The Agent Scully is a sci-fi/fantasy character who insists that events can be interpreted according to mundane explanations. They never waver from this view, even though crazy things happen in episode after episode demonstrating how illogical or otherwise bizarre the universe is, prompting lectures from The Protagonist to this effect — if they're not busy lecturing everyone else, that is. Once convinced that something is a Windmill, they will never step down from this belief no matter the evidence to the contrary, thus becoming a Windmill Crusader himself.
They may have no tolerance for flights of fancy whatsoever. If the character is a parent and their child merrily announces that they spent the afternoon playing with fairies, they may immediately retort, "Fairies don't exist!" There will, of course, be little to no explanation given for why fairies don't exist; the fact of the matter (in their minds) is that they simply don't exist and you're being foolish for even giving the concept a moment's thought. The fact that children play pretend all the time and actually have a fairly firm grasp on what's real and what isn't is lost on them — such foolish thoughts must be squelched from their heads immediately! Likewise, they have no time for fairy tales — for these stories depict things that don't (or shouldn't) exist, which makes them nothing but frivolous poppycock, never mind the symbolic nature, moral lessons, and literary value they hold.
The same extends to any other magical or paranormal subject or fantasy of any kind — they have no time to think about or consider such things, and if you've been thinking about it you're an idiot who is wasting your time. End of story.
If magic or the supernatural actually does exist in their world and the character is aware of it, they may try to convince themselves it doesn't exist, or failing that, simply act as if it doesn't matter because respectable people don't go in for such foolishness. Scully Syndrome can ensue in extreme cases, where they are more willing to believe convoluted mundane explanations full of Plot Holes and swamp gas than the fact that they literally just watched an alien spacecraft land, had its pilot get out and introduce themselves, collect plant samples, and fly off again.
Tip: Never, EVER have an Agent Scully interact with an Eldritch Abomination; as they would go insane just from trying to find a scientific explanation to how they work and not actually feeling the monster's essence.
There is sometimes a sting in the tail, though, where the Agent Scully's disbelief actually prevents supernatural powers from working—in real life many alleged psychics blame "negative energy" from investigators for causing their abilities to fail, for instance. Quite simply, the Agent Scully does not clap, because they refuse to believe. This can be a powerful protective asset in a setting with dangerous supernatural elements, but should their disbelief ever falter, they can suddenly find themselves completely vulnerable.
The character is often an adult, but in some cases may be a child who is trying too hard to act mature, or how he/she thinks mature people act.
Derives its name, obviously, from Dana Scully, a character from The X-Files.
An Agent Scully may also, obviously, be a Spock, and sometimes even a Straw Vulcan. Can be something of a strawman of those who currently doubt supernatural phenomena because of lack of evidence, placing them in a world where evidence of the supernatural is abundant and having them persist in their doubt.
A point that most X-Files fans miss (or chose to ignore) is that the original Agent Scully is a deeply religious woman who is staunchly devoted to her Christian faith in spite of her scientific and logical view on the world and life in general; in other words, it wasn't always logical vs. illogical so much as her deep-seated religious belief being in direct opposition with her Modus Operandi as a scientist (in a series where supernatural phenomena of varying natures are abundant nevertheless). When the explanation truly was a miracle, Mulder turned into the skeptic.
- Hercule/Mr Satan of Dragon Ball Z. Despite the fact that he has personally witnessed and even been on the receiving end of countless energy attacks since his very first appearance, and the world martial arts championships having used them extensively just a decade prior to his appearance on the show, he still stubbornly refuses to believe in them, calling them tricks, special effects, dreams, or whatever justification for them that he can come up with. In the dub at least, he privately admits that all of it may be real, but really hopes that it's not, since he's understandably terrified of the idea of people with the power to singlehandedly destroy the Earth.
- Kyon from Haruhi Suzumiya is a Scully with an underlying Agent Mulder: although he says he just wants everything to be normal, deep down he wants everything to be weird and fantastical, as he says in the second chapter's opening narration that he still sort of wished it would be cool if aliens, time travelers and espers existed. Only problem is, being this in a world that actually has aliens, time travelers and espers eventually turns him into an Unfazed Everyman. The series rather effectively zig-zags this trope and its sister, Agent Mulder, with its two main characters. At the outset, Kyon admits to having been an Agent Mulder before growing up; his life gets turned on its head when he meets Haruhi, who seems to have never left her Agent Mulder phase. As mentioned, the prompt appearance of the very supernatural elements he's skeptical of very quickly forces him to tune down his Scully-ness. The irony is that the real, enduring Scully is in fact Haruhi herself, who remains oblivious to the weirdness she's causing partly through the efforts of Koizumi and company, but also through her buried sceptical streak that prevents her from readily believing the supernatural things she longs for and professes belief in actually exist. Her skepticism is so resilient that in fact even when Kyon outright tells her what's going on, in Sigh, she refuses to believe him, though she claims it's just that his version is "too obvious".
- On a certain degree Hyena Bellamy in One Piece. He doubts the existence of places like Sky Island, saying that the ships falling from the Sky are simply those caught in the Knock-Up Stream (although the Knock-up Stream is the way by which it is possible to reach Skypiea and the way Upper Yard was blasted into the sky). However, much of this attitude is motivated by looking down on the people who would spend their lives chasing dreams.
