology graduate encounters a treasure hunter type who is Only in It for the Money, and eagerly becomes a black marjet grave robber, culminating in an unauthorised off-the-books dig at a previously untouched tomb in a remote part of Egypt. It doesn't end well.

  • Prof. Anton Edwards, the hero of Moon Over Africa, is a professor, an expert in ancient languages who goes on an exciting journey through Darkest Africa to uncover a lost civilization.

  • Dino Attack RPG has Gahiji "Dust" Thutmose and Rick "Adventure" Spherus; the latter is even described as looking like a shameless knock-off of Indiana Jones.
  • Equestrian Legends has Icefox, a blatant Indiana Jones Expy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The one, the only, Beckett of Clan Gangrel in Vampire: The Masquerade. Hot like Croft and cool like Jones, baby.
  • New World of Darkness games:
    • Mage: The Awakening: "Archeomancers" are a faction of the Mysterium (collectors of magical lore) who search old ruins for artefacts. Since those ruins have a tendency to have hostile magic, traps, and/or ghosts, practiced archaeomancers are usually well-armed and magically adept.
    • Hunter: The Vigil has two such groups: the Loyalists of Thule, who track down arcane secrets to defend humanity from occult dangers and make up for that whole Hitler thing, and the Aegis Kai Doru, who collect magical artifacts and use them in their fight against threats to humanity.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Eberron: The Forge of War book indicates that it's possible to run a war campaign in which one is attempting to locate ancient artifacts to deny them to enemy forces, "like a certain whip-wielding, fedora-wearing archaeologist."
    • Pretty much the main draw of the 5th edition Forgotten Realms adventure Tomb of Annihilation (a spiritual successor to Tomb of Horrors). A mystical curse is ravaging the world, and the players will have to delve into the jungles of Chult to find the forgotten city of Omu, where a cure can hopefully be found. The book even includes an Archeologist background clearly inspired by the man himself pictured above (the one to the right).
  • 7th Sea has the Explorer's Society, a continent-spanning organization of Adventurer Archaeologists. And their rivals.
  • Feng Shui's Seal of the Wheel supplement has the Two-Fisted Archeologist, which is a direct homage to Indiana Jones, with a unique schtick that allows them to defy death, showing up ten sequences later all banged up and with a crazy story to tell about how they survived. Most of them work for the Ascended, but some of them go independent or join the Dragons. There's also several fan archetypes lurking about the net.
  • One of the character classes in Rifts, Rogue Scholar is this, the picture of the character template even looks like Indy.
    • The Rogue Scientist fits the bill as well, only with a slightly different set of priorities. Both classes are adventurers dedicated to combing the ruins of Rifts Earth in search of lost knowledge from the Golden Age of Mankind (i.e. the late 21st Century). Rifts Earth is such a Crapsack World that if they didn't know how to defend themselves, they probably wouldn't make it to the ruins alive, let alone get back in one piece.
  • The Back East supplements for Deadlands included an Archaelogist archetype suitable for use as a player character that was very heavily based on Indiana Jones.
  • In Exalted this profession is called "Scavenger Lord," and in some parts of the world is a very respectable, even honored career. The Second Age is littered with the ruins, and sometimes the incalculably valuable/dangerous artifacts/superweapons/Lost Technology of the First Age, which may be guarded by ghosts, monsters, or demons. A successful Scavenger Lord must be much more than a bookworm to survive, but the potential payout is high.
  • Techpriests from Warhammer 40,000 combine this with Cargo Cult and Lost Technology. In true 40k fashion, there's not much romantic adventure in their work. Though if they end up waking up some Necrons (again), things can get far too adventurous for one's comfort...
    • Speaking of Necrons, Trazyn the Infinite scours battlefields looking for artifacts and knickknacks to add to his collection. Some of his finds have been alien monsters, powerful artifacts, and five regiments of Imperial Guard an Inquisitor "gave" to him. Most of Trazyn's collection is still alive, stored in stasis. Some of the beings in his collection are so powerful that Trazyn could turn the galaxy upside down, saving and/or dooming multiple interstellar civilizations, if he ever chose to release them.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The Pathfinder Society is an in-universe organization of these, dedicated to uncovering the Adventure-Friendly World's ancient knowledge and publishing it in the Pathfinder Chronicles. They are frequently pitted against the Aspis Consortium, who at best sell to the highest bidder and at worst will grind down precious historical artifacts into powder for use as spell components.
    • "Archaeologist" is an archetype for the Bard class, replacing the Bard's Magic Music with personal luck, Super-Reflexes, expertise in trapfinding, and roguish abilities.
    • The futuristic version of Pathfinder, Starfinder, has the Starfinder Society, which is the Pathfinder Society IN SPAAAAACE!.
  • In Rocket Age most members of the ICIC count. The Ahnenerbe also have Archaeologists on Mars plus various freebooters and scientists also qualify.
  • Arkham Horror spinoff Eldritch Horror turns most of the playable characters into this, as they must fight monsters and often go on Expeditions to historical sites. In the game, however, Monterey Jack is an archaeologist by profession, and Ursula Downs is an explorer, so they fit the trope from a professional standpoint.
