Top 10 Smart Characters On Television

Smart people tend to have a magnetic quality and when they are the focus of a story; they captivate viewers with their exceptional intelligence. Smart characters can come in many forms, from nerdy to street-smart, but they all share that ability to astound and outsmart others with their intelligence and strategic thinking. They often exude confidence and appear to always be one step or even two steps ahead in pursuit of their goals.

The intelligence displayed by these characters is truly impressive, making one wonder how intelligent the writers and creators themselves are. These exceptional characters are complex, intriguing, witty, and strategic, and always come out on top, demonstrating that intelligence is often more valuable than physical strength. Characters like Walter White, Michael Scofield, and Dana Scully have used their brilliance to get out of tricky situations, plan major prison breaks and heists, and charm audiences along the way. Whether they are using their intelligence for the greater good or for personal gain, these characters are always captivating to watch on screen.

There are many examples of “smart characters” in television shows. Some popular examples include:

  • Dr. Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory”
  • Walter White from “Breaking Bad”
  • Dexter Morgan from “Dexter”
  • Olivia Pope from “Scandal”
  • Dr. House from “House”
  • Michael Weston from “Burn Notice”
  • Rust Cohle from “True Detective”
  • Sherlock Holmes from “Sherlock”
  • Carrie Mathison from “Homeland”
  • Saul Berenson from “Homeland”

These characters are often portrayed as highly intelligent, resourceful, and analytical, using their intelligence to solve problems and outsmart their opponents.

Below we delve into detail.

Dr. Sheldon Cooper “The Big Bang Theory”

He has a genius-level IQ of 187. (In The Big Bang Theory, it is said that his and Leonard’s IQs add up to 360, and Leonard says his is 173. In Young Sheldon, his mother says that he has the same IQ as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.)

He also cannot conduct an adult conversation because he can’t grasp sarcasm and nuance. Again, this is something basic that most adults of average intelligence can manage. He lacks the ability to navigate social situations that comes effortlessly to a “community college dropout” like Penny. Consider how this played out: Penny progressed beautifully in her (pharmaceutical sales) job because she knew how to use her skills. Despite his brilliance, Sheldon hits repeated walls in his own career (string theory, dark matter) and only makes progress when he teams up with Amy, who is trained in what Sheldon considers a lesser field.

Second, Sheldon has always insisted he would one day win a Nobel prize. But he gets nowhere near one until he is joined by a neuroscientist of “lesser” brilliance than he. Despite decades of study and research on his own, it is only Amy’s arrival that helps land him on the dais in Stockholm.

Sheldon may be brilliant, but he’s a one-trick pony.

Walter White in ‘Breaking Bad’

Breaking Bad follows the story of an ordinary high school teacher, played by Bryan Cranston, who becomes involved in the criminal underworld of drug dealers as he tries to make money for his family before he dies. The show’s compelling storyline and well-developed characters, particularly Bryan Cranston‘s portrayal of the main character, may be a major factor in its widespread popularity.

There’s no denying that Walter White is a calculated genius when he isn’t letting his ego get in his way. He may have started out as an ordinary family man and a nobody, but he rose to become Heisenberg, the founder and leader of the largest meth operation in American history, due to his intelligence and quick thinking. This brilliant chemist’s greatest strength may be his ability to manipulate others psychologically.

The Professor in ‘Money Heist’

In this Spanish heist TV show, a criminal mastermind manipulates the police to pull off the biggest heist ever – robbing Spain’s Royal Mint. The Professor (Álvaro Morte) successfully executes two major heists over the course of the show’s five seasons, with a team of eight criminals who have nothing to lose.

Some may argue that The Professor’s intelligence isn’t realistic, but in the context of the series, he is undoubtedly a genius. He is solely responsible for devising the heist strategy, thinking ahead of time about what to do with hostages, managing his crew, and outwitting the police. The Professor is not just intelligent, but also brave, calm, calculated and a gentleman, making him a beloved character to viewers.

Annalise Keating ‘How to Get with Murder’

This suspenseful legal thriller follows a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant professor as they become embroiled in a twisted murder plot that threatens to change their lives forever.