- Nodoka of Saki. Jun's ability to read the flow and react accordingly so targeted opponents will never win? It's just coincidence! Hisa's strategy revolving around her Hell Waits cropping up nine times out of ten? It's just her getting swept up by random deviations and interpreting them as flow or jinxes! Though, this strict worldview actually proves useful in the finals, as it allows her to override Momoko's Stealth Mode.
- Kirie of Uzumaki. Every week something new and horrifying happens, her boyfriend always saves her...and she's always surprised when something new and strange happens.
- Seto Kaiba in the dub of Yu-Gi-Oh!. He's a Scully to such a degree that traveling back in time and meeting his own ancestor doesn't convince him that the supernatural exists. A vision of his ancestor and an ancient Pharaoh dueling? Obviously a hallucination. A group of lifelike monsters smashing up the town? Obviously a bunch of faulty holograms. Magically being able to read ancient Egyptian text that his most advanced computers struggle to translate? Obviously, it's simply because he is meant to wield the god cards. An opponent who can see into the future and destiny using a Millennium Item? His response amounts to Screw Destiny. Only during the final episode of the anime (in a scene exclusive to the anime) does he admit that there might be some truth about all this mystical junk, but when teased about it by Joey he quickly (and half-jokingly) falls back to saying it's all smoke and mirrors. It's mostly a Dub-induced example; in the Japanese anime and the original manga, he still scoffs at the supernatural but overall just doesn't seem interested in it. At any rate, he fully grows out of it by Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions (Dub included) where he desperately tries to pull Atem back from the afterlife by completing the Millennium Puzzle once more.
- In The DCU, occult debunker Dr. Thirteen. Always played straight in his stories despite the fact that the DCU is filled with the occult whenever he's not around. Some of the later depictions, however, have him as a complete idiot — who, for instance, remains convinced that he's not on a ghost pirate ship fighting gorilla Nazis because that yeti he saw earlier was a vampire, not a yeti, and if yetis don't exist then this must all be a vivid dream. For more irony points, his own daughter is also a mage — a trait she inherited from her mother. His own life has been full of magic for years. One story depicts that supernatural events just don't happen around him specifically because he doesn't believe in them.
- Ted Knight, original 1940s Starman, firmly disbelieves in the supernatural or religious despite having served on the same team as both Doctor Fate and The Spectre. When this is pointed out to him by other characters, he relates their powers to unknown scientific energies.
- Mr. Terrific of the current Justice Society of America has also shown to be an avowed atheist, giving the same explanations as Ted Knight before him despite having attended a church ceremony conducted by an actual angel.
- Iron Man fits this role in the Marvel Universe. There is too much weird stuff around the universe: aliens, superpowers, time travel, magic, gods, cosmic entities, women, etc; but he always strives to find a scientific explanation or solution to the problems. Reed Richards used to be this for a while but eventually relented, admitting that magic did exist and also that it was something he would never be able to fully analyze and understand.
- In the Franco-Belgian Comic Philémon, the protagonist's dad is this. Even after taking a trip to the mystical world of the Letters, he steadfastly refuses to believe that any of the outlandish adventures told by Philémon, his uncle Félicien and Barthélémy ever occurred. Borders on Clap Your Hands If You Believe. His dad's skepticism prevents him from seeing many unusual goings-on, causing a self-enforced Weirdness Censor.
- Power Pack: in the "Thor and the Warriors Four" story of the all-ages series, Alex Power plays this role with Julie as his Agent Mulder. He is skeptical about Thor being an actual god, and keeps trying to find scientific explanations for what he and his siblings encounter in Asgard. However, by the end of the story he comes to accept magic.
- At the start of W.I.T.C.H., Cornelia Hale stated she did not believe in magic or paranormal phenomena, and that was after a year of unexplained events that the previous night had culminated in Taranee redirecting a firework and stopping an explosion. By the following day she's more accepting, and it's implied she was actually in denial due to her love for normality.
- Tex Willer has stated he won't believe in anything he can't stick his finger in, and that's after meeting Indian shamans, voodoo priests and other magic users with genuine powers, werewolves, a Tyrannosaurus rex, and even aliens (in the Far West). Justified because just as he encountered those he has also encountered a number of hoaxes (such as the giant cannibal god that was actually a wooden mannequin moved by three guys inside it), and once he sees the strange phenomenon doesn't have a mundane explanation he'll accept it as magic—and ask one of his friends with experience on magic what to do.
- The girl codenamed Nahga at Super Hero School Whateley Academy in the webfiction Whateley Universe. Her friend and teammate Akira has found a girl who looks like Ryoko of Tenchi Muyo!. The girl has similar powers. The girl apparently has a cabbit exactly like Ryoko's (it's actually a prank by Tennyo's roommate). Nahga is not going to believe. As for the real truth, that may be even weirder...
- Sam Carter is often cast in this role in crossover fanfiction.
- Hobbes takes this role while debating the presence of a ghost in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series. He becomes an Agent Mulder when it finally shows up.
- In Ardashir's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic / Silver John crossover My Little Balladeer (available here) Twilight Sparkle takes this attitude both towards diabolism and zombie ponies. Justified, in that both are forms of magic rare in Equestria.
- Frank Sunderland in Coming Home doesn't believe James when the latter tells him that he is getting attacked by demons or believes the blood writing in the grocery store was a horrible prank and thinks James is going mad at first.
