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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."
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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 jujitsu master? Logically anticipate where his next strike will come from and remain one step ahead.

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.

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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.

Contrast with Failed a Spot Check. Not to be confused with this site's very Analysis page.


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Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Beast of X-Men has defeated Hawkeye at billiards through calculation of angles. (The Avengers, around issue 198)
    • Cyclops is similarly good at pool, seeing as he's had to memorize complex trigonometric techniques to make sure his optic blasts go wherever he wants. Its implied/stated to be part of his powers.
  • Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four lives on this trope. Being stretchy and somewhat more resistant to bullets than the normal person would not be the most impressive superpower (though still better than no powers at all), but when it's backed up by a brain that can build nearly anything, including a planet-buster-buster, he's a lot more dangerous.
  • Amadeus Cho from The Incredible Hercules has this as his superpower. He can stop a charging rhino with a grape seed.
    • Bruce Banner has this too when he isn't the Incredible Hulk. To the point that Norman Osborn considers Banner a bigger threat than The Hulk.
    • Cho claims that the Hulk actually does this subconsciously, since he still has access to all of Banner's smarts, and that that's why in all the seemingly random destruction he causes, innocent people usually escape unscathed.
  • Marvel's Anti-Hero-Villain Taskmaster can do this with any physical skill he has seen at least once and is physically capable of duplicating (and some that he shouldn't be). However, what makes this Awesomeness by Analysis is that he's founded a thriving business teaching other supervillains, (his latest job is training the recruits/draftees of The Initiative and latter Osborn's Camp HAMMER) something he couldn't do if he didn't gain a deep insight into the skills he picked up.
    • In fact, he's so good at it that governments have been shown to hire him to train law-enforcement to take down supervillains.
    • This power, however, requires the subject to act sanely and in a recognizable pattern. Daredevil once defeated him by acting at random (eventually tricking Taskmaster into stepping into traffic), and he is powerless against Deadpool's Confusion Fu.
  • Also from the Marvel Universe, the Inhuman Karnak has the superpower to find the one weak spot in any material or object, allowing him to shatter it with a (non-superpowered) karate chop.
    • He is a bit stronger than a normal human, because of the superior genetics of the Inhumans. Still, he has been shown to damage Ultron with a well-placed strike. And pushing the awesomeness even further: this is not a "superpower." He was never exposed to the Terrigen Mists, like other Inhumans, so his abilities are the result of training and discipline. Eat your heart out, Batman.
    • Later stories show him able to detect the flaws in more abstract things, such as plans and concepts. And after he was Driven to Suicide in Inhumanity, he came back after finding the weak spot in death.
    • His ability does have its limits. Once when he was up against the Hulk, he probed for the Hulk's most vulnerable spot, then hit him there with everything he had. The Hulk just laughed and knocked him aside.
    • This is also the power of Top 10 Detective King Peacock, although his justification is rather odd. (He talks to Satan. Apparently.)
  • This is the whole shtick of the X-Men's Heel Face Turner Sage. Well, this and Psychic Powers, but mostly she's the resident Awesomeness by Analysis queen.
  • Over in DC, Batman is said to have a second major in this, as he is very very much a detective and criminologist when his preplanning everything didn't succeed immediately.
    • An example of this trope in action comes in Batman: Year One when Bruce Wayne first encounters street hooker Selina Kyle and quickly realizes "She knows Karate... only Karate."
    • Same goes for Batman's evil counterpart Prometheus, who has created technology that analyzes an opponent's fighting style, allowing him to simulate it perfectly.
    • Batman villain Bane became a master of several martial arts and sciences simply by reading every book he could get his hands on. After Bane holds his own against world-class swordsman Ra's al-Ghul, Ra's criticizes his lack of flair and implies that Bane learned sword fighting entirely from reading books on the subject.
      • As noted above, The Clock King is known for his Ludicrous Precision, to the point that he fought Batman to a standstill because he'd analyzed all of his moves.
    • Bruce Wayne (out of costume and with no gadgets) was able to hold off several Talon assassins by simply figuring out that their techniques, while accumulated through years of experience through technical immortality, were outdated. Once he figures out that were pretty much undead, meaning he wouldn't really be killing them, they stand no chance. Although one of them, the great-grandfather of Dick Grayson, was a bit more of a challenge the first time around.
  • The Midnighter of The Authority starts every battle by first running the whole thing through the supercomputer in his head a few million times, analysing every possible outcome, so he'll know precisely how the battle will go, and what he'll have to do. He's particularly fond of telling people that he's already beaten them a few million times, so doing it once more will be simple.
    • He even put this on a business card once in an effort to save time. This failed, as the card ended up in his forehead. Ow.
    • Though this was rather effectively inverted in Captain Atom: Armageddon. The Midnighter saw Captain Atom as just another target for a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Instead, Captain Atom treated the Midnighter (and his boyfriend/husband Apollo) to a total Curb-Stomp Battle, showing that sometimes Awesomeness by Analysis is no match for raw, unadulterated, world-shaking power, especially when the wielder of that power also out-thinks you.
    • And it fails when a supervillain summons the Joker. The Joker, despite being human, is so psychotic and unpredictable that the only thing Midnighter can do is stand there staring at him.
    • Another failure came about in the miniseries Human on the Inside, in which Midnighter's opponent thwarted him by declining to make the first move, reasoning that Midnighter could only derive the possibilities for the fight once his opponent made an opening move. Fans seem divided over whether that's really how the power was supposed to work.
  • Another WildStorm example would be Paris of Stormwatch PHD who developed his talent for precision violence via innate instinct, Training from Hell and a really bad childhood. Wanda Durst, his teammate, has a similar origin that resulted in her particular skill set.
  • Shockwave in the Marvel Transformers series (not to be confused with Shockwave in the cartoon series, who was different) was like this, able to calculate probabilities of situational outcomes to exact percentages. It didn't hurt that he was, y'know, an actual computer.
    • The IDW Shockwave is no slouch at this either, and not just for calculating probabilities or discovering weakness, either. During a fight with the Dinobots, he is astonished by the irrationality of their attack, and deducts that it's driven by anger, an emotion that he finds irrational and normally pointless. However, once he sees how it seems to drive up their ability to fight, he patches together a "rage" emulator into his mind, and goes absolutely berserk, singlehandedly dominating the Dinobots, and then puts this so-called "anger" on the back-burner for later analysis.
