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The 15 Smartest TV Characters Of All Time


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by Xtreme HD IPTV

Summary

  • TV shows often create characters with extraordinary intelligence, making them compelling and interesting to watch.
  • Characters like Sherlock Holmes, L, and Michael Scofield showcase intelligence as a valuable asset and a cause of character flaws.
  • Shows like Bones and Doctor Who feature intellectually advanced characters who demonstrate self-awareness and vast knowledge.

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TV shows are responsible for creating some of the brightest minds of any fictional character. Well-designed characters often possess stand-out traits that make them compelling and interesting to watch. One such trait which is often used to create an extraordinary leading character, is intelligence. Whether the character is an expert in one particular field, the best in the world in their career, or just a general knowledge genius, clever characters are compelling.

Many TV shows choose to lean into this trait to create an extraordinary figure, who may be capable of making connections that no one else could, or their expertise makes them a valuable asset to a specific agency or profession. High levels of intelligence are admirable, but they can also be the cause of significant character flaws, like pride, which make a character more complex. Creating a clever character may require a lot of work, but there are plenty of shows that have created some of the best and brightest minds.

15 Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock (2010 – 2017)

Sherlock

In this incarnation of Sherlock from creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman assume the roles of Sherlock and Watson as they establish their partnership and begin solving strange mysteries throughout the U.K. and beyond. Set in a more 2010’s modern setting, Sherlock’s eccentric and complex nature is accentuated as he solves seemingly supernatural crimes with unparalleled intellect while struggling to connect with others on a human level. Meanwhile, Watson blogs the stories summarizing their cases while building a strained but caring friendship with his new partner.

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+ , Netflix

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most brilliant minds on TV, capable of finding clues and connecting information in his mind far better than other people. He puts this intelligence to use as a private detective, hired to solve mysteries and unlock the puzzles of people. Thanks to his wealth of general knowledge, Sherlock is capable of seeing and examining the data of someone’s life from the most minute details and making reasonable conclusions. However, his genius also makes him unbearable to be around, and socially inept as he fails to pick up on basic social cues and etiquette.

14 L

Death Note (2006 – 2007)

L (Death Note)

Another master detective, L, is world-renowned for his skills and prowess, but is also incredibly secretive and protective of his own identity. L is still a young man, with a generally unkempt and disheveled appearance that leads others to underestimate him, but he is brilliant. In Death Note, L is the primary rival to the mass murderer Kira, and uses his incredible skills and strategy to uncover his true identity as Light Yagami, despite having almost nothing to go on. His powers of deduction, reasoning, and determination are unmatched.

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13 Michael Scofield

Prison Break (2005 – 2017)

Michael peering around a corner in Prison Break

Prison Break

Prison Break tells the story of two brothers who must unravel a political conspiracy while escaping from one of the most secure places on Earth. When petty criminal Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is falsely convicted of murdering the Vice President’s brother, his own brother, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), has himself incarcerated in order to stage a daring prison break using the blueprints of the facility he has tattooed on his body.  

Michael Scofield from Prison Break is another brilliant mastermind, but he uses his intelligence for a slightly different purpose. When his brother is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, Michael puts all of his creative reasoning into getting locked in and breaking out with his brother. His ability to observe and find potential weaknesses and holes in security within any prison or structure that he is locked into makes him an absolute mastermind. Regardless of whether he helped design a prison himself, or whether he spent some time studying the structure, he is capable of getting free.

12 Lisa Simpson

The Simpsons (1989 – Present)

Lisa smiles while sitting in a busy theater and holding a playbill in The Simpsons season 35 episode 8

The Simpsons

The Simpsons is a long-running animated TV series created by Matt Groening that satirically follows a working-class family in the misfit city of Springfield. Homer, a bit of a schmoe who works at a nuclear power plant, is the provider for his family, while his wife, Marge, tries to keep sanity and reason in the house to the best of her ability. Bart is a born troublemaker, and Lisa is his super-intelligent sister who finds herself surrounded by people who can’t understand her. Finally, Maggie is the mysterious baby who acts as a deus ex machina when the series calls for it. The show puts the family in several wild situations while constantly tackling socio-political and pop-culture topics set within their world, providing an often sharp critique of the subjects covered in each episode. This series first premiered in 1989 and has been a staple of Fox’s programming schedule ever since.

Lisa Simpson may not be employed as a renowned detective or a professional escapologist, but at just eight years old, Lisa Simpson is easily the most intelligent character on The Simpsons. Lisa may be young, but her intellect goes far beyond her years, with a high level of self-awareness and concern for the world around her. Lisa is politically active despite not being able to vote, socially conscious as she chooses to practice veganism and attend protests and rallies for good causes, and she is capable of competing at a college level even as a child.

11 The Doctor

Doctor Who (1963 – Present)

Doctor Who

Originally premiered in 1963, Doctor Who is a sci-fi series that follows a powerful being known as a Time Lord, referred to as the Doctor. Using an interdimensional time-traveling ship known as the TARDIS, the Doctor travels time and space with various companions as they solve multiple problems and help avert catastrophe as much as they almost cause it. Though the Doctor is always the same character, they experience regenerations, allowing them to be recast every few seasons as a unique immortal being with new personality traits.

