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The Smart Guy
aka: The Smart Girl

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Being an actual guy is optional for the title.

Aang: The question is, how are we gonna stop that thing?
Sokka: Why are you all looking at me?
Aang: You're the Idea Guy.
Sokka: So I'm the only one who can ever come up with a plan? That's a lot of pressure!
[He comes up with a plan 45 seconds later]

This is the one on The Team that uses their head. As the intelligent one, they come in when the team needs deep analysis, clever tactics, or there's highly technical work to be done.

They are always be prepared, sometimes Crazy-Prepared. Even under pressure they can whip up a plan at a moments notice. The Smart Guys will be at the computer doing Rapid-Fire Typing. Expect some fancy talk and Techno Babble from these characters. Usually a support unit, they may leave the action stuff to the others. Of course, Weak, but Skilled is always in effect for these guys. Can be expected to play a mean game of chess.

Physically they tend to be small in stature. If not tall and skinny, then short, especially if they're the youngest of The Team.

Sometimes the Smart Guys are more street savvy than they appear. Those who follow the path of the Badass Bookworm are just as physically capable as they are mentally. They remain firmly planted as the Smart Guy, but are just as ready to jump in as everyone else. The results are often impressive, and usually have the advantage of surprise. Who expects the little guy with glasses to be an asskicker?


With a personality range from the introverted and weird TV Genius, the highly technical Spock, to the improbably cool Hollywood Nerd, the smart guy is better defined by the skills they bring to the table rather how they act.

Common skills that you can mix and match on your way to Omnidisciplinary Scientist are:

  • Techies who have great skill with technology and engineering. They build and repair devices for The Team, and can hack in to any computer system. They may be hot wiring the terminal or disarming the bomb while the rest hold off the baddies.
  • The Mad Scientist who conducts all kinds of experiments to help the team. Like the techie, you can find these characters in the lab coming up with new Phlebotinum that does whatever the plot needs it to. Wizards and mages can be equivalent in fantasy, and less frequently a priest if spirits and spirituality play a big role.
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  • The booksmart guys. The walking encyclopedia who can always do even more research on the situation or analyze enemy weaknesses. They get the job of Mr. Exposition to break down plot, lore, or what the heck just happened to other teammates (and the audience.) The Straw Vulcan might just prattle on too long and get ignored, but a direct idea guy can be an invaluable planner and even direct the group.
  • Swapping book-smart genius for Street Smart cleverness. The thief archetype, detective or Street Urchin who has traded in knowledge and intelligence for know-how and intel. These people figure out mysteries, track down foes, and get into hard to reach places. Sometimes they're just rascals that outsmart their foes through sheer creativity or ingenuity, while making a fool out of them in the process. If they're good with tech too you get a Playful Hacker.
  • Swapping knowledge for wisdom. An older Mentor Archetype, or the Wise Beyond Their Years Only Sane Men who can keep a cool head, think their way around problems that seem too big to solve, and give really good advice.

Other common powers include:

While it was always a more gender balanced archetype in general, a wave of STEM/media partnerships brought an influx of many a coding and gadgeteering Smart Girl in The New '10s.

In terms of relationships, The Smart Guy may be part of a Little Guy, Big Buddy duo with The Big Guy. They also make great sidekicks or advisors to The Leader, without all the conflict a full Lancer brings.

In an ensemble, the Smart Guy is usually the last character to have a Love Interest. When they do, expect a subplot about the geek's unrequited feelings towards an unattainable cooler love interest. Younger Smart Guys may have a cute Puppy Love plot with someone their own age, or a Precocious Crush on someone much older. In most cases where the geek's love interest is not "out of their league", they tend to be little more than a Distaff Counterpart.

If there's a Robot Buddy or an alien on the team, they're usually The Smart Guy.

If the Smart Guy happens to be big and strong, he has enough of The Big Guy elements to be a Genius Bruiser. Otherwise, he's a Badass Bookworm.

If you're looking for the Evil Counterpart, regardless of team structure, that's The Evil Genius.

Oh, and he's also part of the Four-Man Band in a comedy ensemble.

Not to be confused with the series Smart Guy.