    • Skids of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye has the ability to learn and master new skills quickly. He has used this to analyze opponent's fighting styles and overcome numerous, powerful enemies. However, there is a drawback: Because he learns skills so quickly, he gets bored once he learns everything he can about a subject.
  • American Pi in Troy Hickman's series Common Grounds has this as her superpower.
  • Destiny Ajaye in the upcoming Top Cow series Genius has this ability which she uses to co-ordinate gang warfare on a national scale.
  • In X-Men crossover Necrosha, a resurrected, Brainwashed and Crazy Doug Ramsey easily beats up the New Mutants by using his Omniglot power to "translate" the nonverbal language of their Attack Pattern Alpha, predicting their every move. He loses the upper hand when Karma mind controls the whole team, causing them to move erratically.
  • In Watchmen, two such characters exist. One is Ozymandias, the other the God-like Doctor Manhattan. The latter is Blessed with Suck when he can analyze everything, even the future he will take, and finds everything to be meaningless on a grand scale.
  • Finesse from Avengers Academy has a similar ability to the Taskmaster's: the ability to master any physical skill she sees performed. So much so that she actually wonders if she might be Taskmaster's daughter. She also has his memory problems.
  • This is supposedly how Helix sees the world in IDW's G.I. Joe series. It is the explanation for her kickass combat abilities that make her a match for Snake-Eyes.
  • X23 walks through a doorway. By then, Laura has already assessed the threat level of everyone present and calculated the best plan for killing everyone inside the room. She can't turn it off, either.
  • The New 52 version of Superboy taught himself to talk and communicate by watching others do it.
  • In War World Superman and Supergirl deduce the way to beat super-villain Mongul by observing a mass graveyard located at the titular weapon-satellite.
    Superman: Do you remember that mountain of graves we noticed on Warworld? That's what gave me the answer! The Warzoons weren't buried in a mass grave as there'd be if the race was destroyed by some great illness!
    Supergirl: You're right! The Warzoons must've died one by one! They buried each other — except for the last one buried by the peace-loving Largas!
    Superman: Precisely! And there's only one thing on that entire satellite capable of killing the Warzoon one at a time — the control helmet in the command console!
    Supergirl: The massive energy-drain must've proven too much for their minds to endure!
  • When he's not busy building robots, this is the Mad Thinker's shtick (combining it with Xanatos Gambit). He's an evil super-mathematician. During Marvel Civil War, when Reed Richards admits to having basically invented psycho-history and wants someone to check his figures, he realizes the Mad Thinker is the only qualified person around. The Thinker is bowled over by the scope of Reed's calculations.
  • Like Karnak, Mantis of The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy can instinctively sense weak points in her opponents. In one of her first appearances, she took down flippin' Thor by locating (and then punching) sensitive nerve clusters in his neck.
  • The new Ms Marvel has a quite impressive shape shifter powerset, but is also a nerdy teenage girl, so her superheroing style is based around exploiting the laws of physics.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes, Karate Kid prides himself on learning every martial art in existence. Since he is male, he's not allowed to learn Amazonian martial arts. He was nonetheless able to figure it out by watching other people using it.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust:
    • In chapter 5 Rei notices that Shinji and Asuka smell of chlorine, ammonia, dust and each other. Quickly she deduces that: they just had sex; they are together; they are keeping it a secret; and the reasons for the secrecy. And she guesses all that just by sniffing their scent!
    • Later Shinji and Asuka realize their mothers are stuck inside their giant robots just by talking about their pasts and their experiences piloting Eva, and comparing notes.
  • In iFight Crime With Victorious:
    • Freddie Benson has this as his main power, and it doubles as healing and triples as an Adaptive Ability. He uses this to diagnose the functions of his own ability and the abilities of his friends.
    • Neville Papperman performs a similar task with his "fear-sense", but he does this by figuring out the person's vulnerabilities and concerns over their power and working out how it functions. He analyses their fear, which typically relates to their new-found power.
  • In a Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality omake about what it would look like if it was about The Lord of the Rings, Frodo implied that, even if Evil Could Not Comprehend Good intuitively, that won't keep Sauron from figuring it out this way.
  • In the Journeyverse story When Titans Clash, Jarod shows this as he is able to quickly determine the nature of his opponents as millenia-old immortals, while defending himself from the same.
  • In the Children of Time rewrite of "The Shakespeare Code," William Shakespeare is more awesome than ever, able to deduce quite a lot about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.
  • In A History of Magic Queen Himiko studied other Puella Magi to learn their skills and abilities.
  • In By Royal Command, Trixie turns out to be an excellent profiler and personality reader, as part of her chosen occupation. When she receives an incredibly indecent letter without readable signature and the claim of being written by a princess, Celestia asks her what she could determine about the author—Trixie determines that the writer is female, extremely educated, was socially undeveloped for most her life and only lately started to develop interpersonal relationships outside of her immediate family, and has no sexual experience whatsoever. It doesn't take much work for Celestia to figure out who that is.
  • In Mass Effect Human Revolution, Adam has a Sherlock-like ability to read an opponent's fighting style and plan an elaborate counter. And just like Downey's rendition of Holmes, it falters when he can't read the foe or isn't given the time and space to plan.
  • In A Great Endeavor, Twilight ends up as an adviser to the Allied forces at Bastogne, initially treating the strategy "as a big logic puzzle".
  • Reggie in Pokéumans delivers a beatdown to the MSN Gang while analyzing their (appalling) tactics as he went and giving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Levels in badass were taken.
  • In Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, Shikamaru (who already has this going for him in the canon Naruto series), ably demonstrates this during his fight with Tenten in Sasuke's tournament; specifically, he deconstructs her constant pattern of attacking without defending while he takes every opportunity to grope her in order to prove his point.
  • Pretty much the Omega's main advantage in Left Beyond: the distributed AI are capable of generating excellent, although not perfect, probability spreads for the sysadmins' plans. Somewhat subverted in that the Omega are fighting God in-universe... and the dice out-of-universe, in that God keeps getting ridiculously good rolls.
  • ''Lulus Bizarre Rebellion:As in Jojo canon,Anubis has the power to memorize and counter any attack after it's used against him once. As Anubis Requiem, this also applies to any plan or technique known by anyone in the radius of Mao's mind reading geass.
