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Agent Scully
aka: The Scully

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She really, REALLY doesn't want to believe.
"Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand."

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 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 themself.

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.

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 they think mature people act.

Derives its name, obviously, from Dana Scully, a character from The X-Files.note 

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. Truly egregious cases of this trope may even attempt to explain paranormal events with "scientific" explanations that are arguably just as much or even more paranormal than the events in question.

Compare Flat-Earth Atheist and Stupid Scientist. Contrast Agent Mulder.

Unrelated to Skully.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • After God: Yoriko is a biologist, so when the Snake IPO threatens her, she continues to probe him if he's using some specific hallucinogens despite the supernatural abilities of IPOs have long been confirmed. She's actually pulling Obfuscating Stupidity and tries to make him brag about his capabilities that haven't been confirmed yet.
  • 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.
  • On a certain degree Bellamy "the Hyena" 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 while accepting it exists. 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • All Assorted Animorphs AUs: In "What if they saved Jake's family?", after witnessing Jake and Marco turn into animals and threaten to kill Tom with a Ray Gun, Steve Berenson tries to explain away what he saw as a hallucination brought on by a mass sociogenic illness.
  • 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 & 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 sleep and dream. 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...
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Professor Cerise is incredibly skeptical about the concept of the Infinity Train, as it's an Outside-Context Problem for the world of Pokémon. This leads him to dismiss Trip's testimony about his own experiences with the Train. When one of his research assistants points out that there are plenty of other things they don't fully understand, like Ash's Aura abilities, he lashes out at them.
  • Witches Rangers and the 141: Agent Jones, a CIA intelligence agent who flat-out refuses to acknowledge that a magical anomaly could teleport Hunter 2-1 away and instead believes that they somehow intentionally went AWOL. Even the testimonies of at least thirty other soldiers is not enough; the Agent threatens to court marshal ALL OF THEM thinking they're all in on the conspiracy. Only when satellite photo evidence comes up do the agents soften their approach, but Jones is still skeptical of magic. Even after witnessing a new bunch of Witches teleport into the base, he still believes them to be some kind of new Russian deception tactic. His stubborn worldview finally cracks open upon witnessing their magic first-hand.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Ghost Lab (2021): At the start of the movie, Dr. Wee is completely skeptical of Dr. Gla's belief that ghosts exist. Then he and Gla see one.
  • Sergeant 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 (or a prank being played on him by everybody in town to humiliate him into quitting the force). 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. This is mainly due, however, to Jack's universe apparently being Mundane Fantastic, as when Danny points out more illogical things like there being a cartoon animal and black and white Noir detective on the police force, Jack doesn't find anything unusual about them and thinks Danny's being discriminatory.
  • 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.
  • Paranormal Prison: Matthew is established to be this, him being the skeptic on "The Skeptic and the Scientist". When people start smelling roses (a flower that was heavily associated with Mary Beth Flake), he points out that there are roses right outside the walls, meaning their scent was blown in by a breese.
  • The inhabitants of the title cities in Sodom and Gomorrah deny the existence of the Hebrew god who, through Lot, has announced His intention to destroy them for their decadence and corruption. Queen Bera in particular insists that the lightning that begins striking the city is just a summer storm, that the tremors causing buildings to crumble are just another earthquake, that there's nothing to worry about even as everyone around her flees into the street in a panic, only to get crushed under piles of rubble. The queen herself pays for her crimes when she is flattened by her collapsing throne room.
  • Star Wars:
    • 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:
        Han Solo: It's true, all of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi, they're real.
      • 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. It seems he may not be disbelieving in the Force, so much as disparaging its use, since Darth Vader failed to find the rebels or the Death Star plans using this.

      Then again, it isn't improbable that the Empire would spend the subsequent decades demonizing the Jedi Order through propaganda. The new Expanded Universe books confirm this, with their propaganda saying the Jedi had no powers, and the Force didn't even exist (they also suppress religious groups such as the one on Jedha which disagree), along with taking an overall anti-religious/atheistic stance, wanting citizens' loyalty solely to the Empire.
  • Terminator:
    • 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. In the Deleted Scenes, one of the detectives investigating the Sarah Connor murders, Lt. Traxler, appears at least a little open-minded to the possibility that Reese's statements might actually be true, and after the Terminator attacks the police station, he survives 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 Lenny Abrahamson's The Little Stranger, as in the original novel, protagonist Dr. Faraday is very decidedly a man of science, trying to find rational explanations for possibly supernatural occurrences around him. Ironically, he is actually the source of these phenomena, due to his uncontrolled Psychic Powers.
  • Sodom and Gomorrah: Queen Bera remains adamant that the signs of Jehovah's displeasure are just natural phenomena, nothing more. A bolt of lightning that happens to strike when she states her defiance of Lot's god? Just ordinary lightning. The hot wind and further lightning that begin battering the city after the Hebrews leave? Just a summer storm. The tremors that cause buildings all over the city to collapse onto fleeing citizens? Just an earthquake. She continues to insist that there's no supernatural explanation for her city's destruction right up until she is crushed to death by the walls of her throne room.


