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The Professor

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Hermes Conrad: Professor, can you wire my head directly into the Battle Grid?
Prof. Farnsworth: I can wire anything directly into anything! I'm the Professor!

The Smart Guy who's Super Intelligent, a Stock Character exemplified on Gilligan's Island and MacGyver (1985). Probably started off as a Teen Genius and is capable of many an Ass Pull, Deus ex Machina, or, um, Polarity Reversal. May or may not rely on Techno Babble. Is the source of much Applied Phlebotinum, but is incapable of providing a solution that would thwart the show's premise (the Professor couldn't get the rest of the gang off that darn island, Ziggy couldn't bring Sam home on Quantum Leap). Often gets to be Mr. Exposition. Fluent in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and Sounds of Science. If he plays a game, it's inevitably chess, because Smart People Play Chess. He's also very likely to be a TV Genius.

Compare Omnidisciplinary Scientist and Absent-Minded Professor, may study a Fantastic Science instead of a regular one. May have hints of being The Spock, but this is usually not central to the figure. Combining this figure with the Mad Scientist is a common subversion. Sometimes, in fact, The Professor is an ex-Mad Scientist who has pulled a Heel–Face Turn and now works for the good guys. Or just a Reluctant Mad Scientist or sufferer of Science-Related Memetic Disorder who happens to not be evil. Or a regular Mad Scientist among Villain Protagonists.

The Professor may also happen to be a Bunny-Ears Lawyer who has wacky hobbies and idiosyncrasies, sometimes heating up Cup of Noodles soup in a test tube with a Bunsen burner or wearing wildly mismatched clothing. Despite these oddities, he will still prove to be amazingly brilliant at his field of study and his quirks will be good-naturedly Played for Laughs.

The title stems from Professor (Prof.), which is the highest academic rank in most countries.

Contrast the more pragmatic Gadgeteer Genius who is more of an eccentric Mr. Fixit who constructs elaborate Rube Goldberg Devices. The Professor can be Mr Fixit too, provided he gets it working on the first try.

The Professor is quite often the least action ready of the team. This may be due to age, infirmity, or just being physically weak. For this reason, the Professor may be left at headquarters while the more able characters handle the physical action, possibly acting as Mission Control. Occasionally, in a two man team, the Professor's teammate is there to specifically act as a bodyguard and handle the physical stuff. Sometimes, this bodyguard may be a government agent.

If The Professor is quite a bit older than the Five-Man Band / Ragtag Bunch of Misfits / True Companions he works with, he's very likely to be the Team Dad or Team Grandpa. Often a Cool Old Guy. Almost Always Male.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards of the Fantastic Four.
  • Charles "Professor X" Xavier of the X-Men.
    • The Beast fits this role even better, despite being a Doctor...
    • Forge also had elements of this while on the team.
  • Professor Calculus from Tintin, invents some remarkable devices ranging from a submarine to a sonic weapon, works on a Moon rocket, somewhat eccentric, quite deaf.
  • The Count in Spirou & Fantasio can extract almost any chemical from mushrooms, build a submarine and electronic mind-control countermeasures, is old-fashioned in his way of dressing and speaking, and can be very absentminded at times.
  • Adhemar from The Adventures of Nero, who looks like a child in a smoking jacket and mortarboard.
  • Gyro Gearloose in Donald Duck comics.
  • Favalli in El Eternauta
  • Kalish in Universal War One.
  • Professor Emil Hamilton in the Superman comics, at least when he's not in one of his villainous phases.