  • In The Madness Dossier, Some "Sandmen" are fully qualified archaeologists as well as being highly effective field agents. They search for anomalous remnants of the true history of Earth (which was rendered unreal in 535 AD) and probe for dangerous weaknesses in the structure of our universe.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Lorehold College, one of the colleges of Strixhaven Academy and the one specializing in White/Red magic, are entire department of these, combined with magic; White-aligned members lean more into the "archaeologist" part and Red-aligned ones lean into the "Adventurer" part. They're most famous for teaching students how to summon spirits of dead historical figures to get first-hand accounts of past events.

  • Subverted with archaeologist Professor Davis in The Thousand Year Rose, immediately abandoning the treasure quest to pursue a relationship with hot grandma Maryann Foley. Played straight with his research intern, Kimmi Larkin.

  • Johnny Thunder of LEGO Adventurers and Jake Raines of LEGO Pharaoh's Quest both fit this trope to a tee. Based on his bio on the LEGO Dino Attack website, Digger might also qualify.

    Video Games 
  • The Age of Decadence: Characters who choose the Loremaster class are specifically geared toward becoming this. Searching ancient ruins and uncovering the events that directly led to the game's apocalyptic setting. Often, however, digging up and fiddling with highly advanced ancient technology can have incredibly destructive results for the inhabitants of what remains of the world.
  • Barbie Explorer, an action/adventure game from the Barbie Software line.
  • Battleborn: Phoebe has a great interest in the ancient Eldrid Precursors known as the Aztanti and the various mysteries associated with them. As such, she has a fondness for going on expeditions into Aztanti ruins. Whether it's going to recover an Aztanti skeletal relic to serve as the base for her fellow Battleborn Kelvin's physical form as detailed in his and Miko's lore challenges, or exploring deep within the bowels of Ekkunar to discover secrets as what happens in her DLC Story Operation, Phoebe is always up for an adventure into the ruins of the ancient precursor civilization.
  • The main characters of the Borderlands series in the most technical sense. They're Vault Hunters, searching for ancient Eridian Vaults hidden in Pandora and in the process finding tremendous power, loot, and knowledge.
    • Maya from Borderlands 2 is a more specific example, as she is traveling the galaxy to learn more about Sirens like herself, and Pandora has close connections to Sirens and their powers.
    • Continued in Borderlands 3, which expands the scale to multiple Vaults across multiple planets, in search of an even greater Vault. In this case, both the academic and profit motives take a back seat to that of keeping the Great Vault out of the hands of the Calypso Twins.
  • Cave In: The Player Character of the game is an archaeologist exploring a cave system to find a lost crown. He has a gun with him to deal with the animals in the cave.
  • The Cliffhanger: Edward Randy: The titular hero is as close a Captain Ersatz of Indy as it can get, being an adventurer in the 1930s who explore ruins and goes around beating up enemy mooks using his whip, while trying to stop a warlord called "Black Ogre" from stealing a powerful Ancient Artifact to Take Over the World. There's even a tank boss in the desert stage which homages the third Indy film.
  • Discworld Noir: The Guild of Archeologists is a lot like this. It may be notable that their spokesperson is a young woman named "Laredo Cronk".
  • The Dungeon Of Doom: The "Jones" class is a clear Shout-Out.
  • Dungeons of Dredmor - The Archeology skill tree is chock full of shout outs to Indiana Jones (you even start the game with a familiar hat), but the only exploration and taking of valuable ancient artifacts you do is for your own survival, and anything you're not currently equipped with is probably getting sold.
  • Egoboo has an Archaeologist class that is directly derived from Indiana Jones and all of its other Captain Ersatz and hommage characters like Spelunky and Lemeza Kosugi with a whip, a fedora and according skills.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, the Nerevarine has the opportunity to be this as part of Edwinna Elbert's Mages Guild quest line. You'll collect rare Dwemer items and schematics from dangerous ruins, as well as check in on an actual archaeologic expedition at a Dwemer ruin. If you collect a set of unique books throughout these quests and take them to a knowledgeable scholar, you can come up with the best theory to date about why the Dwemer disappeared.
    • In Oblivion, there are many Ayleid ruins scattered across Cyrodiil, some of which involved in quests while the others are simply there to provide you some treasure (and trap)-filled dungeons to explore. Umbacano's quest specifically invokes this trope, as it involves the Hero exploring a good dozen of those ruins to find specific ancient artifacts.
    • In Skyrim, the Dragonborn will engage in this, especially during the College of Winterhold questline, but there's also Katria from the Dawnguard expansion. Katria dedicated her life to locating the Aetherium Forge, which is split into a number of shards all over Skyrim. The catch is that Katria's life was cut short by a Dwemer automaton, but her ghost will assist you through the quest. Once you help her complete her life's work (and prove her apprentice as a fraud), she thanks you as a friend and wishes you luck in your adventures before fading away.
  • Endless Frontier begins with the hero and his Robot Girl sidekick getting permission to explore a crashed spaceship... that they were recovered from when he was a baby.
  • One career path in EVE Online. Recovering artifacts is part of exploration, and it can be dangerous - as with most things in EVE, the best sites are in low-security space, exposing any would-be archaeologist to attack by pirates. Also, EVE archaeologists are less concerned with studying history and more concerned with finding useful bits of Lost Technology.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Professor Ace, allegedly a professor of archaeology but spends his time as the Lovable Coward following Zophy around. It's certainly a good source of adventure, and sometimes riches. Like the time in Giant Fist when he steals a large jewel from Blackberry's pyramid, prompting Ogonmushi to brain them robbers and attack. Though always the first to run from a fight, he nonetheless follows Zophy into the heart of danger, and surprises everyone when his archaeological expertise means he actually has insight in the adventure at hand. He's even got the hat.