By Author:

  • David Eddings:
    • In 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.
  • 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. (He does admit to another that there are things that he hasn't been able to "explain", but that's about it.)
    • 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. Of course, we later learn that he visited Narnia as a boy, so he already knew Lucy's right. In his nonfiction apologetics book Mere Christianity Lewis also uses this with regards to real people skeptical of Jesus' divinity. It's become known as the "Lewis trilemme" (liar, lunatic, or Lord), although he didn't actually invent 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.
  • James Herbert:
    • The Dark: Downplayed with Chris Bishop. Despite belief in some kind of afterlife, he aspires to trace spectral phenomena to the human mind's as-yet unknown potential. The titular Dark, a sentient concentration of spiritual depravity, has other ideas.
    • Haunted (1988): For ghosts, parapsychologist David Ash is desperate for a secular explanation. Aged eleven, his accidental contribution to his bullying older sister Juliet's death sowed his fear of the possibility of discarnate spirits. He's about to get the fright of his life - so far...
    • Once: On a walk through the woods of his childhood home, Thom Kindred, perplexed by tiny, glowing flying creatures, theorises them to be some kind of firefly - or that his recent stroke has somehow induced hallucination. Later such encounters lay these theories to rest.
    • The Secret of Crickley Hall: During temporary occupation of semi-stately Crickley Hall, mysterious knocking; unaccountable puddles and a sinister silhouetted figure alert the Caleighs to the place's haunting - although father Gabe, at first, clings to increasingly improbable secular explanation.

By Work:

