Follow TV Tropes


World's Smartest Man

Go To

"Eurus, she was incandescent, even then. Our abilities were professionally assessed more than once. I was remarkable, but Eurus was described as an era-defining genius. Beyond Newton."
Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock

Some people are smart, some people are geniuses, then there's that one person who is the unparalleled, unrivaled, era-defining prodigy seen once in a lifetime. Congratulations, you've found the World's Smartest Man.

The intellectual counterpart to World's Strongest Man. This is the person who is undoubtedly the brightest mind in their particular world. Though often times there can be multiple contenders of said title, with the runner ups wanting to prove they are truly the ones deserving to be called as such.

Having an Improbably High I.Q. is almost always a given and they may very likely possess Super-Intelligence. Frequent candidates will be Mad or Omnidisciplinary Scientists. If they dedicate their efforts to crime solving then they are likely a Great Detective. If villainous, expect them to be a Manipulative Bastard or The Chessmaster.

While vocal confirmation isn’t mandatory, it can help a lot. Otherwise very strong evidence is needed to determine said character really is at the pinnacle.

May be someone who becomes a One-Man Industrial Revolution. If they're young enough they will be a Child Prodigy or a Teen Genius.

Compare The Omniscient or Enlightenment Superpowers for those with vast knowledge rather than merely intelligence. Sub-Trope of "World's Best" Character, for being that, but only for intelligence.

No Real Life Examples, Please! While there are certain real-life figures such as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking who are commonly cited as such, they are only to be mentioned for In-Universe examples only.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Death Note, L is at least this in the field of criminology, being the unrivaled "World's Greatest Detective" (and secretly the second and third greatest too). It wasn't until he met Light Yagami was he able to find an intellectual equal. Word of God states that L is the most intelligent character, although the official English translation of Volume 13 gives Light and Near a higher intelligence score than L. It turns out that this is a translation error and "Knowledge" was mistranslated as "Intelligence". L has the best analytical thinking, but he doesn't have the most knowledge.
  • In Dragon Ball, Bulma and her father Dr. Briefs are usually considered the brightest minds in their world, having invented revolutionary shrinking technology, the fastest rocket in the world, and even a time machine. The only other person to compare to or possibly surpass their intelligence is Dr. Gero, though he typically gets shunned by the science community due to being a psycho Mad Scientist.
  • In Dr. STONE, Senku is a high-schooler who wakes up 3700 years after all of humanity was turned to stone and immediately starts using his vast scientific knowledge to re-discover everything from metalworking, agriculture and sailing to telephones, radar, and even soda pop, all while trying to find a way to undo the petrification process and save humanity.
  • In My Hero Academia has Nezu, whose Quirk, "High-Specs", does not merely give him Super-Intelligence, but makes him smarter than any human on Earth, to the point that he's easily able to calculate the precise angles and velocities required to perform Disaster Dominoes with a wrecking ball. He's also in charge of the most esteemed hero school in Japan and his official ratings give him a 6/5 in intelligence.
  • In One-Punch Man, Dr. Genus is implied to be this. His intellect was so advanced that he soon became disillusioned with the rest of humanity and could find no one else able to keep up with his level of thinking. He soon came to believe humanity was too far behind him and sought to help the human race evolve so that he would no longer be alone.
  • In The Promised Neverland, Norman is stated to not only be the smartest child at Gracefield, but quite possibly the smartest human to ever live in the setting. Peter Ratri eventually imprisons him in order to study and possibly clone him, and is shocked when he and his scientists are unable to come up with a test that Norman can't get 100% on first try.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: Infidel went from impoverished slave to reality-breaking Evil Sorcerer through intense study, has challenged Samaritan countless times, destroyed reality at least once, and is only in a Self-Imposed Exile because he promised to do so. He once invented a machine to observe superstrings and considered it a mere trifle.
  • The DCU:
    • Lex Luthor typically holds the title of smartest human, with no one being his intellectual equal. The only one that Lex considers to be in his league is the extraterrestrial being Brainiac who possesses Super-Intelligence. Lex is only held back by his incredible arrogance and all-consuming hatred of Superman, which usually makes him overlook something and allow Superman or others to beat him.
    • Michael Holt, aka the second Mister Terrific, is often called "the third smartest man", just behind Lex Luthor (as mentioned above) and Bruce Wayne, whose specialty as a super-genius is being a polymath with multiple Ph.Ds and a Photographic Memory (being an actual Olympian and multi-disciplined martial artist is an added bonus). In his words, he has "a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes".
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Professor Ludwig von Drake is an Omnidisciplinary Scientist who possesses academic degrees in every science field imaginable. He's often considered to be the smartest person alive, so he's sometimes challenged by others who want that title.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Reed Richards is usually recognized as the smartest man in the Marvel Universe, being the most esteemed mind in the scientific community. In fact, he himself considers his intellect to be his real superpower rather than his elasticity.
      • Reed's daughter, Valeria, is on route to surpass him when she's older.
      • Reed's Arch-Enemy, Doctor Doom, is the other contender for this title. Even when he isn't, Doom will be repeatedly trying to prove himself worthy of this claim but tends to get foiled by Reed (or just as often his own ego, but he'll still blame Reed).
    • Hank Pym is sometimes labelled the smartest man depending on the media. However, he's usually overshadowed by other scientific minds and remains reclusive.
    • Other contenders for Marvel's top ten smartest minds include: Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Amadeus Cho, Hank McCoy, Apocalypse, and T'Challa. At one point there was an established hierarchy with Amadeus frequently describing himself as the world's seventh smartest person (although it was suggested that the return of the real Hank Pym dropped him to eighth).
    • A new contender is now Lunella Layfayette who may be able to claim the role of the smartest person in the Marvel universe (though this is at a time where Reed and Valeria are both out of the universe so whether Lunella will be able to match wits with them will be interesting to see).
  • Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias is stated to be the smartest man in the world in the Watchmen universe, being so smart that he was able to devise a way to neutralize Doctor Manhattan's power to see the future. However, his big blue friend demonstrates that Adrian's intellect doesn't matter anyway when faced with the raw power of a superman.
    Doctor Manhattan: I have walked across the surface of the sun. I have witnessed events so tiny and so fast that they could hardly be said to have occurred at all. But you, Adrian, you're just a man. The world's smartest man poses no more threat to me than does its smartest termite.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert's garbage man is sometimes called the smartest man in the world, giving sage advice to Dilbert about both mechanical and philosophical issues and on one occasion bringing him Back from the Dead at the end of a story arc. Why he retains a job as garbage collector is a mystery that is implied only he can understand.