  • Fable II: There is a series of artifact fetch quests you can perform for archaeologist Belle Rennock - likely a reference to Rene Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Final Fantasy VI: Locke represents the thief class in the game and has the "steal" command. But you'd better call him a treasure hunter or he'll rip your lungs out!!!
  • Final Fantasy X-2: The original idea of sphere hunters was this - dive into the ruins, grab the recording sphere, haul it back to a historian and let the contents be known. Within only a couple of years, however, it seems to have devolved into a mixture of this, tomb robbery, and a bit of out-and-out piracy, and that's just the heroes.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Subverted in the mission to recruit Montblanc. The reason he went to Jylland was treasure hunting. However, after Montblanc learned the treasures were already found by Luso, he says "Please, kupo, let's be realistic here. My life is more than bauble-hunting!"
  • Guardian Rock: The Mooks in this Flash game also qualify, though they have antagonizing roles.
  • Guild Wars 2: The Durmand Priory. They vowed to seek ancient artifacts (Dwarf artifacts especially) in order to find a way to defeat the Elder Dragons.
  • Henry Hatsworth, from Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure.
  • Indiana Jones himself is the hero in two classic Point And Click Adventure games: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (based on the movie) and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis set in the summer of 1939, just before World War II kicks off. There's also the 3D action-adventures Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine and Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, which certainly owe something to, well...
  • Infidel: The protagonist is a deconstruction, a greedy treasure hunter whose only interest in the pyramid he's exploring is the valuable treasures it may contain, and who is acting as a lone adventurer only because he's such a jerkass the rest of his expedition abandoned him and went home. His ambitions lead to a Downer Ending when he sets off a trap that leaves him Buried Alive with no hope of rescue.
  • Kingdom of Loathing: One of the 2015 annual familiars available to donors at Mr. Store is the Indiana Jones-esque Adventurous Spelunker, who increases money and item drops, attacks with his whip, and drops an item that gives access to a Spelunky-inspired mini-game.
  • Kult: Heretic Kingdoms: Joran Cynessa claims to be this, telling people who wonder why he's in a warzone that he intrepid ventured there for the sake of his work. Of course, if he happens to find a few interesting weapons along the way, selling them to carefully screened, discerning buyers is a perfectly respectable way to finance his work. (He's actually just a weapons smuggler.)
  • La-Mulana: The Player Character is Lemeza Kosugi, who is a parody of Indiana Jones, down to the hat and constant use of a whip as a tool and a weapon. He sets out to the ruins of La-Mulana after receiving a letter from his father claiming that "He found it!" and that he "won" over Lemeza, like it's a competition. Due to the competitive relationship Lemeza and his father Shorn (or Shawn) share, the actions in which you get money in the game (by breaking pots with your weapon), and the the lack of character development afterwards, Armored Chocobo portrayed him as a greedy version of this trope in his Let's Play, going as far as saying his clothes are green because they are "made out of dollar bills" and the phrase "It doesn't belong in a museum, it belongs in Lemeza's pockets!"
    • La-Mulana 2 stars Lemeza's daughter Lumisa, who is similar to her father in ability. Lemeza and Shorn also appear, stealing Lumisa's discovery. The game also implies that all archaeologists in-universe are this, as several signs warn you that a dangerous activity should not be attempted unless you are a highly trained ninja... or an archaeologist. Whether this means that all archaeologists recieve ninja training as part of their profession or that they're badass enough on their own to not need it is unclear, though the first game did mention that Lemeza recieved training.
  • League of Legends features Ezreal, the Prodigal Explorer, an adventurous, talented, but also astonishingly cocky young man who fancies himself as one of these, equipped with a one-of-a-kind gauntlet that lets him teleport across Runeterra in search for treasure, thrills, and glory. The game frequently puts a lampshade on how as an archeologist, he kind of sucks at his job in spite of his powers — he's bad at planning expeditions (he prioritizes his stylish pomade over food), his "research" largely amounts to Grave Robbing from ancient crypts, and he frequently gets into legal trouble due how he mishandles the magical (and often dangerous) artifacts he gets his paws on.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky : Professor Alba starts out as a subversion. As Estelle and Joshua encounter him in numerous ruins across the world, he is the typical absent-minded academic, possessing no offensive power of his own and needing to be kept safe on escort missions. Then, at the very end of First Chapter, he is revealed to be the Big Bad of the series. When Estelle confronts him in SC, he reveals that his archaeologist credentials are real, ultimately making him a double subversion. Too bad he wants to use his knowledge to unleash the Aureole upon Liberl.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Zelda, and to a lesser extent Link, in the backstory. Zelda traveled the kingdom researching the dilapidated ruins of Old Hyrule and the Lost Technology associated with that civilization. She was the original owner of the Sheikah Slate, and was very annoyed to find that the Shrines were only designed to work for the hero bonded to the Master Sword.
