Follow TV Tropes


Instant Cultured

Go To

There exists a fallacy in which for some reason a "smart" person must appreciate opera, classical music, or pull feats of chess mastery. So when one pulls a "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome or Uplifted Animal, suddenly the subject starts to quote Shakespeare, rave about a fine old wine, or quip about how modern art makes no sense.

One problem though, there was no Upgrade Artifact! Rather than merely improving your critical thinking skills and/or increasing your ability to learn new things, somehow your new smarts come bundled up with all sorts of useful information such as knowledge of languages, history, sciences, and even highbrow culture and art. You aren't just able to intuit how to win a game of chess — you know all the terminology and history of the myriad strategies available, as if you'd just had an advanced-level textbook downloaded into your brain.


On top of this, you gain an appreciation for such "high culture" topics and lose any interest in the stuff the "dumb you" used to like. The implication is presumably that people who like classical music and fine art must be seeing some deeper meaning the rest of the world is too dumb to pick up on, and once you've been thus enlightened, rock music and football lose all their appeal. However, this blessing tends to come with a generous side-helping of Insufferable Genius.

Sometimes justified with some babble about Ninety Per Cent Of Your Brain — all that information was buried in your subconscious, you just weren't able to access it before. Perhaps it's somehow retroactively given you a Photographic Memory.

Hopefully, in the process of becoming a Dead Horse Trope. Often results in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, Smart People Play Chess, and Smart People Speak the Queen's English. Compare/contrast Gentleman and a Scholar, Suddenly Always Knew That, Screw Learning, I Have Phlebotinum!, Wicked Cultured, Cultured Badass, and Southern-Fried Genius.



    open/close all folders 


  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch: The Brain Gremlin. Literally seconds after ingesting a chemical that makes him a Gremlin with a genius-level intellect, he's instantly an erudite speaker with complete knowledge of human culture.


  • Detritus in Men at Arms suddenly starts using words he's probably never even heard, let alone remembers. However, since the intelligence was induced by a natural quirk of troll physiology, it's possible that he knew the words but couldn't normally remember them. Trolls are not stupid, but they move to the lowlands and become stupid, because the warm climate slow the working of their silicon brains. When Detritus goes to cold Überwald, he starts getting smarter again. When he's locked in a freezer, he almost figures out a grand unifying theory of everything.
  • Montaigne had plenty to say on this topic in his Essays. It would seem it was his Berserk Button (but he was so politely scathing of it).
  • Zig Zagged in Flowers for Algernon: Played straight and justified in that it takes some time for Charlie to learn and appreciate classical music when his intelligence is increasing. When his mind starts regressing again, he loses all interest in it.

     Live Action TV  

  • Charles Gunn on Angel, who got a lot of extra culture and knowledge uploaded with his brain upgrade in season 5. (Technically, it wasn't a brain upgrade — it was emphasised that Gunn had the intelligence all along, and all the "upgrade" gave him was the knowledge and memories of a law school education.)


     Western Animation  

  • In an early episode of The Simpsons, when Homer and Marge thought Bart was a certified genius they took him to the opera, and he was bored out of his skull.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: