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Reid: Tardive dyskinesia.

Morgan: Once more for those of us who don't have an encyclopedic memory?
Criminal Minds, "Derailed"

Some characters just seem to know a little of everything. It doesn't matter what the subject is, they can rattle off a couple of facts on the subject. They might not have much depth of knowledge, but they certainly have breadth. The possessor of this knowledge doesn't have to be alive in the traditional sense. Robots, AIs, sentient books and the like count as well.

Sometimes these little tidbits can serve as a Chekhov's Gun when the information comes in handy later, sometimes they'll provide just the right details needed right then to solve a problem, and sometimes they'll just sound like Non Sequiturs. This trope is often used to make a character's intelligence more than just an Informed Ability.

Note: This isn't for characters who think they know everything. They need to actually have real, accurate knowledge. It also is not for characters who just know everything about one subject, such as history, maths or automotive repair. They need to have a little knowledge about everything.

See also Omnidisciplinary Scientist, Renaissance Man.

Examples of Encyclopaedic Knowledge include:


Anime and Manga

  • Miyuki Takara of Lucky Star: Her ability to always have information relevant to the subject of conversation earned her the Fandom Nickname Miwiki.
  • Shezka from Fullmetal Alchemist remembers every little thing she reads, logically resulting in Encyclopedic Knowledge being mixed with a good dose of Human Data Storage.
  • Tsubasa Hanekawa doesn't know 'everything, only what she needs to know.

Comic Books

  • The Devil's Dictionary in Requiem Chevalier Vampire qualifies, but then of course, he's a dictionary demon...
  • Batman is often presented this way, particularly when used in a team environment.

Film

  • In the Disney movie The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, a college student gets all the knowledge contained in a computer's data banks (mostly filled with educational material) and represents his school in a College Bowl type competition. What he doesn't realize is that the computer also had a criminal organization's records of its illegal activities. Hilarity Ensues.

Literature

Live Action TV

  • Bones has Mr. Nigel-Murray who spouts off random facts as a way to keep himself focused.
  • John Doe has this Up to Eleven, for supernatural reasons. Supposedly he is actually omniscient, but in practice his knowledge is limited to things that could be learned via research.
  • In Chuck, the Intersect acts as this with government information, martial arts, hacking skill and linguistic abilities, to name a few fields.
  • Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory knows just about everything (as long as it isn't pop culture related, or about driving, or about social interaction), and does not hesitate to point it out, whether he is asked or not.
    • He at least likes to think he knows everything, but he's shown clear faults in the field of Biology and such. It's implied that he gets most of the non-Physics related information off the Internet.
  • Reid from Criminal Minds does this, to the point of irritating the other characters. Because he reads quickly and often, has an eidetic memory, and is particularly fond of statistics, he simply pulls from his memory whatever statistic the situation calls for. Morgan even lampshades it in the episode "Derailed":

 Reid: Tardive dyskinesia.

Morgan: Once more for those of us who don't have an encyclopedic memory?

  • CSI. Two words: Gil Grissom. Ray and DB have gotten into the act a little bit since Grissom's departure, but they can't compete with Gil.
  • Mac from CSI: NY is another case. It doesn't matter what unusual hobby the victim had, Mac is well versed in it.

Radio

  • Vivian Stanshall's Rawlinson End stories feature Reg Smeeton, whose encyclopedic knowledge of trivia is triggered by word association, e.g., when he hears the word "shrewd", he rattles off facts about shrews. Of course, nobody ever listens to him, and his inner monologue consists of complex chains of association that all lead to the conclusion "me = zero". This is true in the LP, film and literary versions as well.

Tabletop RPG

Video Games

Real Life

Web Original

  • The Hermit, one of the TAROT villains from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, retains a perfect memory of everything he ever experienced from the time of his childbirth, and is a voracious reader. He's also one of the world's smartest people, allowing him to put his Encyclopedic Knowledge of everything to use against his opponents. He's a villain the heroes hate going up against, simply because he's so annoyingly effective.

Western Animation

  • In every episode of The Magic School Bus, Dorothy Ann provides information about the topic of the day from her research.
  • There is also "Mr. Know-it-all", a recurring sketch from one of the Bullwinkle series. Actually a parody, as Bullwinkle (who plays Mr. Know-it-all) has knowledge that is less than encyclopedic.
    • A more straightforward example is Mr. Peabody from the "Peabody's Improbable History" segments of the same show.
  • Tom on The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan, most notably in episodes 14 and 16.
  • The Transformers have the Autobot Rewind, whose entire personality shtick is that he loves collecting trivial factoids about anything and everything.
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