  • Mass Effect: Subverted with Dr. Liara T'Soni. When you first meet her, she's a meek, shy scientist that's fallen foul of one of the death traps in the ruin she's excavating. Once she's off-planet, however, she's able to keep up with three trained marines, a former Special Forces soldier and a thousand-year-old krogan battlemaster. In the second game she's switched career paths and is now an up-and-coming information broker. Her personal DLC sees her killing and replacing the most influential information trader in the galaxy, promoting herself to Illusive Man-level mover and shaker.
    • When asked about how traveling with Shepard's crew compares to her previous work, Liara laments that she'd be happier with more exploration time and fewer explosions.
    • Referenced again in Lair of the Shadow Broker. Liara comments at one point that information trading isn't that different from archaeology, in that you're sifting mountains of refuse for a few valuable scraps - however, dead bodies tend to smell a bit more when they're not thousands of years old. Later in the DLC, a search of her apartment will turn up a framed copy of her doctorate (another character comments that "she really got her money's worth out of that education"), a painting of the ruins on Ilos, and several display-cased Prothean artifacts.
    • One of the uncharted worlds mentions the planet is occupied by a Volus billionaire who is obsessed with searching the planet's abandoned crypts for "lost beings of light" who hid away weapons to fight a "darkness from beyond the stars." It's implied the volus is insane (although Shepard and their crew would likely disagree), but he has his own army of mercenaries digging up the planet.
    • Shepard can play Adventurer Archaeologist in both games, recovering ancient asari writings, turian clan insignia, Prothean artifacts and data disks from sites spanning the galaxy. You can even keep a Prothean relic in your cabin as an art piece.
    • By the time of Mass Effect 3, archaeology has become a necessity. The Reapers are invading, and the best bet to stop them is to build the Crucible: an ancient Prothean-designed weapons system. The most effective way to decipher the Prothean script surrounding this weapon is to study Prothean artifacts, effectively militarizing archaeology.
  • Mega Man (Classic): Pharaoh Man is a robot created for the purpose of being one of these. He's designed to explore Egyptian ruins, and was built with superior speed and agility for the sake of evading deathtraps, and powerful optical sensors that allow him to perceive objects through walls, making it easier to navigate the dark catacombs. His likeness to a pharaoh is even intended to stave off any ancient curses by making it seem like he belongs there.
  • Mega Man ZX Advent: Grey/Ashe can meet Meg, self-proclaimed "antique Hunter" who spends her time hunting through ruins to uncover Lost Technology and preventing them from being stolen and sold off by thieves (and tracking said thieves down if they do). As a registered member of the Hunter's Guild, she has a legal license from the government of Legion to carry these operations out and this is a major part of the job of a Hunter (the other part being hunting down Mavericks for bounties, but she seems to prefer the exploring part). In fact, she was in the middle of one such operation when the stage in question suddenly lived up to its name as the "Floating Ruins" and she got stuck. She asks Grey/Ashe as a fellow Hunter to find four artifacts hidden throughout the four parts of the Floating Ruins and bring them back to her as a sidequest, where she provides some handy exposition on each one (for bonus points, they're all items from the Mega Man (Classic) time period centuries prior) and upon getting all four she'll give them a Sub-Tank.
  • NetHack has an Archaeologist class that starts with a whip and fedora.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: Goombella is an archaeology student, but every bit as adventurous as many examples here.
  • Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners: Professor Tsuchida is an older version who recognizes that he's a bit past his prime. However, he refuses to let this slow him down too much, seeking further prestige and to keep strengthening his reputation. Unfortunately, this leads him to recruit a tour group as Unwitting Pawns when he discovers a hidden ruin and decides that he'd rather not wait to explore it, or let any organizations know about his find and steal his glory...
  • Pokémon:
  • Professor Layton: Herschel Layton from the series is technically an archaeologist, though he spends more time in the games solving puzzles (and crimes). He does get in some ruin-exploring in a few games, such as Miracle Mask. More specifically, he doesn't actually like adventuring, but he often does so anyway due to people giving him strange or dangerous artifacts whose true nature only he can solve, of which adventuring tends to happen. According to his social media accounts, he turned down an invitation to Super Smash Bros. due to it being about fighting—he would prefer to study and solve puzzles.
  • The Riddle of Master Lu: This game's fictionalized version of Robert Ripley is not a real archaeologist, but his search for clues in sometimes dangerous ancient locations in order to get to enter the tomb of the first emperor of China to stop a magical McGuffin from falling into the wrong hands is just like something from Indiana Jones — except that he isn't good at the fighting, he lets his girlfriend do that.
  • RuneScape both plays this straight and deconstructs it. Archaeology is one of the 28 skills and the player certainly has a lot of adventures doing it. In the story though, many NPCs found being academics and not a god-like hero, means they are ill-equipped to deal with the Ancient Conspiracy, Cosmic Flaw, Eldritch Abomination, Artifact of Doom and the like they dig up.
  • Secret Files has Max Gruber who fits the trope. In the second game of the series, Sam Peters, a classmate of Max, is a rare female version.
  • The Secret World features a rather prominent example in the form of Iain Tibet Gladstone, Templar scholar. A historian, anthropologist and adventurer, Gladstone spent most of his younger days roaming around the world, investigating mysteries almost too esoteric for mainstream secret worlders and conducting some extremely questionable experiments; he even went so far as to indulge in Mental Time Travel via a number of rare and prohibited substances. He even defends his approach by claiming that there's things in history that scholars need to confront head-on. Apparently, his employers disagree: by the start of the game, Gladstone has been forcibly retired and is currently spending the rest of his days under house arrest.