  • In the the Naruto Self Insert story Vapors, most people think of Aiko as a Fragile Speedster with Whip It Good ninjutsu. But while she doesn't often flaunt it, Aiko is very good at this, as evidenced by her ability to recreate and improve the Hiraishin on her own, successfully plan to take out most of the Akatsuki, learn how to seal a biju in under a month, and direct Danzo's Root seal until she can remove it and reapply it with ease.
  • In the Worm fanfic, Intrepid, Taylor triggered with this ability during combat situations. She can analyze and process information enough to predict where bullets will strike, how to block or deflect them, and just be a plain badass.
  • Saito, due to his work as a military spy in Soldier of Zero is quite adept at figuring out both people and powers, though he sometimes makes mistakes due to differences between his world and Halkagenia. For example, in his world making a golem is one of the most difficult pieces of magic there is, but in Halkagenia it's fairly basic. On the other hand, he figures out Tabitha's life story from a minor story about her dueling Kirche once and looking at her habits. Such as Tabitha having to go with little to no food at times from the fact she's sixteen but short enough to be confused for a preteen (a sign of malnourishment).
  • Akane and Shampoo show this in a later chapter of Desperately Seeking Ranma. It results in Akane screwing over some crooks before they can even start their heist.
  • The Totally Amazing Spider Man: Sam is able to pick up on Spider-Man's spider-sense by noticing how he was able to shoot his web- or from her perspective, "fire his cable", without even looking where he was firing.
  • Wonderful!: Lisa has the ability to find out information about people or things. She only needed to observe a house-sized tank to discover its strong and weak points.
  • Jedi Master Sinube in The Havoc Side of the Force shows he was sent to speak with Harry Potter for exactly this reason. From a brief conversation, along with comments by others, he figures out pretty much the entirety of Harry's life story (at least on a general level) including that he's from the distant future and was himself a child of prophecy.
  • This Bites!:
    • Scratchman Apoo figured out Soundbite's transponder number by a slight noise he makes during SBS broadcasts which told him what model the transponder is, then calling shops in Loguetown to find out who sold it.
      • During the Enies Lobby arc he was able to figure out that Foxy is allied with Cross and then coordinate an attack with both them and the Kung Fu Pirates on 'Task Force Cerberus' before they can join the forces on Enies Lobby.
    • Law determines Luffy isn't dead yet while fighting Lily Carnation because he can tell where each attack hit purely by sound and none are instantly fatal.
  • Tsukune in Here In My Arms demonstrates this trope to defeat Inner Moka.
  • Ash in Common Sense since he was Taught by Experience from his battles with Team Rocket. And after Pikachu demonstrated a knack for it too, he started training all of his Pokémon to do so when commanded to "analyze". This led to him beating Lt. Surge on his first try with Pikachu.
  • Lucius Malfoy in Dodging Prison and Stealing Witches is a retired duelist who can learn a great deal about someone from their casting and dueling techniques. After seeing Lord Slytherin duel once, he realizes the man fights exactly the same way Voldemort does. After the dueling tournament, he notes the same of Harry Potter, causing him to believe both are people who were taken over by one of Voldemort's horcruxes. He's wrong but literally the only other person to figure either out was Voldemort after spending months observing Harry.
  • Hinata's new technique in A Drop of Poison relies heavily on trigonometry to calculate how her chakrams will ricochet around an area, eventually building in dozens of the blades flying through the air as she catches and flings them around. While it has a bit of build up time, once she gets going, it's near impossible to approach her due to all the razor sharp metal flying around.
  • Avis in Code Geass: Ashikabi of the Amour determines humanity's evolutionary history by feeling Lelouch's bone structure, even able to tell that Earth's creatures have an unusually high amount of calcium in their bones.

    Film — Animated 
  • 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.
    • Although 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.
      Basil: [bitter] Heh, set it off now... [realizing] Set it...off...now?
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, 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.
  • Po from Kung Fu Panda is able to learn advanced martial-arts techniques by seeing them performed once and just a small amount of practice.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2:
    • Taken Up to Eleven when Po learns a seemingly-impossible technique that took Master Shifu years to master and uses it to defeat the Big Bad. Apparently, all he needed to do was calm down (which is, actually, pretty difficult for him).
    • In the DVD short Secrets Of The Masters, Master Storming Ox is revealed to defeat his opponents by spotting their weak spots.
  • The Huns in Mulan 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, means the doll came from a village in the Tung Shao Pass, where an imperial army is waiting to ambush them.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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 they Clerics were supposed to fight, but was later ordered to be changed.
  • This is the whole premise of the Thai martial arts film 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.
  • 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 more of a Genius Bonus, as Soviet-design torpedoes did use smaller props operating at higher RPM, thus producing a distinctively higher pitch.
  • In Ice Princess, Michelle Trachtenberg plays a math and physics nerd who 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.
    • That said, it is implied that her character has skated recreationally for many years and so at least has a little advantage in the area of previously-gained experience.
  • Steve's extremely rapid realization of what is about to go down during the elevator fight scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. 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.
  • In the film The 13th Warrior, Ibn Fahdlan (Antonio Banderas) 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.
  • This is subverted in the film 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.
    • It's 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 the Kid N Play movie Class Act, uber-nerd Duncan becomes a star football player by using geometry and physics to kick perfect field goals.
  • Richard B. Riddick's badassitude stems not only from his fighting skill but also from his deductive reasoning. In The Chronicles of Riddick 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."
  • Sherlock Holmes has always had shades of this, but the 2009 movie 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.
  • Victor Creed, a clawed and beast-like creature with abilities similar to Wolverine in X-Men Origins: 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.
  • 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.
  • The winning shot Happy Gilmore uses to defeat Shooter McGavin is definitely awesome by analysis.
  • For all that the franchise plays it straight with many characters, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan averts it for Khan himself. Spock observers 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."
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In Rush2013, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball: Finbar immediately susses that Ariella is another assassin, and that most of the people in the bar are feds.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • Sherlock Holmes is this trope's Patron Saint. At least once in every single story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and every other story after that. Also, every copycat and fanfic with a halfway-decent mystery at least tries. Because he wouldn't be Sherlock Holmes without it.
  • In the Discworld novel Jingo, Lord Vetinari pulls off a juggling act despite never having attempted it before.