    Fan Works 
  • Evangelion 303: Dr. Ritsuko Akagi. She is Project Evangelion's head scientist and she is also responsible for crew assignments.
  • HERZ: Ritsuko played this role in the original series, but now she is mostly retired, and Maya is her substitute and HERZ’s head scientist.
  • The First Saniwa: The present-day saniwa is literally a university professor. They are stated to be part of a research team, invite their swords to speak at seminars and discuss literature (when they're not lapsing into Hyde mode as a Ripple Effect Indicator, that is).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy. Also exhibits qualities of a Mad Scientist.
  • The movie Arachnophobia has an entomologist named Prof. Atherton, who is usually referred to by John Goodman's character as 'The Professor'.
  • The Professor in charge of filmy students in Diary of the Dead turns out to be ex-military and so the best person suited to guiding the teen-cast through the zombies.
  • The film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen puts Nemo in this role, and Jekyll to a lesser extent.
  • North By Northwest has a character who is literally referred to as "The Professor," although he's less of an impossibly brilliant man of science! and more of a cloak-and-dagger spy type.
  • Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Jr. Ph.D. from the Indiana Jones movie series is also a professor of archeology when he is not fighting Nazis, Thuggees, or communists.
  • X-Men Film Series: Dr. Charles Xavier earned his "Professor of Genetics" title from the University of Oxford. Even before he became a paraplegic, he was considerably less action-oriented than the other mutants on his team, and is often protected by a combatant (e.g. Cyclops, Beast, Havok). Professor X serves as the Team Dad for the X-Men.

