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Awesomeness by Analysis

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"Snipers aren't deadly because they carry the biggest guns; they're deadly because they've learned how to weaponize math. [...] It's factoring in an astronomical number of variables and arriving at a mathematically sound solution, and then using that math to explode somebody else's head."

Some people learn by flipping pages. Some people must gain knowledge through pain. Some people study by television. And then there are those who just observe... See, when you are Good with Numbers you can substitute careful examination in place of careful practice, with the same results: success.

Need to make a million-to-one shot to stop the Doomsday Device from exploding the world, but have never even fired a gun? Just run off some mental calculations about your gun's firing speed, friction, gravity, and the slightly-off-kilter scope (how exactly the analyzer knows all those variables is handwaved), and it's a done deal. Need to defeat a karate master? Logically anticipate where his next strike will come from and remain one step ahead. Need to deduce the Secret Identity without peeking behind the mask? Simply go through all the people with the correct body type, who live in the right area, and who might have the right means and motive to do what they do, and hey presto, it might as well have been an Open Secret all along.

If he has time to explain himself, it always sounds something like "If My Calculations Are Correct". Explaining it gives it a chance to fail. Relatedly, two awesomeness analysts don't really need to explain anything to each other, they can do it by Talking through Technique.

The most common cause of Badass Bookworm, and often results from The Professor having a doctorate in general knowledge rather than any one field. The Clock King can do this thanks to precise attention to detail and patterns. Characters who get to skip the analysis altogether due to some form of copycat power are Power Copying. Exactly What I Aimed At usually comes from this trope. They are most likely screwed if the opponent knows Confusion Fu or is at least enough of a Magnificent Bastard to use the Batman Gambit on a regular basis successfully. The Profiler does this with people. An author may use Super-Detailed Fight Narration to demonstrate that a character possesses this ability.

Compare Sherlock Scan. Commonly represented via Visual Calculus. Contrast with Failed a Spot Check. Not to be confused with this site's very Analysis page.


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    Asian Animation 
  • Mechamato: Mara deduces that Paintasso's hideout is an abandoned warehouse in a grafitti-ridden alley since he'd like to store his stolen artwork at such a place. Amato and Pian are further impressed when she turns out to be correct.

