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Brainy Brunette

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Stereotypically speaking, in fiction, blondes are lacking in intelligence, redheads have short tempers, so, out of the trio, brunettes are all brain. Outside of the trio, they will often be used as a Foil for the Dumb Blonde in either a Brains Versus Brawn or Brains and Brawn duo. Like the Dumb Blonde, the brunette varies quite a bit. They can bashfully hide behind their books or glasses, with their hair done in pigtails or a bun or they can boldly use their smarts for their ambitions. Whichever it is, their knowledge is real—if she's on your side, then you can always count on her smarts in a fix. She may be a Hot Librarian, a scientist, or even a Wrench Wench. If so, her Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and/or Techno Babble will turn people on. And she always has nice, thick, brown locks. What they don't (necessarily) have is strength, like the Squishy Wizard (who may be The Smart Guy himself), as they care more about their mind than their body. That's what makes a Badass Bookworm so interesting, a rare combination.

This trope doesn't mean that blondes and redheads can't be the brains of the outfit. It's just more common for them to have brown hair, especially if they're female, although there are some male examples.

May overlap with Asian and Nerdy, Bollywood Nerd, or Black and Nerdy.

Contrast Dumb Blonde and Fiery Redhead. And, as with both of them, this character can be either good or evil. Compare Redheads Are Uncool who might stand out as much as the brunette but have less confidence than even the bashful brainy brunette.


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  • The Brown M&M seems to be this, with glasses and all.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Lita from Animerica, in contrast to the blonde Janine and red-headed Jessica. There's also Wendy, Ron's older sister, and his previous Love Interest, Yukina. Kasuse and Yusuke may count, as well as Maya, Lita's Cool Big Sis.
  • Attack on Titan gives us Hange Zoe. Eccentric, intuitive, and obsessed with understanding the Titans, she is the closest thing to a scientist in the Scout Regiment. She also wears glasses.
  • Yomi from Azumanga Daioh fits this trope nicely. Excluding Child Prodigy, Chiyo, she's easily the smartest member of the group (with the possible exception of Sakaki).
  • Casca from Berserk a skilled strategist and surrogate leader for the band of Hawk.
  • Boruto, the Naruto spin-off gives us Sarada Uchiha, the daughter of Sasuke and Sakura Uchiha. She a preteen girl with Raven Hair, Ivory Skin, gifted with incredible wits, is well-read, studious and good at planning strategies.
  • Bungou Stray Dogs gives us strategic geniuses Dazai Osamu, Mori Ougai, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and detective extraordinaire Edogawa Ranpo. Louisa May Alcott, another strategist, may count, but her hair is very light brown. Outside the manga, there's also Taguchi Rokuzou (a hacker) and Sasaki Nobuko (a university lecturer and criminal genius).
  • In Doraemon, Shizuka has brown hair in the original series which is changed to black hair in the 2005 anime. Either way, though, she is very quick-witted and loves to study, unlike her friend Nobita.
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World's Afura Mann, the wind priestess of Mt. Moldune. She's portrayed as the most intellectual of the three and, in The Wanderers series, she has her very own library!
  • Sheska from Fullmetal Alchemist; an extreme bibliophile with a photographic memory of everything she reads.
  • Lithuania from Hetalia: Axis Powers is more serious than Germany, shown to be very efficient in battle smarts when he feigns a retreat and fools Prussia, and he's one of the very few Northern European countries with brown hair. It helps that his former partner Poland is an almost perfect Dumb Blond. Russia even lampshades this when the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth is partitioned and he drags Lithuania away, commenting that he looks smart.
  • Hitoribocchi no OO Seikatsu has Bocchi Hitori, the main character. She has long brown hair and despite being eccentric, is rather intelligent, and probably one of the better students in the class. In fact, the only reason why she didn't get into her best friend Kai's middle school was because she was too scared to attend the interview.
  • Maken-ki!: Yan-Min is a Chinese foreign exchange student, who's highly proficient in martial arts and has near encyclopaedic knowledge about the various applications of Element. In chapter 55, she astounded Aililu and Lilu by explaining the nature of "Black Element" and in chapter 87, she was able to explain the process of combining her own "Blue" Element with Azuki's "Green" and Celia's "Red" to create "White". Which is the only thing that can hurt Yamato Takeru.
  • Mazinger Z gives two examples with The Professor Gennosuke Yumi and his daughter, Sayaka. Although she is an Action Girl, she is pretty smart and knowledgeable.
  • Despite his cowardice and habitual lying, Usopp from One Piece is the brains of the Straw Hats. Also, team archaeologist Robin.
    • There's also Chopper, who acts as the crew's doctor. He's also a reindeer, so the brunette part is kind of justified.
    • Trafalgar Law: surgeon, strategist, and leader.