  • Shadow Guardian: Jason Call is an ex-soldier turned journalist and treasure hunter, who spends the whole game infiltrating ancient tombs, taking down enemy mercenaries in shootouts and fighting giant monsters to prevent a doomsday device from falling into the wrong hands. The game is inspired by the then-recent Uncharted franchise, and Jason is a rather blatant Nathan Drake expy.
  • The Sims 3: In the "World Adventures" expansion pack allowing you to be such an archaeologist, exploring tombs in the three travel locations for valuable treasures and unique furniture.
  • Sky Odyssey: The nameless hero is said to be the latest in a line of explorers who set out to find the Hidden Tower of Maximus within the Islands of the Dark Sea. While we don't actually see him doing any archaeology in the game, given that his goal is to rediscover the ancient lost city it makes sense that he would be one of these.
  • Spelunky: The player character is an Indiana Jones lookalike with a whip who finds hidden ruins and lost treasure.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story: Ernest is like Indiana Jones with three eyes.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: In the Fan Game The Jedi Masters, the Player Character is one of these who's referred to simply as Doctor, and the plot kicks off with them seeking funding for an expedition to track down what happened to Revan. Later on they end up being trained in the ways of the Force by the ghost of the Sith Lord Freedon Nadd while exploring his tomb.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic allows any character to become this by taking the Archaeology crew Skill. The Jedi and Sith classes also spend some of their early levels delving into ancient ruins on their respective home planets and one of the Sith Inquisitor's companions, Talos Drellik, is a member of the Imperial Reclamations Unit whose job is to specifically seek out ancient Sith ruins and artifacts though he's more of a scholar than a fighter.
  • Suikoden: Across the series, Lorelei, Zweig, and Killey are all Adventurer Archaeologists, with Lorelei even wielding a whip in one game.
  • Tales of Zestiria's main character Sorey and his best friend/"boyfriend" Mikleo are this, having an adorkable passion for history and ruins that comes up more than once on their quest to save the world. In fact they start off their adventure exploring ruins and discover the unconscious Alisha, dragging them into the standard hero's journey and world saving. In fact, they would prefer to just explore the world and uncover the history over fighting evil...though they aren't averse to multi-tasking! In the epilogue, an older Mikleo is seen living out their dream of exploring ruins around the world...just before Sorey, who'd been asleep since right after the final battle, shows up in time to rescue him from a fall.
  • Thief: Garrett freely admits to being a looter rather than an archaeologist. He winds up otherwise fulfilling the role anyway, though, as he usually manages to grab at least one MacGuffin without meaning to. One treasure in a lost city setting in Thief 2, however, prompts him to ponder aloud that "Archaeologist sounds much more dignified than thief". Archaeologists normally don't break into museums to reacquire the artifacts they had previously sold to them, after all.
  • Tomb Raider: Lara Croft from the games and movies. In fairness, when she gets into these kinds of situations, she's usually chasing far more powerful enemies seeking artifacts. Both the movies and games occasionally had a Big Bad wanting to abuse some mystical power - in other words, Lara Croft isn't so concerned about preserving the ancient ruins because she's in a race against time to keep some villain from using a powerful artifact with horrendous consequences.
  • Uncharted: Although Nathan Drake is considered by some to be an archaeologist, not a single character in the series calls what he does 'archaeology'. They all refer to him as a thief, and they're absolutely right, though he'd probably prefer "treasure hunter". It's just that sometimes treasure is inside museums, or under guard by heavily-armed mercenaries. Funnily enough, the series actually ends with him transitioning into legal, more realistic archaeology.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Brann Bronzebeard and Harrison Jones are the leading examples, joined by Belloc Brightblade in Cataclysm.
    • The Explorers' League seems to lean towards this somewhat. This is likely a reflection of its recent birth out of renewed Dwarven interest in their origins and thus a lack of well-developed procedures. Their leaning towards more aggressive archaeology is seen in the numerous large pits dug by dwarven archaeologist, often with explosives, and the angry, displaced locals trying to kill them as a result.
    • With Cataclysm the early connotations of archaeology's sordid early years has become even more obvious. The Reliquary and League, Horde and Alliance archaeology initiatives respectively, often find themselves at direct cross-purposes. Their solutions usually involve asking players to murder their opposition, sabotage their opposition, and/or steal finds from their opposition.
    • As of Cataclysm, the players are this. Digging up artifacts, it's not uncommon for player Archaeologists to find themselves first needing to fight off the rightful or not-so-rightful owners of the artifacts before making a break for it. Although the tedium and long work involved does show fairly effectively (in MMO terms). It can take a round-continent trip of an hour to complete a single project, which is often something you had found previously. Then, like many early archaeologists, you sell it to the highest bidder.
      • Similar to real archaeology, most finds are relatively common with little value, with the more valuable finds being rarer. The most sought-after artifacts can only be discovered once per character and can be exceedingly rare to discover.
      • A large portion of Uldum is an archaeology adventure styled after Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with wanton destruction of ancient artifacts.
    • Mists of Pandaria adds new dimensions to archaeology, including an actual museum, crates to store completed artifacts, and a map allowing you to locate new sites. While this produces a slightly more mature take on archaeology, digging now has the potential to wake the continent's native Sha.
