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 stated to be 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.
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 mentioned for In-Universe examples only.
- 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.
- In Dragon Ball, Bulma Briefs and 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 their intelligence is Dr. Gero, though he typically gets shunned by the science community due to being a psycho.
- 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 Awesome 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.
- 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.
- 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 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 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.
- 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-Nemesis, 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, T'Challa, and Apocalypse. At one point there was an established heriarchy 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).
- The DCU: Lex Luthor typically holds the title of smartest human in the DC Universe, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 T'Challa's sister, Shuri is at lesst 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 where she mildly idolizes him for the sophistication of his Pym Particles, which not even a team of Wakandas crack scientists can figure out.
- The 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 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 anytime, having designed the locks himself).
- In the Lensmen 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.)
- 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.
- 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).
- "Wakefields 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.' Sabatini is ranked higher than Wakefield.
- 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."
- In The Big Bang Theory, Stephen Hawking had 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.
- In The Flash, 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 out things years ahead. He is so thorough in his planning that he's pretty much an Invincible Villain due to him anticipating everything.
- In 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 Doctor Who, Luke Rattigan was a Teen Genius who had knowledge that was 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 was able to invent pocket dimension technology in the 21st century, which the Doctor described like finding a smartphone in the Stone Ages.
- In Sherlock, Eurus Holmes is described by Mycroft as being "an era-defining genius beyond Sir Isaac 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.
- Lab Rats has Chase. He's a teen with a bionic chip in his neck. Said chip makes him the smartest man alive.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In 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 "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.
- In 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, Hilarity Ensues.
- 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.
- Lilo & Stitch: The Series, one episode 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 Mad Scientist.
- 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.