    • Zig-zagged with Charlotte Pudding she’s smart enough to fool half the Straw Hats but becomes emotionally volatile when her plan is foiled and she falls in love with Sanji.
  • Ouran High School Host Club: Haruhi Fujioka. Though nobody in the host club is truly unintelligent, Haruhi is book smart to the point of being occasionally portrayed as a nerd, and possesses more common sense than most of them. Not to mention that everybody is gay for Haruhi.
  • Fly Greena Aight from +Anima, a researcher who studies the science behind the titular phenomenon of +Anima in the hopes of stealing that power for himself; though the manga has very few color pages, the portrait of Fly's childhood self present on the back cover of volume 9 reveals that he has brown hair.
  • Sailor Moon: Usually averted in the manga but played straight in the anime:
  • Leo Regulus from Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, said and proven to be a battle genius.
  • Hakkai from Saiyuki is the intellectual of the ikkou. He could have had his pick of college scholarships had he wanted to continue his formal education, takes correspondence courses (including lockpicking, which becomes very helpful), reads thick obscure books, and worked as a school teacher until Kanan's death.

    Comic Books 
  • Bruce Wayne has jet black hair and his nighttime identity is known as "The World's Greatest Detective."
  • Impulse: Despite being largely Brilliant, but Lazy Bart has a Photographic Memory and is actually quite smart and knowledgeable about technology. Highlighted after he read an entire library in an afternoon while recovering from being kneecapped.
  • Leading expert on Gamma Radiation Dr. Bruce Banner, aka The Incredible Hulk. The Hulk himself usually isn't a genius (He's not dumb, but he's no Banner) and usually isn't brunet either.
  • Tony Stark aka Iron Man... billionaire, playboy, genius, philanthropist.
  • Marlene in Jet Dream, who's described as "Powerful as a wrestler, but with a cool, precise Teutonic mind."
  • Tim Drake aka Robin/Red Robin, a Teen Genius who was able to figure out the secret identities of multiple superheros as a child and is expected to surpass the world's current best detective before he reaches the legal drinking age.
  • Peter Parker aka Spider-Man, a Teen Genius as a youth and still a science prodigy into his adulthood.
  • Supergirl: Kara Zor-El's Secret Identity (Linda Lee Danvers in the Silver Age, Linda Lang in the post-Crisis universe, Kara Danvers in Supergirl (Rebirth)) is always a brown-haired, nerdy girl. Earth's science is pretty primitive to her.
  • Lois Lane in Superman continuities where she's not a Fiery Redhead. And where she's actually brainy.
  • X-Men:
    • Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Moira MacTaggert.
    • As well as self-proclaimed "Goddess of Computers" Kitty Pryde.
    • Rogue is smart enough to not only fly a spaceship but once outsmarted an extra dimensional being and brought him into the main universe. She also reads alot of books in her spare time.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Male example: The Protagonist Milo Thatch of Atlantis: The Lost Empire serves as a linguist and cartography expert who directs the expedition to find the lost continent of Atlantis and has light brown hair to match.
  • Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast is treated like an outcast in her village because she loves to read books. And yep, she's a brunette.
  • Maria Posada from The Book of Life. She is probably the most rational, cultured person in the story.
  • Brave: Elinor is the only one in her family to have brown hair and is the only one capable of running the country.
  • Tip from Home (2015) is described as a very resourceful girl. This proves to be true, when she's able to take care of herself when her mother is kidnapped.
  • Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon. He manages to figure out a way to make Toothless able to fly again.
  • Helen Parr from The Incredibles and Evelyn Deavor in the sequel. Evelyn is a Gadgeteer Genius while Helen is an expert tactician, and can also pilot multiple types of vehicles, from aircraft to motorcycles.
  • Tiana from The Princess and the Frog is incredibly resourceful, clever, and observant. She's also an African-American brunette.
  • Jane Porter from Disney's Tarzan is similar to Belle from above. She is not only knowledgeable in zoology, but also smart enough to teach an adult who has never learned how to communicate like a human English, not to mention introduced him to physics, music, astronomy, dance, and geography. And yep, she's a brunette.
  • In Turning Red, pre-transformation, Mei had dark hair and was a straight-A student. Interestingly, after she gains her red panda form (which turns her hair red), her grades start to slip due to her neglecting studying in favor of merchandising her panda form.
  • Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph builds her own semi-functional kart out of thrown away junk and is shown to be a resourceful survivalist while ostracized in her own game.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jenny in An Education dreams of getting into Oxford, and she's got the brains to do it. She has a foil in Dumb Blonde Helen.
  • In Exam, Brunette and Dark are both women with dark hair that are noticeably intelligent during their time at the Exam.
  • The previously blonde Trillian became this in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005).
  • Ariadne in Inception, portrayed by Elliot Page.