    • His excuse for this is that he's spent decades juggling different parts of his city's political and murderous groups. The fact that he's a trained assassin with excellent reflexes probably helps. Furthermore, it would be quite in character for Vetinari to be lying about not having done it before.
    • He does, however, appear mystified that anyone should think it amazing that he can do this. Although juggling is something only The Fools Guild does, not assassins. (Alternate interpretation: juggling badly is something only Fools do...)
      • The two schools are next door to each other. Considering the Fools Guild teaches Battle Clowning (imagine a martial art based on typical clown motifs) Vetinari probably stealthily observed lessons or may have even taken part in them in disguise.
  • Discworld also shows this in Lord Hong of Interesting Times, who is capable of learning and doing everything perfectly. No one else seems to focus.
  • In The Arctic Incident, Artemis Fowl performs an acrobatic slide across the ice-slick roof of a moving train by calculating momentum, angles, and friction.
    • In The Lost Colony, he saves Holly's life AFTER SHE'S KILLED in the middle of a glitchy time-spell breakup (which tears the island they're on apart) by calculating exactly when and where the next time-glitch is going to occur and firing a gun at the precise moment needed for the bullet to travel into the past and hit Holly's killer before he kills her.
  • Literary (and to some extent, historical) example: In Claudius the God (the second part of I, Claudius, though it is downplayed in the TV adaptation), Claudius—who was frail and had spent years playing the fool before being forced to take the throne—leads the Roman forces to victory against the Britons through his extensive knowledge of historical tactics and his heavy use of intelligence about the enemy's social structure and favored tactics.
  • In Shaman of the Undead, that's Kwiatuszek's job description in WON. Her only magical gift is enhanced analytical skill, and she made herself Badass Bureaucrat with it, pretty much becoming Man Behind the Man in huge organization of wizards who throw fireballs and combat demons on regular basis.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Grand Admiral Thrawn, from The Thrawn Trilogy, with the ability to find a species's weakness just by looking at their artwork. And, for that matter, figure out their general biological traits (dominantly left- or right-handed, number of fingers or limbs used, perceptual or biorhythmic flaws) as well as traits of those who created or even just favor a particular piece. Notably another character who was supposed to have his tactical insight couldn't do a number of things Thrawn could, and never so much as looked at a painting.
    • Thrawn also had one "failure", where the inferences he'd made after looking at the art proved utterly wrong. In a dialogue with Pellaeon, Thrawn specifically says that his failure to understand a species's art led to him being forced to eradicate said race. Years later, he thinks he's finally starting to grasp their psyche. Such a pity.
    • Outbound Flight:
      • There's a scene where Thrawn and three Corellian captives/guests come to look at a very beat-up nonmilitary spaceship that came into his territory, attacked, and was disabled in such a way that all those aboard died. Thrawn asks the Corellians what they think, and one doesn't care, one thinks he killed poor people and/or refugees, and the third looks at the height of the dead aliens, looks at the wall and a point where sealant patterns change texture, and concludes that the people who repaired/maintained the ship were much shorter than the current owners. A bit of information later and he speculates that this was a slaver's ship. Thrawn is pleased.
      • A few pages later, Thrawn says he knows of this ship and this people only by reputation, and that, "The crew complement is smaller than one would expect for a vessel this size. That indicates that they weren't expecting trouble, but instead intended to go straight home. [Thrawn knew while fighting them that they were undercrewed, because...] I deduced it from the fact that their defense was sluggish and mostly ineffectual. They did little but launch missiles. A fully crewed vessel would have had laser gunners in place and would have shifted the defense pattern of their missiles. Clearly, they were expecting their escort to do any fighting that became necessary."
    • Thrawn retains this ability in the new canon, but his reliance on artwork is downplayed in favor of tactical genius and an ability to read people's body language, right down to perspiration and temperature fluctuations.
    • Thrawn's The Watson, Gilad Pellaeon, graduates to this in Hand of Thrawn. While not a match for Thrawn's ability, he successfully deduces that a fleet of attackers supposedly led by Garm Bel Iblis cannot be, by using one of Bel Iblis's own tactics to defeat it.
    • Sort of used and subverted in Star Wars: Allegiance, where the pirate leader called the Commodore floats in a pool with his eyes covered, the better to focus on the voice of his guest. He believes that doing this, damping down all of his senses but hearing, makes him more able to tell if he's being lied to and pick out hidden things about the speaker. But he's trying to gauge Mara Jade, who is able to subtly stir the air and water to interfere with his senses without his knowing, and so he misses the fact that she's an Imperial agent sent to find connections between these pirates and corrupt officials.
    • Mace Windu does this all the time. His main Force power is to detect "shatterpoints"; where to hit things, including situations or people's minds, so they break. On several occasions, he has been without a visible shatterpoint and still managed to come out on top. Just before the climax of his feature novel (guess the name!), there's a scene of him "looking" at the shatterpoints for himself, the people around him, the mountain he's on, the war the planet is in, and possibly the entire Clone Wars. It's Matt Stover's way of saying "Hold onto yer butts."

      Windu also notes that during the Battle of Geonosis, he sensed that for a brief moment the shatterpoint of the whole war was Count Dooku. Had he jumped up to the balcony quickly enough, he could've killed Dooku and stopped the war before it even began—but would've died in the process because Jango Fett would've shot him in the back. But by the time Windu had worked all this out, it was already too late and Dooku escaped. And afterward, killing Dooku was no longer the shatterpoint. Of course, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padmé would've died along with Mace.
    • Wraith Squadron pilot Voort "Piggy" saBinring, from the X-Wing Series. A mentally enhanced Gamorrean who happens to be Good with Numbers. During dogfights, while in the middle of a fight, he is able to keep track of his squadmates and enemies, often calling out recommendations. And they work, too.
  • The Demon Device, by Robert Saffron, has Albert Einstein using this method in a game of pool against Arthur Conan Doyle. Although Einstein has never played pool before he scores well, though it's not clear if he wins the game.
  • Professor Derek in The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway, who claims to be so incredibly smart that, despite being an enormous nerd, he's able to emulate normal human behavior patterns through pure analysis.
  • Kiriyama of Battle Royale might be the ultimate example of this, as he possesses a prodigious intelligence that is able to master virtually any field of knowledge from biology to martial arts and combine them to incredibly deadly effect. Oh, and he's also a completely amoral and emotionless sociopath, which makes tangling with him loads of fun.