    Fan Works 
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls
    • Discord. He was the captain of the 12th Division and his intellect and invention are so advanced to put him on par with some heavy hitters in the setting. He's the one who created Hōgyoku, a device whose purpose is to break barriers between souls. While still incomplete it earned him an invitation into Zero Division. The Zero Division had to turn to creating a memory copy of him to further their goals after he declined them.
    • Twilight Sparkle has the potential to become one. While still young she manages to keep up with the setting's Discord and Human Starswil. She managed to create mechanical limbs and a Reiatsu-detecting device. In a day. While not knowing something like Souls exists. Her Shrift allows her to control every aspect of everything as long she the proper knowledge and understanding about it. With her mind, it's rarely a hindrance.

    Film — Animation 
  • Jimmy Neutron from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is depicted as the smartest human being in his universe to the point that he can save Earth from an alien invasion.
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Mr. Peabody is stated to be the smartest being in existence, having impressive feats such as graduating Harvard at age 3 ("Wagna cum Laude"), being a business magnate, inventor, scientist, Nobel laureate, gourmand, and two-time Olympic medalist.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for a long time, Tony Stark held the honor of "smartest person" in the MCU. In recent years, this has been challenged, however; Black Panther (2018) establishes Princess Shuri is at least on par with him, and The Wakanda Files has Shuri note that Hank Pym is perhaps more brilliant than any of them, to the point that she mildly idolizes him for the sophistication of his Pym Particles, which not even a team of Wakanda's crack scientists can figure out.
  • Superman: The Movie once again has Lex Luthor as the holder of this title.
  • In Watchmen, true to the source material, Ozymandias is the world's smartest man, even outranking Doctor Manhattan in raw intelligence.