- Home with the Fairies teleports Maddie from her apartment in America to a field in Middle-earth, the setting of The Lord of the Rings. Maddie, who has no belief in magic, tries to think of a mundane explanation. A kidnapper drugged her and dumped her, but there are no tire tracks. Maddie is dreaming, but can't wake. She is in a remote part of Canada or America, but no one speaks English. Maddie is not a Flat-Earth Atheist; after finding more evidence, she accepts that she is in some fantasy world.
- In The Road To Shalka, Angela, due to having been burned in the past by some conmen, is adamant not to believe any weird stuff. Since she's UNIT's scientific advisor...
- Sargent Mooney from Killer Klowns from Outer Space insists on believing that the eponymous clowns (or Klowns, if you want to be technical) are merely a publicity stunt designed to sell ice cream. No matter how many individual 911 calls are made.
- Jack Slater in Last Action Hero insists This Is Reality, not an action movie. When Danny points out every phone number starts with 555, Slater points out they use area codes. Danny points out most of the women are blonde bombshells, Slater points out "This is California". It takes being taken out of his world and into reality to convince him.
- Gregg Araki's Nowhere.
Alyssa: You have to believe in something!
Elvis: No, I don't.
- FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes in Now You See Me is quite skeptical about magic compared to his partner Alma Dray. Subverted, as he secretly is a magician himself and his attitude towards it is part of his facade.
- Star Wars:
Han Solo: "It's true, all of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi, they're real."
- Episode IV: A New Hope''
- Han Solo was this ("I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful 'Force' controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.")
- Earns a big Call-Back in The Force Awakens when Han shows how much his views have changed:
- As was Admiral Motti. ("Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion didn't help you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or give you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels' hidden fortr—" <choke> )
- To be fair, since the Jedi were almost extinct and most people didn't see Vader or the Emperor's abilities directly, Han probably had good reason to be skeptical of the claims of an old mystic like Obi-Wan. He may have rethought his position after seeing what Luke does to Threepio in Return of the Jedi.
Of course, now that the Prequel Trilogy has been released, these two characters have retroactively fallen even deeper into this trope: the original films implied that the heyday of the Jedi happened long ago and that even then the Jedi were somewhat rare, but the prequels haphazardly retconned this by showing that the Jedi were all over the place just twenty years earlier. Han could still get a pass, since he is only in his late twenties during A New Hope and so may have simply never seen a Jedi in his childhood (it is a big galaxy, after all). Admiral Motti, being a seasoned military officer who was probably active in the waning days of the Republic, has no such excuse.
Then again, it isn't improbable that the Empire would spend the subsequent decades demonizing the Jedi Order through propaganda.
- Episode IV: A New Hope''
- Dr. Silberman in The Terminator, who dismisses Kyle Reese as a schizophrenic making up claims of travelling through time to stop a war with robots. Even more so in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, that is, until he sees the T-1000 walk through a barred door. And again in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, having apparently allowed OTHER equally-skeptical psychologists to "cure" him of his own "delusion."
- The police in The Terminator explain the T-800's feats as wearing a Bulletproof Vest to survive being shot with buckshot and punching a windshield without (visibly) being hurt as being on PCP. A Deleted Scene has one of the detectives investigating the Sarah Connor murders surviving just long enough to tell Kyle he was right and give him a gun.
- In the Haunted House movie The Uninvited (1944), Rick rather strongly resists the idea of the house being haunted, insisting that "this business can be scientifically explained," lamely hypothesizing that the sound of the weeping woman is caused by the radio catching a stray signal. Eventually he gives up.
- In the early Discworld books Rincewind shows similar traits. He learns later. Susan is also a bit of an Agent Scully in her first appearance. Commander Vimes' distrust of magic occasionally leads him here, especially in Thud! when he comes up with a perfectly mundane explanation for events which were actually the result of his being possessed by an evil Dwarfish spirit. Including being branded with its symbol.
- In The Dresden Files, the Knights of the Cross are Church Militants that wield holy swords of power and fight demonic powers in the name of God. One of the Knights, Sanya, describes himself as atheist or agnostic, despite having been formerly possessed by a demon and regularly slaying demons, vampires, and other mystical creatures. He is a borderline case of this trope, and also of Flat-Earth Atheist, because he acknowledges the existence of everything he has seen (e.g. vampires, succubi, demons, faerie), but refuses to accept it as proof of the existence of anything he cannot see (e.g. God, angels, the afterlife).
- Hermione Granger from Harry Potter occasionally fills this role. The most grating example comes up in the seventh book when Xenophilius explains the Deathly Hallows to the trio. While she does bring up a valid point of on how one can't simply claim something exists simply because no one has proven it doesn't exist, her sheer hardheadedness in denying that they could ever possibly exist is simply baffling, especially since she's hidden under something that fits the general description of one of them (and is in fact one of them). She can accept the cloak and after talking to Ollivander can accept the wand, it's really the stone she has trouble with and that's because she's terrified at the thought of living with dead people.
- In Stephen King's It, a kid named Eddie Corcoran doesn't believe in monsters. When a (very real) monster attacks him, he assumes it's just an actor in a costume, and he's still searching for the zipper on the 'costume' - even while he's being eaten alive.