  • Biddy from Great Expectations spends so much time watching Pip at his work that he pronounces her "in theory...as good a blacksmith as [Pip] was".
  • Lord Loss, the first book of Darren Shan's The Demonata series, features a subversion. The main character is playing chess against a Demon Lord in order to save the life of his brother. However, every move he makes is repelled and countered until he realizes that the only way to win is to stop thinking and simply play randomly, taking risks and not showing fear or sorrow, which is what the demon master craves. In this way he denies the demon master what he wants, and beats him, although in doing so he makes himself a life-long enemy of the demon master. Uh-oh.
  • The Mentats of Frank Herbert's Dune series may be the most fundamentally realistic example of this trope in literature, though their feats of deduction and analysis are labeled as necessarily superhuman even within the context of the books. Miles Teg's T-probe induced, calorie-intensive "faster than the eye can see" mode could be described as exceedingly advanced prana-bindu training coupled with a version of this ability above and beyond even other Mentats, especially considering Herbert specifically describes "Mentat mode" computation as being calorie-intensive to a lesser degree.
    • In a prequel novel, the first Mentat Gilbertus Albans is forced to aid the fanatic Butlerian movement by its leader Manford Torondo, who has been given 200 mothballed Ballista-class battleships from the days of Butlerian Jihad. On the other side, unbeknownst to Albans, is his top student Draigo Roget, working for Josef Venport, the owner of Venport Holdings. Venport wants to use the abandoned Thinking Machines shipyard to build more ships, but Torondo is determined to destroy any trace of the Machines in the galaxy. As a result, a Space Battle ensues with the two Mentats squaring off against one another, commanding the fleets. Ultimately, Albans proves to be the superior strategist. This mirrors their virtual match earlier, when both of them are commanding fleets of hundreds of ships in a video game of sorts throughout the whole system, using gestures to give orders.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Miles Vorkosigan seems to have the ability to almost unerringly analyze and predict people. He's also had military training and excels at pure tactics (although he finds them boring because they're so predictable), but his greatest victories throughout the series have always been as a result of his ability to understand, persuade, inspire and predict the actions of other people.
      • While Miles tends to compare himself obsessively to his father and grandfather, this ability may well have been inherited from his mother. Cordelia Naismith, in her introductory book, successfully defused a Mexican Standoff hostage crisis by spotting the weak link in both the hostage takers (a man with conflicted loyalties) and Barrayarran psychology (they didn't think a woman could be a military threat) and exploiting them both brilliantly. She also managed, with only a few brief glimpses, to realize that the quantity and arrangement of supplies in the Barrayarran base could only mean that they were secretly preparing to launch an invasion... something even senior Barrayarran officers hadn't realized.
    • Miles's clone brother Mark assumes he also inherited this talent for military analysis and is proven disastrously wrong. Later, however, he discovers his own genius level aptitude for economics. It appears that their shared analytical skill is genetic but the field of application is influenced by their upbringing (Miles on the warlike Barrayar, Mark on the mercenary Jackson's Whole).
      • Mark also shows an impressive eye for detail and an ability to make deductions from situational evidence... as long as he has time to stop and analyze. The implication is that that he has all of Miles's analytical skills but not his adrenaline addiction... meaning that high-stress situations interfere with Mark's ability whereas they enhance Miles's.
  • In "Improbable" by Adam Fawer, David Caine is already so good at calculating probabilities in his head that his graduate professor nicknames him "Rain Man". When Caine undergoes a last-resort experimental procedure to treat his epilepsy, his brain becomes able to access the collective unconscious. This lets him reach information on everything everywhere at any time, and (once he figures out what's happening to him) he can choose from among all the possible causes and effects to find the action most likely to make things go the way he wants.
  • One of the many things that makes the Archive so dangerous in The Dresden Files is her ability to rapidly analyze available data, being the living repository of all human knowledge. At one point, Luccio notes that the prevalence of mad female oracles throughout history was simply the result of previous Archives making highly-accurate conclusions based on analysis of the knowledge they possessed instead of predicting the future.
  • Vin does this to defeat Zane in Mistborn. Having already run out of atium, a metal that gives the person using it the ability to see and react a few seconds into the future, Vin counters Zane's attack by clearing her mind and reacting solely on instinct. She then watches his movements as he prepares to block her attack and strikes from the complete opposite side.
  • This is the secret weapon of Inspector Spector: he sold his soul to Satan to be the world's greatest detective. (not THAT detective).
  • In Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter, the Ingalls family is running out of food. Pa realizes that Almanzo Wilder is still hanging onto his seed grain by hiding it behind a false wall with a plug in the knothole. When Almanzo and his brother ask him how he knew, Pa, an experienced carpenter, answers that the dimensions of their room doesn't match the dimensions of its building, and that there isn't anything else they could keep in such a small space and need to plug in the knothole.
  • The title character of the Mediochre Q Seth Series has the ability to "see" probabilities ever since a magical accident in his past. Therefore, to work out the most likely scenario in any given situation, he just needs to learn enough variables.
  • In Noob, Fantöm can beat bosses meant for a full Player Party due to figuring out their behaviour patterns and planning for them no matter how complex they have been made.
  • Horatio Hornblower uses this as his primary method of gambling, seamanship, and war. In one book, he makes an accurate judgment of a French captain's intellect and likely behavior by observing how he handles his ship and uses it to Batman Gambit the Frenchie into putting his own ship in irons. This is also what makes Hornblower an excellent whist player.
  • In East of Eden, Charles, Cal, Abra, and especially Cathy are gifted at this, reading and manipulating the people around them to frightening effect.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain gives us the Audit, Penny's mother. She's Sherlock Holmes-style analysis Up to Eleven. Despite having no actual powers, she's perfectly capable of dodging bullets by being where they aren't, analyzing enemy weaknesses at a glance, and can break lesser criminals by giving them a speech about how precisely each crime they commit reduces their chances at a happy future.
  • Steelheart has David, an average nerd who has made it his mission to kill Epics like the one that killed his father. To that end, he obsessively collects and collates data on them, trying to discover the weaknesses unique to each and every one of them. He's shockingly good at it. He even overturns weakness theories and comes up with new, correct ones in the middle of battle several times in the series.