    • Warlords of Draenor brings back Harrison Jones giving a series of quest chains to recover powerful relics for your faction. Most of the hard work is done by other archaeologists who are killed by the unhappy natives. The profession now wakes angry ghosts of the related race rather than monsters.
    • Legion has a very focused Archaeology experience, where each week a different "project" is active in one of the zones, led by a different archaeologist. An overarching plot is Brann Bronzebeard's endeavor to rebuild a Titan artifact whose pieces are scattered through the Broken Isles.
      • Aside from hostile mobs spawning while collecting artifacts, there is a rare chance to spawn a mini-boss, such as by unearthing the skull of a Pit Lord who then regenerates.
    • Battle for Azeroth features this in Zandalar. In Zuldazar the two factions fight over control of an artifact buried at a forbidden site while elsewhere Horde players explore the ruins of the ancient Zandalari empire and discover hidden Titan facilities.
    • One of the quest chains in Wetlands involves helping a team of dwarven archaeologists to clear the digging site from elementals and The Undead. The quest giver claims that it is nearly impossible to have an archaeological career without awakening some ancient evil at least once.
  • World Flipper has Mia, an adorable, upbeat tiger girl and self-proclaimed "treasure hunter extraordinaire", she even has a whip!

    Web Comics 
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Riff's father appears to be one of these, as well as the Tomb Raider parody Lara Craft Macaroni & Cheese.
  • Montana Jones from Irregular Webcomic!, an Affectionate Parody of Indiana Jones, and, to a lesser extent, his father, Professor North Dakota Jones (an Affectionate Parody of Indy's father) and his grandfather, Schliemannian Chair of Archaeology Minnesota Jones. Also Ginny Smith although she's also a Femme Fatale in a constant Heel–Face Revolving Door
  • From Wapsi Square, Monica's grandfather was one of these. Monica herself, on the other hand would claim to be an archaeologist of the far more mundane variety. She spends most of her time either in a library, or analyzing things for the museum, and she doesn't do field work. However, that being said, she still did manage to help bring down a smuggling ring in the process of acquiring an artifact.
  • Homestuck: Aradia Megido was one before she died. Even after death, she continued exploring and retrieving items from ruins, except she was focused on one set of pre-discovered ruins with the intent of using them to create Sgrub. Her user initials are even aA; except it stands for apocalypseArisen.
    • Jade's Grandpa and his Alpha counterpart, Jake is also one.
  • Stomp's uncle in Stomp! claims to be one of these. Whether this is true or not isn't exactly certain.
  • In Underling Caleb claims to be one.
  • Some of the platoons in Pacificators are orientated towards archaeology. The most prominent archaeologist platoon is Commander Breanne Geothe's platoon (who we meet in the second chapter).
  • In Raven Wolf, Fitz and his now-retired mentor, Eve's dad and owner of the museum of the city of Cordella, fit in this trope.
  • Our World: Chad Ivington, as seen on the Show Within a Show "Mysteries of the Unexplained."
  • Vesper's father in Plume seems to be this - he's always away from home and civilization in general, raiding ancient cities and searching for magical artifacts.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the storyline "Nanase Craft and the Crypt of Zappiness" is a parody of this. Especially, Tomb Raider.
  • Lupin in Breaking Cat News is occasionally this. Wearing an Indy outfit and fedora, he explores the mysterious corridors of the connecting kitchen cabinets and is awestruck to discover a giant bag of cat food ("My God... it's beautiful."). In another exciting episode, we find our hero balanced on the rim of the bathtub ("I'm in a tropical paradise... I'm on a cliff, far above a waterfall") when the Man is taking a shower.
  • Schlock Mercenary: While the Toughs are mercenaries they sometimes find themselves engaging in this when their contract involves protecting and/or exploring ancient Big Dumb Objects. This improvised archaeology results in rather realistic consequences.
    Kevyn: We got the canisters open. They're made of gold-plated graphite. Two of them held ingots: some gold, some aluminum. Mostly empy space. The third contained a rolled up sandwich of aluminum foil and gold foil. It's very fragile. The cylinder was filled with neon, though, so nothing decayed.
    Tagon: But you tore it, and now it has started decaying. Right?
    Kevyn: Learning history by destroying artifacts is a time-honored atrocity.
  • The Last Human In A Crowded Galaxy: Shenya the Widow is a retired archaeologist. She also happens to be a giant spider alien and a famously deadly warrior whom even law enforcement agents hesitate to antagonize, though the extent to which she exercised those skills in her old career is unknown.
  • Arkeofacts by French archeologist Céline Piret ridicules and deconstructs the idea by comparing Indiana Jones and Lara Croft to reality. Yet, all characters wish to be like Indiana Jones.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Parodied in the LoadingReadyRun episode The Fountain. The Indiana Jones character wants to travel the globe to solve the riddles and open the door to the Fountain of Youth but the financier backing him points out that they can just use explosives to blast it open instead.
  • In World's Greatest Adventures, Talltales claims to be one in Episode 3. Please don't notice the fence and obvious modern buildings in the background of his "undiscovered ruins". You'll just upset him.

    Western Animation 
  • The fictional version of Jackie Chan from Jackie Chan Adventures. This trope is parodied, however, when he comes to his niece's career day and gives an accurate explanation of what real-life archaeology is like. He'd rather do proper archaeology, but rarely has time before the bad guys show up to try to grab the artifact.
  • On Kim Possible, this is the career of Lord Monty Fiske, until he reveals himself as Lord Monkey Fist (in his first appearance).
  • In an episode of Ben 10, Grandpa Max stepped into this role, with Ben and Gwen along for the ride, to keep an ancient superweapon from falling into the hands of the Forever Knights. All three are pretty glad when it's over.
  • TaleSpin features three different Adventurer Archaeologist guest star characters, one of whom is an Indiana Jones parody.
  • Scrooge McDuck from DuckTales (1987) fits the trope very well when on one of his thrilling treasure hunts. His original comic book even predates Indiana Jones!
  • Dr. Crockery from the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "Throw Mummy from the Train".
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Red Tornado, in his secret identity as an archaeology professor, tells his students that archaeology is not about adventuring but rather long hours of boring research. Then he saves Christmas alongside Batman.note 
  • Niko and Audra Miles in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, though the latter is technically an anthropologist.
  • I.J. Domiwick from Storm Hawks is a villainous example.
  • Show Within a Show example from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. In "Read it and Weep", while Rainbow Dash is in the hospital, she reads about Adventure Archaeologist Daring Donote , as we watch her exploits on screen. It's basically an homage to Indiana Jones. Then later in "Daring Don't", we learn Daring Do exists for real and she's been writing the books under an assumed name.
  • Argentina and Phillipe from The Bagel and Becky Show are villainous examples of this, as they will go to any lengths to discover something before Bagel and Becky.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, when not on Kids Next Door missions, Numbuh 5 will sometimes go "candy hunting". As a parody of Indiana Jones, she seeks out ancient candy-related artifacts in exotic lands.
  • Digman! follows an adventurer archaeologist in a world where archaeologists are treated as celebrities. The trailer shows off the characters doing things that wouldn’t be out of place in an Indiana Jones movie - uncovering lost artifacts, running from traps meant to protect the artifacts, chasing after bad guys who have stolen said artifacts, the works.

    Real Life 
  • Napoléon Bonaparte's visit to Egypt arguably codified this trope. When Napoleon went to Egypt as a General, he carried an entire scientific expedition with him and he tried his best to blend in with the locals (try being the big word, his behaviour was actually quite embarrassing), while visiting Alexandria and seeing the Pyramids. During his time there, his scientists collected a huge range of data and one of his officers discovered the Rosetta Stone. The stone would later fall into the hands of the English, but the French made etchings of it and took many samples and transcriptions back to France. It would take some two decades before Napoleon's expedition lead to the publication of "Descryption of Egypt" the birth of modern Egyptology including alongside it, Champollion's translation of the Rosetta Stone which deciphered the hieroglyphs. This was considered a seminal moment in modern archaeology and it sparked and led to a huge drive among the English and other governments to start raiding tombs, discovering ruins, and grabbing stuff that didn't belong to them.
  • Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin spent much of his ambassadorship to the Ottoman Empire during the Greek War of Independence at the Parthenon, recently exploded after the Turks used it as an ammo dump. Elgin collected and removed various friezes and sculptures and sent them back to Britain and sold them to the British Museum, where the 'Elgin Marbles' still reside. This is despite the complaints of the Greek government, whose repeated requests/demands for the repatriation of the Marbles are enough of a feature that the Museum actually has small pamphlets in the gallery summarising their views on the matter: in essence, 'lol, nope'. Whether Elgin was a saviour of the priceless sculptures or, as Lord Byron phrased it, "a dishonest and rapacious vandal" is still an open question. Incidentally his descendant was the guy who ordered the destruction of the Old Summer Palace at Beijing, so some things do run in the family.
  • Sometimes of course, archaeology is about being in the right place at the right time. Two of the biggest and most influential archaeological finds of the 20th Century were found by amateurs outside the profession:
    • Poor Greek sponge divers in 1908 discovered the shipwreck that included the Antikythera Mechanism, the Older than You Think gear-driven computer that everyone is still scratching their heads over.
    • Bedouin shepherds likewise discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, the series of documents that overnight altered Biblical scholarship and the history of the Levant.
  • T. E. Lawrence, a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia, was an archaeologist who was sent to Arabia by the British government specifically because of his academic knowledge of the area. So, being an archaeologist really can lead to exciting adventures! Although most of Lawrence's activities were of the non-archaeological kind.
  • Gertrude Bell, a peer and a mentor to T E Lawrence, was a famous spy and diplomat to the Middle East during and after World War One, helped reshape the region after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, founded the Iraqi Archaeological Museum (which was sadly extensively looted (by an inside job) during the 2003 invasion) and is still remembered with fondness among the people of the region, no small accomplishment for both a foreigner and a woman.
  • The statement about archaeologists out for personal glory and museum loot rather than knowledge is also true for old-time paleontologists. Many people believe that Indiana Jones is based on the adventure paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews, and the famous "Bone War" between the Americans Marsh and Cope, which resulted in the discovery of many of the dinosaurs that are considered iconic today, also involved shoddy science, theft, fistfights, murder, and wanton destruction, like dynamiting a quarry at the end of the season to destroy what was left to prevent the other guy from coming in and going through it.