- In the Old Kingdom trilogy, Nicholas Sayre reacts to the strange things that occur in the Old Kingdom this way, partly because for much of the story, he's being influenced by The Destroyer. However, later, when he's thinking a little more clearly, he realizes how stupid it is that he's been ignoring the fact that his best friend beat off zombies with glowing blades of magic right in front of him and his "local guide" has gradually turned into a dark-magic-shrouded flaming corpse.
- The Radix: Gabriel Bitonti is an interesting example. He is a Vatican's investigator whose job is to (dis)prove any alleged miracles. So this is rather his job than nature: "I have examined countless 'miracles' and found them wanting. I go into each investigation as a pessimist and pray I will emerge an optimist. I seldom authenticate miracles".
- C. S. Lewis utilizes this trope more than once:
- In That Hideous Strength, MacPhee, a die-hard atheist scientist, remains implacably skeptical of all the supernatural events that take place even though he's fighting on the side of the supernaturalists.
- In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Professor Kirke discusses this trope when interviewing Peter and Susan about their disbelief in Lucy's magical world-in-the-wardrobe. In order to come to a "logical" conclusion, Peter and Susan assume that the always truthful Lucy is lying, and the known liar Edmund is telling the truth. That, or Lucy is insane, a notion Professor Kirke regards as laughable. Peter and Susan's determination to disbelieve Lucy's claims, no matter how many ridiculous assumptions must be made causes Professor Kirke to wonder aloud about what they are being taught in school.
- Ogilvy in The War of the Worlds is an early example, claiming that green flashes seen on Mars are a meteor shower or volcanic eruption. They are actually cylinders that are the beginning of an Alien Invasion. The trope is subverted when Ogilvy later discovers that they are Martian spacecraft and comes around to believing in aliens, although it doesn't end well for him.
- In David Eddings' The Elenium and The Tamuli series, most members of the Elene church refuse to accept magic exists, to the point of literally turning their backs and pretending it's not happening when someone does it in front of them. This is despite several orders of magic-using knights being an important part of the church. Particularly true to the Scully trope since this is mainly due to conflict with their own beliefs rather than actual skepticism.
- Similarly, in Eddings' The Belgariad and The Malloreon, this trope is the Hat of the Tolnedrans, who constantly refuse to accept magic exists even when it happens right in front of them. Even more bizarre is when they refuse to accept the god Torak is real, despite apparently accepting that their own god Nedra and the other "good" gods are. This seems particularly odd given that several characters are initially skeptical of magic, since it's fairly rare in the setting, but are convinced when shown evidence. No reason is ever really given for why the Tolnedrans refuse to accept it; being the Scully is simply their hat, and that's the end of it.
- Many of the academic heroes in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, such as Albert Wilmarth or Robert Olmstead, could be said to be Ur-Examples. They start their journeys as utmost skeptics before being faced with unexplainable phenomena, often being driven mad in their encounters with an Eldritch Abomination.
- In Bailey School Kids, Eddie, and sometimes Melody, often act as this, although Eddie is the one who most frequently denies the existence of mythical creatures. In the first book, he is implicitly proven the existence of vampires, but continues to deny any other creature they see.
- In the Discworld, Officer Reg Shoe is a hard-headed materialist realist who pricks the faith of his religious colleague Constable Visit by sourly advocating mundane, realistic, explanations for the miracles Visit is excitedly describing from the Omnian Holy Scriptures. What makes it funnier is that Reg is steadfastly denying there is such a thing as an Afterlife (as the Omnian religion views it) - whilst at the same time being a Zombie who has returned to his body after death.
- Angel: Kate, before graduating to a full-fledged Mulder (this is lampshaded by her dull-witted partner).
Kate: Scully's the skeptic. (Beat.) Mulder's the one who wants to believe. Scully's the skeptic.
Detective: ...Scully's the chick, right?
- There's an interesting twist to the trope in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which, in a first-season episode, turns it into a verb — "I cannot believe you, of all people, are trying to Scully me!" For the record, the Scully was Giles, who assumed that Xander's recent shift in behaviour (being a Jerkass to Willow, hanging out with morons) was just him being a teenager. When he learns that Xander and pals ate a pig, he starts taking it a lot more seriously. To clarify the pig was still alive when they started eating it. And in the case of Xander's pals (but not Xander), the vice principal was alive when that feast started as well.
- Castle features Becket in the Scully role with Castle fulfilling the Mulder role whenever a case appears to have a supernatural element. Unlike many of the others if this type she is only truly wrong once and even that one is debatable. Their other dynamic is also similar to Mulder and Scully.
- El Chapulín Colorado has fought against martians, robots, pirates, ghosts, ghost pirates, etc. But he still dismisses anything outside of the ordinary as fake. If he is justified in his skepticism or not depends on the episode.
- Doctor Who
- Peter Bishop is the resident example, at least early on. Eventually he just became the guy who lampshaded whatever weirdness was going on that week by way of a pithy comment. And then he mostly stopped doing even that.
- Olivia was often skeptical of Walter's theories and methods in the first few episodes, but she quickly learned that he's almost always right.
- Game of Thrones:
- Westerosi society in general in earlier seasons, though they make a rather sudden transition to believing in dragons (though not White Walkers) in Season 4.
- Maester Luwin, as a man of science, plays the Scully to Osha and Old Nan's Agent Mulder by dismissing Bran's wolf dreams and Osha's accounts of the White Walkers and magic returning to the world by explaining that he studied magic when he was younger and attempted to practice it unsuccessfully, and his attitude now is that it was all either made up or at best went away long ago, something the audience knows is no longer true.
- In "Hardhome", Loboda the Thenn is disdainful of the old stories about dragonglass, leading Karsi to wonder how he can be so obtuse after all the mystical things they've already seen.
- Ned Stark is shown to be skeptical of Will's claims about White Walkers.
- Played for laughs by The Goodies with their episode on Arthur C. Clarke.
- Houdini & Doyle: Houdini, a skeptical magician, serves as the Scully to Doyle's Mulder.
- Sqn Ldr Helen Knox of Invasion: Earth initially has the much more mundane idea that the pilot of the crashed UFO is an agent of a more earthbound foreign power trying to breach UK airspace, although she does come to believe in the aliens in the end.
- Akari Tsukimura of Kamen Rider Ghost is this at first, as opposed to Onari. She loosens up a bit once she studies more into the science of the Genma. Ironically, Hoodini, is still this in spite being a ghost, Takeru being a ghost, and possessing someone while declaring this.
- Tony Vincenzo, Intrepid Reporter Carl Kolchak's editor in Kolchak: The Night Stalker. That's because the force of his disbelief is so strong it acts as Anti-Magic.
- Jack Shephard on Lost is a strong example of this character type. As the leader of the survivors, his one goal is getting everyone rescued, and so he seems to avoid or completely ignore the more supernatural phenomenon on the island. This puts him in repeated conflict with John Locke, who is a strong believer in faith and destiny. No matter what oddities happen on the island (smoke monster, time travel, etc), Jack either has a logical explanation or simply doesn't care. This culminates when Jack and seven other characters are rescued from the island, having just seen the island disappear in front of his face, getting him berated by the normally soft-spoken Hurley:
Hurley: Locke. He moved the island.
Jack: No, he didn't.
Hurley: Oh, really? Because one minute it was there, and the next it was gone, so unless we like, overlooked it, dude, that's exactly what he did. But if you've got another explanation man, I'd love to hear it.
- Eventually, Jack becomes a man of faith after Eloise Hawking's convoluted, supernatural plan to return to the island works.
- Patrick Jane in The Mentalist, he does not believe in psychic powers or anything supernatural, while his partner Lisbon does (or at least is more open to the idea). Due to the realistic nature of the series, the debate is open to interpretation.
- Detective Murdoch of Murdoch Mysteries has an extremely rational and scientific mind. He's sometimes tormented by ideas of his enthusiastic assistant Constable Crabtree, who plays his Agent Mulder.
- In the Swedish TV-series Mysteriet Pa Greveholm (The Mystery of Count's Isle) the father of the family is a straight example. In a castle with ghosts, 200-years-old robots, intergalactic princesses and a walking skeleton, he kept on saying that "Everything has a logical explanation".
- On Mystery Hunters, a Discovery Kids show which used science to explain things like supposed alien abductions and ghosts, Doubting Dave, Araya, and Christina all have this as their default mode.
- Emma Swan of Once Upon a Time is highly dubious about the idea that she's in a town full of amnesiac fairy-tale characters, but she's definitely realized by now that something's not right about the place, and definitely not right about the mayor. And, by Season Two... she's given that up.
- Nick Cutter in Primeval takes this role during his first encounter with Connor. After he sees a truck torn to shreds by the Monster of the Week, he changes his tune by the time he runs into Claudia in the bar, who assumes the role:
Nick (to Connor): This is just a hoax. Forget it.
Claudia: You'd be doing me a great favour if you could just confirm that this is all nonsense, Professor.
Nick: I can't dismiss the evidence out of hand.
Claudia: ...Surely you're not giving this whole monster story any credibility, Professor?
Nick: I'm just trying to keep an open mind.
Claudia: People always say that as though it's such a good thing.
- (Whoever assumed the role of the Agent Mulder turns out to be right here.)
- An interesting twist in Psych, where Scully is Shawn, who pretends to be psychic, while Mulder is Gus, the "Non-Psychic" one.
- Jonathan MacKensie of Shadow Chasers was an anthropology professor with no belief whatsoever in the supernatural. Unfortunately his department head dragooned him into investigating the paranormal—paired with his own personal Agent Mulder, a flamboyant tabloid reporter—placing him firmly in this role.
- Professor Arturo from Sliders is like this, until he finally settles on a theory that some of the alternate worlds they land on have slightly different laws of physics.
- T'Pol on Star Trek: Enterprise went into this mode whenever the question of time travel arose.
- An interesting subversion in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager; two alien scientists trying to communicate with the "Skyship" (Voyager, which owing to some timey-wimey stuff, had been there throughout that civilization's history) discuss whether there's anyone there. The Agent Mulder firmly believes there must be, while the other claims to "doubt everything". When the Mulder asks the apparent Scully why he's even on the project though, he replies "I doubt everything, remember? Even my own doubts." Which is a much better interpretation of scientific skepticism than Scullyism.
