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Pair the Smart Ones

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Image by kel20. Used with permission.

Pierce: Hey, I was thinkin', we might die here. Anything y'all want to get off your chest?
The Boss: Come on, Pierce; don't go talking like that.
Oleg: No, he's right. Were Kinzie here, I would pour out my heart.
The Boss: WHAT?!
Oleg: It is rare that I find an intellectual equal.

If a show features two highly intelligent characters of similar age and compatible sexual orientation, chances are they'll end up together. Works particularly well if they're Teen Geniuses. An in-universe invocation of the Geeky Turn-On.

It's common for such relationships to start cleanly and quickly, avoiding Will They or Won't They? altogether, and proceed somewhat more smoothly than whatever other characters may be in a relationship, thus often turning them into a Beta Couple. Apparently, love doesn't make you dumb if you're a genius. There's some Truth in Television in this - Commonality Connection often makes relationships run more smoothly.

If the writers don't do it, the shippers will.

Subtrope of Birds of a Feather. Contrast Pair the Dumb Ones. See also Genius Breeding Act, which is where a government tries to force or motivate this.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bakuman。: Averted. Takagi is made to choose between two girls who had been vying for his attention. He rejects Iwase (who had a one-sided academic rivalry with him and is one of the top students at their school) due to the fact she wouldn't let him continue to write manga and instead picks Miyoshi (who doesn't get very good grades) because she promises to support him, even if it meant he'd have less time to spend with her. There is, however, a point in which Miyoshi thinks this is happening, when she discovers a copy of Iwase's book with a letter from Iwase to Takagi (which he didn't know about). She then thinks of how Iwase is smarter and more talented in other regards than she is, and becomes very depressed until things are cleared up.
  • Digimon Data Squad:
  • Doraemon:
    • Averted with the Shizuka and Dekisugi Ship Tease. It's implied many times they like each other and could have been a good couple, but in the future, Shizuka chooses to marry Nobita over Dekisugi.
    • Played straight (or at least it's implied) with Dekisugi and his future wife, since they are seen working on the same space project on the moon.
  • K: Izumo Kusanagi and Seri Awashima. Really, all of Scepter 4 could be considered the "smart one," but Seri is notably more cool-headed than the rest. Also, they're both their respective clans' Number Two, and within their clans, they fill The Smart Guy role vs. the more hot-headed thirds (who are also Ship Tease'd).
  • Naruto: Shikamaru and Temari are commonly shipped (with significant Ship Tease in their scenes together, including a literal case in the anime with Temari's subordinates teasing her about it); Shikamaru has an IQ of 200, making him the smartest of the Rookie Nine and one of the smartest characters in the series (if not the smartest), and Temari is noted in-story and in the databooks to be very intelligent. Even In-story potential love interest and local Cute Bookworm Shiho (who has a crush on Shikamaru, who may or may not be oblivious to it) is a member of the Konoha cryptanalysis team. In the epilogue, Shikamaru and Temari are married and even have a son.
  • Shirogane and Kaguya from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War are the two highest-scoring second-year students and are hopelessly in love with each other (even if they both deny it). However, their intelligence is not what attracts them to each other. All the other romantic relationships in the series avert this, with Maki and Kashiwagi (the third and seventh smartest students in their grade respectively) in love with a boy of average intelligence, Miko (the smartest first-year student) ends up falling in love with Ishigami (who ranks near the bottom of the first year), Ishigami has a crush on Tsubame (eighth among the seniors), and Osaragi (just above Ishigami) dated Kazeno (fourth among the seniors) for a short period of time.
  • Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove it has this as its central premise. Two Spocks realize their mutual attraction and immediately start conducting experiments to scientifically answer the question What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?

    Comic Books 
  • In Pocket God, Gadgeteer Geniuses Klik and Teela start spending a lot of time together after they rescue Teela's tribe.
  • In the IDW comic adaptation of the rebooted Star Trek alternate reality, the main reason Spock was attracted to Uhura aside from her beauty was her intelligence and ability to keep up with him when she was his teaching assistant. The feeling is mutual from her side because she asked him out on a date first.
  • Justice League of America (Rebirth): Fourth-year physics student Ryan Choi, aka The Atom, is paired with fellow young scientist Caitlin Snow, otherwise known as (Killer) Frost. He's impressed with her knowledge of engineering- suggesting that her intelligence is part of what he finds attractive about her.