  • Arbat-Elivat-Estoni from Animorphs. His cover story to his crew is that he's a retired professor of technological history. Of course, he's anything but retired, though it's anyone's guess if he was actually a professor, though given his patient personality, it's likely.
  • Early example: Merlin of Arthurian Legend is a magical version.
  • Leonard of Quirm, in the Discworld novels. An exaggeration of Leonardo da Vinci, Leonard sometimes appears to be a one-man Industrial Revolution.
    • Partially subverted in that Lord Vetinari keeps him locked up in a prison (though Leonard is having so much fun inventing stuff he doesn't notice) so he can't throw off the balance of the city or give gadgets to the heroes.
    • On the other hand, it's pretty hard to imprison a man who lives mostly in his own head, forgets to eat and often doesn't see how people could turn his Moving Mountains Out of the Way Device (for mining, obviously) into something more sinister. Leonard of Quirm has all the cunning of a concussed duckling, and Vetinari keeps him supplied with, well, everything, and tucked safely away behind booby traps he himself designed.
  • Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula. Is there nothing he doesn't know about? Could also be seen as a forerunner of the idea of the genius with the funny foreign accent (he's Dutch) as well as a medley of eccentricities.
  • Faust is possibly the granddaddy of this trope. Although he has been presented in different lights, Christopher Marlowe depicted him as the most learned scholar on earth but so hungry for more knowledge that he sold his soul for it. Once this happens, instead of doing anything intelligent, he hits the pope with a fish. It makes sense in context.
  • Professor Pike of the H.I.V.E. Series is the school's head engineering instructor—and also the source of the many technological advances that fuel G.L.O.V.E.'s reign. Also the Team Grandpa.
  • Murder for the Modern Girl: Dr. Gregory C. Keene is a scientist who researched tricolorforms but got fired from his university job because of said research and has to work as a medical examiner at a morgue. Thanks to him and his assistant, Guy Rosewood, discovering that a serial killer was running around due to figuring out that a few corpses were actually murdered, he gets funding for his own lab and is quite enthusiastic about it, hoping to regain his scientific reputation.
  • Blackberry of Watership Down, given his limitations as a rabbit. He may not understand the physics involved, but he'll devise plans that rely on buoyancy, tensile strength or leverage just the same.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: The Reach is home to the Citadel, which is the seat of the Order of Maesters. These learned men serve as advisers for all the Great Houses of Westeros.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Boynton, Miss Brooks' Love Interest and Madison High School's Biology teacher. His knowledge of his subject is prodigious, but his favorite topic of study has to be frogs.
  • Marco Pacella (and, later and to a greater degree, Dr Kevin Burkhoff) from The 4400.
  • Professor Wickwire of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr..
  • Walter White of Breaking Bad exemplifies this trope. From breaking into a high security chemical storage facility using the thermite from an etch-a-sketch to using mercury fulminate in order to blow up an entire floor of a drug dealer's headquarters, the man's chief weapon is his degree in chemistry.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Ace's nickname for the Seventh Doctor was "Professor". Despite his irritation at this sobriquet, all of the Doctor's incarnations have had at least an element of The Professor about them.
    • And, of course, there's Professor Yana from "Utopia". However, he cheerfully admits it's an invented title, since there hasn't been an university around in centuries.
  • On the spin-off of Doctor Who. The Sarah Jane adventures episode "Death of the Doctor" says that Ian and Barbara became Professor. note 
  • The actual Professor from Gilligan's Island (his rarely-used real name was Dr. Roy Hinkley) used lots of Bamboo Technology.
  • Mohinder Suresh from Heroes.
  • Sayid is Lost's Professor, creating and fixing all sorts of gizmos using only what he can find in the plane wreckage or the hatch. Of course, none of these gadgets got him off the island though he did indeed get home in season 4.
    • Until they introduce Daniel Faraday who is, in fact, a theoretical physicist.
  • MacGyver (1985)
  • On Stargate SG-1, both Dr. Daniel Jackson (Cunning Linguist and Adventurer Archaeologist) and Major Samantha Carter (physicist and a female Mr. Fixit) fill that role.
  • Scotty from Star Trek: The Original Series.
    • On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Geordi Laforge and Data often trade off on this role. Whenever the crew needs to do something that doesn't involve diplomacy or combat, it's good odds one (or both) of them will develop the Applied Phlebotinum solution.
  • Dr. Helen Magnus from Sanctuary is a hot scientist who specializes in crypto-zoology and xenobiology.
  • Ray Langston from CSI, who actually picked up the nickname "The Professor" due to his being one before becoming a CSI.
  • Space: 1999 gives us Professor Victor Bergman, Omnidisciplinary Scientist, Cool Old Guy, mentor figure for Commander John Koenig (in times past and on the "present" of Season One), and very much the Ensemble Dark Horse (enough that three of the written-long-after-series-cancellation official novels go through some length to bring him Back from the Dead after an off-screen Bus Crash between seasons).
  • Profesor Jirafales in El Chavo del ocho, not only is the teacher of all the children in the series, he's also by far the most intelligent and cultured of the characters. His Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness is a common source of jokes.
  • Profesor Memelovsky in Odisea Burbujas albeit mix with shades of Mad Scientist. His vast knowledge of history and culture come handy as the show is educational. Also as inventor he develops among other things a Time Machine and a Portal Book.
  • Professor Robinson from Lost in Space: His role is very similar to that of the Professor in Gilligan's Island as he albeit able to solve a lot of the problems that the family faces requiring a scientific approach, he can't make them go back to Earth.
  • Professor Arturo in Sliders, he was Quinn's college professor and is the team's scientific expert aside from Quinn but more experienced.
  • Ultra Series
    • Ultra Q's Professor Ichinotani served as Jun, Yuriko, and Ippei's usual expert for scientific consultation for any Weirdness or Monsters of the Week. He's also stated in later material to be the founder of Science Patrol, the main organization of the succeeding series.
    • Speaking of Ultraman, the Science Patrol had their own recurring professor named Dr. Iwamoto who served a similar role to Ichinotani. He also tended to have Suspiciously Similar Substitutes, always with last names ending with "-moto".
    • Ultraman Ace had Kaji Yoichi, a TAC expert on Yapool and his Choju who also designs the team's weapons. Unfortunately, he vanishes from the series after episode 31.
    • Ultraman Tiga had two professors on GUTS. First was Dr. Yao, who invented the Maxima Overdrive, a lightspeed engine used in many of the team's spacecraft. Second was Dr. Tango, who was assigned with studying the nature of the Ultras, but he later betrays the team to sell out their secrets to Corrupt Corporate Executive Keigo Masaki.
    • Ultra Q Dark Fantasy: Succeeding the role of Professor Ichinotani is the quirky university teacher Kakunoshin Watarai, who shows Ichinotani's same encyclopedic knowledge on nearly all subjects, as well as a quirky fondness for British tea and biscuits.
    • Ultraman Max also had two professors, both played by former actors on Ultraman. While Professor Yoshinaga (Hiroko Sakurai, aka Fuji) mainly gave the kaiju-related knowledge, the less frequently appearing Professor Date (Masanari Nihei, aka Ide) created all sorts of inventions to help counter Monsters of the Week.
    • Ultraman X: The Alien Fanton Dr. Guruman (sometimes Gourman) filled this role for Xio. He creates a lot of their technology and also shows a lot of knowledge on alien species whenever Xio has another Alien Invasion on their hands.
  • Ken Jennings is known as “The Professor” on The Chase because of his vast trivia knowledge that made him the longest-running Jeopardy! champion in that show’s history.