    Films — Animated 
  • Coco: Miguel was able to make himself a decent guitar and learn to play it simply by watching old videos of Ernesto's guitar playing.
  • Basil has a very pronounced moment of awesomeness near the end of The Great Mouse Detective. He prattles on about some sort of forces and equilibrium and defeats Ratigan's fiendish Rube Goldberg death machine by setting it off at precisely the right instant, setting off a seemingly unpredictable chain reaction that frees him, his partner, and the little girl. And then, just to rub it in Ratigan's face, he grabs Dawson and Olivia, cheerfully cries, "Smile everyone!" and poses with the two of them with a massive shit-eating grin on his face, in front of the camera that would have photographed the moment of the final blow. Dawson deserves some of the credit; Basil's wrapped up in self-pity before Dawson finally snaps him out of it by frustratedly yelling that if all Basil's going to do is lie in the trap feeling sorry for himself, they might as well set it off now.
    Basil: [bitter] Heh, set it off now... [realizing] Set it... off... now?
  • How to Train Your Dragon (2010):
    • Hiccup is able to observe how dragons behave close up and with that in-depth observation, he is able to do things with dragons that his village thought were impossible.
    • Fishlegs also demonstrates this trait, having read all available dragon-fighting manuals and making detailed observations about newly discovered dragon species. In the final battle with the Green Death, Hiccup tells Fishlegs, "Break it down," and Fishlegs immediately spells out the giant dragon's strengths and possible weaknesses.
  • This is how Mikey catches the scare pig in Monsters University: calculating the right moment to throw a football to knock over a row of bikes to catapult a garbage bin into the path of the pig.
  • The Omnidroid in The Incredibles is the embodiment of this trope. In addition to being horribly strong and tough, it analyzes its surroundings and enemy moves to become a ruthlessly efficient Combat Pragmatist. When Syndrome attacks the final version as part of his Engineered Heroics scheme, we see that it quickly analyzes Syndrome's attack and realizes that Syndrome's remote control was giving him the advantage. The robot quickly negates the problem by blasting the remote off of Syndrome's arm.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, Po is able to learn advanced martial-arts techniques like the Wuxi Finger Hold by seeing them performed and just a small amount of practice.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2:
    • Po only sees Shifu demonstrate the technique of "inner peace" to him once. Even though Shifu said it took him years to master, within weeks, Po is able to utilize the technique to deflect cannonballs fired at him.
    • In the DVD short Secrets Of The Masters, Master Storming Ox is revealed to defeat his opponents by spotting their weak spots.
  • The LEGO Movie: Part of Master Builders' skill set. They instinctively know the names and catalog numbers of all LEGO pieces, and how to fit them together to achieve their goals.
  • Mulan:
    • The Huns prove their tracking prowess when Shan Yu tosses them a doll his falcon retrieved and asked them "what do you see?" Black pine from the high mountains, a white horse hair from an Imperial stallion, and the scent of sulfur from cannons mean the doll came from a village in the Tung Shao Pass, where an imperial army is waiting to ambush them. Thus it is established at least Shan Yu's elites are not Dumb Muscle, but thoroughly professional and highly dangerous soldiers.
    • Mulan also shows herself as a tactical genius, by figuring out the means to reach the arrow, as well as defeating the majority of the Hun army with just one rocket, by using it to cause an avalanche.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Juror #9 in 12 Angry Men, once convinced to examine the testimony and evidence more clearly, uses clues from the witnesses' appearances in court to poke holes in their testimony. The biggest example is realizing an eyewitness was glasses-dependent solely by the indents on her nose, and couldn't have seen the crime well enough to identify the murderer.
  • In The 13th Warrior, Ibn Fahdlan learns Norse simply by listening to the Vikings' campfire talk. (In the book, he spends most of the story speaking Latin to the one Viking who knows it, and his comprehension of Norse slowly grows over time.)
  • Sutwell from Beach Party does calculations in the sand involving things like water pressure before his first attempt at surfing. The first time, he forgets to carry the two, resulting in a Failure Montage of him falling off his board before he realizes his mistake. Once it's corrected, he's able to surf successfully.
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: Riri Williams is able to calculate how to shoot down a spy drone in such a way that it will land on a police blockade that is in Shuri and Okoye's path — and that's before the police have even properly set it up.
  • The Bourne Series: Jason Bourne is a master at this, calmly assessing a situation before springing into action, such as in The Bourne Supremacy when he stops to study the train schedule in Berlin while being chased by cops.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier:
    • Steve's extremely rapid realization of what is about to go down during the elevator fight scene in . All it takes is one glance at an agent who's nervously gripping his taser for Steve to know he's about to be attacked. Look at his facial expression right after this, when the elevator doors open to let other rogue agents on. They've completely lost the element of surprise and don't even know it.
      Cap: Before we get started... does anybody wanna get out?
    • This trait of Steve's is implied in one of his most common basic actions: throwing his shield. He would have to be doing advanced math in his head — possibly reflexively and unconsciously, but nevertheless — to achieve some of the fancy attacks he has shown, and still catch it.
  • This is the whole premise of Chocolate, in which an autistic girl is able to become a face-kicking machine by memorizing techniques she sees when watching Bruce Lee movies and observing lessons at a nearby Muay Thai school. Her greatest challenge is against a man with what is implied to be Tourette's syndrome — his tics completely throw off her ability to read him.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Richard B. Riddick's badassitude stems not only from his fighting skill but also from his deductive reasoning. In The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), it is hinted that the entire series of events that transpired at the Crematoria prison was a Gambit Roulette masterminded by Riddick. The Crematoria prison escape begins with Riddick giving a detailed description of what the guys currently escaping the prison are doing and concludes by saying it's a good plan. When a mercenary who didn't get out asks him how he knows their plan, he replies, "It was mine."
  • In Class Act, uber-nerd Duncan becomes a star football player by using geometry and physics to kick perfect field goals.
  • In Cube Zero, Wynn has the ability to visualize and rapidly analyze complex systems in his mind. He uses this both to easily win a chess game by calculating all the moves and to figure out a safe route through the Cube when he's inside by mapping all the rooms.
  • The badass "Tetragrammaton Clerics" of Equilibrium are masters of the Gun Kata: through analysis of thousands of recorded gunfights, they know where bullets are most likely to be at any given time, and they simply aren't in those places. Likewise, they also don't aim so much as they shoot at all the places where people are probably standing. This is how it's described, anyway. The way they do it in practice is to stand mostly-still in the middle of the room and shoot in rigid lines; so unless their targets are always aiming at the Clerics' arms, it's difficult to imagine it working as advertised. The movie does, however, open with a silhouette of a man practicing a much more fluid, much less static form of Gun Kata; it was originally how the Clerics were supposed to fight, but was later ordered to be changed.
  • Happy Gilmore: The winning shot Happy uses to defeat Shooter McGavin is definitely Awesome by Analysis.
  • Holmes attempts this at several points throughout Holmes & Watson and fails every time. The scene in the ring is a parody of the boxing scene in Sherlock Holmes (2009), which fails because Brawn completely ignores the initial distraction. The others fail due to a miscalculation (the beehive), being drunk (pissing in the alley) or a distraction (the bomb on the Titanic).
  • The Hunt for Red October has Seaman Jones, whose sensitive ears can tell if people are singing on a distant submarine, can pick up unique submarine sounds that the computer thinks is a result of geology, and can tell if a torpedo is Russian just by listening to the pitch it makes as it passes over — although the last one is also a Genius Bonus, as Soviet-design torpedoes did use smaller props operating at higher RPM, thus producing a distinctively higher pitch.
  • In Ice Princess, math and physics nerd Casey applies her skills to becoming a figure skater, utilizing it to figure out how fast an ideal spin is and how much power she needs to apply to do it, and so on. She goes from 0 to competing for a U.S. Nationals spot in a few weeks.
  • This is subverted in Im Juli. The main character, a physics teacher, must get a car across a river with a conveniently placed ramp. He does some calculations in the sand, drives the car off the ramp, and sails through the air... only to land in the middle of the river.
  • In Ink, the pathfinder is able to cause a car accident to happen despite barely being able to affect the physical world by being in sync with the flow of events. He creates a Rube Goldberg machine made out of people in order to shake up someone who sorely needs it.
  • Anybody who takes the Fantastic Drug in Limitless temporarily gains this.
  • In Little Big League, the 12-year-old Child Prodigy Billy convinces the Minnesota Twins' front office to allow him to field-manage the team by having Mac lay out a hypothetical game scenario for him to make a managerial decision on. Billy first asks for more details about the game situation, and when Mac proclaims Billy's answer to be subpar, Billy turns around and points out the flaws in Mac's answer.
    Mac: We're playing the Yankees. No one out. Scales is on first, great speed. Lou's up. 2-1 count. Abbott's on the mound, lefty. Lonnie's on deck, and remember he's a switch hitter. What do you do?
    Billy: [thinking] What's the score?
    Mac: Tie game.
    Billy: What inning? Home or away?
    Mac: 8th. Home.
    Billy: Who's catching? Who's rested in the bullpen? Who's up in the 9th for the Yankees?
    Mac: Stanley. Everyone. 7-8-9.
    Billy: Okay. I let Lou hit away. With Mattingly holding Scales, he's got that big hole to hit through.
    Mac: No. See, that's what I'm talking about. You got lefty against lefty. Lou's a good bunter. You only need one run, so you sacrifice the go-ahead run to 2nd with only one out.
    Billy: No. You sacrifice him to second, they walk Lonnie and bring in Steve Farr to pitch to Spencer. So you've taken the bat out of two best hitters, our 3 and 4 men. And you've got Spencer, a righty with no speed against Farr and his palm ball. Which means...
    Mac: Double play. [pause] You could pitch hit for Spencer.
    Billy: Now you've taken the bat out of our 3, 4, and 5 hitters. Not exactly a great trip through the heart of our order.
    Arthur Goslin: Any questions, Mack?
    Mac: Yeah. What's he need me for?
  • Downplayed in Man of Steel by most Kryptonians, but Zod is able to figure out the mechanics of flying and how to use heat vision, as well as using the heat vision's cool-down period against Superman.
  • In Pixels, Sam's mastery of computer games comes from him being able to spot, analyze and thus predict the patterns by which the enemies move. Subverted by the end of the film, as higher levels of Donkey Kong are randomized, rendering his pattern-spotting useless.
  • Prey (2022): Along with her out-of-the-box thinking, this is Naru's greatest strength as a huntress. While she may be small and have nowhere near the strength as the male hunters of her tribe, she is incredibly observant. This is what gives her an edge over her counterparts when a super strong and technologically advanced alien hunter makes the entire strength and size difference moot, as she uses her observational skills to learn something new about it in every encounter, all of which are used by her in the final confrontation.
  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter: After Alice is forced to put down her firearm by Dr. Isaacs, she does a Sherlock Holmes style analysis of how she could kill him with three different Improvised Weapons on his table. Then Dr. Isaacs reveals he has been upgraded with predictive software, and runs the same simulations to counteract each possible move and kill Alice instead.
  • Played with in Road Trip. Ruben calculates that the car will need to be going 50 miles/hour to jump the broken bridge. After El spits over the gap — and causes the bridge to collapse further — he revises it to 75. They make the jump fine... but the car's axles break and, after they all get clear, it blows up.
  • In Rush (2013), while riding in future wife Marlene's car, Niki Lauda reels off an impressive laundry list of mechanical problems that he claims he sensed using his ass. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Niki Lauda performed a Sherlock Scan with his butt.
  • In Seven (1979), the Professor takes out his target from eight miles away by sitting on the balcony of his hotel room and calculating timing, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and a host of other variables, and then clicking the trigger of his customized gas gun.
  • Seven Samurai uses this during Kyuzo's introduction. As he and the arrogant young samurai who challenged him to a duel square off, Kambei, watching from the sidelines, mutters, "There's no contest". Indeed, Kyuzo takes out his opponent in a single move. This is our first sign that Kambei is significantly better-versed in the arts of combat than he first appears.
  • Holmes has always had shades of this, but Sherlock Holmes (2009) makes it explicit by showing his analysis, step by step, of how to beat the living shit out of an opponent. The 2011 sequel, A Game of Shadows takes this even further with Holmes and Moriarty deadlocked in an Awesomeness by Analysis duel in their minds before a single punch is thrown.
  • Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball: Finbar immediately susses that Ariella is another assassin and that most of the people in the bar are feds.
  • For all that the franchise plays it straight with many characters, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan averts it for Khan himself. Spock observes that "he is intelligent, but inexperienced" in space combat, and notes his "two-dimensional thinking". Kirk then proceeds to kick Khan's ass in space combat, defeating or bypassing every single one of Khan's ship's advantages and taking advantage of Khan's unfamiliarity with the equipment and how to use it to best advantage. In this case, raw intelligence simply cannot defeat experience, knowledge, and sheer treachery.
    "I'll say this for him: he's consistent."
  • In The Wall (2017), this is how Ize manages to locate Juba's hideout. He takes in consideration several factors like the delay between the bullet hitting the ground and the gunshot sound, the angle in which the bullet that hit him entered his leg and, most importantly, the background noise in Juba's radio call.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Victor Creed, a clawed and beast-like creature with abilities similar to Wolverine, faces John Wraith, a man who can instantly teleport. Creed uses his brain, not his mutant power, to predict the exact location of John Wraith's next teleport destination. Creed catches Wraith's spine mid-teleport, and comments on how Wraith's weakness was his predictability.