    Fan Works 
  • In Discworld fic Nature Studies, this happens to the academically minded educators and researchers Ponder Stibbons and Johanna Smith-Rhodes. He is a Professor of Magic. She attains a Doctorate in Zoological Science. A few years later they get a daughter who is at least equally bright.
  • In Raven Child's The Smurfette Village, Brainy and Brainette are obviously paired together as they become the leaders of a new Smurf Village later on in life.
  • It used to be common for Phineas and Ferb fanfic writers to pair Ferb with Gretchen, the brainy, bespectacled Fireside Girl, seemingly on this basis. Many hoped that the show would follow suit, seeing as Ferb's Precocious Crush on 16-year-old Vanessa didn't seem likely to make official status, but Ferb and Gretchen barely interacted, and Ferb maintained his crush on Vanessa, eventually making Official Couple with her in the flash-forward episode "Act Your Age".
  • Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion has this as one of the reasons Lelouch and C.C. get together. Lelouch outright says C.C.'s brain is one of her best features, and intelligence is one of the traits C.C. finds most attractive in a man.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton. They get engaged and marry at the end of The Movie Grand Finale.
  • In Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Pairing the Smart Ones is actually the driving force behind the epiphany on how to lure two massive sea monsters into going where the humans want them to.
  • This is the most commonly accepted reason that Spock and Uhura are a couple in Star Trek (2009) films. Both characters are intelligent and extremely good at their jobs, and Kirk trusts both of them to help him while on an away mission. Uhura was also Spock's teaching assistant, so she had to be smart as hell to keep up with him.
  • A variation occurs in Idiocracy. At the beginning of the film, when The Narrator explains that due to a lack of predators and other natural hazards, humanity's survival is awarded not to the strongest or smartest.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017): at the backdrop of the villagers' anti-intellectualism, Belle and the Beast bond over their shared love of reading.