  • Daedalus from Greek Myth makes this Older Than Dirt, having built the Labyrinth of the Minotaur and pairs of wings that allowed him to fly, among many other things.
  • In his footsteps follows Archimedes, a Greek inventor from the Greek colony Syracuse in southern Italy. He is best known for his work on lever action and buoyancy. While it's not entirely clear what kind of devices he actually invented and how well they worked, he had a massive reputation as an inventor even during his lifetime.
  • Imhotep was a genius who lived in Egypt 2600 BC, credited with strongly contributing to the founding of the sciences of engineering, medicine, and architecture. His service to the Pharaohs was so remarkable that he became the only commoner ever to be elevated to godly status after his death.

  • Bally's Dr. Dude is one of these, as he invented the Molecular Mixmaster and his EXcellent Ray to make himself the epitome of cool.
  • The unnamed scientist from Zaccaria's Time Machine, who directs the player through time.
  • Daedalus from Mad Daedalus counts, as an ancient Greek inventor who reverse-engineers a crashed alien spaceship and uses the scientific knowledge to elevate King Minos' realm with technological wonders.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In order to stop Dr. Gearck’s conquest of the entire world with the power of the evil gears called the “Warugiano” in the Yu-Gi-Oh! metaplot, Professor Kross created the Gear Heroes known as the “Geargias”.