  • This is what Ranger is known as in Comic Fury Werewolf. He analyzes everyone's actions down to the last detail, trying to figure out the culprit. In his first game, he even went so far back as to read the first five games in-depth to figure out everyone's play styles. He only stopped because it became incredibly time-consuming to do it, as the first time he accomplished the feat was an all-nighter effort on his part. With the addition of the later games to add into the mix...
  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Benedict's hyper mind superpower allows him to glean huge amounts of information about an object merely by glancing at it. One look at Nadine told him her general attitude, how she spent the previous night, and her relationship with Hyeon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chess: Wilhelm Steinitz turned the game on its ear in the late 19th century. He was already skilled in the flashy, "romantic" style used throughout the ages, where games ideally finished with spectacular piece sacrifices, declining a gambit was considered unsportsmanlike, and Grandmasters were considered to be somehow divinely blessed with the ability to play so well. A bookworm at heart, he started poring over the games of old Grandmasters, and soon realized that there were certain identifiable, repeatable aspects of these games — that the flashes of brilliance were made possible in the first place by very mundane positioning of the pawns and pieces. He compiled his research into a new system, and quickly dominated the chess world, becoming the first world champion of the modern era in the process, and forever changing how the game is played by serious players.
  • The Smart Hero "Exploit weakness" talent from d20 Modern allows him to use his intelligence modifier instead of his dexterity or strength modifier, "as he finds a way to outthink his opponent and find weaknesses in his opponent's fighting style" (paraphrased).
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Many divination spells temporarily grant the ability to simply pull more information out of simple observation than other people, e.g. discern lies allows you to automatically succeed at the Sense Motive skill to know when someone is lying, commune allows you to derive simple yes/no conclusions entirely from context for a minute or two, and read magic allows you to perform the otherwise-arduous task of unraveling a caster's personal codes and languages with Spellcraft instantly.
    • The Duelist Prestige Class also shifts most of your combat modifiers (defenses, chance to hit, and damage) with certain weapons to Intelligence rather than physical stats, implied to be this.
    • The "Studied Target" class feat also allows a character to mark an opponent to gain various bonuses against them.
    • The "Knowledge Devotion" feat lets a character roll a Knowledge check to analyze creatures they face in combat and grants scaling bonuses to attack and damage rolls based on how successful the check is.
    • The "Insightful Reflexes" feat replaces the Dexterity bonus to Reflex saves with the Intelligence bonus, thus avoiding damage from widespread attacks such as Fireballs and Breath Weapons not through agility but instant calculations.
  • Pathfinder: The Investigator and Slayer classes are largely built around this concept, focusing on a single enemy to gain bonuses against them by picking out their weaknesses.
  • Spirit of the Century has the Theory in Practice stunt for exactly this purpose. It has strict limitations compared to similar stunts, but allows characters to use their Science skill in place of any other skill provided they can come up with some plausible sounding Technobabble for how their analysis helps. The rule-book quote:
    Shooting a gun should be easy — it's just physics, right?
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Due to the various considerations that shape Dark Eldar combat philosophy, gathering and utilizing intelligence is a big part of their strategic doctrine. Because of their arcane technologies and standard Eldar Magnificent Bastardry, they are very good at it. When the Dark Eldar attack, it is often by complete surprise, with overwhelming force, at a weak-point in the enemy's defenses. This doesn't always work, however; if a particularly Genre Savvy enemy can give them bad info through effective counter-intelligence, they will fail spectacularly. Their reliance on knowing the enemy better than they know themselves leaves them highly vulnerable to traps that play on their typical Eldar hubris.
    • In a meta sense, knowing the abilities of your enemy, knowing your strengths, their strengths, and possible unit compositions, is key for winning. Not an easy feat with 9+ armies, hundreds of units, and hundreds of unique rules to keep account of.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Junko Enoshima and Izuru Kamukura. They both excel in analytics to the degree where they can predict and plan for nearly anything several steps in advance, but it has also caused them to be bored with the world. Junko relishes in the emotion of despair because she finds it unpredictable and exciting; eventually convinces Izuru to partake in it as well; and genuinely enjoys inflicting it upon herself, others, and eventually the entire world. Izuru doesn't enjoy despair the way she does, but is instead more interested in watching despair fight hope (which he also finds unpredictable) to see which one is less boring.
    • The Ultimate Detective, Kyoko Kirigiri is a milder version. She regularly performs Sherlock Scans that lead her to correctly theorizing the identity of each killer, and manages to deduce the Mastermind's psychology, motives, intentions, and several exploitable weak points with no more information than the player is given. She also displays a Spider-Sense for when her loved ones are in danger, with it being explained in Danganronpa: Kirigiri that this ability stems from her deductive skills. When somebody is in grave danger, Kirigiri naturally turns her Sherlock Scan up a notch and jumps through most of the intermediary steps involved in a typical deduction to arrive at the conclusion almost instantaneously, with even her unsure how she got there. The details she has been passively collecting through her surroundings just raise a red flag and tell her to respond in a specific way.
    • There are some hints that Kokichi Oma of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony shares this talent for analytics, being extremely intelligent to the point of writing a script that correctly predicts everyone's words and reactions for Kaito to follow in the fifth class trial. Either that, or he's Crazy-Prepared and accounted for everything they could conceivably say during the trial (or close to it anyway, as Kaito mentioned needing to ad-lib in a few places). And just like Junko and Izuru, he hates being bored.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Somewhat surprisingly, Archer fits this trope. This is mostly surprising because he's Shirou's future self. While his physical strength and reflexes aren't much when compared to the other Servants, Archer is able to use his battle experience and cunning to come up strategies to counter and even overpower his more capable opponents and their strategies. The game calls this ability "Mind's Eye (True)":
      "Capable of calm analysis of battle conditions even when in danger and deduce an appropriate course of action after considering all possibilities to escape from a predicament. So long there is even a 1% chance of a comeback, this ability greatly improves the chances of winning."
    • The alternate version of "Mind's Eye (True)" is "Mind's Eye (False)". While it confers similar abilities as the (True) version, it is purely instinctual and cannot be gained through experience: You either have it, or you don't. Two Servants, in particular, have this skill: Berserker (whose madness keeps him from remembering his experience in life) and Assassin (who as a fictional hero, never had the chance to earn experience in life). In a fight, Assassin was able to tell how long Saber's invisible sword was after observing how she was holding it and feeling the wind from her sword swings.
    • In the Heaven's Feel route, Shirou mimics this skill and uses it to defeat Dark Berserker in three seconds.
    • Both Archer and Shirou also apply this. They subconsciously scan any weapon when they see it and analyze it down to its creation, its history, its previous usage, and the wielder's skill. By compiling all that information and using it to create a copy, they not only produce a projection significantly superior to that of other magi but can also tap into the skills of past wielders to use the weapon more effectively.
    • Not exactly as Analyzing as the previous examples, but Shirou, in the beginning, managed to survive multiple deathblows by Lancer this way. One example being choosing to swing his weapon back just after jumping out of the window to block one, even though he's more-or-less guessing that Lancer would attack him right after, and a misjudgment in timing would result in death.
    • Also from the Nasuverse is Sion Atlasia, and the rest of the Atlas alchemists. Their particular brand of magic involves consciously partitioning their brains to increase "processing" ability, essentially turning each of them into human supercomputers. Sion usually fights by simulating her opponent's attack strategies and predicting every move they make before they make it.
  • Majikoi! Love Me Seriously! has the Sibling Team Gale and Gates. However, while Gates is able to successfully predict Momoyo's first attack, it's so overwhelming that Gale is unable to defend against it.
  • Yume Miru Kusuri: During the climax of Aeka's route, Kouhei finds himself pinned down by two armed assailants, whilst Gaito attempts to rape Aeka. In a matter of seconds, Kouhei manages to analyze the situation, throw off his assailants and take a hostage to rescue Aeka.