The Doctor is a Time Lord who travels through time and space, and depending on the day, he sets his own age at anywhere between thousands and billions of years old. In Doctor Who, it is clear that the Doctor is likely the most brilliant man in the universe, who has used his skills and quick wit to save countless lives across numerous planets and times. He possesses a vast knowledge of history, geography, and species which spans all of known time, and slightly beyond it as well, making him easily one of the most clever people in all existence.

10 Gregory House

House (2004 – 2012)

Hugh Laurie as Gregory House in House

House

House is a medical mystery drama in which the villain is typically a difficult-to-diagnose medical malady. It follows Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), a world-renowned disabled diagnostician with a notorious substance abuse issue. With his team of world-class doctors, House has built a reputation as one of the most brilliant doctors in the world – an especially impressive feat when taking into account that he rarely actually sees his patients.

In House, Dr. Gregory House is depicted as a complete jerk, but his extraordinary and extensive medical knowledge makes him invaluable as the world’s leading diagnostician. House often sees other people as a puzzle to be solved, and gets great satisfaction from understanding what makes them work, and more interestingly, what might be killing them. While House frequently makes mistakes and gets things wrong, there are very few times that he doesn’t arrive at the correct conclusion after conducting tests and experiments to ensure his diagnosis is accurate.

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Gregory House’s 10 Best Quotes, Ranked

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9 Walter White

Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013)

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) with a bald head, aviator glasses, and a goatee, scowling at the camera against a green background in Breaking Bad
Custom image by Yailin Chacon

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad, created by Vince Gilligan, follows a chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin named Walter White (Bryan Cranston) as he attempts to provide for his family following a fatal diagnosis. With nothing left to fear, White ascends to power in the world of drugs and crime, transforming the simple family man into someone known only as Heisenberg.

While studying at college, Walter White’s work contributed to Nobel Prize-winning research, and he was clearly on a path to becoming one of the world’s leading scientists. However, a string of bad luck with his health, and a betrayal by his best friend, lead to Walt selling his share of a company he cofounded. When Walt was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he decided to use his brilliant mind to take back what life had taken at any cost and began to engage in illegal activities to secure his family’s future. While Walt is morally questionable, his brilliance is undeniable.

8 Sheldon Cooper

The Big Bang Theory (2007 – 2019)

Sheldon with white boards in the Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory first premiered on CBS in 2007 and became one of its era’s most popular and longest-lasting network sitcoms. Running for 12 seasons, The Big Bang Theory focuses on a group of self-proclaimed nerds, Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Howard (Simon Helberg), and Raj (Kunal Nayyar), who form an unlikely friendship with their new neighbor Penny (Kaley Cuoco). The series became a ratings giant and took home multiple Emmys. The Big Bang Theory was so successful that it ended up spawning a spinoff titled Young Sheldon, which has also become one of CBS’ most popular sitcoms.

When Sheldon Cooper was just a young boy, it was clear that he was not like the other kids his age, or even his ordinary family. Sheldon had a brilliant mind and a pure love of science and knowledge, which led him to continually pursue more advanced education at a rapid rate. At age 11, Sheldon began to attend college with people twice his age and frequently outperformed all of his classmates. And as an adult, his research leads to him winning a Nobel Prize, while still a relatively young man.

7 Rick Sanchez

Rick And Morty (2013 – Present)

Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty is an adventure/Sci-Fi animated series that follows the intergalactic, inter-dimensional adventures of super-genius Rick Sanchez and his less-than-average grandson Morty Smith. Rick’s daughter, Beth, his granddaughter, Summer, and his hated stepson, Jerry, also take center stage more often than not. Hailing from creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, the series blends comedy with science fiction as a way of exploring a wide variety of themes aimed at an adult audience.

Streaming Service(s)
Hulu , Max

Rick Sanchez of Rick and Morty is also a brilliant scientist, but a less-than-good man. Rick’s exceptional knowledge leads to him creating trans-universal portal technology, and forming a multiversal council with other versions of himself. Rick is often called on by the President to help protect the Earth from alien invasions, and his abilities have made him practically immortal, as he has created countless technologies to ensure his survival. Rick is capable of creating anything he imagines thanks to his superior knowledge and understanding of science, which elevates him to levels of power that can be seen as magical.

6 Data

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 – 1994)

Star Trek TNG Outrageous Okona Data joke

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation is the third installment in the sci-fi franchise and follows the adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew members of the USS Enterprise. Set around one hundred years after the original series, Picard and his crew travel through the galaxy in largely self-contained episodes exploring the crew dynamics and their own political discourse. The series also had several overarching plots that would develop over the course of the isolated episodes, with four films released in tandem with the series to further some of these story elements.