  • Inverted in Jennifer's Body. The brunette Jennifer is a vapid Alpha Bitch (both before and after she is possessed), while the blonde Needy is Endearingly Dorky with Nerd Glasses.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Tony Stark aliases Iron Man built Powered Armor in a cave “with a box of scraps” and couple movies later took on a criminal organisation with some gardening store supplies. At one point in Avengers he has to teach the blonde (Captain America) about electronics.
    • Loki is a master of magic, which makes him the equivalent of a bookworm on Asgard because magic and science are the same thing in that realm. Ironically Loki got his intelligence from his mother Frigga who is blonde.
    • Dr. Jane Foster is an astrophysicist.
    • Peggy Carter is a witty, no-nonsense agent of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), and later the founder of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • Dr. Bruce Robert Banner has M.D, Ph.D and is renowned for his work Biochemistry Nuclear Physics... he can also turn into a giant green rage monster and fly a spaceship.
    • Clint Barton/Hawkeye is actually very intelligent and a crafty tactician, therefore he is more dangerous when he’s Brainwashed and Crazy.
    • The darker haired Gamora is easily the smartest member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Though brunette Peter Quill can also count is a gadget and starship flying genius.
    • Hope Van Dyne from "Ant-Man" is very knowledgeable in different fields of science, especially since both her parents are scientists who founded Pym Technologies.
    • Brown haired Peter Benjamin Parker aka Spider-Man is a Teen Genius who once unlocked a Storage Vault door by tinkering with the fuse box.
    • Shuri (Black Panther's little sister) is, by Word of God, the smartest character in the MCU.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • In Godzilla (2014), Joe Brody, although his brown hair is graying in the present, is smart enough to work out straight away that whatever caused the Janjira tremors wasn't really an earthquake, and he proves to be further ahead than Monarch are at understanding the MUTO.
    • Madison Russell, the brunette daughter of Mark and Emma Russell, has all of her doctorate-wielding parents' smarts and intuition but she has none of their faults.
    • Several members of Monarch's scientific top brass happen to have dark hair and some major scholarly credits in their respective fields, including Drs. Vivienne Graham, Sam Coleman, Nathan Lind, Ilene Andrews, and most of Aaron Brooks' Skull Island expedition in the spin-off graphic novel.
  • Evelyn in The Mummy (1999). She's also a Hot Librarian.
  • Emma from No Strings Attached (2011), who studied at MIT, is a doctor in Boston, and turned up to a pajama party in actual pajamas in her college days.
  • The Secret (2007): Sam is a brunette honor student who's intent on getting into an Ivy League school. She doesn't fit most stereotypes though, being a rebellious girl who's sexually active, uses drugs and doesn't dress or act nerdy at all.
  • Gordie Lachance in Stand by Me, creates his own stories, and later goes on to college to become a writer.
  • In the film version of Starter for 10, the character of Rebecca is a brunette and intuitive. She holds various protests and is often seen informing the main character, Brian Jackson, of her ideas.
  • The Star Wars universe has quite a few examples:
    • Princess Leia Organa is an intelligent leader and diplomat, who uses her wit to bring down the Empire.
    • Han Solo is a laid back, no nonsense smuggler, who is very streetwise, and certainly knows how to navigate his way out of dubious situations (like with Greedo).
    • Padmé Amidala is a very educated politician (both as a queen and later as a senator), who isn't afraid of using her wits to save her people.
    • Rey is a very streetwise young woman, who knows how to survive on her own, and uses her knowledge of the Force against the First Order.
  • Mocked in Where the Truth Lies:
    Lanny: My favorite catches were the intellectuals. They'd be the ones in the straight black dresses, severe black hair. Your basic neurotic, eyeglasses, cool jazz, liberal, "I'll fuck any black guy as part of my personal apology for racism in America" type.
    • The person reading his letter then looks across the room and sees a bookish-looking brunette. And you automatically imagine her doing one thing and one thing only...
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Charles Xavier when he still has hair in the First Class trilogy; he has a doctorate in genetics from the University of Oxford.
    • Hank McCoy in the First Class trilogy; he's a doctoral-level scientist who graduated from Harvard University at the age of 15.

  • In The Anderssons, Ida Sofia is the bookworm out of the four original Andersson sisters. And yep, she also is a brunette.
  • Claudia's sister Janine from The Baby-Sitters Club is an exaggeration with her Asian and Nerdy ways. Claudia feels bad when she compares herself to her genius sister.
  • A borderline example is the title character in Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Like Disney's Belle, she's an avid bookworm, of her father's three daughters she's always been called "the clever one," and her hair is described as "neither blonde nor brown." Subverted as she grows older and prettier, though, and becomes a brainy redhead.