  • Another Gaming Comic: Subverted when Joe tries to play Poker. He claims to have used his math skills to completely analyze the game minutes after first seeing the rules, but he still ends up firmly in last place.
  • The Croaking features a minor example: in flight class on his first day at military academy, Ky notices that all of his classmates take the same path through a laser parcour, leading to the larger ones getting singed in the process. So he takes a different path while capitalizing on his greatest strengh, dives, and finishes as one of the fastest in class.
  • In Darths & Droids, R2 reveals that he obtained the Lost Orb of Phanastacoria by calculating its trajectory from the explosion of the Peace Moon and tweaking Luke's ship's flight trajectory a week later to catch it unnoticed.
  • Sal's superpower in Dubious Company. As she explains here. She later uses it to get captured by a dragon and prevent Mary and Sue's Zany Scheme.
  • Guthrie Carroll of Fans! once programmed a spaceship the size of a 2' cube to engage in evasive atmospheric entry, dodging all enemy fire on the way down, then taunted an otherwise invulnerable foe to walk directly under it just as it slammed into the earth (all while being just outside the blast radius).
  • In The Gamer, the main character gains powers that turn his life into an RPG Mechanics 'Verse. He can see everyone's levels and basic status. While it at first seems to be a lame power, he and everyone around him quickly learn that he can potentially become ungodly powerful in a short amount of time by exploiting the mechanics. He quickly figures out how to exploit grinding, and can even master powerful magic abilities by "reading" books that describe them. We mean that in the Skyrim sense, in that he need only select "read" from the menu that pops up. The book will then vanish and he'll suddenly be able to skillfully make use of the technique. One of the earliest techniques he unlocks is observation, which lets him see the strengths and weaknesses and the very detailed stats of his enemies in combat.
  • Girl Genius:
    • This is Klaus's specialty: he's not specifically capable of duplicating physical feats, but he's very very good at examining other Sparks' inventions and improving them. This also apparently extends to neurology, as his current goal is to find out what causes Mad Science behavior in Sparks to begin with. It's implied that while all Sparks have specialties, Klaus's specialty is the Spark itself.
    • Tarvek Sturmvoraus is a more minor example. While he didn't necessarily improve on the design until he built the second head, the fact that he was able to reverse-engineer one of the Van Rijn muses without completely destroying the original is impressive, considering that Master Payne (who knows more about the Muses than most) made it clear that even master Sparks had tried and failed to discover any of the Muses' special capabilities, and most of the Muses had been lost in the process. Later on when he's accidentally captured by Klaus's forces and being led to the dungeons, he happens to briefly glance at an abstract operations table and informs his captors that a unit had been subverted and was about to cripple the entire army. They're so impressed they allow him to keep coordinating the army (under heavy surveillance).
  • Goblins: Biscuit, an orc who's over six hundred winters old, has quite the bonus to his Wisdom score (to the point of being a Genius Bruiser). He's been shown to apply it a few times, notably here.
  • Diamonds Droog from the Intermission section of Homestuck.
    • And then he aims for the bullet holes in the walls that are already there due to time travel shenanigans.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Danielle Kindle saw George Fennec knocked high and far into the air. After a glance, she calculated his trajectory in her head and got into the exact catching position well ahead of time. Because she's Good with Numbers.
  • Leslie does this in The Last Days of FOXHOUND, bouncing a bullet off one mook's gun into another's forehead. Her computation is aided by nanites in her brain.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • Done by Blossom against Bell in Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi here. Doubles as a Shout-Out to Sherlock Holmes (2009).
  • Weak Hero:
    • In the battle against Jimmy, Gray is able to read his movements by watching the way his muscles contract. As Jimmy's style is based entirely on landing accurate hits, the sudden evasion knocks him off-kilter.
    • Thanks to his extensive knowledge of Yeongdeungpo's gangs, Eugene is able to accurately predict their future movements. He first shows off this ability after Ben's gang defeats Jimmy Bae, and he assumes correctly that Jimmy won't mount a counterattack.
    • Grape shows that his strongest asset in battle is his ability to read the opponent and suss out their weak points. He was the one to realise that Rowan was a one-trick pony without any fighting moves beyond his elbow strike.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue Recreation has Sarge deduce the problems back at base from a single phone call, beginning with Simmons answering casually instead of following protocol, as shown in the video clip below.