  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Death Star, we learn that part of the reason why Grand Moff Tarkin loves Admiral Daala is that he's always wanted someone smart and ruthless and efficient enough to keep apace with him. Whether or not this is actually shown in the books is another matter.
    • Tarkin does, of course, overestimate his own intelligence. And the novel Death Star reveals that virtually all of Daala's appearances have come after she suffered severe brain damage.
  • Otto and Laura of the H.I.V.E. Series are this. Both are hackers of the highest caliber the school has ever seen. The Big Damn Kiss occurs in the school library.
  • Artemis Fowl toys with the idea—Minerva, a blatant female replica (and rival) of Artemis, has some vague Ship Tease with him. But she only lasts for one book, inexplicably vanishing for the rest of the series.
  • In A Wrinkle in Time (and its sequels) Mr. and Mrs. Murray are both extremely intelligent scientists in different fields. Local gossips suggested this meant Charles Wallace was retarded before he started talking.
  • In It Can't Happen Here, Doremus and Lorinda have been having an ongoing affair. Lorinda is shown to be much more of an intellectual and spiritual equal for Doremus than his wife, Emma.
  • One of the reasons Alaric falls for Laeshana in The Quest of the Unaligned is that she's the only one with whom he can have an intelligent (or even intelligible) conversation.
  • A Mage's Power: Eric and Annala, two school nerds, quickly become friends and later Twice Shy. This is engineered by Tasio, who knew he would fawn over a "cute and sweet nerd".
  • Don't Call Me Ishmael! has Scobie and Prudence. They are both (nearly) geniuses and wear glasses. The first time they meet, Prue is impressed by Scobie's debating.
  • In Born Wicked, clever and level-headed Cate falls for Finn, the smart son of a bookstore owner.
  • Rose and Connor in Addicted are both geniuses, and end up married after a decade of rivalry in their teens and early twenties.
  • Played with in Anne of Green Gables: when Anne and Gilbert come top of the class tied in the first place, their names written next to each other on the board, the narrator comments that it’s practically the same as announcing they’re an Official Couple. Gilbert is very happy, Anne… not so much.
  • A Memoir By Lady Trent: Isabella chose her first husband partially because he was also a dragon lover, like her, and supported her in her scientific pursuits. After he dies, her second husband is also a scholar, though this time he's a Cunning Linguist.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100: Season 2 has genius mechanic Raven hooking up with genius engineer Wick; they actually have their first almost-kiss in the excitement of solving a technical problem.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons are the smartest people on Coulson's team, and Fitz was in love with Simmons from the beginning of the show. It takes Simmons a little over two seasons to figure out her own feelings, but they finally hook up in Season Three.
  • Angel: Aversion on the usual formula with Wesley and Fred as it was less than smooth and took multiple seasons and lasted exactly one episode.
  • Babylon 5: John Sheridan and Delenn, both of whom are incredible strategic minds with immense curiosity about and respect for other races. All through the series, the two's feelings for each other are never shown to waver, in fact only growing deeper and stronger with time. There's never much doubt that They Will - it's just a matter of a) how long it will take and b) whether or not they'll ever get a chance to, considering those pesky wars they're always fighting. However, they overcome all that and wind up Happily Married and team-running the galaxy by the show's end.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210: Averted with the Andrea and Brandon Ship Tease. They are best friends and she has a big crush on him in early seasons, but nothing ever happened between them.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • All of the main characters are smart (except Penny), but Sheldon is the most intelligent and is paired up with Amy, who matches his level the most and is introduced as the most similar to him personalty-wise.
    • The other guys also had relationships like this throughout the show. Examples include Howard/Bernadette, Leonard/Leslie, Howard/Leslie, Leonard/Stephanie, Leonard/Priya, etc. Leonard is mainly paired up with well-educated, smart girls in order to make them foils to Penny during her Will They or Won't They? with Leonard in the early years.
  • Bones:
    • Played straight with Daisy and Sweets considering one is smart enough to be one of Bones' grad students, who are all supposed to be highly intelligent and the other was already working as an FBI profiler/psychologist and has multiple doctorates, and won a fulbright and a Rhodes, all before he was 23. Still, with the number of geniuses on that show, it was fairly inevitable that this trope would have to happen at least once over the course of the show.
    • Subverted on an early episode. Bones' old professor comes back and they slide into their previous relationship... which ends remarkably poorly. In general, Bones is fairly good at averting this trope, considering the number of geniuses in the lab. Between Brennan, Jack, Zach, and Cam, not to mention all the interns, there have been surprisingly few hookups between geniuses.
    • Jack Hodgins has three PhDs. His love interest and eventual wife, Angela Montenegro designed, custom-built, and patented a 3D holographic projector and the computer mainframe that runs it, sometime prior to 2005.
    • Cam and Arastoo count. She’s a forensic pathologist and boss of the lab and he’s a forensic anthropologist once he gets his doctorate. Both are fairly smart.
  • Boy Meets World:
    • Subverted in the original series. Minkus thought this would happen between him and Topanga during his one-season stint. However, Topanga was destined for Cory instead.