  • Amelia Marsh in Darkness Visible borders on the black end of the spectrum and is very intelligent/educated for a woman of her era. She speaks French, paints beautifully, and, to Lewis's surprise, can play chess. Mrs Emiline Pound also counts, though her hair is going gray. It is her tireless work in the Warden's archives which finally reveals the identity of the traitor among them.
  • Magdalena Swär in "De skandalösa" by Simona Ahrnstedt, is similar to Jane Eyre in both background, personality and appearance. So of course, she too is an intelligent woman with brown hair.
  • Discworld:
    • Tiffany Aching, who read the dictionary for fun when she was a girl, always pestered traveling scholars with difficult questions, and turned out to be very clever and talented for a witch her age.
    • Adora Belle Dearheart the city's leading golem expert. She even speaks their language, reputed to be very hard for humans to learn. She's also one of the series' biggest examples of Deadpan Snarker. And this is Discworld!
  • Anji Kapoor, from the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures, is a genius or very close to it when it comes to economics, to the point of seeming to be a bit of a nerd when you get her started on the topic.
  • Prudence and Sally in Don't Call Me Ishmael!. Prudence is described as "nearly a genius", plays three instruments and is usually seen reading doorstoppers. Sally is the best in her year.
  • Lessa from Dragonriders of Pern qualifies as she is not only the one to figure out Threadfall patterns and trick a Dragonrider into challenging a Lord Holder to a death match, but she also figures out how to save the planet and then does it against the wishes of everyone else involved.
  • Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating: Ishu is dark-haired and a very high achieving student. Before meeting Hani, her main pastime while not attending school was studying and reading.
  • Hermione Granger from Harry Potter is the cleverest student in her year, and she also is a brunette.
  • Rei Taylor of I'm In Love With the Villainess has both prior knowledge of the otome game 「Revolution」 from her pre-incarnation life, and an incredible capacity for cunning, deception, and working with and around external forces and agents to the betterment of her long-term plans and personal desires.
  • The Infernal Devices:
    • Tessa Gray is a wide reader and quotes poetry quite often. She has the potential to lapse into Badass Bookworm territory.
    • Charlotte Branwell is very intelligent.
  • Jane Eyre, the title character of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, shows us that this trope is at least Older Than Radio. She's an intelligent woman with brown hair, who works as a teacher.
  • Jo March in Little Women has thick chestnut hair, "her one beauty", and is a devoted writer.
  • Linh Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles is a clever Deadpan Snarker who is also the best mechanic in New Beijing.
  • MARZENA gives Dutch Psychotherapist Livia, who also works in Psy-Ops. There's also possibly Dr. Lauren, an expert neurologist and neurosurgeon, although the color of hair is never mentioned.
  • The titular character from Matilda is usually depicted with brown hair and is very, very brainy.
  • Myra from the Nightfall (Series) is a brown-haired bookworm, who joins the mission against Prince Vladimir because she can contribute with her ideas. When she ends up a captive in the palace, she needs to rely on her wits to survive.
  • Keladry, the protagonist of Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small, is described as having mousy brown hair. She's a Genius Bruiser whose favorite subject is math, and her classmates frequently ask for her help. During the dull stretches of managing her refugee camp in the fourth book, she amuses herself with engineering projects.
  • October "Toby" Daye in Rosemary And Rue is a tough and savvy private investigator who servers both mortal and faerie clients.
  • The Baudelaire siblings from A Series of Unfortunate Events since they are able to escape from many dangers relying only on their skills and knowledge.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette and is not only a financial genius but a Magnificent Bastard who has the whole continent of Westeros dancing to his tune.
    • Several of the Tyrells also have this trait, the eldest son and heir Willas being a noted scholar (to make up for his crippled leg), and Margaery having no small amount of her own political nous.
  • Elke Schreiber of A Witch's Burden. Elke is rarely without a book and, as expected of a teacher, loves history, languages, and philosophy. She also never shies away from a good debate.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At least in the later seasons, Chloe O'Brian in 24.
  • Liz Lemon on 30 Rock. Emphasized by the fact that the show's two other female regulars are both Dumb Blondes. In fact, every character ever played by Tina Fey.
  • Angel: Fred Burkle was a physics student and later the head of the company's Science Division with long wavy brown hair. Her high intelligence was a great asset to the "Fang Gang".
  • Sharon "Shaz" Granger from Ashes to Ashes (2008), who despite having a low ranking in CID (as was actually the norm for women in 1980s Britain) is far smarter than Ray or Chris and often provides valuable information when solving cases.
    • As is shown by her running after an armed shooter in 1x07, shooting down a bent copper in her wedding dress in 2x08 and by her disarming a armed criminal at gunpoint and turning his weapon against him in 3x08 she can be just as much a brave Badass as Gene and the others.
  • George from Being Human (UK) is described as having a brain like a "planet" and is said by several characters to be able to carry a much more prestigious job than hospital janitor if he wanted.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Amy Farrah Fowler and Leslie Winkle (both Ph.Ds). Sheldon's assistant Alex was this, too.
  • Bones: Temperance Brennan, and basically every other main character.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Subverted with Cordelia who was shown as an example of the Brainless Beauty. Though, after exams, it was revealed that she actually had very good grades which she simply chose to hide from her peers, thinking it would make her less popular.
  • The Cape: Orwell, a brown-haired young woman who's also a genius hacker.
  • Carrusel has Valeria, Carmen, and Alicia, to a lesser extent. All three girls have jet black hair and are good students. Valeria is a talented painter. Carmen is very good with people. And Alicia is very mature and has common sense.
  • Detective Kate Beckett from Castle.
  • Prue Halliwell in Charmed.
  • Chuck's big sister Ellie Bartowski.
  • Community: Annie Edison is a Go-Getter Girl example.
  • Control Z: Sofia is bookish, analytical and very intelligent, while also being black-haired.
  • Conversations With Friends: Frances and Bobbi are both dark-haired students at Trinity College in Dublin, who both show the keen intelligence along with knowledge of sophisticated subjects you'd expect as a result.
  • Emily Prentiss from Criminal Minds. Her predecessor, Elle Greenaway, was also intelligent, but Emily gets more credit because she has yet to be dumb enough to kill someone in cold blood. Special Agent Doctor Spencer Reid also qualifies.
  • Most of the brunettes in CSI probably qualify; Sara Sidle definitely does. It carries over to CSI: NY and probably CSI: Miami as well. All the casts have several smart brunettes.
  • Joey Potter on Dawson's Creek.
  • In Doctor Who, Zoe can blow up a computer with her brain. And Romana I is repeatedly shown to be smarter than the Doctor. Of course, Barbara was the very first brainy companion, being a history teacher. And let's not forget widely beloved Intrepid Reporter Sarah Jane Smith, who is repeatedly shown both on Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures to be quite intelligent, considering she saves the Earth roughly every week. In NuWho there's medical student Martha. Also Clara, who's graduated from nanny to schoolteacher since she was introduced and whose alternate Victorian governess self was relatively blasé about the TARDIS being Bigger on the Inside.
  • Summer Glau's character Bennett Halverson on Dollhouse.
  • Dracula (2013): Mina is a woman with dark brown hair who's a medical student, while also doing some scientific research on her own. As this is the 1890s, she's more notable by having intellectual pursuite than would be the case otherwise.
  • Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties, played by the brown haired Michael J. Fox. Out of all of the Keaton family, he's the most studious and even has a choleric, Type A personality to boot.
  • Firefly: River Tam, who is considered a child prodigy, intelligent beyond her years, and athletically gifted. At one point, Book finds her marking up his bible and she tells him that she's fixing it because the contradictions mean it's broken. She has unkempt brown hair.
  • Lindsay Weir on Freaks and Geeks, though she is a reluctant one — her plotline revolves mostly around her desire to be more than just a brain.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Talisa is dark haired and is a highly competent nurse and fully capable of engaging Robb in a debate.
    • Margaery has light brown hair and is a very adept conversationalist and manipulator.
  • Gilmore Girls: All three eponymous Gilmores fit the bill in varying degrees. Rory, the youngest, is the most clearcut example — a Cute Bookworm member of the Genius Book Club and a Go-Getter Girl. Her mother Loerlai is a more offbeat example — a Bunny-Ears Lawyer who is an incredibly quick thinker. Unlike her daughter, she is more street smart than book smart. Emily, the grandmother, is a Brainy Brunette of the Manipulative Bitch persuasion, rounding up a trio of book/street/people smarts.
  • Gossip Girl: Blair Waldorf is both a book smart Go-Getter Girl and a cunning Manipulative Bitch.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): Claudia displays her intelligence in ways beyond her deep curiosity and academic bookwork tendencies. She essentially invents a vampire physical therapy for her injured father figure Louis, plus she has the cunning to put together an elaborate and successful murder plot.
  • Sarah Mackenzie from JAG.
  • Legion: Just like in the X-Men Film Series, Charles Xavier is a brown-haired scientist.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
    • Elrond Half-elven has dark hair, and he is an Elf with political aspirations, to the point where he became King Gil-galad's right, writing his speeches and going in diplomatic missions.
    • Bronywn is another example, as much as a peasant woman can be. She is The Medic for her village, rallies her people behind her when the Orc threat becomes clear, and is proficient at coming up with battle strategies in defence of her village.
  • Amelia Folch from The Ministry of Time.
  • The younger Dunphy daughter, Alex, on Modern Family.
  • NCIS:
    • Abby Sciuto. Underneath her punk groupie looks, she's a scientist and Mensa member.
    • Ziva is clever, with her smart-ass comments, multiple languages, skill with weapons, and Photographic Memory.
