Humans are naturally curious, and even when Science Is Wrong we want to know why. In a fantasy setting, these curious people will found whole new academic fields and professions around studying the strange and fantastic flora, fauna and phenomena that exist in it. Just like some schools of Hermetic and Vancian Magic will create Ritual Magic by analyzing occultism with scientific rigor, these professionals (not necessarily wizards, though that does help the survival rate) will go about cataloguing, studying and (hopefully humanely) experimenting with peculiar phyla in a very empirical way.
Possible Fantastic Scientists include a botanist who studies mandragora, a biologist cataloguing griffins, or an epidemonologist who studies outbreaks of infectious Demonic Possession to find a cure. Likewise, you can expect their field of study to have a strange made up name, like Herbology or Impology. All the same, they will go about studying these curious classes as if they were real... because in the setting, they are!
As a character, a Fantastic Scientist is often The Professor or at least The Smart Guy, possibly a bit of an Absent-Minded Professor or even Mad Scientist. They can be amiable enough deliverers of exposition, background, in need of rescuing from their subject of study, or the cause of some shenanigans (like the above epidemonologist letting loose an improved possession plague). Their motivations can range from curiosity, a desire to discover Potential Applications, or to gain kingship over this kingdom. Their home or office will usually have a Magical Library with truly eclectic books and a Bazaar of the Bizarre composed of their subject of study.
A Magic-Powered Pseudoscience is more likely to be "alchemy works because of magic" and modeled on that pseudoscience than an attempt by in-universe characters to model the magic as the regular science that this is. It should be noted that alchemy does not fall under this trope due to the fact that it is technically real.
Sub-Trope of Fictional Field of Science. If an Occult Detective decides to also catalogue whatever it is they detect, they may also be researchers of a Fantastic Science. Research into magic itself is the subtrope Sufficiently Analyzed Magic. See also Magic Versus Science, Admiring the Abomination. Compare The Spark of Genius.
- In Endride, although the world of Endora is magic to us, with things like innate magical swords you can summon, a crystal that hangs in a sky and functions as a sun, and a magical ancient transporting device that moves you between the inside and the surface of Earth, to the multiple Omnidisciplinary Scientists in the series, it's totally scientific, they just need to research more. They're working on it!
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, we have "metaphysical biology," which seems to be the science of souls. This fits with how souls are treated in the series.
- Obscure Wonder Woman enemy Doctor Poison calls herself a "Mythobiologist". She studies the biology of mythological beings and their effects on more mundane life.
- Skybound Entertainment 's comic Witch Doctor portrays the realm of supernatural creatures as parasites that are best battled by medical specialists rather then soldiers. The first issue of the mini-series treated a Demonic Possession as being similar to a parasitic infection, with the young victim, after being purged, having to remain inside his family home surrounded by protective runes until the main characters could find a more permanent cure for his condition.
- The Undertale fanfic Visiontale, posted on Archive of Our Own, has several. Among them are soulology, the study of the colors of magic and how someone develops the color or colors they do, magitry, the magical equivalent of the T and E in STEM, and translationism, a school of thought which applies human concepts, like ethics or theology, to monsters.
- In the RWBY rewrite Fixing RWBY, there are fields of science dedicated to studying Grimm and their biology.
- In Ghostbusters (1984), two of the three original team members, Ray and Egon, are legitimate paranormal researchers that channel their knowledge into the business of "paranormal investigations and eliminations." It's not clear what Peter contributes to the research, if anything, though he's stated to have a PhD in parapsychology, and he was the one that came up with the idea of making it into a business after the guys got kicked out of Columbia University. Word of God is that Egon and Ray are legitimate practitioners of their field (albeit Egon is far better at it) while Peter didn't believe in the supernatural until he was confronted with it.
- Harry Potter:
- Some of the Classes at Hogwarts operate this way, like herbology. It's basically just botany, but with magical plants. They seem never to study any non-magical skills. This is lampshaded by Hermione in the very first book, when she and Harry are confronted with Snape's obstacle, which is simply a logic puzzle requiring no magical skills to defeat. She comments that an ordinary wizard might have had serious problems solving it, because they "don't have an ounce of logic".
- Luna Lovegood says her mother regularly engaged in magical experiments, one of which "went rather badly wrong one day" when Luna was a child, and killed her. (She mentions this in the context of explaining why she can see thestrals, implying the incident happened in front of young Luna.)
- Telemain of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a magician who studies the technical side of magic and has a habit of talking in incomprehensible Magi Babble, much to the chagrin of the other characters. (Though Morwen, who has hung around with Telemain a long time, learns to translate him into Buffy Speak .)
- Loyal Enemies has Hermetic Magic, justifying the trope. Theoretical magic requires many hours, if not days or years, of meticulous planning and calculations, much like real-life engineering, and the wizard academy of Beloria works much like a real life university. Theoretical magic is studied like maths or biology and students must write a thesis to gain a degree — for example, Veres' Baccalaureate paper is on the magical origins of darklings.
