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Surrounded by Smart People

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Bob has just been invited to attend the Elaborate University High for the Gifted. He himself is only a normal guy, but his common sense with an experiment involving mutant beavers running amok in his hometown caught the attention of the prep school. Bob now finds that his roommate is a ninth-degree black belt and can build a nuclear reactor with a paper clip and a rubber hose. The classes here are based in nanotechnology and xenobiology, and physical education involves math problems in Ancient Egyptian. Bob now has to deal with all this weirdness and may or may not have to fix whatever this group of geniuses throw at him.

Bob is now Surrounded by Smart People.

While the Only Sane Man is usually Surrounded by Idiots, this guy is an Everyman who finds himself in a group or place filled with people smarter and/or more skilled than he is. The Only Sane Man usually has to deal with the fallout of all that smartness in one place, often being the voice of reason in the group. This person may have a military or police-based background, serving as the badass among the smart folk.

The cop of the Cop and Scientist is often this trope. See also Only Sane Employee, which frequently overlaps with this trope. For when an already genius level character ends up in this setting with characters who are as equally smart as they are, see Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon is the only non-superpowered member of the S.O.S. Brigade and many of the events they get caught up in tend to be over his head. As such, he often has to rely on Yuki's Techno Babble explanations, or Koizumi whenever he can't understand Yuki, to get a handle on things. Mikuru also chips in, as much as regulation will allow, since most of what she knows is "classified".
  • Zenkichi from Medaka Box. While the people around him are certainly quirky, their abilities can't really be denied. Akune and Kikaijima are both scholarship students and specials, Medaka herself is talented at everything as an abnormal. Not to mention the Class 13, who are all incredibly talented in one area (though at a price). He is able to keep up with them with his abnormal amount of determination.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Syfy show Eureka, Sheriff Carter often has to deal with the weirdness caused by the geniuses living in the town. The sheriff himself is a former U.S marshal.
  • In Knight Rider, Michael Knight is friends with an educated British man, a Wrench Wench and an artificially intelligent car.
    • This also occurs in the 2008 Knight Rider series, where the main character is surrounded by an AI expert, a woman who can speak six languages, a computer whiz and a Deadpan Snarker Ford Mustang.
  • Sherlock: John, definitely. Wife's an assassin, best friend's a detective, and....well, yeah. He doubles as an Only Sane Man due to the fact that Sherlock's weirdness gets him into trouble and the like.
  • The whole concept behind Head of the Class.
  • Penny in The Big Bang Theory qualifies, being the only non-science geek in the group. That's pretty much the entire basis for her character, really.
    • Also Howard, to a lesser extent. Sure, he has an MSc in Engineering, but that's still poor compared to Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Amy, and Bernadette (ie. the entire remaining main cast) who all have PhD's in their fields.

    Video Games 
  • James Vega from Mass Effect 3. James is a self-admitted grunt on a team of scientific experts, technical geniuses, proven leaders and tacticians, and galactic saviors in general. James is also the only member of the team with no experience fighting Reapers.
  • Dangan Ronpa:
    • Makoto Naegi of Dangan Ronpa. An average Joe by his own admission, sheer luck gets him into Hope's Peak, where everybody else is the "Ultimate" in their chosen field.
    • Played with in Super Dangan Ronpa 2, where this role is filled by Hinata. As the designated "???" Ultimate, he doesn't know what his talent is while everyone else is certain of theirs. He's also the only kid in the group that was a Reserve student, i.e. from the part of the school where Average Joes are admitted if they have enough cash. This is also inverted with his Kamukura personality, who was modified into the most talented person in Hope's Peak— but thanks to his lack of emotion, he considers himself Surrounded by Idiots.

  • In Girl Genius, Moloch von Zinzer is surrounded by incredibly intelligent "sparks" who can dream up wonders of science before breakfast. However, when an experiment goes horribly awry, he's the only one to think of pulling the plug instead of panicking and shouting, "Nothing can stop it now!!!"

    Western Animation 
  • In the first regular episode of The Simpsons, "Bart the Genius", Bart is mistaken for a genius after he cheats on a test and is enrolled in a school for prodigies.

    Real Life 
  • Go to any Mensa event in real life.
  • Visiting the campus of a university or college can feel this way.
  • Attending graduate school, at least in the sciences.