    • Played entirely straight in the sequel series, Girl Meets World, with Minkus's son Farkle and his lady love, Isadora Smackle.
  • CSI: Grissom and Sara although it takes six seasons of Will They or Won't They? before they actually get together.
  • Doctor Who: Rattigan explains his master plan for a new world to the other Teen Geniuses he'd collected, and mentions that he's written up a breeding program. They are appropriately appalled.
  • Dollhouse: Topher and Bennett, with their Dating Catwoman and Slap-Slap-Kiss. And then Bennett is hit with the Heel–Face Door-Slam and shot in the head.
  • Drake & Josh: Josh eventually starts dating his academic rival, Mindy.
  • Eureka: Almost every couple naturally as the whole town is populated by geniuses.
  • Family Matters: Steve Urkel is a Teen Genius and this trope applies to both his important relationships. While not smart as Steve, first love Laura and Psycho Ex-Girlfriend Myra are both brilliant girls in their own right (although Myra is much more similar to Steve, personality-wise). He eventually ends up with Laura.
  • Firefly: genius doctor Simon and the genius mechanic Kaylee. Though they won't... until The Movie, that is (the epilogue of the movie, no less).
  • Friends: Ross's girlfriends include Asian and Nerdy Julie in season 2 and scientist Charlie in season 9 and 10. However, despite the Birds of a Feather thing being lampshaded, he eventually breaks up with both of them.
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • One of the reasons that Rory Gilmore and Jess Mariano were such a popular couple among the fans was that they were both incredibly intelligent and much too smart for the small town of Stars Hollow. Despite their compatibility, Jess's personal issues drove them apart.
    • To a lesser extent, Logan and Rory. Interestingly enough, Logan and Jess seem to be the two sides of the same Brilliant, but Lazy coin.
    • All of the relationships Paris was involved in qualify - she seems to have a thing for the intellectual type. Except for her early crush on Tristan, which was more All Girls Want Bad Boys.
  • Gossip Girl: Dan and Blair.
    Blair: Dan and Blair. Individual entities. Two proper nouns separated by a conjunction.
    Dan: Or a comma, if mentioned in a list.
    Blair: Which is rare. Since we have nothing in common and are in fact, opposites.
    Dan: The kind of opposites who do not attract.
    Blair: Most definitely not.
    Dan: No.
    Blair: The world just wasn't ready for a Humphrey-Waldorf friendship. It's been nice not being friends with you.
    Dan: Let's not do it again some time.
  • Home and Away: Dexter Walker and April Scott.
  • Knight Rider 2008: Lampshaded and Subverted in the first post-movie episode.
    Billy: Listen! Zoe! I have advanced degrees in Applied Physics, Quantum Physics Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, as well as Discrete and Applied Mathematics.
    Zoe: And I speak 9 languages! We should make a baby.
    Billy: Really?
    Zoe: No.
  • Luther: A darker take on this, as Nietzsche Wannabe and Self-Made Orphan Alice Morgan is attracted to the titular detective because he is one of the few people in the world smart enough to deal with her.
  • The Naked Brothers Band: Cooper Pillot and Patty Scoggins. Though they still call each other by their last names, they stand as a bastion of stability amidst the show's romantic chaos.
  • NCIS: Abby and McGee exhibit some elements of this, particularly in the early seasons. The facts that they aren't quite an official couple, that in general Abby is fairly affectionate towards all her colleagues, and that Duckie is arguably at least as smart as either of them does water the trope down a bit. McGee eventually marries someone else and Abby eventually leaves the team.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Subverted. It would seem things are going that way for Cookie/Evelyn in season 3, but they end up with different people.
  • Noah's Arc: College professor Chance paired with clever, strategic businessman Eddie.
  • The O.C.:
    • Nerds Seth and Anna briefly date in season 1. It didn't last and they both agreed they were Too Much Alike and Better as Friends.
    • Averted in season 3 with the Taylor and Seth Ship Tease. Nothing really happens between them, and in season 4 she gets over her crush on Seth and she is paired with her total opposite, Ryan.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton. They get engaged and marry at the end of The Movie Grand Finale
  • Smallville: A very humorous (but oddly cute) version appears in "Fortune", wherein two very different kinds of genius wind up alone together and very drunk. The result? Tess Mercer and Emil Hamilton making a Home Porn Movie. Both are suitably embarrassed afterwards; whether the relationship continued was undisclosed.
  • Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis: Averted with Samantha Carter and Rodney McKay. The two are Earth's smartest persons, The Smart Guy of their respective show and McKay is attracted to her, but nothing beyond that. In fact, Carter is as annoyed by McKay as most people are, while McKay gets into a relationship with Dr. Keller later. Though Carter does visit one Alternate Universe where she learns that she had married (and divorced) McKay.
  • The Suite Life on Deck: The studious twin Cody is paired with Bailey who is just as smart and nerdy as he is.
  • Teen Wolf: Lydia, a practically-certified genius, ends up with Stiles, a straight-A student with a talent for research and detective work.
    Lydia: You don't need the instructions. When was the last time you've ever used instructions, am I right? You don't need them because you are too smart to waste your time with them, okay? You can figure it out. Stiles, you're the one who always figures it out. So you can do it. Figure. It. Out.
  • Veronica Mars: Mac got two of these relationships, with Beaver (season 2) and Max (season 3).