- Theoretical magicians in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell study magic but don't ever practice it.
- In David Eddings's Mallorean series, the Melcene University has schools devoted to alchemy, necromancy, etc.
- The Name of the Wind has this as the setting, in the form of The University. There are various grades of magic, starting with almost-science and ranging all the way to god-mode. To make things more exciting, they're all intermixed. It turns out that chemistry and metalsmithing are much more exciting when you can break the laws of physics.
- The Dresden Files:
- Harry Dresden makes a study of magic, describing himself as effectively a magical nerd. When he was entrusted with a Sword of the Cross, he made a study of who would be a suitable person for being a wielder of the sword, and correctly deduced at least one candidate.
- He explicitly keeps Bob around specifically for his ability to be a magic scientist. It becomes a plot point when he discovers that Bob was created for this purpose, and was so successful that Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, wants to destroy him.
- Waldo Butters is great at this. Originally a pure muggle, when he gets into the spooky side of things he becomes a really proficient magical theorist by applying the scientific ideas he already knew.
- Ponder Stibbons and his fellows at the High Energy Magic Building of the Unseen University concoct theories of how magic interacts with quantum mechanics, and divide magical force into ever-smaller fundamental particles. The more senior wizards assume incorrectly that the keen lads will grow out of it.
- Some witches, like Magrat Garlick's mentor Goodie Whemper, are "research witches" who strive for more precision in their magic. When confronted with a spell calling for Eye of Newt, they set to find out which species of newt works better for this particular spell, and so on. It's noted that this makes them less powerful as witches (since it doesn't actually matter) but much better healers.
- His Dark Materials : Oxford university contains a college of experimental theology, which is where they talk about Dust.
- Journey to Chaos:
- Mana is just one more form of energy to be studied, like solar radiation or electricity. The academic study of it is called "manaology".
- The study of mana mutation is undertaken by the International Community Dedicated to Mana Mutation (ICDMM). Their mission statement is to figure out exactly how it works and then develop technology to treat and/or prevent it.
- Lady Sias studies Mt. Daici and how Ceiha's unique climate (constant Fog clouds in a magicless continent) affects its geology.
- There's the Ology Series of pseudo-scientifical books about various topics, including books like Dragonology, Wizardology or Vampireology.
- In Vampirocracy, Leon and Ling took college courses in cryptozoology, mythozoology and thaumobiology, and thaumodynamics.
- A Memoir By Lady Trent is written from a perspective of a dragon naturalist, and chronicles the early days of dragon naturalism - what we'd today call "dragonology" - as a scientific discipline.
- The Machineries of Empire has an entire area of mathematics dedicated to calendar and harnessing its Reality Warping powers.
- One of the world's top magical theoreticians in the Lord Darcy Verse is utterly devoid of magical talent; he's just very good at conceptualizing the principles behind magic.
- Helen Magnus in Sanctuary.
Helen: I specialize mainly in cryptozoology and xenobiology. Teratology, too, when the need arises.
- Those would be the studies of unknown animals, of aliens and of monsters.
- Shadowrun had parabiologists and parazoologists. They studied Awakened (magical) plants and animals, respectively. It also had academics who studied the theory of magic but couldn't actually do magic themselves.
- In GURPS, thaumatology is "the academic study of magical theory". Occultism has specialties like vampirology and pneumatology for more specific areas of study.
- Pneumatology is from the Greek (πνεύμα) and means "the study of spirits."
- Artificers from the Dungeons & Dragons setting Eberron are described this way.
- The Ravenloft setting's various sourcebooks on monsters, the Van Richten's Guides, are presented as the work of scientifically-minded researchers of the supernatural.
- Exalted uses the term 'savant' to denote anyone who has a scientific understanding of the fantastic forces at work in and beyond Creation, as opposed to people who are just operating on superstition and folklore. Also, anyone who works extensively with Magitek is called a sorcerer-engineer.
- And it also uses the term "motonic" for a major field of high-tier scientific study, related to the way that everything in its world is composed of motes of Essence.
- EON plays it straighter than an arrow, since, in this universe, magic is science!
- In CthulhuTech, sorcery is something you can learn in college. You might not actually want to though ...
- Mutant City Blues" is set in a world where people with superpowers is a rising minority and, after scientific analysis has discovered the intricacies of how Magic A Is Magic A (including facts such as Power at a Price, Elemental Baggage, how Neurodiversity Is Supernatural as a potential side-effect of certain powers, and so on), the result is that forensic science has evolved and is now possible to perform such things as "gunshot residue" testing for Hand Blast powers, determining if Psychic-Assisted Suicide has happened via X-raying the victim's brain, and so on. The setting is best described as CSI meets Heroes.
- The Haunted Mansion's character Professor Wathel R. Bender is revealed in tie-in material such as the Ghost Post interactive game to be a "researcher in metaphysicks" (complete with Tesla-like lab). This is not universally accepted across the ride's Unreliable Canon but is the case in the "Mansionverse" Fan Verse.