  • 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, the existence of vampires is implicitly proven, but he continues to deny any other creature they see.
  • Whether or not Psychic Powers exist in the BattleTech Expanded Universe is usually left in the realm of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane — setting aside the Warrior trilogy's (in)famous "Phantom 'Mech" ability that has gone tactfully mostly-unmentioned since, we see mostly instances of occasional meaningful dreams and visions that suggest that something might in fact be going on there, but comparatively few characters that hold strong views one way or the other. One notable Agent Scully, though, exists in the form of Sun-Tzu Liao, who remains quite firmly rational and skeptical towards his own experiences in this area...and is quite possibly justified in doing so since both his grandfather and his mother went certifiably insane in their later years, his sister isn't any better despite being only in about his own age bracket, and he's quite naturally afraid of eventually coming down with the same affliction.
  • The Hollow Ones: Hardwicke is very skeptical of the supernatural and it takes a while for her to accept that the cause for the killing sprees is paranormal in nature.
  • The Chaos Cycle: Mason acts as a "realist" due to his job as a doctor, and tries to find rational and sane reasons for the supernatural events going on in town. To his credit he does accept at the end that these events are real.
  • Discworld:
    • In the early 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.
    • 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.
  • 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).
  • Harry Potter:
    • Hermione Granger 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 about 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.
    • Professor Binns, the History of Magic professor at Hogwarts, insists that the Chamber of Secrets could not possibly be real, as evidenced when he's asked about it:
      Binns: My subject is History of Magic. I deal with facts, not myths and legends.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • Dr. Faraday, the Unreliable Narrator of Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger, is a medical practitioner and thus a man of science; when a local family, the Ayreses, starts experiencing possibly supernatural phenomena in their family manor, he is dismissive of their claims, thinking them to be manifestations of "clouded" minds.
  • Old Kingdom: In Lirael and Abhorsen, 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".
  • Ogilvy in The War of the Worlds (1898) 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 "The Pack", 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 Beckett 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
    • "The King's Demons": Turlough, asked whether he can call on Hell, says that of course he can, and so can Hugh, and Hugh's more likely to get a response.
    • "The Unquiet Dead": Charles Dickens, who was sure that the genuine medium was a con artist and that there had to be some sort of trickery going on to account for the zombies going about town.
    • "Midnight": Professor Hobbes insists throughout the entire episode that nothing can survive outside on the titular planet due to its sun's "xtonic" rays, even as the evidence to the contrary mounts. In the end, he's finally forced to admit that there was something, although not without pressure from other characters.
  • Kristen Bouchard and Ben Shakir in Evil (2019) refuse to believe any of their cases are spiritual, always seeking a rational explanation
  • Fringe
    • 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:
    • Daenerys smirks and reacts with skepticism when Jon Snow first tells her about White Walkers and the army of the dead, as if the mere possibility was laughable to her. This in spite of the fact that she has personally witnessed the return of dragons and magic to the world, communed with dead spirits in an impossible house, and walked away unharmed after sitting in a roaring funeral pyre all night. One would think someone who's seen so many legends come true would be more receptive to the idea that yet another legend might be coming true.
    • 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.
  • Steve on The Haunting of Hill House (2018) believes that Hill House wasn't haunted and that his father and siblings are just suffering from mental illness. Even when he starts seeing ghosts after Nell's death, he thinks it's the family sickness. This is despite the fact that he is a best-selling horror writer who wrote a book about their experiences titled The Haunting of Hill House.
  • 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.
  • Lucifer (2016): Detective Chloe Decker for the first three seasons. Being the only person totally immune to Lucifer's powers, she thinks of Lucifer's claims being the devil and all of the weirdness surrounding him as crazy metaphors of an eccentric rich man and mostly ignores it as their partnership helps her doing her job right. In the series 3 finale, she eventually sees Lucifer's devil face and for that can't deny her partners true nature anymore: for that, the Agent Scully role is skipped for the three following series with Chloe now fully aware of the existence of supernatural beings and concepts.
  • 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 på 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.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "If These Walls Could Talk", the physicist Dr. Leviticus Mitchell is a debunker of the paranormal who is presented with evidence of its existence in the form of a house which absorbs people.
    • In "Alien Radio", the controversial KXVY Shock Jock Stan Harbinger takes great pleasure in belittling people who believe in conspiracies, predominantly involving aliens but also concerning more down-to-earth topics such as Who Shot JFK?, on his radio show "The Harbinger of Truth". An encounter with an alien, which he at first tries to ignore and deny because it is inconsistent with his view of the world, turns him into a believer.
    • In "Joyride", the National Scope journalist Martin Reese is a full-time cynic who continually makes snide remarks about Colonel Theodore Harris' claim to have encountered aliens in 1963. Having had enough, Harris accuses Reese of being afraid of life, which clearly touches a nerve.
  • Ollie from Power Rangers Dino Fury is a logic-based person and will not accept anything unless it could be proven with science. Of course, this being a Power Rangers season where such superheroes are common knowledge means that he's the first person to recognize becoming one and declares that he and Amelia are sure to have zords soon.
  • 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.
  • On The Strange Calls, a show about cops dealing with supernatural problems, Toby, the protagonist, is always skeptical of Gregor's fantastical explanations for things, even after he sees clear evidence. His boss is even more skeptical, and categorically refuses to believe anything either of them say about the cases they work on.
  • Torchwood: In "Small Worlds", Gwen reacts this way for the first half of the episode when Jack believes they're dealing with Fairies.
  • Wellington Paranormal: While Minogue thinks O'Leary is this because of her analytical brain, she's consistently more skeptical of paranormal explanations for events before seeing evidence.
  • 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 Doggett'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 shown that Scully is right on occasions, and the explanation behind the current case is actually something mundane.

  • 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.
  • Unwell Podcast: Abbie typically takes a more skeptical approach to any possible supernatural occurrences, though they gradually warm to the idea of the supernatural existing in Mount Absolom.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Player Characters who take the "Doubting Thomas" Hindrance in Deadlands are this: they completely reject the idea that the supernatural exists, and even when they get undeniable proof (usually by having the aforementioned supernatural try to kill them), their starting assumptions in any mystery scenario are always that there is a mundane explanation at work (ex. a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax).
  • 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.


    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • In From Next Door, Namie tries hard to rationalize the weird goings-on; even after she sees the creature clearly and gets chased by it, she attempts to chalk it up to her imagining things after she hit her head. In all but one of the endings, she ultimately accepts that there is something bizarre happening with no clear rational explanation.
  • 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).