  • Madame Ahnzhelyk Phonda of Safehold, later known as Aivah Pahrsahn, is able to deduce that Ahbraim Zhevons, a man she met in the fourth book, and Merlin Athrawes, who she meets two books later, are the same person through a combination of eidetic memory, careful examination of Character Tics, and making note of the times Merlin is absent compared to when she knows other members of his "seijin network" appear in the flesh elsewhere. The only true error in her analysis is attributing Merlin's ability to assume different identities to his status as a seijin, a type of holy man said to posses supernatural powers. Even that is Entertainingly Wrong, since Merlin uses exactly that idea to explain the abilities he has due to being a Ridiculously Human Robot, which no Safeholdian could even conceive of on their own due to Safehold's being in a near-millennium long Medieval Stasis.
  • All For The Game has Kevin, a world-class Exy player who makes careful use of angles on the court.
  • The Gam3: Alan's AI Eve is dedicated to this, constantly scanning everything in the surrounding environment for threats and guiding Alan during combat. She typically expresses her observations to Alan as probabilities of different events. In many cases is effectively Prescience by Analysis.
  • Qibli from Wings of Fire is very observant and analytic of other dragons...but only on the inside, as Moonwatcher sees in Moon Rising.
  • In The Thinking Machine, Van Dusen acquired his nickname when he defeated a Russian grandmaster despite never having played a game of chess just by reading the rules and then applying pure logic.
  • In Inheritance Cycle, Roran is a Badass Normal and The Determinator to be sure, but if he didn't have brains, he'd be a dead a thousand times with everything he faces. One of the big reasons why he lasts so long and why he gets to promoted to captain is precisely because he's this, even if it does occasionally cause him trouble because he won't obey the orders of some of the rockheads around him. During one otherwise ill-fated battle, he manages to save the majority of his troops from his commander's awful strategy and later accomplishes the siege of an entire town in just days that Galbatorix's Empire had been flummoxing the Varden with for months. He is noted for being bold and willing to take risks, but has an uncanny knack of just how to analyze and unbalance the enemy.
  • Victoria follows protagonist John Rumford, a former USMC officer, as he strives to restore safety and prosperity to a New England successor state in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic America. Several times, he owes his successes to his ability to understand his enemies and accurately predict their actions.
  • In K. J. Parker's Engineer Trilogy, Ziani Vaatzes, the titular engineer, is excellent at this. Although a terrible fighter, one of the first things the reader sees him do is kill two guards attempting to behead him by calculating exactly how long an unseen overhead chop will take, allowing him to twist at just the right moment that the guard holding him loses a hand instead. Later, he manages to kill an assassin in a pitch-black room by deducing his logical exact location, throwing a lump of coal so the sound will make the assassin's head twist at just the right angle, then slashing where he expects the man's jugular to be with his one-inch penknife. He's right.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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?
  • 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 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 way to outthink his opponent and find weaknesses in his opponent's fighting style" (paraphrased).
  • Warhammer 40,000: Due to the various considerations that shape Dark Eldar combat philosophy, gathering and utilising intelligence is a big part of the 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Ocelot from the Metal Gear Solid series. He's a talented enough shot that he can shoot people from ricocheting bullets within a second of studying and analyzing the angle. Later on Ocelot's able match Snake at CQC, a technique he and The Boss spent years perfecting, simply by watching Snake use the moves and then mimicking them.
  • Any RPG with Leaked Experience implies that the characters that don't participate in the battle still become stronger by merely watching the fights.
  • Final Fantasy has the Scan spell (Also known as Libra). Its effectiveness varies from game to game, but it's generally very useful to know your opponent's current hit points, immunities, and elemental weaknesses.
    • Useful enough that it's actually a common weapon ability in Final Fantasy X.
      • FFX even has an optional dungeon full of monsters immune to scanning.
    • In FFIV a late-game goblin enemy will actually scan itself, revealing its weakness to lightning. Needless to say using lightning attacks on it is a bad idea.
    • Characters with the Blue Magic ability can learn enemy magic by simply observing the ability in action or survive getting hit by an attack.
    • Some games even occasionally have opponents that will scan your own characters, but this is actually something of a subversion in that due to the way the AI is programmed, it really just ends up being a wasted turn because whatever boost it can get from this isn't enough to compensate for the fact that it's a turn in which it didn't get to do damage and meanwhile you get another chance to attack it.
    • The Web-based Flash Animation Final Fantasy A+ spoofs scan in this regard by renaming it "Study Guide".
  • Latooni's whole shtick in Super Robot Wars. Well, that and massive quantities of Shrinking Violet cuteness.
    • Bartolls/Valtols from the OVA and Original Generation Gaiden. Attacks become useless on them after they've been used once, since they can dodge any future attempts of that attack pattern.
      • Unless you kill them in one blow, or use the Spirit Command 'Strike' the next time you try to attack them.
      • That's not exactly true. Rather, Valtolles have +2 Morale on dodging an incoming attack, and their signature ability is "ODE System", which means that all of them have a Morale score equal to the Valtolle on the map with the highest Morale score. Since Morale affects your dodge rate, hit rate, damage given, and damage taken (and possibly critical rate), and since they also gain Morale when they hit you, odds are if you miss one Valtolle, you'll start missing a whole lot more. Fortunately it also means that if you beat them black and blue in one turn they'll suffer a horrible Morale drop, which makes them very easy to kill owing to their paper-thin armor.
  • Welkin Gunther from Valkyria Chronicles achieved this in Operation Cloudburst. He drove his tank through a river, Oregon Trail-style, and all he had to do to make it happen was watch how the grass grew in the shallow parts and ask Isara to waterproof it. Being a nature lover sure comes in handy, and the surprise attack gave the imperial soldiers on watch a spooking.
  • The in-universe explanation for how the Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.) operates in Fallout 3. It creates a real-time tactical overlay that scans the threat, assesses various weak points and comes up with the statistical probability of whether the operator will successfully land any hits.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, the appropriately named "Math Wrath" perk improves the efficiency of V.A.T.S. if the player's Science skill is high enough.
    • Also in New Vegas, the Luck stat is explained to be this: the preternatural ability to predict probabilities. It translates to fine-tuning of one's aim to hit particularly vulnerable spots (IE: critical hits), or what amounts to card-counting, nuanced senses of the roulette wheel or tumblers at casinos. It's not entirely this though, as there are a few "dumb luck" moments, like miraculously performing surgery on Caesar's brain tumor without sufficient medical knowledge, randomly guessing the right password to call off a robot accosting you, or the inexplicable chances of finding extra ammo or money in containers via two luck-unlocked perks. Mr. House has 10 luck, the maximum possible, which enabled him to predict when the inevitable Great War would happen, and was only off by a single day.