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • It is repeatedly stated in the Pokémon universe that Pokémon Professors are the highest authorities in the world when it comes to the wonderful creatures that inhabit it. This is especially true in Gold/Silver/Crystal/HeartGold/SoulSilver, where Professor Oak gets celebrity treatment all across the Johto/Kanto area, though every region has its specialist. In the majority of the games the Professors serve to introduce the player to the world of Pokémon and guide the protagonists and their rivals on their quest To Be a Master; in addition, all Professors specialize in a distinct field of study.
    • Professor Oak, the Professor of the Kanto region, studies the relationships between humans and Pokémon.
    • Professor Elm, the Professor of the Johto region, studies the mysteries of Pokémon evolution.
    • Professor Birch, the Professor of the Hoenn region, studies Pokémon habitats.
    • Professor Rowan, the Professor of the Sinnoh region, also studies evolution.
    • Professor Juniper, the Professor of the Unova region, studies the origins of Pokémon. Unova also has another scientist, Fennel, who studies dreams.
    • Professor Sycamore, the Professor of the Kalos region, studies Mega Evolution.
    • Professor Kukui, the Professor of the Alola region, studies Pokémon moves and attacks. In addition, Professor Burnet, Kukui's wife and colleague of Fennel, studies the relationship between dimensions and Pokémon, and Samson Oak, Professor Oak's cousin, studies regional forms.
    • Professor Magnolia, the Professor of the Galar region, studies the mysteries of the Dynamax phenomenon. Her role is succeeded by her daughter, Sonia, who becomes a Professor specializing in the history of the Galar region.
    • Professor Laventon is a Pokémon Professor from Galar who operates out of Hisui. Due to the Professor position being a relatively new field at the time, he is tasked with creating the very first Pokédex.
    • Professor Sada/Turo, the Professor of the Paldea region, studies the secrets of Area Zero within the Great Crater of Paldea and created Terastalization. Unfortunately, they turn out to not only be Dead All Along, but also be the Big Bad this time around, whose ambitions inadvertently put the region in danger. The AI Professor, a Ridiculously Human Robot left in their wake, strings along the protagonist for much of the plot in hopes that they will put a stop to the Professor's last will.
  • The Professor in Digimon Survive is an Adventurer Archaeologist & Cool Old Guy studying the legends surrounding Digimon and acts as a Mentor Archetype to the Kid Heroes Trapped in Another World.
  • Half-Life is full of these. The first game has them as allies who will open security doors for you (portrayed with three or four generic character models) while the sequels all have specific characters, most notably Dr. Kleiner who fits the archetype to a tee. Dr. Vance appears to be the team leader, though he comes of more like a Cool Old Black Guy. Dr. Freeman appears to be more of a lab technician, but he is a theoretical physicist working on teleportation as well.
  • Professor Layton, full stop.
  • Elco from Sudeki pretty much nails this on the head and drills it home with magical laser guns. He does actively participate in a lot of fighting, though, so he's a bit different from the standard all-support role.
  • Dr. Light from Mega Man (Classic).
  • Professor Mordin Solus of Mass Effect 2.
  • Roughly half the cast of the Metal Gear games qualify for the trope in at least a few respects, although Otacon probably comes closest to fulfilling it.
  • Grant Florian of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny, the father and creator of the Florian sisters. A brilliant and benevolent, if sometimes overenthusiastic, scientist who devotes most of his time trying to find a way to reverse the death of his home planet.
  • Dr. Andonuts from EarthBound (1994). He's pretty absent minded however, as he forgot he even had a son.
  • Horace from The Last Story functions like this. He proclaims himself an archaeologist, but he seems to know a lot about architecture, geology, and dark magic (merely as an academic curiosity, of course), aiding the protagonists in a series of optional chapters.
  • "The Professor" from Ape Escape.
  • Dr Ein of the Bomberman franchise.
  • Dr. Casper Darling in Control, an enthusiastic scientist who is the FBC's top mind when it comes to the many strange items or interdimensional incursions that the bureau has to deal with. He likes to record his findings in cheesy no-budget newsreels, which you'll find throughout the building to learn about various things in the game. Though you never meet him in person because it's implied by one of his recordings that he's Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence. To a lesser extent his number two, Emily Pope, shares a lot of the same qualities.

  • Professor T.X. from M9 Girls!. He is a geneticist who invites the M9 Girls to an internship that ends up with them gaining cosmic powers in a Freak Lab Accident. Though he fulfills The Mentor role for the M9 Girls, he is also a Mad Scientist who may not have the best interests of the girls in mind.
  • Riff from Sluggy Freelance, despite being a master of wacky hijinks and Brilliant, but Lazy, is actually a very skilled scientist who invents anything from a Dimensional Flux Agitator to a toaster that can shoot toast through walls.
  • The Phoenix Requiem: Moretty.
  • Kevyn Andreyasn of Schlock Mercenary, and lately Para Ventura as well.

    Web Original 
  • Doctor Pandemia from Aitor Molina Vs..
  • Dr. Amos Messing of the Amazing Three, in the Whateley Universe. Not that he's a parody of anyone else on this list whose initials might be 'RR'...
  • A minor character in Darwin's Soldiers: Card of Ten is referred to only as "the professor."
  • Professor Lambert, a Neopets character, is the leader of a group of intellectuals known as the Seekers.