    Visual Novels 
  • Miu Iruma from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony dismisses the supernatural as "unscientific bullshit", and as such, she gets incredibly irritated with Angie and Himiko for constantly talking about Atua and magic, respectively. Her disbelief in the supernatural makes her one of the six students who want nothing to do with Angie's cult. This is downplayed, if not absent, in Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp, when Miu, after Angie offhandedly remarks about her ignorance of her island's divine rituals, nervously asks what would happen if she took part.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and 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.
    • Spirit mediums aren't really believed in or used in court in general, despite their technique successfully summoning spirits of the dead and changing the summoner's appearance to look like the spirit. The series mentions that the Kurain channelers once enjoyed massive popularity and political connections, implying that they were once widely believed in. 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 it wasn't seen as effective. 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.
  • 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 spends the whole series denying the existence of 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 on Rokkenjima, he automatically loses. So denying magic itself is at least a good place to start.
  • Aiba from AI: The Somnium Files fits this trope like a glove. As the AI assistant to detective Kaname Date, she always tries to find rational explanations for any mysteries they come across. While investigating a suspect, Date comes across the murdered corpse of Iris Sagan, only to find that Iris is alive and well and that the corpse had disappeared. Date believes that he has entered a parallel universe, but Aiba dismisses this idea, claiming that parallel worlds don't exist. Later on, Iris, after almost being kidnapped by an armed militia, reveals that she's being targeted by a massive conspiracy run by a malicious AI. Date initially believes her, but Aiba insists that there needs to be a rational explanation. Ultimately however, Aiba turns out to be completely correct. The corpse that Date found wasn't Iris, it was her mother. Shortly after giving birth, Iris' mother, Manaka Iwai, was murdered by her lover's son, so her friends had preserved her corpse for the past 18 years as blackmail against her killers. And while Iris was being targeted, she wasn't being targeted by any conspiracy. In actuality, Iris was suffering from delusions brought on by a malignant brain tumor, and the militia was just a group of armed thugs hired by a serial killer who wanted to kidnap Iris for the sole purpose of tormenting someone close to her. With that being said, even though Aiba was correct that there was nothing supernatural going on in the case, it's revealed in the game's true ending that parallel universes do actually exist, although only Date is aware of them.
  • In Heart of the Woods, Madison Raines, despite working as manager for her best friend Tara's YouTube channel Taranoral, a Vlog Series about the paranormal, doesn't believe in the supernatural, and is rather skeptical when Morgan invites her and Tara to come to the remote town of Eysenfeld to investigate supernatural phenomena. Naturally, all this changes after what Madison experiences in the course of the game.

  • 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 (who made no appearance in the actual story).
    • In "Kiki Shrugged", the ghost of Ayn Rand still doesn't believe in the supernatural, in spite of being part of it, leading her to be banished with an impromptu logic exorcism.
    • 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, who 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 rationalizations 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 El Goonish Shive, a mall cop witnesses Kitty's sleeves magically return to normal after being morphed into being oversized but dismisses it as a neat trick.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • "Nightfall": Eve's boyfriend is frustrated with her decision to treat the crazy astronomers with respect. That is, until events start happening as predicted.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
    • 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 as an adult weighing his opinion in court on the "impossible" crime of blood-bending without a full moon. 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 Griffin 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 in 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.
  • Let's Go Luna!: In "Big Little Trouble", Senor Fabuloso doesn't believe in the Huldufolk and brushes off the peculiar happenings at the circus as a coincidence. However, the more strange things happen, the more he's convinced that they are real, and they are in the end.
  • 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.
  • Molly of Denali: In "Mystery in the Night Sky," Molly refuses to believe that aliens are real, unlike Trini and Tooey. She is eventually convinced, but in the end, the aliens weren't real.
  • 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).
  • Razzberry Jazzberry Jam: Krupa has a tendency, in episodes with more… out-there topics, to insist that there must be a rational explanation. He spent most of “The Forever Song” trying to insist that bad luck wasn’t real (and being Instantly Proven Wrong every time he said it), and in “Phantom Of The Jam” he only agreed to go along with the ghost hunt because he wanted to prove that the ghost they were hunting did not, in fact, exist. (It did.)
  • Mitchell of Ready Jet Go!, who doubts that Halloween is magical, until he is proven wrong at the end of "That's One Gigantic Pumpkin, Jet Propulsion!".
  • 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 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 "Simpson Safari", the family witness a giraffe living in a borough and a rhino hatching from an egg and Lisa briefly becomes this with a bit of Fourth Wall lampshading. "What did you just see, Lisa? What did you just see?"
  • South Park: In "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe", Officer Barbrady doesn't believe in the farmer's suspicions about aliens stealing his cattle.
  • 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.
  • In Gargoyles, Matt Bluestone's former partner Martin Hacker is a subversion. He acts like one, but is really a member of the Illuminati assigned to make sure Matt never gets any conclusive proof they exist and secretly gives him false leads while pretending to be begrudgingly helping him.
  • The mother (a.k.a. Marsha), the two orderlies, and the scientist, Robert Bruce Cameron from the Looney Tunes short, Punch Trunk. The mother doubting her daughter, Jennene; the orderlies doubting the bird bath owner, and Robert doubting the moderator, Mr. Pratt.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: Malik up this role in "Crab Quakes," where he refuses to believe that a dragon made the weird sound that scared the crabs. He's proven wrong - it was a dragon toy that made the noise, but still a dragon nonetheless.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Scully, Straw Sceptic, Straw Skeptic


Inspector Scully

The chief inspector of Scotland Yard adamantly refuses to believe legitimate acts of supernatural exist.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / AgentScully

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