In Star Trek: TNG, Data is an android capable of experiencing and evolving past traditional robots to develop emotions and understand feelings. Due to his extraordinary abilities, Data was the first and only android to be recruited into Starfleet, and he was able to develop in his career to become a Lieutenant Commander. Data’s ability to grow beyond his programming, and learn and take on new information makes him unique, as well as possessing all the abilities of a highly advanced computer with incredible processing power and stores of knowledge.

Related

10 Times Star Trek: TNG Was Funny Because Of Data

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5 Chuck Bartowski

Chuck (2007 – 2012)

Zachary Levi shrugging in Chuck.

Chuck

When computer whiz and tech store employee Chuck Bartowski receives a mysterious email from an old friend, he ends up with top-secret government information uploaded into his brain. Soon, he finds himself working on secret missions with a CIA agent and NSA operative.

While Zachary Levi’s Chuck is not a computer, his unique brain made him one of the few living people able to download the Intersect and store and recall that information. Chuck was a brilliant young man who studied at Stanford University and was on track to be recruited by the CIA. However, a string of events saw him kicked out of college and underemployed as a computer repair man in a supermarket chain. Chuck was already incredibly clever, but with the Intersect, he became a world-class spy who helped to prevent countless threats from evil organizations.

4 Stewie Griffin

Family Guy (1999 – Present)

Stewie Griffin smiling in Family Guy

Family Guy

Family Guy, created by Seth McFarlane and David Zuckerman, follows Peter Griffin and his family as they find themselves in bizarre situations in the fictional city of Quahog, Road Island. Between the cutaway gags and memorable characters such as Chris, Meg, Lois, Stewie, and Brian, Family Guy has become one of Fox’s most successful animations, even winning several Primetime Emmys.

Streaming Service(s)
Hulu

Stewie Griffin is a child genius in Family Guy, who uses his brilliant intellect for nefarious means, often threatening to eliminate his enemies and family who do not obey him. Despite being a one year old and lacking the physical strength of an adult, Stewie uses his superior intellect to build inventions that are at the level of science fiction in their abilities. Stewie has a comprehensive knowledge of physics, mechanical engineering, and firearms, which makes him a force to be reckoned with.

3 Temperance “Bones” Brennan

Bones (2005 – 2017)

Daisy in the lab with Brennan and Saroyan in Bones

Bones

Bones follows Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a forensic anthropologist who teams up with FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) to solve crimes in the DC area. Using Brennan’s forensic knowledge, the pair work together to catch killers with the help of a team at the fictional Jeffersonian Institute. 

Streaming Service(s)
Hulu , Disney+

Temperance “Bones” Brennan may appear to be a regular anthropologist, but she has proven her extraordinary intelligence and gifts of perception countless times in Bones. In addition to her three doctorates in anthropology, forensic anthropology, and kinesiology, she also speaks six languages with a high degree of proficiency and juggles her time being a best-selling wealthy author and working her day job as an anthropologist. Her levels of reasoning, observation, and understanding of the intricate workings of the human body put her ahead of detectives like Sherlock Holmes when it comes to anything people-based, and she still has social skills.

2 Hannibal Lecter

Hannibal (2013 – 2015)

Hannibal

Created for TV by Bryan Fuller, Hannibal is a TV adaptation/reimagining of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon novel. The show follows the exploits of FBI criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and their perpetual game of cat and mouse that unfolds over the series. When a string of murders in Minnesota requires a brilliant mind to crack the case, Will Graham is called in to investigate – but due to the intimate and terrifying nature of the crimes, he is appointed Dr. Lecter to act as his psychiatrist. The truth of Dr. Lecter is that he is Will’s target – but to complicate matters, he’s the only person that can truly understand him.

Streaming Service(s)
Hulu

Hannibal Lecter is a dark and twisted man who indulges in preparing and consuming human flesh, but his extraordinary intelligence and understanding of the human mind are impossible to ignore. Armed with an extensive knowledge of psychology and the inner workings of people, Hannibal is capable of manipulation, control, and observation that far exceeds most other humans. His knowledge has led him down a dark path, but he is doubtless one of the most brilliant minds on TV.

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Once viewers get caught up in Hannibal’s twisted world, they won’t want to leave, which makes the horror-thriller show perfect for binge-watching.

1 Elliot Alderson

Mr. Robot (2015 – 2019)

Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot

Young computer programmer Elliot struggles with drug abuse, an anti-social disorder, and paranoia, and connects to people by hacking them. When he is approached by a mysterious anarchist calling himself Mr. Robot, he joins a team of hacktivists called fsociety determined to take down the world’s biggest corporations.

Elliot may be a flawed individual and an unreliable narrator in Mr. Robot, but he is also a brilliant hacker and cybersecurity engineer. Elliot is extraordinarily proficient with computers, coding, and hacking to such a degree that it appears he can control anything with a screen and an internet connection with minimal effort. He manages to join an anonymous hacktivist group that seeks to right people’s wrongs and deliver justice to those who escape it in their day-to-day lives. These skills and knowledge make him one of the most intelligent TV characters of all time.

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by Xtreme HD IPTV

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