    Western Animation 
  • Professor Membrane Invader Zim is a prime example going so far as to make the Perpetual Energy Generator AKA P.E.G.
    • "The man without whom this world falls into chaos, and the inventor of SUPER-TOAST!"
  • Professor Utonium from The Powerpuff Girls (1998) is possibly one of the kindest and most fatherly characters here — although in one episode he realises that pretty much everything good he ever invented was by accident, from the eponymous girls to Sloppy Joe's.
  • Professor Frink of The Simpsons. He may have Hollywood Tourette's thanks to his "Who-hey, Glavin" tic. He also qualifies as an amicable Mad Scientist thanks to his crazy inventions.
    • Also a parody of the original Jerry Lewis version of The Nutty Professor.
  • Professor Hubert Farnsworth from Futurama is a subversion. He's capable of making many wondrous and useful inventions at times and some incredibly odd/hilariously simple ones but due to his age (160 years old as of the second season), he often has many odd habits that belie his intelligence. He also has Mad Scientist tendencies, perhaps more so than Doc Brown from Back to the Future.
    Prof. Farnsworth: Good news, everyone! I've taught the toaster to feel love!
  • Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory, despite his age, almost exemplifies this trope.
  • Dr. Benton Quest from Jonny Quest is an especially egregious example. One must presume he holds multiple degrees and doctorates, as he is apparently qualified to work in an absurdly diverse number of science fields from anthropology to astrophysics without much assistance.
  • XJ-9’s mother and creator, Dr. Nora Wakeman from My Life as a Teenage Robot.
  • Parodied in the form of Dr. Thaddeus Venture of The Venture Brothers, who is not actually a doctor, having dropped out of school two months before getting his degree. While most of his inventions do actually work, his success is often due more to blind luck and other people's perceptions of him than any actual skill. Also an example of a Mad Scientist, as many of his inventions are monstrously destructive or unethical, including an "Ooo-ray" that somehow melts buildings with sound waves, and a dream machine powered by the heart of an orphan. Venture's twin brother, Jonas Venture Jr., his good fraternal twin, is a more straight application of the trope, but is still played for comedic value.
  • In the sequel-series Extreme Ghostbusters, Egon Spengler found himself playing his role to the new blood.
  • Cornelius Robinson, the older form of the protagonist in Meet the Robinsons. Graduated college at age 14 and went on to invent flying cars, self constructing buildings, time machines and much of the rest of the future's technology.
  • King of the Hill gets a quick shot-in at this when Dale believes he's been transported into a distant future. As he looks around the landscape, he remarks, "It's times like this I wish I had a friend called 'The Professor!'"
  • Disney's Professor Ludwig Von Drake.
  • There happen to be so many of these characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) — often dubbed appropriately— that it is, eventually, commented upon by our resident Teen Professor:
    Donatello: Professor!
    Professor Honeycutt: Yes?
    Donatello: No, the other professor.
  • Daedalus in The Mighty Hercules.
  • Rick Sanchez, one half of the eponymous Rick and Morty, is basically a jaded, alcoholic version of Doc Brown.
  • In Saban Entertainment's The Why Why Family Eartha, Baby Victor's grandmother, is a professor and an expert on geology, paleontology, the Weather and Environment, biology and evolution, and other sciences. She is often accompanied by a pet dragon named Basalt, and in some episodes, she takes Basalt and Victor time-traveling to the distant past and/or the time of the dinosaurs to make a demonstration on how our Earth is changing.
  • The Professor on Felix the Cat (Joe Oriolo) (billed in one episode as Professor Nutmeg) is an evil variant in that he is always trying to steal Felix's bag of tricks. Otherwise he and stooge Rock Bottom scheme to commit crimes in quests for being rich.
  • Danger Mouse had two Professor Squawkenclucks within two runs, both employed to kit DM out with whatever he needs for his mission. The first was a German male mole, the second a Scottish female budgie (niece of the original) who doesn't suffer DM's foolishness lightly.
  • Professor Pat Pending on Wacky Races is an inventor that can change his vehicle into anything that will give him an advantage. In a comic book story where Dick Dastardly sends the racers 400 years in the past ("The San Diego Go-Go", Gold Key #7), Pending gets all the racers to join bumpers then he spins a time device on his dashboard to get everyone back to present day (1972, when the issue was published).
  • The Secret Show had Professor Professor aiding U.Z.Z. against the nefarious forces of T.H.E.M., led by the nefarious Doctor Doctor.