  • Mega Man (as well as Mega Man X) can copy the weapons of bosses after having defeated them.
  • In the Yakuza series, from the third game onward Kazuma and other protagonists can get inspiration for new combat maneuvers by watching other people perform out of the ordinary stunts (i.e. a middle-aged woman flipping on her motor scooter as the basis for a jumping attack, or a girl fending off a drunken pervert to learn how to counter grappling moves).
  • This is part of Dark Chronicle's Invention process. Max, a First Person Snapshooter, can take pictures of ordinary (and not-so-ordinary) items, which give him ideas for creating new inventions. Some of them are easily missable, so you have to work quickly and think fast in order to get them all.
  • The Copy power (power, not ability) from Kirby Super Star. Once Kirby has this ability, he obtains an optical scanner that analyzes an opponent (complete with computer readouts and targeting reticule shown onscreen, no less) and replaces Copy with whatever ability the opponent has.
  • Minor original character Fracture from the second DC Universe Online trailer has this as a power. It briefly shows his vision, analyzing statistics, probability, and structural weak points to overcome a Brainiac drone in single combat. Apparently, it only works on threats he's aware of, since purported ally Luthor stabs him in the back moments later
  • If you choose the Dark Side Path in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, observe your character fight Jedi Masters in a one-on-one battle to the death and learn to perfectly copy the enemy's Lightsaber Fighting Style while taunting them and stomping them into the ground afterwards. Probably with their own moves.
  • The Pokémon ability Analytic can give any Pokemon this, giving it a boost to its attack power if it attacks last.
    • Similarly, the abilities Download (ups a stat based on opponent's defenses), Anticipation (shudders depending on the power of its foe's attacks), Trace (copies the foe's ability), Rivalry (raises Attack if the foe is of the same gender), and Impostor (transforms into an opponent in front) all involve reacting to the opponent in some way. And there is apparently very little involved. Telepathy takes this and applies it to ally Pokemon in Doubles. An inversion exists in Unaware which COMPLETELY IGNORES the foe's stat changes.
      • And finally, there are several moves that are used by analyzing the opponent. Detect requires the user to avoid the opponent completely by knowing what move they'll use next. Role Play allows you to copy the foe's ability just by pretending to be them. Mind Reader is said to do Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Predicting your opponent's moves is also a given for anyone wishing to compete in the higher levels of the metagame.
  • Emerl from the game Sonic Battle is a good example of this. He gains ALL powers of an opponent simply by watching them fight or being beaten up by them. In the final battle, Emerl takes all of Sonic's abilities, powers them up to the point where some of them instantly KO you, and becomes a star killing machine by seeing Eggman's battle ship in action.
  • In No More Heroes, Travis Touchdown can learn new wrestling moves just by renting out wrestling tapes and watching them.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, the Dancer Tethys is extremely perceptive and good at catching details (Though this doesn't show in-story since she's a non-combatant.) In example, as a teenager she learned how to dance solely via mentally replaying a famous dancer's moves and practicing them from memory. She also deduces that her friend Marisa only pretends to be a southpaw, when in reality she isn't; Marisa is very surprised, meaning that no one else had managed to see through her.
  • Batman: Arkham Series: Batman, again. More observable in the first two Arkham games, as he figures things out in his own thoughts without any visual aide, besides the use of Detective Vision to analyze evidence, like when he figures out how to isolate Deadshot based solely on the specific type of paint used in the boxes where he hid his gear. Whereas in the prequel, his cowl can recreate crime scenes based on evidence, be it a shooting scene or a helicopter that was sniped by a ricocheting bullet.
  • In Civilization: Beyond Earth, Supremacy units have the stated ability to autonomously share information and processing power to predict the enemy's actions on the battlefield and quickly decide the most effective response. This is represented in the game by Supremacy units getting a combat strength bonus if they are adjacent to a friendly Supremacy unit, and the effect is cumulative - Supremacy units are often an unsuitable match for Purity or Harmony units if isolated and alone, but can be very powerful if used in a Zerg Rush.
  • In Descent Freespace, this is what allows the Terrans and Vasudans to survive against the Shivans, reverse-engineering their shield technology, developing weapons that can penetrate it, and learning how to track their ships into subspace.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, this is a trait of Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order. The Library of Jyggalag contained a precise and exact record of everything that any entity in Nirn or Oblivion would ever do, which Jyggalag compiled through nothing but simple but extremely thorough deductive reasoning and logic. This was one of the big reasons why the other Daedric Princes turned on him and sealed him as his own antithesis, the Mad God Sheogorath (who promptly had the library destroyed).

    Visual Novels 
  • 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."
      • There's also another version of the skill dubbed "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 analyse 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.
  • Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! 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.
  • Junko Enoshima and Izuru Kamukura of Dangan Ronpa. 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.
    • There are some hints that Kokichi Oma of New Dangan Ronpa V3 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. And just like Junko and Izuru, he hates being bored.

    Web Comics 
  • 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).
  • This is Klaus's specialty in Girl Genius: 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).
  • 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 traveling 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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 Global Guardians PBEM Universe, most super-intelligent individuals had this ability, making them much more dangerous than their otherwise (usually) geeky exteriors would suggest. Doctor Simian, an evil, hyper-intelligent chimpanzee generally considered one of the two smartest beings on earth, is notable for combining Awesomeness by Analysis and the ability to generate new technology almost at will in weapons tailored to take advantage of a hero's weaknesses.
  • In the Whateley Universe canon, Chaka has the ability to see how Ki Attacks 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.
  • In 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.
  • In The Gamer, the main character gains powers that turn his life into an RPG-Mechanics Verse. He can see very one'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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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).

    Western Animation 
  • In the Action Man (2000) computer animated series, Mann was given the ability to calculate vectors and trajectories in a fraction of a second by his trainer. It turns into Cursed with Awesome when his ability turns him into the MacGuffin.