Annalise Keating, portrayed by Viola Davis, is a fierce and unpredictable defense attorney known for representing hardened criminals. With her badass and strategic approach to handling murders and her courtroom tactics, she is always one step ahead of her adversaries. Viola Davis’ outstanding portrayal of this tough defense attorney was one of the major reasons for the show’s widespread popularity.

Michael Scofield in ‘Prison Break’

Prison Break revolves around a man, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) on a mission to break his brother out of prison. Believing his brother to be innocent and the victim of a political conspiracy, Michael devises a complex plan to rescue him from his death sentence.

When considering the smartest television characters, it is necessary to include of the brain behind the most successful prison breaks. Not only is Michael Scofield a brilliant strategist, but he is also a major player in the plans he devises. He makes mistakes like any other human but learns quickly from them to stay ahead of others. His intelligence, empathy, and strong leadership qualities have earned him a reputation as a hero and legend among viewers.

Sherlock Holmes in ‘Sherlock’

In a city rife with crime, deceit and mystery, it is up to Sherlock and his partner, Dr. John Watson to solve crimes and discover the perpetrators. In this modernized television series adaptations of Sherlock Holmes Novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the brilliant private detective.

Sherlock became such a famous detective because of his honed skills of observation and deductive reasoning, both of which are necessary skills for a good detective. In addition to his intelligence, the well-crafted plot and excellent casting contribute to the addictive nature of this mystery crime series. Sherlock is such an impressive show that there are more genius moments than episodes.

Dana Scully in ‘The X-files’

Created by Chris Carter, this American Sci-Fi series follows the investigations of FBI special agents who work on unexplained cases linked to supernatural phenomena.

Dana Scully demonstrates that it is possible to be beautiful, intelligent, sarcastic, brave, and soft all at the same time. Her role in the series was so impactful that many may argue that the series isn’t complete without her. Gillian Anderson’s incredible acting brought Dana Scully to life, solidifying her as one of television’s most iconic female characters.

Tommy Shelby in ‘Peaky Blinders’

A notorious gang, known for wearing razors sewn into the peaks of their caps, operates illegal betting, protection, and black market activities, as well as other illicit enterprises in the town of Birmingham. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) leads the gang and plans to turn his family’s criminal enterprise into a business empire, eliminating anyone who stands in his way.

Thomas Shelby lives with post-traumatic stress disorder, and is an intriguing character who consistently astounds many with his intelligent plans against the numerous clever villains he faces. Tommy demonstrates that it takes more than just being unscrupulous to thrive in the mafia world; a brilliant mind that can outmaneuver the competition is also necessary for survival.

Tyrion Lannister in ‘Game of Thrones’

Based on A Song of Ice and Fire written by George R.R Martin, this fantasy series drama follows a slew of characters as they fight for control over the mythical continent of Westeros. As conflict erupts between these kingdoms, an ancient army from the dead returns to terrorize them.

In the Game of Thrones you either win or you die, but it takes really smart people like Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to find a middle ground. Tyrion isn’t the only smart character in the series, but his brilliance took him places and helped him survive the most dangerous of situations. He is, of course, not only smart but sarcastic, brave, witty and one character many couldn’t help but fall in love with.

Beth Harmon in ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

Created by Scott Frank, The Queen’s Gambit tells the story of how Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), an orphaned girl, rises through the ranks to become a top chess player while struggling with addiction and personal demons.

Despite her struggles with personal issues, Beth remains a formidable force in chess. Obsessed with winning and also impressively skilled, this talented chess prodigy single-handedly conquers the male-dominated chess world. Beth was unapologetically confident and ambitious, regardless of the era she found herself in.

Olivia Benson in ‘Law & Order’

This American procedural and legal drama follows the investigations and legal proceedings of both the police and prosecutors as they work together to bring criminals to justice.

Although the series has aired for quite a long time, some of its characters, such as Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), have left an indelible mark. Olivia Benson still stands out as one of the most iconic and badass female cops ever portrayed on television. Her intelligence and resourcefulness have undoubtedly contributed to her reputation. Despite being taken hostage numerous times, she always manages to escape these dire situations.

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Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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