  • Never Have I Ever:
    • Devi is an academically driven girl with dark hair.
    • Fabiola is a science prodigy with dark hair.
  • Averted and played straight in No Ordinary Family. Stephanie is a world-class research scientist who graduated from MIT and is blonde. Her nerdy yet attractive sidekick Katie, also shown to be very intelligent, is a brunette.
  • Paper Girls: Tiffany is a black girl who intends on going to MIT. Her future self it turns out really did, and is highly intelligent, formulating how the girls can go back in time.
  • Spencer Hastings from Pretty Little Liars is a slight deconstruction: She's extremely smart, but she can't tolerate even the slightest slip. Sometimes the pressure of being The Smart Girl gets to her.
    • Mona Vandervall also fits the bill, as well as crossing over into scary-smart category.
    • Several minor characters also answer the criteria - Melissa and Veronica Hastings (it's a family thing) ,Shana Fring and Dr. Sullivan.
  • Possible subversion in Privileged: Megan, the Yale graduate, is shown as a redhead; however, in the first episode, we're told that she dyed it red and we never really learn her natural colour, so it's possible she's simply a Brainy Brunette in disguise.
  • Punky Brewster is quite resourceful, albeit not always successful with her plans. She's still pretty smart for (at the time the show premiered) an eight-year-old.
  • Chuck in Pushing Daisies has a great general knowledge and speaks seemingly every language known to man.
  • Dr. Helen Magnus of Sanctuary, Omnidisciplinary Scientist extraordinaire, whose long brunette locks are a stark contrast to Amanda Tapping's former role as the short-haired, blonde, and equally brainy astrophysicist Major Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1. This was probably deliberate.
  • Scoundrels (2010): Hope is a very intelligent, dark-haired girl who thinks she's too smart for school. It also contrasts with her older sister Heather who's a Dumb Blonde and a Brainless Beauty.
  • Diana from The Secret Circle. She is the smartest one of the core group and often takes the lead because of her smarts and capability. Later on, Cassie seems to take the lead more often alongside Diana as Cassie begins to accept her witch ancestry.
  • Maeve Wiley from Sex Education is this in S2, although it's not certain that she's dyed her hair brown to change it to a new colour, or if she re-dyed it to her natural color.
  • Sex/Life: Billie and her friend Sasha are both black-haired psychologists with all the intelligence you would expect.
  • Rocky Blue from Shake it Up.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Jadzia Dax, the station's science officer.
  • Sam from Supernatural went to Stanford and seems to be the researcher, especially in earlier seasons.
  • Played with on Teen Wolf. While dark-haired Stiles and Danny are both very smart (Stiles in terms of research and Danny in terms of technology) and the other brunette characters are certainly no slouches themselves, the smartest character on the show is without a doubt the redheaded Lydia.
  • The Undeclared War: Saara is a highly intelligent computer whiz working at GCHQ, the British agency in charge of cyber security for the UK. Kathy Freeman, who's the American NSA's liaison there, is equally sharp. Both have black hair. Saara finds malware the rest of her team missed on her very first day in the pilot.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Elena, Bonnie, and some of the recurring characters as well (including Manipulative Bitch Katherine).
  • Voyagers!: Jeffrey Jones is quite resourceful and knowledgeable and has brown hair.
  • Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman helps out by solving complex theoretical scientific problems for Professor Warren in "The Pluto Files"


  • Alpha Bitch Lucy from 13 is a brainy brunette who uses her brains for her own ends.
  • Elphaba in Wicked excels in academics while at Shiz University and shrewdly figures out how the Wizard is playing everyone in Oz.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney has Mia Fey (a defense attorney and Phoenix Wright's mentor), Lana Skye (the Chief Prosecutor), and Ema Skye (Lana's younger sister, who is a police detective).
  • Angela Delvecchio and Lisa Crocket of Backyard Sports.
  • Elizabeth in BioShock Infinite has dark brown hair and is very intelligent, and extremely book-smart, growing up in a tower with nothing to do but read, practice whatever skills struck her fancy, and repeatedly attempt and fail to break out. However, being isolated in that tower with no other contact also means she is very inexperienced at actually interacting with people.
  • Makoto Nanaya from BlazBlue plays this trope under the cover of the paradoxical Dumb Blonde stereotype. Unlike Noel, who has a hard time picking up on material, Makoto has no appreciation for studying and is a notorious goofball and sexual deviant (though to be fair, she keeps her dirtier fetishes to herself). Where this trope applies is that what she lacks in academic smarts (that's Tsubaki's territory), she more than compensates for in practical smarts and common sense, which serve her to no end in her job as an Intelligence officer.
  • The default player character from A Dance with Rogues has black hair and is really the only character who ever fits the role of The Smart Guy on your team.