    Web Original 
  • Dream Shorts: In "Dream In Minecraft Manhunt", Dream calculates the exact way he should move to dodge an arrow by 5 pixels while also perfectly retaining his forward momentum.
  • In Edict Zero Fis, Nick Garrett has degrees in psychology, criminology, anthropology, and philosophy, which results in his ability to read people through a psychological version of the Sherlock Scan.
  • Despite being considered Book Dumb by This Very Wiki, when the Game Grumps play Goof Troop, Arin's able to figure out most of the puzzles in seconds.
  • In Lovelace ½, Andi, the protagonist and recent recipient of some kind of Super-Intelligence power, does a number of these (e.g., teaching herself the guitar by ear in minutes).
  • The Salvation War:
    • This is humanity's Hat.
    • In Left Beyond, it's what CATS first and Omega later (in the timeline where CATS fails) use to mount up a credible fight against YHWH.
  • Sanders Sides: This is Logan's specialty. Being the manifestation of Thomas' logic and rational thinking, he responds to any and every crisis by looking at it objectively, and only worrying himself with hard facts, often breaking out scientific studies and statistics to back his argument. While he doesn't always get his way, and Thomas can't be ruled solely by logic, Logan's ability to "out-logic" a problem is genuinely impressive whenever he gets a chance to show it off. Notably, he's the only character who's able to No-Sell the Duke, who's the manifestation of Thomas' intrusive thoughts, since Logan understands better than anyone that the thoughts the Duke represents are not real, and certainly don't say anything about Thomas' character. By refusing to be disturbed or intimidated by the Duke, he robs him of all his power.
  • Tech Infantry has Icarus Hicks, the smartest man in the galaxy, who despite being a middle-aged medical researcher with little military training (and that as The Medic), manages to hold his own against Space Marines in Powered Armor by combining the fine dexterity he developed as a surgeon with analysis of the weaknesses of their Powered Armor suits to think up a way to shut them down.
  • In the Whateley Universe canon, Chaka has the ability to see how Ki Manipulation work simply by watching them and can immediately duplicate them on her own. Similarly, a character named Loophole can determine the trajectory of bullets, bodies, and the like...and "jump into" anything mechanical or electronic to commune with it, understanding how it works in a matter of moments. Contrast this with Caitlin Bardue, who can understand any magical object/device without knowing how it works.
  • Worm:
    • Lisa/Tattletale has this as her superpower. When analyzing someone or something, she needs to have some information about the target to begin with, and her power fills in the gaps in her knowledge, allowing her to crack computer passwords, profile people around her, and make predictions about the most likely outcome of a given situation, among other things. She's very accurate, although not infallible. In the few instances where she makes mistakes, usually because she was lacking a vital piece of information or was working off of false information, she messes up pretty big. Also, she can become mentally overloaded if she tries to take in and analyze too much information all at once.
    • A few times, she goes up against someone with similar talents (or a power based on them). She has a truly awesome interrogation exchange with Cherish in which she responds to having chunks of her past outed by calmly reading her opponent for every single piece of information Cherish intended to use as leverage.
    • The Number Man/Harbinger's power gives him the ability to mentally calculate anything in seconds, from stock market fluctuations to the exact amount of movement necessary to dodge a strike and counterattack.
    • Most Tinkers and Thinkers display this ability to some degree in their fields of expertise.