- Agent Dana Scully of The X-Files, as stated above. An extreme example of the character drawing on an overinterpretation of Occam's Razor, which is commonly interpreted as, "The simplest theory which explains all of the data is usually the best" (This is because the simplest explanation presupposes least and is usually easiest to test). She tends to take it to the point of believing "The simplest explanation must always be the best, even if it doesn't explain all the data," which is itself illogical. Sometimes, she deems any naturalistic explanation the "simplest" no matter how contrived it gets. This quality may be seen in other examples of the character type as well. Prone to Arbitrary Skepticism. Also noteworthy is that Scully did, over the course of the series, become more and more inclined to believe in whatever theory Mulder came up with, eventually becoming the Agent Mulder to Dogget's Agent Scully. Even before then Mulder and Scully would occasionally flip roles in conversation, and for whole episodes when the subject was related to Scully's spirituality. It's also implied that Scully was right more often than not. The show just doesn't bother showing all the times she and Mulder drove out into the middle of nowhere to investigate a hoax or a case of swamp gas. Furthermore, while Mulder was almost always right that the supernatural was involved, to keep the audience guessing, he was usually wrong as many times as he was right on what exactly the nature was. He would often go out assuming one supernatural explanation, and come to several while there, before finally discovering the correct one. Scully's consistent objections to Mulder make a lot more sense when you realize that half the time, she's right that it's not what he says, so taking whatever steps he suggests would be somewhere from useless to actually setting them back.
- Doctor Noodle, the psychiatrist of Candorville, has dismissed supernatural phenomena as hallucinations even when said phenomena are threatening to eat him. At one point, he says it's a matter of rejecting wish fulfillment—it would be just too perfect for supernatural vengeance to bring down on him the retribution he's always felt guilty for avoiding.
- In Dilbert, Dilbert takes this role when trying to disprove Ratbert's Psychic Powers in one storyline. He takes it to the extreme when he continues to deny everything even after Ratbert correctly guesses 100 coin flips in a row — all edge — and another one that ends with inexplicable hovering. He even predicts Dilbert's reaction.
- Linus from Peanuts has a conflicting set of viewpoints similar to Agent Scully's. Normally, he's a perfectly calm and reasonable person — except when it comes to his belief in the Great Pumpkin.
- The Magnus Archives: Jonathan, the archivist (and narrator), knows that the supernatural exists but believes very few alleged cases are genuine. He says in the very first episode that most files are likely to end up in the archive's "Discredited" section and is quick to dismiss those who give the statements as deluded, hallucinating, lying or simply mistaken unless there is strong corroboration (though any mention of the name Jurgen Leitner dispels his scepticism). Eventually he reveals that he actually believes far more than he has been letting on, and has been feigning scepticism in his recordings because he believes someone or something is listening in.
- Victor Mordenheim of the Ravenloft setting is a solid devotee of this trope, either dismissing the supernatural as nonsense or as a product of as-yet-undocumented, but rational physical laws. This trope is also the Hat of many Lamordians.
- Beyond The Supernatural features Nega-Psychics, skeptics so firmly convinced that psychic abilities, magic, and the paranormal do not exist that their own (ironically) inherent psychic abilities subconsciously negate magic and psionics around them. This, of course, leads to some...interesting times when the party includes other psychics or arcanists. At least one group would always trick the nega-psychic character into running an errand before casting a spell, or force them to stand far away from the other characters so their abilities wouldn't cancel out.
- In Warhammer 40,000, the entire Imperium was supposed be this, according to atheistic Imperial Truth and Emperor's design. Too bad the real gods took issue with the stance.
- In Diablo III, Leah dismisses her adoptive uncle Deckard Cain's warnings about the imminent demonic invasion as just more of his "crazy stories". Even though she personally witnesses signs of said imminent demonic invasion. She finally accepts the truth after Cain is murdered by a demon-worshipping cult and a Fallen Angel confirms Cain's warnings.
- Parodied (like everything else) in Dungeons Of Dredmor with the Paranormal Investigator skill tree. The first skill in the tree allows you to pull off the 'disbelieve to protect yourself from magic' variant, at the cost of being unable to cast your own spells (because magic doesn't exist). Your other 6 skills can easily be all magical in origin, yet you can still disbelieve for added magic protection.
- The Phone Guy from Five Nights at Freddy's. He doesn't outright state it, but he doesn't believe that the pizzeria is being affected by paranormal activity. He believes that the animatronics are stuffing you into a suit because they think you're a naked endoskeleton without a costume (despite the fact that that the bare endoskeleton is untouched by the animatronics). He doesn't seem to have an explanation for the blood-covered animatronics or the changing posters on the walls. This trope could be justified if he's forced to keep quiet about everything.
- Keats from Folklore is an example of this trope. Even when being BOMBARDED in the face with the supernatural, he just either insists there's a logical explanation or shrugs and says he's probably going crazy. Then there's the reveal that he is a supernatural being too.
- Pence in Kingdom Hearts II. He always tries to find a logical explanation for whatever crazy thing happens in Twilight Town, including a moving bag (a dog is trapped in it), balls being thrown down an alley (Roxas throwing them), a moaning tunnel (Vivi practicing how to fight) and, in the manga adaptation, Sora's amnesia (brain surgery).
- Lucy Reubans from The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure was clearly designed to play this role alongside Nigel Danvers' Agent Mulder, although she's less pig-headed about accepting things she's witnessed firsthand.
- Pascal Curious from Strangetown in The Sims 2 has a biography that reads like Scully. He believes there is a logical explanation for everything... and he's the one pregnant with an alien when you first start playing his family. That has a perfectly logical explanation: Aliens impregnated him.
