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“I'm going to the crime scene to see what I can find out. You guys research the Polgara demon.”
Buffy, Goodbye Iowa and most other episodes

A new monster has arrived in town and it’s already beaten off our heroes once. Is it time to get dangerous?

No. It’s time to hit the books.

Our characters head to the Library of Babel to consult the Great Big Book of Everything and the Tomes of Eldritch Lore. They search the Magical Database and scan samples with the Everything Sensor, possibly with the help of a Hard Work Montage. Only when all avenues have been exhausted will they summarise their findings and formulate a new plan.

Doing Research is the favourite pastime of Mr. Exposition, The Smart Guy, the Badass Bookworm and The Team Normal, and it is most common on Monster of the Week shows, although Mystery of the Week has its fair share.

Not to be confused with Did Not Do the Research or Shown Their Work, which are about writers doing research. (Unless this takes in-story properly, too)

Examples of Doing Research include:

Anime and Manga

  • Fushigi Yuugi has some examples:
    • In the original series, this is basically Keisuke and Tetsuya's role: as Miaka and Yui develop their feud inside the book, the two look for info to help them. The anime expands more on it, especially when not only they learn about the tragic life of Takiko Okuda aka the Priestess of Genbu, but later they meet a dying old lady who turns out to be Suzuno Ohsugi, Takiko's childhood friend and also the Priestess of Byakko.
    • In Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden, the whole plot was kicked off by Takiko's father Einosuke Okuda finding and translating the Universe... while researching for a cure for his wife/Takiko's mom Yoshie.
    • In Fushigi Yuugi Byakko Senki, the aforementioned Suzuno Ohsugi is a Cute Bookworm and is seen searching for info about the Universe... itself in at least one library. That's how she remembers the Okuda family's tragedy that happened when she was a little girl AND also properly recalls her times in the Universe... realizing that she is the soon-to-be Priestess of Byakko .
  • Pictured above: In the Sailor Moon first anime, Mamoru is seen doing this in his laptop at the end of the S season. And it pays off: he finds out information on Hotaru and Professor Tomoe, plus the Freak Lab Accident they were involved into in the past.


  • Once a book in Harry Potter, generally undertaken by Hermione.
  • Alice's entire purpose as the scholar for The Witch Watch involves doing research and so it's not surprising her first reaction to the situation is to hit the books

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer involved research nearly every episode, although generally Buffy was patrolling while the other Scoobies hit the books.
    • Angel had the same thing. Fred and Wes traded off or went together for research roles, sometimes with Cordelia joining in, though Gunn occasionally got in on it in season 5.
  • Chloe on Smallville regularly played this role.
  • The science montages in the CSI Franchise are halfway between this and Hard Work Montage.
  • The title character of Merlin does this very often, usually with the help of his mentor Gaius.
  • Many episodes of Supernatural involve one of them, usually Sam, trying to find out what they might be facing and/or how to kill it by this method.
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