    Real Life 
  • Toddlers and young children are like this by default. This is what helps them learn how to learn. Disabilities like Down's Syndrome result in the child lacking this ability.
  • Humans in general. We have no particular advantages over creatures like lions, or tigers, or bears (oh my!), yet we are the ones who control the earth using only a combination of opposable thumbs and a larger-than-average brain. Everything mankind has built is a result of analyzing the environment and utilizing it to our advantage, from harnessing fire to nuclear power.
  • Visual learners, who learn things through watching techniques and looking at images, as opposed to kinesthetic learners and auditory learners.
  • From the reality show Survivor, contestant Yau-Man Chan, despite being a small man in his 50s, was able to excel in many of the physical reward challenges because he calculated things like arrow trajectories. Early in the game, he opened a supply crate that several younger men couldn't open—lift the crate over a rock, drop the crate corner first, and let gravity crack a weak spot.
  • According to this Sports Illustrated article, Raymond Berry pulled off some truly amazing stunts in American Football through sheer power of preparation and training. Unfortunately, he managed to not get his 1985 New England Patriots a Super Bowl ring in rather humiliating fashion...
  • When working on the swashbuckler parody The Court Jester, Danny Kaye was trained in fencing by co-star and skilled fencer Basil Rathbone. Thanks to his coordination, which aided him in physical comedy, Kaye was able to become as competent at doing the fencing routine as Rathbone with about a month's practice.
    • In real life, fencing has been described as "high-speed chess", so fencing itself would fit this trope.
  • One of the contestants (Hironori Kuboki, Ninja Warrior 7) at Ninja Warrior failed in his first run at the Warped Wall obstacle. Defeated but not conquered, he took measurements and ran the trigonometry of the wall through its mathematical paces. Next year, he beat the wall, with math!
  • Professional basketball:
    • Think those fancy dribbles are for show? Most elite dribblers actually have a plan when "sizing" up a defender, using a chain of moves in order to feint a defender in a particular way to get them off-balance or clear their path to the basket by watching their body language as they defend. Similarly, defenders and teams actually gameplan how to take away specific tendencies of a player even in motion; a favorite hand, a favorite spot on the floor, etc., tendencies born of both lots of studying tape and data, but also what their body language is showing during the flow of the game.
    • Dennis Rodman is considered the greatest pound-for-pound rebounder of all time. Despite a slight frame of 6'7", 210 and playing forward — whereas most rebounding leaders play center, push several inches taller, and tens of pounds more — Rodman led the league in rebounding for seven straight years. Rodman said he did this by studying the tendencies and angles of missed shots from many shooters and could read the spin of the ball as it was shot to determine mid-flight which way it would bounce, beating much bigger opponents to the right spot.
  • An AI programmer named Doug Lenat used his program, Eurisko, to win the Traveller Trillion Credit Squadron tournament two years in a row, despite not being a wargamer. He only stopped because the traditional wargamers there found his strategies distasteful and threatened to stop having the tournament if he won again.
    • Further details on this feat can be found here.
  • The astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson tells a story in his autobiography about how, one time, he was on a bus going along the single narrow road connecting two towns on the coast of Italy. The road was blocked by a carelessly parked car whose owner was nowhere around. The bus came to a stop and everyone got out and wondered how they were going to get to their destination. Tyson realized he could move the car: he knew that the rear end of a car is much lighter than the front, and from experience wrestling, knew how to lift things using your leg muscles. He lifted up the rear bumper, rotated the car around its front tires, and pivoted it off the road. It looked really impressive but the secret wasn't abnormal strength so much as figuring out the right way to go about it.
  • Frederick Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell, was Winston Churchill's numbers man during World War II; as Churchill was as backward in math as he excelled at English, the Prof's charts and figures on every aspect of supplies, munitions and manpower cannot be underestimated. But the Prof's true Moment of Awesome came when he studied aircraft tailspins. At a time when no one had survived one, Lindemann figured out a technique by doing the math, then took flying lessons for his solo license, took a plane up, then put it in a tailspin before recovering control with his technique, which is taught to this day.
    • Averted with members of Hitler's staff who filled the same role as Cherwell. Whenever Hitler met with his generals, he had extensive and detailed files prepared by his staff about the state of German industries, manpower, supply situation, etc. that no general could defeat his arguments. However, the actual situation on the fronts seldom resembled the official figures, as, even if the figures were correct, difficulties in transportation and deployments often meant that the actual troops had no access to the supplies in question. A case in point, in an argument with one of his generals in early 1942, Hitler showed that sufficient winter gear has been assembled and sent off to the front. Unfortunately for the actual German troops, the lack of rail transport (combined with the change in gauge at the Russian border) meant that most of the winter gear was piled up at train stations and warehouses in Poland.
  • Science. Through systematic investigation of the nature of the universe, this enterprise has made possible achievements which would be unimaginable in earlier ages, from the miracles of modern medicine to space exploration to TV Tropes.
  • Mostly averted in Real Life, because if you think too much about something you become unable to do it properly. Also, to use Physics (or at least Mechanics) to work out trajectories, and pointing things in exactly the right direction is damned hard, and all Physical equations are approximations anyway, or they would be far too complicated. To be fair, many of those approximations are very, very good. The point remains that measuring and calibrating everything involved by hand usually takes longer than you have.
    • If the other guy has rigged a computer to do his number crunching on the fly for him though, try not to get on his bad side.
    • It's also worth noting that if actually practiced, you're able to get over the Dilemma pretty quickly. Intentionally invoke it enough and you're able to use both parts of your brain.
    • There's also the whole issue with that mathematical calculation is only useful to the degree of precision of one's coordination, which is a large part of what practice develops in physical activities.
    • Another way to consider it is that this is what everyone who is any good at things does all the time. Practice doesn't lead one to have better intuition, whatever that is: it burns the math into one's unconscious so that the result is "just obvious", in the same way, that nobody needs to do complex numeric calculations to coordinate the intricate computational nightmare that is their arms and legs. Having to do the math consciously is arguably being too slow.
    • There is a phenomenon, much in the same style as the aforementioned Centipede's Dilemma, called Paralysis by Analysis. People who train for extreme situations - Firefighters, Soldiers, Police, Doctors and other Medical staff, Bomb disposal technicians, almost anyone who has to make the right call very quickly under extreme stress - can, when faced with the thing they have specifically trained to be ready for, suddenly come to a complete mental and physical halt, because they're trying to figure out the best approach based on what they've learned, and end up doing nothing. This can, on occasion, have fatal consequences. The general consensus is that when faced with extreme circumstances, being trained is valuable, but not as valuable as being experienced.
  • Similar to engineers, artillerymen, who use propellant and trigonometry to drop heavy explosive shells on targets miles away, often using information relayed to them by forward observers. It is worth noting that the word "Engineer" comes from the guys who operated siege engines such as Trebuchets and Catapults. It took the geeks of the day to figure out how to build a device to lob a cow at an enemy city.
  • This is how military general staffs work, as they analyze the potential situations in detail and ensure that enough of the appropriate troops, equipment, and supplies are available for necessary missions (and determine the missions needed to accomplish military objectives.)
  • Sniping tends to work this way. It's often described as 90% mathematics and 10% actual shooting. The snipers' spotters also have to be equally proficient, and carry calculation sheets with them as part of the standard kit.
    • And one knows it is involved when one has to take the rotation of the earth into account along with one's own heartbeat.
    • And slight precession from the spinning of the bullet. Snipers also often shoot from elevated positions which means that bullet drop becomes a much more complex and counter-intuitive calculation.
    • Temperature, humidity, wind direction, lead time... it's not just the physicality that makes sniper training some of the toughest in the military. There's a very good reason why dropout rates for potential sniper students tend to be appallingly high; if you don't possess any of these required attributes then you might as well consider finding a more appropriate position for your field.
  • Similar to snipers, many aircrew positions, including pilots, gunners, and loadmasters, require substantial skill and practice in math. The pilot has to be able to calculate wind drift, fuel consumption, and myriad other factors to effectively fly his plane to the destination. The gunner has to be able to quickly do the mental math to have any hope to hit a fast-moving enemy fighter from a fast-moving gunnery platform (aerial gunners in WWII were trained in skeet shooting as a primer), and loadmasters have to figure out how much weight can be loaded in which part of the plane along with fuel and passengers. Even a relatively small amount of weight loaded too far off the center of lift can cause a plane to become unflyable.
