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The Lab Rat

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Any character who performs scientific analysis. Forensics people, usually. If on a show about those people, such as CSI and its spinoffs, he will be the member of the team who deals with the most technical and specialized aspects.

They will often be fairly geeky, and/or members of other subcultures. Sometimes they will leave the lab and have adventures, or even become a more major character. Often the Plucky Comic Relief if they get any character development. Not to be confused with the actual lab animals, humans Strapped to an Operating Table, Professor Guinea Pig, or Resourceful Rodent, though examples of the last two tropes sometimes fit this one as well. note 

Not to be confused with The Rat, who's the one selling information.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Any character in the Mazinger series (Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger and UFO Robo Grendizer) filled The Professor role fit in this trope: Dr. Kabuto, Prof. Yumi, Prof. Kenzo Kabuto, Prof. Umon... All of them performed scientific analysis and research, either to design the Humongous Mecha or to draw the information they needed from the data the Bridge Bunnies collected.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Sherlock keeps a full chemistry lab in 221B Baker Street and he's frequently shown interrupted during experiment. When he first meets John, for example, he's working on a solution to detect traces of blood to assist with his detective work.
  • Shion Karanomori of Psycho-Pass is responsible for the lab analysis and at the same time, is Division One's Mission Control and a skilled hacker. However, she's a latent criminal who is not allowed to go outside the headquarters so she has to depend on the Enforcers and Inspectors to gather the evidence.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Fiction 

  • The Dresden Files has Waldo Butters, whose adventures outside the lab result in him very firmly returning to it, and only leaving while wearing a Bulletproof Vest.
  • Sword of Truth: In the Palace of the Prophets, Wizard Warren becomes known as The Mole for stopping leaving the underground libraries. It takes Richard to draw him out again. Warren turns out to be both brilliant and a power combat-wizard, so it was mainly shyness.
  • Every chapter featuring Melodie Crookshank in Tyrannosaur Canyon emphasizes her technical expertise and discoveries specifically in her basement laboratory. The fact that she has no friends and few coworkers strikes her as dangerously isolating over the book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Nigel Townsend from Crossing Jordan. He was as much a main character as anyone who wasn't Jordan could be throughout the show's duration, but his overenthusiasm at tackling any overly technical problem, quirky sense of humor, ambiguous personal life, and arguable ability to fall into the goth subculture place him squarely in this trope.
  • CSI:
    • Greg Sanders, whose nickname at Television Without Pity inspired this entry's title. He has now become a CSI in his own right, but not before his intended first replacement quit after only one day on the job due to being overwhelmed by everyone hounding her to do everything he'd been doing up to then. At one point, reference is made to him doing the work of six people.
    • Greg's role has been taken over by multiple people: David Hodges (Trace Analysis, endearingly annoying), Archie Johnson (Audiovisual) Mandy Webster (Fingerprints), Henry Andrews (Toxicology) and Wendy Simms (DNA, lower rung love interest). They get a Lower-Deck Episode with the hilarious "You Kill Me". Also, the aptly named episodes "Lab Rats" and "Field Mice".
  • CSI: NY:
    • Adam Ross, who bounces from DNA to Trace to Ballistics and is, among other things, the resident Techno Wizard.
    • "Flash Pop" centers around some of the lower level lab techs, one of whom was murdered in a copy-cat version of an unsolved case from 1957. The other techs hold a vigil for her in the lab, which is particularly moving to Jo. Adam refers to all of them as friends.
  • Broots from The Pretender, whose job description rarely entails leaving his electronics lab at Villain HQ.
  • Abby Sciuto, the Perky Goth lab tech from NCIS. A major case of Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
  • In Bones, either Zack, Hodgins or Brennan (in that order or probability) depending on the episode and the context.
    • Called "squints" in-universe by Booth. Because they sit in the lab and squint at things.
      • Also the rotating team of 'Squinterns', Dr Brennan's interns.
  • In Fringe, Massive Dynamic's Brandon Fayette, and for pretty much the final two seasons, Astrid Farnsworth.
  • Dexter: While "serial killer" is a better description, blood-spatter analyst Dexter Morgan is considered The Lab Rat in his public life.
    • If anything, Dexter is a subversion. At his job, he's seen as one of the lab rats, but the audience knows better. His co-worker Masuka, on the other hand, is a dead-on example.
  • Early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer have Willow doing this, before it becomes less "chemical analysis" and more "potion-brewing".
  • In Dollhouse while Topher has pretensions of being a Mad Scientist he's really just one of these, his assistant Ivy even more so.
  • Lester in Beakman's World is a literal lab rat. Well, lab guy-in-a-rat-suit, but you get the picture.
  • Gotham has Edward Nygma, who annoys colleagues with his habit of giving out information he finds in the form of riddles.

    Video Games 
  • Ema Skye in the Ace Attorney series. Technically, she's a detective who really likes science, but the spirit is still there.
  • Animal Crossing villager Petri embodies this trope both figuratively, as a scientist-themed snooty villager with a laboratory-themed residence, and literally, as a mouse villager introduced in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.


    Western Animation 
  • A sort of literal version of this occurs in Creature Comforts, where a couple of lab rats in a maze being voiced by two real-life scientists talk about their day jobs.
  • Wally West, the Flash in Justice League, works as one as a nod to Barry Allen.

Alternative Title(s): Lab Rat