  • In Alliance/Union, Union has codified this concept in law with the Special Persons Act. These “Specials” are legally classified as national treasures, with extensive protections and certain restrictions on their movement to preserve their value to society. Cyteen deals with such issues as the fallout when one untouchable supergenius apparently murders another and an attempt to recreate an irreplaceable intellect via both cloning and a controlled upbringing.
  • In Artemis Fowl, the brightest human mind is the titular character Artemis Fowl II, a criminal genius mastermind. In the fairy world the brightest mind is the pixie, Opal Koboi. The two of them have clashed on several occasions in battles of wits. The Lost Colony also introduces Minerva Paridez who is by Word of God stated to have an intellect equal to that of Artemis.
  • In Discworld, the most intelligent man in the world is Leonard of Quirm, the Disc's version of Leonardo da Vinci. However, while he's very intelligent and routinely designs game-changing inventions in between his artistic endeavors, he is very much unsuited for normal life (case in point: he once tried to bring Nobby and Colon to the Palace at gunpoint and handed them the weapon in order to make adjustments to it). He also invariably fails to consider the military applications of his inventions (such as removing mountains or firebombing cities from orbit) and is horrified when other people bring up the possibility, sincerely believing the threat of horrible destruction will be enough to keep people from using them. The Patrician keeps him voluntarily locked up in the Palace and supplied with artistic and engineering supplies as much for his own good as for everyone else's (and he can leave at any time, having designed the locks himself).
  • Doc Savage, in the pulp-world of Street and Smith, is conceded to be this, as well as the World's Strongest Man — the ultimate Genius Bruiser. In the (much) larger Wold Newton universe conceived by Philip José Farmer, though, his cousins Mycroft, Professor Challenger, and "Hanoi Shan", to name just three, would beg to differ.
  • In the Lensman novel Gray Lensman, Kimball Kinnison at one point needs to find fifty or so of the smartest beings in Civilization for a special scientific project. While consulting with a librarian to select this group, he learns that he has been assigned the highest rating of all. (Though this rating has less to do with academic ability, where he's merely above average, and more to do with his psychic powers.)
  • In No Game No Life, Sora believes Shiro to be this, seeing her as humanity's potential. She's a Child Prodigy with a computer like mind, able to win 20 consecutive games against a simulation designed to beat grandmasters and compute complex physics equations to pull off Awesomeness by Analysis. If she didn't have this status in the real world, she certainly does in Disboard, as when she and her brother arrive in this world governed by games, their status as Godlike Gamers made them the unbeatable Kings of Imanity.
  • Rama II: Each astronaut has listed his or her percentile in terms of intelligence, and they are all above 99%. Among the very top are Francesca Sabatini and Wakefield (two of the most prominent characters); of the two, Sabatini is ranked higher.
    Wakefield's intelligence rating was truly exceptional and placed him in the supergenius category; Nicole had never before personally known someone with such high scores on the standardized tests.
  • In So I'm a Spider, So What?, Potimas is an unparalleled genius of the ancient civilization who mastered every subject of science and then added to each of them. When they failed to show him a path to immortality, he taught himself how to manipulate MA Energy solely by observing a dragon's magic and invented new technologies based on it that reshaped the world as a side project. He's continued developing magitech in secret since the ancient civilization's collapse and has gained significant knowledge of how to manipulate souls.
  • In Soon I Will Be Invincible, Villain Protagonist Doctor Impossible is known as the world's smartest man. The book spends some time deconstructing the trope by showing that exceptional intelligence doesn't actually lead to much success when it's not accompanied by the emotional maturity to work within the system instead of trying to take over the world (and invariably getting slapped down by superheroes who, while not as smart as you, have inherent powers that all the smarts in the world can't come up with a counter to). One early chapter has him wondering "if the smartest man in the world has really done the smartest thing he could with his life."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Stephen Hawking has been stated In-Universe to be the smartest person in the world and the reason why Sheldon is so keen on becoming friends with him, considering this one of his rare chances to find an intellectual equal.
  • Doctor Who: Luke Rattigan from "The Sontaran Strategem"/"The Poison Sky" is a Teen Genius who is able to pull off technological feats centuries ahead of his time. While he isn't directly started to be the smartest, he was unable to find anyone in the world to be his intellectual equal until meeting the Doctor. He's able to invent pocket dimension technology in the 21st century, which the Doctor describes as like finding a smartphone in the Stone Ages.
  • The Flash (2014): Word of God states that Clifford DeVoe/the Thinker is the smartest man on Earth-1, largely due to his metahuman power being Super-Intelligence. He exhibits extremely advanced methodical thinking and is able to plan things out years ahead. He is so thorough in his planning that he's pretty much an Invincible Villain due to him anticipating everything.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Word of God has stated that genius physicist Sento Kiryu has the highest IQ of the Heisei era of Kamen Rider, making him the smartest Kamen Rider by default in that phase of the franchise. Incidentally, the original Kamen Rider #1 — Takeshi Hongō — is established in the first episode of his series as having an IQ score of 600. How his brain compares to Sento’s is unknown, but he probably qualifies as the smartest Rider for the Shōwa era of the franchise.
  • Lab Rats has Chase. He's a teen with a bionic chip in his neck. Said chip makes him the smartest man alive.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: In the "Doomworld" reality that the Legion of Doom creates, Eobard Thawne is hailed as the smartest man in the world. He's so highly regarded that he is personal friends with the President of the United States.
  • In Sherlock, Eurus Holmes is described by Mycroft as being "an era-defining genius, beyond Newton". Her intellect is so great that anyone who talks to her is able to be 'reprogrammed' to carry out her bidding, with only other geniuses like Sherlock, Mycroft, and Moriarty being immune from this.