  • In World War II the US Army Air Forces established an Office of Statistical Control that studied the effect of aerial bombing missions and how to make them more efficient in weakening the adversary. Part of this effort included a study that indicated that using the B-29 strategic bomber in low-level incendiary attacks would prove much more effective than bombing from high altitude for which it had been designed. General Curtis LeMay agreed and in the final 7 months of the war, the change in tactics devastated the better part of 67 Japanese cities, killing as many as 500,000 and rendering some 5 million more homeless.
  • Another example from WWII was the analysis the RAF performed on aircraft returning from combat. They studied the battle damage sustained by their aircraft, made a graph of the various parts of the aircraft, and resolved to reinforce the areas that seemed to be shot up the most. Then one bright fellow said they had it completely backward. Since those areas were found the most on returning aircraft, it was deduced that they were actually the least critical. Areas that needed reinforcement were actually the areas that were lowest on the graph, as the aircraft receiving damage there did not make it home. This was followed and survivability increased.
    • The Royal Navy did the same thing in World War II with their Operations Research department that mathematically concluded that the best size for convoys is bigger than normal. They came to that conclusion after mathematically analyzing U-boat attacks and determined it was the number of naval escorts that meant the most in defense. By enlarging the convoys with that in mind, they could concentrate more escorts to better defend the cargo ships while the U-boats would not be able to sink more ships despite the larger concentration of targets because their offensive resources would still be the same, and now they would have to deal with tougher defenses too.
  • Averted by many would-be (and some professional) game designers. Though one can beat a game with math, making a game fun purely on the math is generally unsuccessful.
  • Michael Larson, an ice-cream truck driver who won $110,237 on Press Your Luck, by analyzing and memorizing all the patterns and safe points, due to the computer not being truly random.
    • Similarly, an engineer named Joseph Jaggers in 1873 discovered a roulette wheel in Monte Carlo that was slightly unbalanced, causing some numbers to come up more often. It netted him a few hundred thousand dollars.
  • Richard Feynman told a story of his father reading a book on swimming, and then going into the water and swimming successfully for the first time in his life. This was intended to demonstrate the power of book learning for his children. It worked.
  • In 1994, Canadian computer programmer Daniel Corriveau analyzed the Keno drawn numbers of the Montreal Casino and found buried in the seemingly random results a pattern that allowed him to win $620,000 with a single bet. After a few weeks of inquiry, the casino admitted he had beaten the system fair and square. They gave him a cheque for his winnings and hired him to fix the problem so no one else could pull off what he had just done.
  • The crew of HMS Venturer during WWII — Venturer is the only submarine ever to sink another submarine while both boats were submerged. Not so impressive in modern subs, which are designed to do this, and the only reason it hasn't happened again is that (thank God) a major war hasn't broken out yet. But in a WWII sub, having calculated (i.e, with paper and pencils) a firing solution in three dimensions, a feat previously thought so impossible that nobody bothered training for it? And doing this when your only way of detecting the zig-zagging enemy was by sonar pings and hydrophones? Awesome.
  • This seems to be a very common ability amongst professional gamers. They become so adept at analyzing all of the information that they see that they will predict exactly when and where an enemy will attack. Their sense of what the enemy is doing without any direct information can be pretty astonishing to casual players.
    • In something of a subversion, inexperienced players are usually more random and thus harder to predict. Depending on the game, this can be something of a problem for more experienced gamers.
      • This weakness does take some of the shine off the genius of the pros, as it shows that their predictive abilities rely on both the inherent constraints of the game (there are so many options available) and the metagame (they mainly study the options that other pros find most advantageous).
    • In the field of poker, many of the top players can often tell what kind of hand an opponent has by analyzing their betting patterns. Thus, some can tell you what your hand is to the rank (sometimes even to the suit!) without you even giving them a classic tell.
  • According to most (including the man himself) this is what made Wayne Gretzky so great, despite having admittedly subpar (for an elite level player) physical gifts: he could figure out where the puck was heading on the fly, allowing him to be in optimum position for shots on goal (and helping him avoid incoming defenders looking to clobber him).
  • Cracked explains, in their article on Myths About Weapons, that snipers essentially use math and physics for their sniping.
    • Cracked did an article on how to win game shows that boils down to exactly this trope. Turned out that even beating Jeopardy! — allegedly a game completely based around knowing "obscure" trivia — is not a matter of memorizing every trivial fact ever, but rather, to know which parts of general knowledge trivia you are weak in... and do a bit of really casual reading on just those areas. The man who figured this out, Roger Craig, did so by feeding hundreds of hours' worth of Jeopardy! questions into a computer to put together statistics on the kind of questions you're likely to get asked, and then had it spit it out as a graph. Then he proved his theory was right by using said graph to study and subsequently win the game. Twice. Including beating the one-day record and then winning a quarter million dollars in the Tournament of Champions.
  • This is partly how the US beat the feared Japanese Zero fighter. This happened when the US military found a nearly intact abandoned Zero fighter in the Aleutians, which was called the Akutan Zero. The US military analyzed every detail about the fighter class to discover its weaknesses and develop better tactics and planes to take the best advantage of them.
    • In particular, it was discovered that the Zero's controls tended to lock up at high speeds and that even with more engine power the Zero was an inherently slow fighter. As a consequence, the majority of late-war US fighters could simply choose to outrun the Zero and attack at a more fortuitous moment. But what about sluggish early-war fighters, such as the P-40 Warhawk and F4 Wildcat? It turned out that US aircraft could sustain higher speeds than the Zero in a dive, and so amongst other tactics, pilots found that a "boom and zoom" technique — attacking the Zero in pairs, while in a shallow dive, extending away each time — could effectively counter the Zero's superior agility. US pilots only needed to score a few hits on the Zero's thin structure to take it out of the fight.
  • Professional baseball:
    • Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, according to the film and the book Moneyball, considered the usual methods of statistical analysis in baseball to be subjective, unreliable, and relics of a 19th century view, preferring to use on-base percentagenote  and slugging percentagenote , which are cheaper on the open market than the traditional indicators. How successful was it? "Moneyball" is now a slang term in baseball, and Beane is depicted in the movie by Brad Pitt.
    • Hall of Fame baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. was able to be a very good defensive shortstop in his prime, despite his lack of physical speed, because he studied both opposing batters, and his team's own pitchers, to make sure he was always in the optimal position to make the needed play.
    • Fellow Hall of Famer Greg Maddux was an exceptional control pitcher who had once gone through as many as seventeen seasons with at least fifteen wins. He possessed an immensely good command of his pitches, sported excellent discipline, and knew where to find the strike zone consistently that he rarely gave up walks on opposing hitters.note  But what really puts him here was his uncanny ability to read players just by studying their body language and their mental capacities to figure out what they were about to do. There's a good reason why one of Maddux's nicknames is "The Professor".
  • Many teachers - even at university level - use the same exam questions for years, sometimes even use the exact same sheet multiple times, even in the same semester. If this exam goes into circulation, it allows students to pass difficult subjects with only a few hours of studying/memorizing answers.
  • Here's a rather unsavory example: a stalker of a Japanese idol singer tracked down his victim's residence by observing reflections in her eyes, then used photographs showing the position of windows and the angle of incoming sunlight to determine which apartment was hers.
  • ADHD/ADD can cause one to develop this way of thinking — it's sometimes seen as both its best and worst symptom. On one hand, it compensates for the difficulty regulating one's attention span caused by the disorder, and thus lets those who zoned out during an important activity to catch up by analyzing the surroundings. Combined with a stronger knack for associative thinking, this can also facilitate connections that would otherwise be difficult (or even impossible) to reach with a more linear thinking pattern. On the other hand, since people with it are always subconsciously absorbing information, it makes it even more difficult to focus on one thing.

Alternative Title(s): Awesome By Analysis


Getting Out of Monstro

When Geppetto tells him there's no way to get out of Monstro since he only opens his mouth while eating, Pinocchio realizes the only way to escape is to make the whale sneeze.

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Main / SwallowedWhole

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