    • The Wacky Wayside Tribe subtrope was also common place since many of the dinosaur sites in the western USA were located in barely-charted Injun Country. It was later taken to the next level when Andrews decided to look for fossils in 1920s Mongolia. When Roman von Ungern-Sternberg was in charge. When the whole of Central and East Asia was in a civil war and/or dominated by warlords. Even though no fossil had been found in Mongolia before. And guess what, he was successful, and uncovered one of the world's greatest dinosaur fossil beds, that of the Gobi Desert.note 
      • There exists a series of cartoon-like illustrations made by Andrews depicting various events during that expedition such as vehicles getting stuck in the mud and sand. One illustration is captioned something like "getting ready for bed" and shows an illustration of Andrews laying on a cot in his tent, pointing a pistol at the entrance flap.
  • Heinrich Schliemann may be the ur-example of this; in stealing, digging, and bombing his way to and through the ruins of the site he called "Troy", and then Mycenae, Schliemann essentially invented modern archaeology by negation when observers compiled a list of his activities that archaeologists should never repeat.
    • Rule 1: Go easy on the TNT.
    • He ended up destroying the very ruins of Troy he was trying to find - and ended up finding some even older ones under them. He was convinced that Homeric Troy had to be at the bottom of the Hisarlik and everything above it, no matter how interesting to other archaeologists, was worthless. He even sponsored and paid for a project that demolished and cleared everything and anything that wasn't Classical from the Acropolis of Athens, destroying structures from the following Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman periods.
  • Frederick Albert "Mike" Mitchell-Hedges could be considered this later on in his life (having started as an upper-class delinquent who made several nice discoveries).
  • Sylvanus Morley was, by all accounts, an excellent archeaologist whose excavations of Mayan ruins in Mexico were highly influential. They also made a good cover for his spying for the American government during World War I.
  • Zahi Hawass, currently one of the most famous archaeologists in Egypt, is well aware of this trope and plays it up. (That brown fedora is not a coincidence.) This has made him very popular with TV crews, incidentally helping popularize Egyptology itself and get it proper funding, but because his methods can be a bit sloppy he's alternately loved and hated by "proper" archaeologists.
  • Giovanni Belzoni led quite the interesting life, working as a circus strongman before he moved on to finding lost temples in the Egyptian desert.
    • Belzoni is another guy cited as a possible inspiration for Indiana Jones, particularly the part about an unscrupulous Frenchnote  rival working for an expansionist empire led by an infamous dictator (in this case, Napoleon). The main difference being said rival was less an archaologist and more of a greedy, unethical businessman as well as the corrupt French consul for Egypt. He's the most deplorable example of "bad archeaology" on this page as he actually would intentionally destroy some of the stuff his men found to drive up the value of what was left over.
  • Any archaeologist who does field work in the really unstable parts of the world fits this trope. Like the guys who work in Afghanistan looking for some of the old Buddhist remnants. Standard practice is to hire mercenary guards for any and all excavation efforts, both to avoid getting killed/kidnapped and to protect the items themselves since many religious militants are dead set at destroying any non-Muslim historical artifacts (and sometimes, Muslim artifacts as well).
  • Another possible inspiration for both Indiana Jones and Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger was Percy Fawcett whose written exploits in South America read like something from fiction — such as fighting giant snakes — undoubtedly because they were fictions and most of his "adventures" were made-up tall tales greatly exaggerated by himself and his family out of proportion. Most anthropologists and archaeologists considered him a dangerous incompetent and idiot who got himself and his son killed during his "quest" to search what he claimed was The Lost City of Z, making basic mistakes, insulting native tribes, beating their children and insulting them, and in the opinion of the Brazilian anthropologists, the Villa-Boa brothers, he was a victim "as anyone else would have been, of the harshness and lack of tact that all recognised in him." In other words, Fawcett had the recklessness, casual racism, and maverick approach to archaeology of the Victorian Bold Explorer and died for trying to live up to what was already a highly popular heroic ideal in that time.
  • It is not uncommon to find guns on the archaeologists at modern dig sites. Also just doing field work is normally physically demanding so many archaeologists are pretty fit.
  • Explorer and archaeologist Josh Gates has produced and hosted several shows that place him in this territory, most notably Destination Truth (focusing on cryptozoology and ghost-hunting in exotic locations such as Pompeii) and its Spiritual Successor, Expedition Unknown (dealing with more traditional treasure-hunting, such as a search for Jesse James' lost gold or Saint Petersburg's Amber Room, which was even looted by Those Wacky Nazis; occassionally, he even gets to visit real archeaological dig sites in Egypt, Scandinavia, etc. including helping to find a whole new city in the Central American jungle at the start of season 5).
    • He really plays up this trope to a slightly ridiculous degree, considering the fact that he and his film crew generally are in no real danger (well, except for sudden tropical storms, bat-dropping-based diseases, and at least once per season: "SNAKE!!!" ), and considering that what he manages to find within the brief filming time is usually fairly unimpressive. Though to be fair to him, he does avert the trope in that he gets as excited as a real archaelogist about "garbage dump" type artifacts and even more so about simple coins or still intact but mundane pottery, and he explains to the audience why even such things as a nail stuck in a bit of rotted but clearly human-crafted wood are important and what can be inferred from them.

Alternative Title(s): Hollywood Archaeology, Adventure Archaeologist


Dick Digs

Dick discovers how archeology is really done.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

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Main / AdventurerArchaeologist

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