- For a unit that's specifically meant to combat supernatural threats, the First Encounter Assault Recon team in the first game seems to be staffed by a lot of Scullies. In fact, everyone except the player character keeps trying to find natural causes for everything that happens. And the player character is a Heroic Mime who can't point them to the Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl he saw earlier (or right now standing behind them).
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations , Miles Edgeworth (who has a strong prejudice against spirit mediums) completely fails to notice when Maya or Pearl channel a spirit in court. He unbends so far as to use and believe Phoenix's magatama, but only for one case because it's an emergency. The rest of the time, he presumes that spiritual or magical happenings have rational or scientific explanations, e.g. in the same case where he used the magatama, he instantly dismisses the very idea that a woman flew over a bridge.
- Arguably nearly the whole world in this regard, considering the channeling technique not only works in summoning spirits of the dead, but the channeler PHYSICALLY changes to look like the person they're summoning. The only reason this technique isn't used in court is when they first tried, the summon worked correctly... the spirit just gave a bad testimony, so they took it as a failure for the whole thing.
- Weirdly, the series repeatedly mentions that the Kurain channelers once enjoyed massive popularity and major connections to government officials and the like, implying that they were widely believed in, to some degree. One would presume the abovementioned failure in court somehow caused untold years of correct spirit channeling to be disavowed. On the other hand, the fact that Misty's connections were able to get her a new identity would suggest that the channelers still have powerful supporters, but current social views just make it unwise to publicly voice said support.
- Arguably nearly the whole world in this regard, considering the channeling technique not only works in summoning spirits of the dead, but the channeler PHYSICALLY changes to look like the person they're summoning. The only reason this technique isn't used in court is when they first tried, the summon worked correctly... the spirit just gave a bad testimony, so they took it as a failure for the whole thing.
- Battler from Umineko: When They Cry is practically the embodiment of this trope. He refuses to believe any of the murders were committed by magic, and goes the whole series to deny witches, despite the fact that he's interacting with them all the time. The whole point of at least half of the Visual Novel is to force the player to disprove that the assassinations on Rokkenjima were made by a witch, despite the perfect closed rooms and everything that would appear impossible for a human. The wittiest players that unveil the mystery before time are forced to disregard anything magical, as well as question themselves about Beatrice's Red Truth to the point of accepting the truths after a meticulous analysis of the wording and what did the witch really meant with her truths. Really, the point of Battler and Beatrice's little logic battle is for those who are playing along to get more clues and clarifications via Beatrice's Red Truths. It's also justified in that if Battler surrenders and admits that the magic of witches played a role in the murders of Rokkenjima, he automatically loses. So denying magic itself is at least a good place to start.
- Sluggy Freelance
- Parodied in The X-Files parody "The Slug-Files" with Agent Kruller, who insists on mundane explanations for everything from the photograph of an alien to a robot arm (admittedly, she was right about that, except it was built to do laundry, not make coffee), a talking ferret, and being abducted herself. She's still marginally more reasonable than her counterpart Agent Muldy, who keeps imagining stuff that isn't happening so much he doesn't notice the equally crazy stuff that is happening.
- In "K'Z'K", when Dr. Lorna sees Gwynn turn into a demonic monster, she thinks Gwynn must be on drugs, because "Everyone knows drugs cause hallucinations, and I must be hallucinating." When it's all over, she joins the news anchor Stone Johnson in blaming the sightings of zombies and demons on mass hysteria caused by the existence of Marilyn Manson.
- In "Boys' Night Out", we have another Scully—Mulder pair with Kent and his Vampire Hunter uncle Arminius Vambrey. Kent goes through the whole story thinking the vampires, which do things like fly and turn to dust when staked, are LARPers, while his uncle is both Properly Paranoid and just paranoid ("Vampires must be stealing my ice!") at the same time.
- In Penny Blackfeather, The Adventurer embodies this trope. His rationalisations for magic, monsters and ghosts grow increasingly elaborate and ridiculous as the plot thickens. (His reasons on the other hand, are hinted to be hidden in a Dark and Troubled Past).
The Adventurer: (surrounded by monsters)...and now I've been abducted by idiots in fake monster suits.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Emil qualifies, as he's shown to still consider Lalli, an actual mage, someone who "believes in magic stuff" in Chapter 15. Chapter 12 had Reynir's rune spontaneously catch fire in Emil's pocket. In Chapter 13, Emil noticed explosions happening in places where he knew he hadn't put any explosives (he's the member of the team trained to handle explosives), and had Onni's summon come out of his flamethrower. The guy should really know better after witnessing all of those things.
- In Tabletop's Elder Sign episode, Wil Wheaton proudly proclaims he does not believe in the Cthulhu Mythos, and says Hastur's name several times in order to prove his point. His run of terrible dice rolls in the game fails to convince him, although it doesn't stop him from invoking the Random Number God.
- In Ruby Quest the unseen Dr. S takes this role, with Red as Agent Mulder. When he hears strange voices coming from the lower levels he assumes it's the work of a prankster, and he gets annoyed by Red's suspicion of the new medicine and refusal to take it (despite Red having been the one who originally recommended it).
- The Black Tapes:
- Doctor Richard Strand always provides a logical explanation for the contents of the Black Tapes and anything else that appears supernatural within the show, even when he's not able to provide proof aside from a hand-wave explanation or, as Alex notes, leaves too much room for coincidence. Despite that, he always delivers his explanations with a confident that, to Alex, borders on condescension.