  • Subverted in Yuri Vizbor’s "To Dmitry Sukharyov" ("She tells me clearly…"). The academic heroine rejects the narrator and says her standard of men is based on Mikhail Lomonosov and her heart is only open to science. The narrator promptly tries to excel in physics and hopes to live "like Curie with his Marie", only to be rejected again and learn that the heroine is dating a mediocre D-student called Mishka Lomonosov.

  • In the introduction to Thrill Me, Stephen Dolginoff reminds the reader—who is likely directing or performing in it—that Richard and Nathan are intellectual equals. This is quite likely the reason they're as close as they are: they'd both graduated college by 19, and it's all but outright stated that no one else could keep up with them. It's a sign of how much Richard cares when he goes from saying, "I'm a superman," to, "We are supermen."

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Steins;Gate pairs eccentric would-be Mad Scientist Okabe Rintarou with Teen Genius neuroscientist Makise Kurisu - a pair so nerdy and obsessed with science that their Big Damn Kiss was followed by a discussion of the hippocampus's role in it.
  • Three of the paths in Katawa Shoujo have the bookworm male lead, Hisao Nakai, being paired up with very book-smart girls:
    • Lilly Satou: She wants to be a Cool Teacher and is Class Representative for her class, meaning she has the highest scores there.
    • Hanako Ikezawa: She seems able to keep up with the class despite her bad attendance record, although Mutou suggests she isn't a "star student," and she and Hisao find a shared interest in their mutual love of reading.
    • Shizune Hakamichi: One of the criteria for being named a Class Representative in a Japanese high school is to have the highest test scores from the year before, and there's the fact that she and Misha are usually the first people in 3-3 to finish Mutou's assignments.
  • If the player wants to make the protagonist of True Love Junai Monogatari score with either Student Council President Remi or local artist Miyuki, he/she better work on rising the PC's Scholarship (smarts) or Art. In fact, if the MC doesn't max out his smarts and get the highest scores in the tests, he won't be able to hook up with Remi.

    Web Comics 
  • Eerie Cuties: The het part of the fandom ships Ace with Brooke, since both are mature for their agenote  and share the Only Sane Man position in the comic. As such, it was the closest its ever had to a normal, stable couple before the comic went into indefinite hiatus.
  • Freefall: Florence and Winston are easily the smartest characters, and they've shown strong attraction for each other since their first meeting, culminating so far in several kisses.
  • Girl Genius: Subverted with Gilgamesh Wulfenbach and Agatha Heterodyne. They looked like they were going this way, and then things got — complicated. It would have been so much simpler if Agatha hadn't been a Heterodyne. Not that Gil isn't smitten, and Agatha isn't interested, but circumstances have interfered. They're still the Alpha Couple of the story, despite not being a couple. There is evidence they will be together in the future. This is frequently lampshaded by everyone (including her castle) commenting on how well they would fit together, much to their annoyance.
  • Aradia and Sollux were paired before (if that concept makes any sense in the context) the events of Homestuck. Well, sort of.
  • Matt and Kiley of Ménage ŕ 3 may be fumbling their way towards a somewhat serious relationship, despite their shared Selective Obliviousness to the fact. This may be related to the fact that they are among the few characters in the comic with some level of social intelligence, and an interest in and willingness to talk to other people (and listen to what the other person says). However, that relationship also has some serious problems.
  • Eventually, Helen and Dave of Narbonic (though Dave isn't as much of a genius as Helen... he's even more brilliant).
  • For a while in Sluggy Freelance, Mad Scientist Riff was dating occasional-mad-tinkerer Sasha. It wasn't a huge part of her character, but she was able to build her own Dimensional Flux Agitator.

    Web Original 
  • In Demon Thesis, this is the backstory of how Alain and Clady wound up together. Clady's friend Val sums up the flashback detailing how the lovers first met with this line:
    And you lived nerdily ever after, I get the picture.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his wife Kwa Geok Choo were two of the top students at Raffles, and had a friendly rivalry where they would compete for first place on exams (the loser usually got the second-highest grade in class).