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Genius Breeding Act

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"Last time aliens invaded all they did was force the most intelligent of us to pair off and mate continuously... Oh, yes..."
Professor Hubert Farnsworth, Futurama, applying an Anticipatory Breath Spray

In any world with a basic (and we talk about very basic here) understanding of genetics, and of the advantages that intelligence can bestow upon an individual, somebody is going to get the idea to selectively breed the best and the brightest to each other to produce smarter and smarter people. When a leader, government, or other higher-up starts to command, pressure or incentivize the smartest people to pair off for breeding purposes, you have this trope.

Note the frequent pairing with plots about eugenics and Social Darwinist villains.

Compare Stalker with a Test Tube, Super Breeding Program, Shipper on Deck, Designer Babies. For genius cast members getting together in general, see Pair the Smart Ones.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dr. STONE: In chapter 134, we find out that the wives of the island head in the Treasure Island Arc were originally selected based on their memory skills, in order to properly pass down the 100 Tales without making any mistakes that would alter their meaning from generation to generation. A rare instance where this is portrayed as a positive thing, as it's what results in Soyuz having Photographic Memory to begin with.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Relationships Series, the "Higher Ups" were actually pushing Yuuno to get with Nanoha and trying to keep Fate from being near Nanoha to push this through.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Different anthropoid species, but in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, a summons is sent for "superior" male chimpanzees to be brought to an ape-breeding facility. Caesar is selected, presumably because his efforts to hide his greater intelligence from his keepers haven't entirely succeeded.
  • In the end of Dr. Strangelove, the titular doctor proposes a plan for surviving nuclear war that involves preserving the best of humanity in bunkers. Men would be chosen based on their leadership capabilities and wisdom, women based on their appearance and reproductive capacity. The government figures, all of whom are men, are immediately on board with this plan.
  • This is the premise behind I.Q. (1994). Albert Einstein does some Playing Cyrano when his niece is attracted to a garage mechanic but insists on marrying an intelligent stuck-up Jerkass so their children will have a high IQ. Einstein and his fellow scientists make the mechanic look smarter than he is — she eventually sees through the ruse but marries him anyway.