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    Fan Fic 

  • The Super Hero spoof film The Specials from 2000 includes a brainy gadgeteer member of the titular superteam whose nom de guerre is simply "Mr. Smart".
  • Star Wars: There's a reason C-3PO refers to R2-D2 as his counterpart: They split the usual Smart Guy duties between them, with R2 handling the practical side and 3PO handling the exposition side.
  • Kevin Sandusky of Tropic Thunder is the one who knows what is going on the most. He recognized the Heroin Processing plant, he can read the map, and he's the only one of the actors who had actually read the script and the book.
  • Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight Trilogy. He runs Wayne Enterprises, either invents or improves upon most of Batman's tech, and can come up with an antidote to Scarecrow's fear gas in the span of a night.
    Bruce: (after Lucius explains how he made the antidote) Am I supposed to understand any of that?
    Fox: No. I just wanted you to know how hard it was.
  • Bruce Banner in The Avengers. While the "other guy" gets his share of action, Nick Fury brings Bruce into the plot specifically because he knows more about gamma radiation than anyone on the planet. Tony Stark, Insufferable Genius extraordinaire, doesn't even mind playing Bruce's assistant.
  • Hank McCoy/Beast from the X-Men Film Series, is incredibly intelligent and a brilliant scientist who has invented most of the nifty tools and gadgets (X-Jet, Cerebro, etc.) that the X-Men use.
  • Donald Poultry is the pre-teen version of this trope in Summer Camp Nightmare, as he goes about the camp carrying a tape recorder and a suitcase full of tools, and put his technical knowledge to good use, even if in one circumstance (as in fiddling around with the rec room's TV set's channel reception) it gets him into trouble with the Dean Bitterman camp director. He also narrates a good deal of the movie's story.
  • Now You See It...: Allison is a talented puzzle-solver and is the smartest member of the teenage cast; she was the only one to decipher the trick on the reality show's poster, and later was able to help Danny uncover the secrets of the house through her intelligence alone.
    Religion and Mythology 
  • In Classical Mythology, Athena is this among the Olympians. Hermes sometimes fill this role in a trickster-ish sort of way.
  • Among mortals, Odysseus is the "ideas man" for the Greeks Achaeans in the Trojan Cycle (including The Iliad and his very own story, The Odyssey). Pretty much every actual strategy mentioned in relation to The Trojan War starts with him, including (ironically) both one of the reasons for the war (the Achaean kings agreeing to protect whoever married Helen, to keep them from fighting over her) and the reason it ends (the Trojan Horse, of course). Naturally, Athena favors him and helps him out a lot (against the wishes of her uncle Poseidon, whom he had somehow offended).
  • The Biblical prophet Daniel (aka Belteshazzar) was a brilliant scholar and a top-notch administrator.
  • In the Caucasian Nart Sagas, Setenay — as brainy as she is beautiful — demonstrates an affinity for observing and investigating the world around her. She is credited with revealing the life-giving power of water to the first people, and in one tale assesses the properties of a magical apple through experimentation.
  • In Irish Mythology, Ogma is the god of Eloquence, inventor of the Ogham writing system, and the wrestling champion of the Tuatha de Dannan.