  • In the second Dark Parables game, Cinderella is implied to have been this, based on the fact that her husband constructed a library in her memory.
  • Kathy from Daughter for Dessert isn’t a nerd and has trouble concentrating on projects, but she’s full of ideas, she’s a talented writer, and she can think outside the box.
  • Doctor Delara Auzenne from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a renowned expert in Criminal Psychology and serves as a TF-29 Task Force resident psychologist.
  • Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins, whose intellect is beyond question (though she does seem to spend a lot of it on thinking up more ways to insult Alistair).
  • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Lana and her Suspiciously Similar Substitute Mana/Muirne are kind, sensitive, and very intuitive White Magician Girls. Also Oifaye, who was The Strategist in the first part and then became the Big Brother Mentor to Celice's group.
  • Princess Zelda in her only remotely brunette incarnation, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, is noted by her former tutor to have been an excellent student. She's also the chosen disciple of the Goddess of Wisdom, so it's only logical.
  • Both April Ryan The Longest Journey and Zoe Castillo from Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. And the Word of God is that the stereotype played (possibly without realization) a role in their design.
  • Stern, the Material of Wisdom from the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games. Unlike the light-haired Nanoha whose form she was based on, Stern's hair is dark brown.
  • Miranda Lawson of Mass Effect 2 may well be the smartest person in the trilogy. How smart is she? She figured out how to resurrect a dead Commander Shepard with the same mind, the same morals and all their memories and skills intact with cybernetic implants replacing organs, tissue regeneration and bio-synthetic fusion without any prior training in medicine. She also ferrets out a mole in the first scene you meet her, seems capable of serving on a stealth frigate as XO and is an excellent infantry squad leader. Partially subverted since she is a genetically optimized human who was grown and allowed to live by a perfectionist creator, because her genes passed his extremely exacting standards.
  • Mega Man Star Force: Tom Dubius has brown hair and also comes up with interesting ideas for inventions, like the Wing Jacket and the Star Carrier.
  • Mei Ling and Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear.
    • Solid Snake (160-point IQ, speaks six languages) and Otacon (expert programmer, Gadgeteer Genius, creator of Metal Gear Rex) are male examples (although Otacon's hair is more gray-brown than conventional brunet).
  • Shadowrun Returns: Marie-Louise Telestrian is a brunette elf with a master's degree in computer science. She writes IC programs (as in, those extremely expensive one-time computer superviruses that act as overpowered virtual reality spirit summons) when she's bored. She acts as your decker after you rescue her from a cult. And in Shadowrun canon, she eventually becomes the CEO of a Big Eight Megacorporation.
  • Rita from Tales of Vesperia.

  • Angel Moxie: Riley, the brunette member of a Beauty, Brains, and Brawn trio. Loves school, programs computers, and builds her own weapons from scratch.
  • Noah from Ennui GO! has brown hair and is an astrophysicist, and later becomes the Minister of Science on Key Manati.
  • Biologist Dr. Jean Poule in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!.
  • In the Remix Comic version of Jet Dream, Marlene is even brainier, described as one of the best people in the Western world at Doing Science.
  • morphE features Billy Thatcher a brunette chess champion who serves as the brains of the group and would probably be voted "Most likely to be shot by Amical" in the current seedling yearbook.
  • Emily, from Our Little Adventure, is a straight example. Julie also has plenty of brains and brown hair, but it's apparently not her real hair color.
  • In Peter Parker: Foreign Exchange Student, Peter is a genius chemist and designed his web-fluid from literal garbage. He keeps it a closely guarded secret both to protect his web's integrity and out of a sense of pride in his work.
  • The nerdy Ruby of Sticky Dilly Buns has what seems to be the only university-level education in the cast. Her intelligence may sometimes seem like an Informed Attribute, but she's stuck with being the book-smart, occasionally snarky contrast to her blonde sister Amber, and she does occasionally display some mental agility. So she lives this trope, complete with glasses.
  • Sunstone has the bookish, raven-haired Allyson.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The titular character of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius. He's got brown hair and is a Child Prodigy Gadgeteer Genius prone to Little Professor Dialog; admittedly he lacks actual common sense, though that's somewhat justified, considering he is only ten.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks. Jeanette of the Chipettes is both the brainy one and the brunette in the Chipette trio.
  • Azula, from Avatar: The Last Airbender, is terrifyingly intelligent and a Manipulative Bastard par excellence. And Katara isn't dumb, either, though her brother Sokka is "the Idea Guy" of the Gaang. Of course, all but one character in the show are or were dark-haired.
  • In Centurions, Max Ray is the smartest member of the original Power Trio and has black hair (and a mustache to match).
  • Dan Vs.:
  • Daria is a combination of this trope and Deadpan Snarker. It helps make her a famous Snark Knight.
  • Bushroot's scientist love interest Dr. Rhoda Dendron from his origin story on Darkwing Duck.
  • Dipper Pines from Gravity Falls is one. His twin sister Mabel technically counts too, but she's more of a Genius Ditz.
  • Phoebe Heyerdahl from Hey Arnold! has black hair and is among the smartest children in the school. She was even given a free pass to the 6th grade in the episode "Phoebe Skips", Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Peggy Hill from King of the Hill is something of a subversion of this trope. Because while she presents herself as intelligent, she's actually just self-deluded. For one, she believes herself to be much better at Spanish than she actually is.
  • Emily on Little Bear is a very educated child (with short brown hair), who passes on her knowledge to her best friends.
  • The Loud House has Lisa Loud, who, despite being the second youngest of the family, is also the most intelligent of all the siblings.
  • Molly of Denali: Walter has brown hair and he is a machine and history expert.
  • Mike Chilton in Motorcity. He's a bit more subtle than other examples, but he is a strategic genius from his cadet training. He often relies on his Indy Ploy, however.
  • A furry variant: The Octonauts has Dr. Shellington, a brown-furred sea otter, who is the field researcher aboard the Octopod. He is characterized by his knowledge on the various sea creatures the Octonauts come across.
  • Subverted with Amity Blight from The Owl House. She is a natural brunette who has more than earned her spot as the top student at Hexside, but she usually dyes her hair green or lavender. It's eventually shown that she inherited both her smarts and her brown hair from her father Alador, who is considered to be one of the top minds in his field of magic.
  • Casey from Phantom Investigators is the smartest member of the team and has brown hair.
  • Inverted on The Powerpuff Girls where the redheaded Blossom is the brainy one, while the brunette Buttercup is the aggressive spitfire. (Bubbles is still the Dumb Blonde, though.)
  • Ready Jet Go!: Sean and his mom are both know a lot about science, and they both have brown hair. However, Sean's mom's hair is a bit reddish. Mitchell also counts as he is Wise Beyond His Years.
  • On Recess
    • Gretchen and Spinelli invert their typical hair tropes, as Spinelli (brunette) is fiery and Gretchen (redhead) is brainy. Gretchen did have black hair in the pilot, though.
    • T.J. plays with this, as he's quite ditzy when it comes to academics, but is a genius when it comes to his schemes on the playground.
    • Miss Grotke, the gang's Indian-American teacher, plays this trope straight.
  • Velma Dinkley of Scooby-Doo: Throughout her various incarnations, Velma is usually portrayed as a highly intelligent young woman with highly specific interests in science (which in the Scooby and Scrappy Doo series leads her to pursue a career as a NASA research scientist) or merely being very well read on obscure fields, such as ancient Viking writing (as in the second Scooby Doo series The New Scooby-Doo Movies).
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "To Surveil With Love", the B-plot focused on Lisa joining the debate team and ending up dyeing her hair brown to prove that they didn't take her seriously before, due to being blonde. Megan, the girl who made fun of Lisa for being blonde, is presented as one of these.
    • In "Girls Just Wanna Have Sums", Springfield Elementary is segregated by gender. Since the girls' school isn't teaching math properly, Lisa disguises herself as a boy in order to get into the boys' classes, wearing a brown wig.
  • Sandy from SpongeBob SquarePants is a brown furred squirrel and, along with Plankton, the most intelligent of the main characters.

  • Thundarr the Barbarian: Besides her knowledge of magic and ancient history, Ariel also has more common sense than anyone else on the show, hero or villain. She has dark hair due to her Asian ancestry.
  • Total Drama has Noah (book smarts), Courtney (legal smarts), Cody (mechanical smarts) and Alejandro (people smarts).
    • Heather specifically lampshades this in Action where she was looking for new hair and said: "I'm too smart to be Lindsay blonde, but Courtney's hair would be perfect."
    • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race has the Geniuses who both have dark hair.

    Real Life 
  • Tina Fey in most of her roles.
  • Natalie Portman graduated from Harvard University and is known to have an IQ of 140. She is also an American Jew from Israel.
  • Danica McKellar, math genius.
  • Marilyn vos Savant, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records (at least, at one point) as having the world's highest IQ.
  • Due to ethnic traits, Asian and Nerdy has almost total crossover with this.
  • Hedy Lamarr, actress and inventor. Also major-league hottie.
  • Elliot Page.
  • Audrey Hepburn didn't have much in the way of formal schooling, but she was extremely well-read, could speak at least seven languages fluently, and was a talented piano player.
  • Elaine May.
  • Nino Burjanadze, a political leader in the Republic of Georgia.
  • Emma Watson is enrolled at the Brown University and is rumored to have grades rivaling Hermione Granger's - the icing to the cake is that she considers her education more important than her acting career.
  • Anne Frank, well known posthumously for the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl.

Alternative Title(s): Brainy Brunet