    • It's a little beyond vectors and trajectories. His brain runs a ridiculously complicated mathematical equation that sums up the world, and calculates it in such a way that he can predict the future in ways beyond just physics. Once he develops his "gift" it gets to the point where he starts to have brief flashes of future events completely at random. So he's essentially psychic. With MATH! (Stay in school, kids.)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Sokka defeats Combustion Man using trigonometry and a Precision-Guided Boomerang.
    • Iroh figuring out how to redirect lightning with Waterbending principles applied to Firebending.
  • In The Batman, D.A.V.E. figures out Batman's secret identity through this. He simply narrows down Gotham's population using publicly-available information to find the one young male with the resources, fitness, and motivation to be Batman.
  • Ben's transformation Brainstorm, in Ben 10: Omniverse has this same ability as part of his super intelligence, being able to defeat the Vengers with minimal effort using everything around them when fighting in an alley, even a bitten apple.
  • Gadget had more than a few of these moments during Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, leading to a Family-Unfriendly Aesop episode wherein she learned the valuable lesson to stop thinking so much.
  • Danny Phantom, was able to learn most of his powers/techniques almost instantly just by watching someone else use it (i.e. Ghost shield); some other though, required some practice to master, like duplication or simply simply appear when needed. It doesn't limit to powers only, he was also able to learn the body language of Samson, the purple back gorilla, by just looking at her in the zoo by one night.
  • Despite being by far the most feeble of the trio, Edd of Ed, Edd n Eddy can often perform amazing feats with just a few calculations and some Bamboo Technology.
    • Ed in The Movie when he defeats Eddy's Brother when he sees that when he's pulling Eddy, who's clinging onto a door, the door is pulled too; Ed simply unhinges the bolts on the door to turn Eddy into a one-man slingshot and have the door slam Eddy's Brother in the head and knock him out.
  • Rex Salazar from Generator Rex, was able to complicated trigonometry calculations as easy as breathing; he explained to Noah when he scored an A on his first math pop quiz that it was like aiming his cannon. Of course, coming from a family of scientists, is no surprise to see Rex is this intelligent, also able to take all the other high school courses with ease.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Heloise manages to ace skeet shooting thanks to this. After Beezy becomes smart, he repeats this process on a much grander scale.
  • In an episode of Justice League, the nanotechnological android based on the comic character Amazo takes this ability to its logical extreme—being able to analyze things on the molecular level while being able to at the same time alter its own structure at the molecular level. In short, you are so screwed.
    • So screwed, in fact, that even a nanotech solution doesn't defeat him. Nor does anything else, and in the end the only way to deal with him is to talk him into a Heel–Face Turn. He's so powerful he had to eventually be Put on a Bus.
    • Justice League also subverts the trope in the person of The Question. A brilliant reinvention of the older DC hero, Vic Sage is genuinely strange. While sane, he honestly connects things that are completely unrelated, tending to sound like a total conspiracy nut. However, his actual reasoning works rather well when he tracks down actual connections, to the point he is reluctantly given credit for it by the rest of the League. Yes, by Batman as well.
  • There was a character in Looney Tunes called Egghead, Jr. that Foghorn Leghorn would occasionally be saddled with. A mute chicken lad with a spherical head, beady eyes, and huge glasses, he would quickly jot down some very technical-looking mumbo-jumbo and succeed at whatever he was attempting at the time...like throwing a 90 MPH fastball or winning a game of croquet with one swing.
    • When playing hide and seek, Foghorn took a circuitous route and ended up in a dumpster, claiming "He'll have to use a slide rule to find me". Cut to Egghead using a slide rule. Humorously subverted in that he then turns around and digs a small hole, pulling Foghorn out of it. Foghorn is understandably confused and goes back to the dumpster, but decides against opening it. "I just MIGHT be in there!"
    • This was developed into the ability to calculate Gambit Roulettes to his own advantage when the character appeared in Duck Dodgers.
    • Tom of Tom and Jerry would occasionally attempt the same stunt, except that either interference from Jerry, or just plain old malignancy and Sod's Law, would cause it to turn on him whatever he intended it do to Jerry.
  • Right at the beginning of episode "The Allergy" of The Amazing World of Gumball, there's an Adrenaline Time sequence of analysis performed by Gumball during a pillow fight with his siblings, played out as an homage to the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Robert Downey Jr. Gumball predicts Darwin's moves and devises how to counter them, but he fails to account for Anais who suddenly attacks from behind and grounds him, rendering the whole analysis pointless. Their mother, Nicole, then quickly charges to their room to tell them to go to school, but when the school bus stops at their house, she realizes they're running late and performs an analysis of herself as to how to throw the kids out the window to make the bus, only for the boys to simply run straight to the bus normally and to lose her a chance to do a quip—which is done better by her daughter Anais: "You just got schooled".
    • In episode "The Parking", Anais pulls another one, this time more detective-y and with descriptive hi-tech graphics and all.
  • The Robot Foot Soldiers, or simply the Foot-Bots, from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(2012) also come with function. More specifically, they're programmed with all known traditional Martial Arts/Ninjutsu techniques, meaning they can defeat any ninja, and even better, they're programmed to learn how to read and predict their opponents movements as they fight them, so they eventually learn how to predicting the turtles' unique not-so-ninja-like fighting styles after a single fight, and these go from Mikey's crazy unpredictable dance movements, Donnie's highly calculated attacks using their surroundings to bounce shurikens and Raph's so NOT ninja-like aggressive techniques that involve throwing his sai. In other words,the Confusion Fu card only works once on them. Of course, this brings up the question, how can they defeat in all following chapters? Well, given who they are, is it really a surprise they can beat the foot-bots even when they can predict their attacks?
  • Kaeloo: When Stumpy is granted intelligence by a spirit, he manages to analyze everything around him and predict the future.

    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 and some forms of autism 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!
  • Shane Battier of the Miami Heat is one of the elite defenders of the NBA because of this.
  • 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 backwards 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 tail spins. 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 tail spin 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 were 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 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 heart beat.
    • 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 a 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 be shot up the most. Then one bright fellow said they had it completely backwards. 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 be 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 in to 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 analysed 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.
  • 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 get use on-base percentage and slugging percentage, 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.
  • 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 because (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 impossible in combat conditions? 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 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 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.
  • Hall of fame baseball player Cal Ripken Junior, 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.
  • Greg Maddux was an exceptional control pitcher who had once gone through as many as seventeen seasons with at least fifteen wins. He possessed 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. 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.


Alternative Title(s): Awesome By Analysis

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