    Web Comics 
  • In Girl Genius, some of the Sparks are even identified by the Jagers as "da schmot guy".
  • Vaarsuvius fills this role in The Order of the Stick. Although Roy Greenhilt has more common sense and Haley Starshine is more observant, V's sheer 18 INT has them beat. Besides, Roy and Haley are The Hero and The Lancer respectively.
  • Hod, god of darkness and winter, is The Smart Guy to the Norse kids in Brat-Halla, although he is a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass as well.
  • Magick Chicks: Faith recognized Sandi's talents as a technopath, when she was young, and helped her learn to properly control her abilities. Now, she's so adept at her gift that she can predict the probability of future events with 97.09% accuracy; so long as she has all the available data. What's more, the cast page of the comic's print edition describes her as "a living Google", which is why Faith chose her as her personal secretary and is genuinely surprised whenever Sandi can't find intel on something.
  • Riff from Sluggy Freelance is both The Smart Guy and The Lancer, being a Mad Scientist with a penchant for destruction.
  • In Dubious Company, Walter starts out as this to Tiren and after they pick up Elly. But when the team picks up Sal, she then becomes the The Smart Girl and Walter functionally shifts to The Leader.
    • This also occurs on the Imperial side, with Izor shifting the responsibility to Gary once he becomes a prominent character.
  • In morphE, Asia Ellis fills the role of smart guy through being the analytical thinker of the Five-Man Band who takes notes, makes maps when introduced to new areas and studies every text she can find to discover the many truths of the awakened world. Despite not being the most intellectual member of the party Asia fits this trope perfectly.
  • Tedd of El Goonish Shive is knowledgeable and skilled in Magitek and the science of magic to the point of being able to create magic watches out of mundane toy watches that can cast spells for even Muggle users.
  • Nepta from Tinyraygun is a brilliant young space explorer. Unfortunately, her intellect's somewhat limited to what she learned in books.
  • In Homestuck, Rose is the beta kids' main Smart Guy and the primary Miss Exposition when it comes to explaining the mysteries of Sburb. Even her mythological role as the Seer of Light marks her as a quester after knowledge. Jade is also very brainy, but her intelligence isn't as central to her character or role in the story as Rose's is.
    • In the alpha session, Dirk (Rose's genetic father) takes on the Smart Guy role as the team's chief strategist (though he does have an AI double to help him out).
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: This is split between Tuuri and Mikkel. Tuuri was the one officially hired for this quality, but Mikkel being The Medic, more than a decade older than her, and having expertise in things in which Tuuri does not causes him to frequently override her in that domain.
  • Im Not Your Friend: Natalie likes doing homework and math.
  • In Super Brothers Kamek is Bowser's Royal Advisor and generally more level-headed than his king.

    Web Animation 
  • While not part of a Five-Man Band, computer programmer Raimi definitely fulfills this function in Broken Saints.
  • Iridescence from Dusk's Dawn, sort of. It's inferred that she's an expert in the medical field by her Cutie Mark, and she senses something bad is happening in the De Noir's castle.
  • Blake Belladonna fills this role for the eponymous team of heroines in RWBY, due to her fondness for reading and her intimate knowledge of history and Faunas rights. She has a reason for knowing all this stuff: she's a Faunas herself.
  • Dreamscape: Keela is The Smart Guy of the Five-Man Band. She is very observant, extremely clever, and not very expressive.

    Animated TV Shows 
  • In Trollz the character Sapphire sports glasses, preppy clothes, and the stereotypical nasally nerd voice while also being the one most excited for school and studying, while the rest of the Trollz groan at the mention of it.

    Web Original 
  • In "Caelum Lex" Cyrus, the Dionysian's engineer and resident tech nerd, is often one step ahead of everyone else, coming up with ideas and plans and solutions that no one else on the crew considered
  • PHILLIPS from The Last Stage by Nat One Productions switches between this and Naïve Newcomer. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the paranormal due to his lifetime of research, but is inexperienced in the field. When PATRICK needs to know what something is or does, though, PHILLIPS is the one he looks to.
  • On the group Team Kimba in the Whateley Universe, Phase is probably the smart one, even if Chaka seems to be best at coming up with ideas in the middle of a fight. Phase is over-educated for a freshman in high school, is most likely to use the big words, and is a smart aleck too. The Smart Guy they go to for gadgets is Bugs, who is a Hot Scientist.
  • While not intelligent to a superlative degree, Chip from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes proves on several occasions that his reservoir of book knowledge can prove beneficial in making it out of various tight spots the heroes get into.
  • Open to debate, since none of the characters are all that bright, but in Red vs. Blue, Simmons is arguably the smartest member of either team when it comes to pure common sense.
  • James in ''Lightning Dust: safe to say that Klaus can go to him to ask about certain monsters/baddies in town and would probably go to him for inventions to help him while fighting if James knew about LD.
  • Eugene, Matt Santoro's nerdy clone. Word of God (Matt himself) says that, if Matt's clones had a fight to the death, Eugene would win - despite being physically weak, he could build something like a tank to defend himself, because he's the only clone intelligent enough to do so.
  • Felix from The Ben Heck Show has become an Ensemble Darkhorse because of his software-savvyness, especially in Linux.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Smart Girl, The Smart Gal, The Smart One, Smart Gal, Smart Girl


Trope Talk: The Smart Guy

Red talks about the role, in her Trope Talk episode on the Five Man Band.

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (9 votes)

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