    Video Games 
  • Lord Recluse of City of Heroes is stated to be this, gifted with intellect and wits to surpass any other being on the planet in his lifetime. Unfortunately he is the Big Bad, so this leads to some phenomenally bad news for heroes. As he got this boost from a magic well that is a dimensional nexus point, this is a status calculated out across all realities. In game play this is used to account for him having Dev Team level preparations covered for his evil works.
  • Queen Rennala of Elden Ring may not look it when you meet her, but in the past she was the brightest mind of the Lands Between and likely the most powerful sorcerer in existence. This can even be seen in-game: the requirement to use her signature spell, Rennala's Full Moon, is a staggering 70 Intelligence. To put this into perspective: Comet Azur, the strongest primeval current spell that was devised by a sorcerer who was implied to have been driven mad in the process, only requires 60 Intelligence. She was even superior to her own daughter Ranni, herself a freakishly talented demigod sorceress, as Ranni's signature spell, Ranni's Dark Moon, requires 'just' 68 Intelligence; and unlike Ranni, Rennala is a human woman with no divine blood.
  • Mimir in God of War (PS4) proclaims himself as "The Smartest Man Alive" and can answer as to whatever question that Kratos asked, although he does admit that there are some gaps in the knowledge, particularly as to why Odin wants to hunt Kratos and his son down, or whether or not there is a weakness to Baldur's invulnerability (the latter being due to being cursed not to remember it).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Dr. Eggman likes to proclaim himself to be this. Although, given the ridiculously complex, innovative, and varied stuff he's built over the franchise (various mechs, whole bases, robotic machines, etc.), it's hard not to agree with him.
  • Tales of Destiny 2: Harold Berselius is an Omnidisciplinary Scientist far beyond her peers, to the point where her inventions are barely understood, let alone replicated a thousand years after her death. After time traveling, Harold is notably disappointed in the lack of technological advancement in the present.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10:
    • Azmuth is considered the brightest mind in three to five galaxies and sometimes even the universe. He's a Galvan, a species already known for Super-Intelligence, and he's the brightest of them all, to where they named him First Thinker.
    • Azmuth's Arch-Enemy, Dr. Psychobos. is stated to be the second smartest being in the universe, and is constantly trying to usurp Azmuth from first place. He is a Cerebrocrustacean, an intellectual rival race to the Galvans.
  • In Class of the Titans, Odysseus appears to be held as the standard for the pinnacle of intelligence, with his descendant Odie taking after him and inheriting his Super-Intelligence.
  • In the DC Animated Universe, Lex Luthor is once again considered the smartest man on Earth, which Batman himself recognizes. In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Destroyer", Lex intends to journey into the Source Wall, where he is warned only a "twelfth level intellect" could survive. Lex states he's "overqualified" and he indeed survives and retrieves what he's after.
  • Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory considers himself to be the smartest person in the world, and considering that he has an entire underground lab with all sorts of incredibly advance high-tech inventions he has a good claim, nevertheless his rival Mandark disputes it.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: The episode "Dumbbell Curve" has Timmy wish to be the smartest person in the world, but as this makes him know a lot of unhappy facts, he changes his mind and then requests for everyone to be dumber than him.
  • One episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series has Lilo wish that Keoni becomes the smartest man on earth so that he can impress Naiomi. He ends up so book smart that she can't make sense of what he's saying.
  • Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty is said to be the smartest man in the universe, which manifests in him being an Impossible Genius variant of Mad Scientist. This serves as a plot point in Season 5 when it's revealed that the Council of Ricks intentionally made this happen by creating the Central Finite Curve, described as a wall around reality where the dimensions where Rick is the smartest man in the universe are sealed off from the rest of The Multiverse where he isn't.

Alternative Title(s): Worlds Smartest Woman