- Pokémon professors. Professor Oak studies Pokémon-human behavior and interactions, Elm does Pokémon breeding, Birch studies Pokémon ecology, Rowan studies Pokémon evolution, Juniper studies Pokémon origins (i.e. evolution in the speciation sense as opposed to Pokémon metamorphosis), Sycamore studies Mega Evolution, and Kukui studies Pokémon moves.
- The Tales Series is fond of this, along with Sufficiently Analyzed Magic:
- Tales of Symphonia has Raine Sage, who is a magical historian with a focus on healing arts and magitechnology.
- Tales of the Abyss has Colonel Jade Curtiss, who (along with his former friend Saphir) used to be a sort of magical geneticist, and goes back to it after the game. Saphir Neis and Guy Cecil both focus on fontech, although Guy is really more of an enthusiastic hobbyist.
- In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, the Tolkienesque world is undergoing an industrial revolution which has given rise to a very scientifically minded academia. There are many in-universe scientific texts on such matters as The Nature of Magick and Technology or Supernatural Selection which explores, among other things, the genetic ancestry of elves and orcs and how it relates to humans.
- Monster Hunter has NPCs in the game researching the various fantastic monsters your hunter will find him or herself hunting. You'll even get a few quests to hunt or capture monsters for research.
- Final Fantasy XII has Doctor Cid, who studies magicite, a type of magic-bearing mineral, to create nethicite. Nethicite had only been created by the by the gods of the setting before then and absorbs magic. Cid's artificial nethicite has led to advances in the setting's aeronautics and weaponry, but the reason for his studies is that he wants to free the world from the gods' manipulations.
- The Witcher series has both this (potions, weapons, armor and even bombs made out of dead fantastic creatures) as well as Sufficiently Analyzed Magic
- In the Super Mario Bros. games, Prof. E. Gadd is usually an Omnidisciplinary Scientist. However, in his debut and its sequel, his job is studying ghosts of many different varieties.
- Common in The Elder Scrolls series. Sufficiently Analyzed Magic is in full effect, with numerous Wizarding Schools and Magical Societies found throughout the setting dedicated to the study of magic. Magic is further broken down into "schools" of magic (Destruction, Alchemy, Conjuration, etc.), where mages can either specialize or become Omnidisciplinary Scientists. These magical institutions also tend to double as a home for scholars of history and archeology, with many Adventure Archaeologists found in their ranks.
- The various megafauna in Monster Hunter is the subject of much academic investigation. Many of the quests a hunter undertakes will be to bring in samples or even live specimens for the Guild eggheads to analyze. This is even reflected by the materials you get from monsters; hunt something that breathes fire, and you might just carve out an internal organ that holds the flammable powder that fuels the attack. Even creatures and attacks that don't make any sense are acknowledged as an enigma In-Universe, and trying to understand the Dragon element is an ongoing puzzle.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, the eponymous Court studies the extranormal from time to time, using the term "Etheric Sciences" to describe their studies of magic, which they call "ether." They do this because they believe everything can be explained, so "magic" is a misnomer to them. Kat Donlan discovered that the Shadow Men actually have mass, and the Suttons are botanists/gardeners who restore magically-animated trees to their original state.
- Adventurers! gives us powerfologists. See Bishonen Line for more.
- Tedd of El Goonish Shive seems to be heading in this direction.
- Pastel Defender Heliotrope presents us chatoyanics the study of chatoyance. A form of radiation energy particular to the physics of that universe.
- Fairy Dust 's doctors have dozens of fantasy races' biology to puzzle through.
- Keychain of Creation, as an RPG-Mechanics Verse based on the Exalted setting (see above), has this. Of particular note are Misho, a Twilight caste Solar (which basically makes him The Smart Guy, versed in occult and arcane lore as well as more mundane science and engineering, and the Magitek that comes from the intersection of the two) and Nova (an Alchemical, who is basically half Mad Scientist and half Sorcerous Overlord).
Misho: I know magic science.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Dr. Karl Archeville is a Multidisciplinary Scientist with degrees in several subjects, including "Hypertechnology", "Metabiology", and "Intertransferral Physics". That is, the study of technology that's beyond cutting edge, the study of the biology of superhumans, and the study of interdimensional energy sources.
- DeviantArt user Joschua Knüppe has started the project Dragons of the world in which he explains various species of dragons (including their abilitys to fly and "breathe fire") in a scientifically plausible way.
- From Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, a couple of nerds were trying to start the scientific field of Figmentology, since imaginary friends are real on that show.
- In Wakfu, the lost tech of the Eliatropes is described as "magical science". Nox, the Big Bad of season 1, is also such a fantastic scientist, studying the principles behind the wakfu and time magic to attempt Time Travel. Even before finding the Eliacube, as a humble clockmaker he was able to built a flying pocket watch — which just lacked a durable power source.
- Twilight Sparkle shows signs of this in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, especially when she hooks up Pinkie Pie to a monitoring device to gather 'scientific' data on how Pinkie is able to predict the future outside of real magic.