Examples by author:
  • Cyril M. Kornbluth played around with this in several stories; the basic premise is that low-intelligence people outbred the smarter ones, with the end result being a society where the average IQ is about 45, and the few people of normal-and-above intelligence are basically forced to act as behind-the-scenes "keepers" of the general population. The normal-and-above elite are not numerous enough to do much of anything about it other than frantically breed among themselves to try to keep up and keep things running well enough to avoid famine, plague, and war (because 5 billion corpses mean about 500 million tons of rotting meat).
Examples by title:
  • Brave New World has a very developed version of this trope. Embryos are created in labs, and people are born into different classes: Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, and Epsilon. These groups are engineered to have different intelligence levels both through genetic selection and differences in their artificial fetal environment; for example, an Alpha is made from Alpha gametes and incubated in an optimal fetal environment.
  • In Ender's Game, this is mentioned as one reason the U.S. government allowed Ender to be born, despite their two-child policy. Since his parents and siblings were so intelligent, they figured any future kids would have to be around the same intelligence, and they still needed their military genius: someone who was not as sadistic as Peter while not nearly as compassionate as Valentine.
  • Hive Mind (2016): Hives are allowed to choose limited numbers of individuals who can have 'duty children' via surrogate mothers. One in one thousand is allowed to have six duty children; one in one million is allowed to have twenty-five. Duty children can be raised by the parents or adopted out; there is high demand for them as adoptive children due to the high likelihood that they will come out of Lottery at a high level.
  • In Known Space, the Earth is so overpopulated that each person only legally gets one child, and in order to have children at all, one has to not have bad genes (albinism, a genetic trait Beowulf Shaeffer has, keeps him from legally being able to have children on Earth with his love interest). A very few Einstein-level geniuses get Unlimited Breeding Licenses that basically allow them to have all the kids they want.
  • The Arisians of Lensman have been running massive breeding programs for millions of years to develop humans with enough mental ability (both in intelligence and Psychic Powers) to finally defeat the Eddorians. To do this, they have used infiltrators in human society, control over the Amplifier Artifacts that allow Lensmen to use their Psychic Powers, and outright Mind Manipulation to make sure that the right people breed with each other (and, even more importantly, that people who aren't supposed to breed before it's time don't). When it comes time for Kimball and Clarissa to be married and produce the Children of the Lens, virtually the entire Galactic Patrol and the universe itself seem to start shipping them together.
  • In The Number of the Beast, it's briefly suggested that the four members of the Gay Deceiver crew ought to have babies together, as they're all extremely intelligent and would presumably pass that on to their offspring. By the time we meet them in the sequel, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, they have, and the kids are indeed geniuses.
  • In Mack Reynolds' Section G series novel Brain World, all of the initial settlers of the planet Einstein were required to have a minimum IQ of 130. They all bred with each other, and the result was a planet of geniuses with intellectual abilities far exceeding the rest of humanity.
  • In Uplift, humans use both genetic engineering and selective breeding to improve the intelligence of their uplifted dolphins and chimpanzees. Most chimps and 'fins have to apply for a license to reproduce. The ones with unlimited breeding licenses are the smartest and most talented of their generation. It's stated that most alien clans have similar or stricter breeding programs for their client races.
  • Words of Radiance: It's mentioned that at one point, Taravangian decreed that his subjects could only have children after passing an intelligence test, and that the least intelligent should commit suicide for the good of society. That would be when his handlers decided to stop allowing him freedom to alter policy on his brilliant days.
    Taravangian: So brilliant on one hand. So stupid on another.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first scene of the first episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Leonard go to a sperm bank that only accepts donations from people with high IQs. Sheldon and Amy discuss having a child through artificial means, since they are both very intelligent too.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Poison Sky", Luke Rattigan explains his master plan for a new world to the other Teen Geniuses he's collected, and mentions that he's written up a breeding program. They are appropriately appalled.
  • This is initially assumed to be the case in an episode of The Invisible Man when someone breaks into a sperm bank that stores donations from men with a high IQ and steals a number of samples. The truth turns out to be a little different.
  • The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Design" deals with smart and/or successful men getting sperm-jacked by an unscrupulous woman and her mother for use at a geniuses-only sperm bank. Interestingly, the father of one such baby ends up seeing the wisdom of breeding high IQs, if not the means.
  • Supernatural: In "The Slice Girls", Dean's one-night stand turns out to be an Amazon demon looking to Conceive and Kill. The Amazons select mates who are handsome, healthy, and clever and when Sam asks how Dean fit the last of these categories, Dean bashfully admits to having pretended to be an investment banker.

    Video Games 
  • Before the Echo: The entire plot of the game is the main leads are in a Batman Gambit arranged to make them fall in love and reproduce.
  • You can do this in Crusader Kings by arranging marriages between characters (including yourself) with desirable congenital traits to breed children with those traits, who will have a 15% chance of inheriting the trait from one parent (chances are higher if both parents have the trait). The most desired trait is, interestingly enough, Genius, which grants a +5 bonus to each of the 5 attributes. This has led many players to practice inbreeding to maximize the chances of getting children with desirable traits, but children might then be born with the Inbred trait, which gives a -5 penalty to all attributes, as well as health and fertility penalties. The game tracks characters' DNA as a string of letters, and the more similar the DNA strings of 2 characters are, the higher the chances of an inbred child.

  • The genetically engineered genius hamsters in Narbonic plan to harness the brain power of the human race by kidnapping hundreds of geniuses and starting a breeding colony. Everyone else is going to be relocated to a reservation somewhere in the Midwest, and the majority of the planet turned into a nature reserve.
    Artie: Okay, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't considered that myself.
  • The Earth in Schlock Mercenary has a Gene Pool Improvement Act ("Evolution through legislative selection") that forbids people with low intelligence from having children naturally. Fortunately, there is the option of buying improved genes from a genetic engineering company, which is indirectly how Tagon's Toughs ended up with Dr. Bunnigus — her parents "had maybe 110 uncontested IQ points between them", but still wanted a kid and selected a general package. Then, when she was older, she decided to sign up with a bunch of mercenaries...

    Western Animation