- While Alex often better fits the Mulder role than the Scully, being quicker to believe in the paranormal side, she makes a point of being the skeptic when conducting interviews without Strand present. She'll often ask the logical questions for the sake of being thorough.
- Nic Silver, who hosts The Black Tapes' sister show, TANIS, maintains a high level of skepticism regarding conspiracy theories and the supernatural, even as his own investigations become actively dangerous due to the conspiracies and having direct encounters with the supernatural. In The Black Tapes, he serves as Alex's producer and as something of a middle ground between her and Strand.
- Shane in Buzzfeed Unsolved, who, despite being the co-host of a ghost-hunting show, refuses to believe in any possibility of the paranormal, and is usually the first to offer an alternative reason to any evidence they might collect. It's often been joked that a ghost would probably have to punch him in the face for him to consider the possibility of them being real.
- Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender, with his sister Katara as Agent Mulder. Although later he stops denying the fantastical things he witnesses and instead accepts that the rules of reality are completely different around Aang.
Sokka: That's avatar stuff; it doesn't count.
- According to Word of God , he should have been a Waterbender but was too much of a skeptic to be able to.
- Eventually, he completely grew out of it (and without descending into If Jesus, Then Aliens). The sequel series The Legend of Korra has a flash-back of him weighing his opinion in court on the "impossible" crime of blood-bending without a full moon. Adult!Sokka points out that there is precedent for unique bending abilities, citing Combustion Man as an example, so the feat can't be ruled out off hand and he passes sentence based on overwhelming witness testimony since first hand evidence is unavailable.
- When he declares A God Am I and is smitten with the Ten Plagues, Peter from Family Guy starts giving logical explanations for the first few plagues, namely the power going out (Darkness) because of a power surge, Chris having acne (Boils) because he's going through puberty and Brian having fleas (Locusts) from not bathing. He gives up when Meg reveals the water in Stewie's bath turned to blood, followed by frogs appearing Peter's shirt.
- Invader Zim,: Dib actually has this role among the other paranormal investigators—-while the likes of Bill are willing to believe anything, Dib manages to believe in aliens but also realizes that guy on the cereal box isn't a real vampire.
- Captain Black from Jackie Chan Adventures was highly doubtful of Jackie's statements about magic, that is, until the first season finale, after he sees Shendu assume physical form. For the rest of the series, he turns into an Agent Mulder.
- Diana in Martin Mystery, even though she works for an organization dedicated to fighting aliens and so forth. Her brother, of course, is the Agent Mulder of the show.
- Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has shades of this despite being a talking purple unicorn with magic powers. She's not as quick as her friends to believe in things like curses or predicting the future, though she's right ("Bridle Gossip") as often as she is wrong ("Feeling Pinkie Keen"). It makes sense since, on the show, magic is really more like a science than anything else, going outside of well documented feats means you're more likely just using superstition and coincidence to explain something (most of what they assumed about zebras really were just rumors).
- Winston in The Real Ghostbusters, he was portrayed as both skeptical and religious, ala the actual Agent Scully, in the movie choosing to work for the ghostbusters only for the money, “If you have a paycheck I believe what you say”, but also mentioning that, true to biblical revelation, "the dead have been rising from the grave." In episode “Moaning Stones” for example he says to the Voodoo Priestess that is helping them fight an evil African demon captured the first time by his ancestor that he only believes in what he can touch and see.
- Velma from Scooby-Doo, and Daphne in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, who is frequently telling Shaggy and Scooby, "There's no such thing as a ghost!" She usually turns out to be right.
- Played straight in the Pup episode "Ghost Who's Coming to Dinner" in which the gang spend almost the entire story interacting with a real ghost, but at the end Daphne still doesn't believe in ghosts.
- Also notable that they saw nothing unusual in meeting Jeannie, The Addams Family, or Speed Buggy the talking car.
- Depending on which Scooby-Doo show you're watching, Fred can often be a skeptic as well. In episodes of the first couple of tv series he would often tell Scooby and Shaggy that ghosts don't exist almost as often as Velma would.
- The Simpsons: Lisa Simpson, full stop. Her skepticism for matters is such that, every time Springfield encounters something that they suggest might be of supernatural origin, she is so desperate to find a logical explanation that she makes suggestions that actually make even less sense, even if they could theoretically happen. (Example, in the appropriately named "Lisa the Skeptic", the idea of a fossilized angel skeleton may be absurd, but her suggestion that it was the skeleton of a Neanderthal who had been bitten on the arms by two sharks only proved she had no idea what it was, and only wanted to convince everyone it wasn't an angel, especially since the skeleton's arms were clearly folded across its chest, and the "wings" were on its back, not the arms, debunking her "theory". Of course, as it turned out, it was actually part of an advertising campaign for the new mini-mall, meaning, perhaps, that she was just trying too hard.) In the episode where they go to Africa and witness a giraffe living in a borough and a rhino hatching from an egg, Lisa briefly becomes this with a bit of Fourth Wall lampshading. "What did you just see, Lisa? What did you just see?"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Voices", Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi is adamant that it's impossible to retain individuality after death, and as such there is no way Master Yoda could have been communicating with the ghost of long-dead Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn.