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A character who is a genius, ideally, tends to stand out. But that's not enough for most authors, who really want to drive the point home that this character's intellect is so far beyond that of a mortal man, that there is no way anyone can match their intelligence. Luckily, there's a fairly basic solution - give them a high IQ score.

Of course, Bigger Is Better, so the natural tendency is for these assigned high scores to reach truly absurd levels. After all, a character with an IQ of 200+ clearly is the smartest kid on the metaphorical block, right? Right?

This one is a staple of the TV Genius. If handled poorly, it may turn into a case of an Informed Ability.

Contrast Improbably Low IQ. For more information about IQ testing, go here.

Examples of Improbably High IQ include:


Anime and Manga

  • Shikamaru from Naruto is said to have an IQ of over 200.
  • Minoru from Chobits supposedly has an IQ of 300.
  • Alec Howell from Ayashi no Ceres would have been fired by the Mikages for his otaku-ism if he wasn't a genius with an IQ of 260.
  • Zeon dictator Gihren Zabi from Mobile Suit Gundam is said to have an IQ of 240. Considering the fact that he's a space-fascist, this is probably just propaganda, though.
  • After becoming the ultimate life form, Cars in the second part of Manga/Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure has an IQ of 400.
  • Ami Mizuno (Sailor Mercury) of Sailor Moon is rumored to have an IQ of around 300 by her fellow classmates. The Musicals on the other hand present this as fact.
  • Urumi from Great Teacher Onizuka has an IQ "over 200", which gives her free rein to do pretty much whatever she wants in the school.
  • Kaitou Kid, civilian identity Kaito Kuroba, from Magic Kaito and Detective Conan, apparently has an IQ of 400. This was determined through DNA testing.
  • Word of God states that Chao Lingshen's IQ is 300. Of course, the comment was qualified with "maybe even seriously", so it's probably an exaggeration.
  • Kokoro-chan from Tantei Opera Milky Holmes is probably one of the most extreme example of this trope.


Comic Books

  • Reed Richards is often cited having an IQ in the mid-300s.
  • Bruce Banner actually averts this. His IQ is stated by a school psychiatrist in a flashback as being "too high to measure", which is quite possible as standard IQ tests aren't very helpful when measuring superintelligent people.
  • In Zits, Jeremy and Hector once took an Internet IQ test with Jeremy scoring impossibly low and Hector scoring impossibly high. Jeremy began to wonder if he was really that stupid and Hector started treating him like a dolt. Jeremy was only convinced the test was flawed after his father scored even higher on it.
  • Barry Ween claims to have an IQ of 350. The first time we hear it, it's softened by a "if it could be measured". Every other time, however, it's played completely straight.


Fanfic

  • The creator of a Harry Potter Mary Sue gave her heroine an IQ of 490, and argued that this was too possible because she, the writer, had a friend whose IQ was 520.


Film

  • When the eponymous Forrest Gump answers the question "What is your sole purpose in this army?" with "To do whatever you tell me to Drill Sergeant?", the Drill Sergeant is so impressed he declares that Forrest "Must have an IQ of 160!"
    • This sits in contrast with Forrest's established IQ level of 75 mentioned when Mrs. Gump was trying to enroll Forrest in public school.
  • In the beginning of Limitless, Eddie claims to have a 4 digit IQ. It's just some number he pulled out of his ass.
  • In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol the data file Ethan Hunt pulls up on the main villain matter-of-factly states his IQ as being 190. While real people have achieved scores that high or higher, the margin of error is huge enough to render them practically meaningless. The computer would have done better to say that he's among the five hundred smartest people on the planet, which is a bit less sketchy a figure.
  • In The Genius Club, seven people with IQs over 200 are gathered to solve the world's problems in one night.


Literature

  • In the beginning of the first chapter of Soon I Will Be Invincible, Doctor Impossible mentions that eighteen (and later events in the book suggest at least one more) individuals, including himself, have an IQ of "300 or more." The book later mentions the Stanford-Binet; Doctor Impossible thinks the heroes' estimation is "insultingly low." Doctor Impossible's opening chapter acknowledges how atypical he is; one of his major problems is that there is literally no one he can possibly relate to. He actually is the one in six billion.
  • A.E. Van Vogt appears to retain the term "IQ" but throws away any relationship it has with IQ today and more to be some sort of measure of "mental strength". On an IQ curve that would include humans, Kluggs, Lennels and Dreeghs, the respective averages would be 100, 220, 380, and 450... The Proxy Intelligence
    • A few paragraphs later, it mentions IQs of 3,000 and 10,000. The clanger is the idea that the intelligence or mental abilities of multiple species could naturally be ordered along a single dimension (it's hard enough trying to do that just for humans).
    • How much of your suspension of disbelief this destroys depends partly on how much you know about IQ tests. To the average pulp reader at the time Asylum (the first story to feature Kluggs, Dreeghs et al.) was written (1942), it would most likely have been taken at face value.
  • Thomas Chippering of Tomcat In Love supposedly has an IQ of 175 despite the many bad decisions he makes, although it could be just more proof of his inflated ego, and thus a subversion.
  • Neatly avoided in Ender's Shadow; the intelligence of Battle School kids are measured by how close they can come to scoring perfectly on an impossible test, and the gap between Ender and Bean is 0.005%, which is a huge gap at their end of the curve. And even at that, the test doesn't really define a child as smart, only having the potential for smartness.
  • Played with in a short story by Poul Anderson called Turning Point, about a human expedition stumbling across a planet of incredibly intelligent stone age aliens (they never needed a civilization). One person wonders what is their average IQ, and another says: Meaningless. Beyond 180 or so, the scale breaks down. How can you measure an intelligence so much greater than your own?
  • Janine Kishi from the Babysitters Club series is supposed to have an IQ of 196. Since she's a minor character, this is mostly revealed through her use of Spock Speak, her apparent lack of friends, and the fact that she owns a computer. Also some offhand mentions of her taking courses at the local college.
  • Artemis Fowl (from the books of the same name) is said to have one of the highest tested IQs in Europe, apparently somewhere around 200.
    • Also, Opal Koboi is said to have an IQ of over 300. Justified by the fact that she got this score on a fairy IQ test, where it is apparently plausible.
  • In Wilmar Shiras's Children of the Atom the phrase "IQ three star plus" is used, but only as a code, never seriously. The description of the children's IQ measurements is accurate: at thirteen, "Timothy Paul came swiftly through the whole range of Superior Adult tests without a failure of any sort. There were not tests yet devised that could measure his intelligence."
  • The Little Black Bag by Cyril Kornbluth never specifies an I.Q. for any character, but runs into this anyways when a genius is described as having "six times" the I.Q. of a clinically retarded character. Assuming that retarded character has an I.Q. of 50 (seemingly lower than the intelligence he demonstrates in-story), the genius would have an I.Q. of 300. (Then again, there are people in this setting who've developed Psychic Powers out of sheer intelligence, so maybe he is that smart.)
    • Worse is the idea implied in this that an IQ point is a unit of measure in the same way a pound or an inch is, rather than just an indicator of where you are on the normal distribution of intelligence.
    • The whole point of Kornbluth's particular Crapsack Future "Marching Morons" stories is that human intelligence no longer follows a normal distribution... by modern standards, the peak has shifted downward and presumably gotten narrower as well. The (tiny) population of intelligentsia might well be a dozen standard deviations above the majority.
  • Seth Walker in Ted Dekker' Blink has an IQ of 193, while Albert Einstein is only attributed 163, by way of comparison.

Live Action TV

  • Holly, the computer in Red Dwarf, has a stated IQ of 6000 (said to be the equivalent of 12000 PE teachers, although when he is accused of having one of only 6 he claims that would be a 'poor IQ for a glass of water'), and is friends with another computer with an IQ of 8000. Too bad s/he's also senile. (They were also able to accidentally boost it to 12,368 at the cost of reducing her remaining life expectancy to just under three-and-a-half minutes.)
    • There were also the crew of the holoship Enlightenment. The captain had an IQ of 212. the rest of the crew were assumed to be at super-super-genius level too, so presumably they had enough people to establish a decent results curve for their admission test.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Nth Degree," Lieutenant Barclay's IQ is temporarily raised to "somewhere between 1200 and 1450." Barclay, his mind boosted by an intelligence-enhancing device and then hooked up to the Enterprise's computer, estimated his own IQ in this case. Certainly if he were anywhere near as intelligent as his stated IQ implied, he would be capable of this kind of extrapolation.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Leonard's exceptional IQs (187 and 173, respectively) are very high, even given that they are both physicists.
    • It's stated very early on by Sheldon that they have a combined IQ of 320. Apparently a High IQ has little effect on one's ability to do basic math.
      • He could had been considering part of the I Qs to overlap, specifically the average level needed for basic thought and simple tasks.
      • It's actually a pretty common half-joke among advanced technical people (especially mathematicians, but I've seen it with all sorts of scientists) that counting is the first thing you forget, quickly followed by basic arithmetic.
  • Sam Beckett's IQ was said to be around 200. So is his daughter's. This goes in line with the other ridiculously capable intellectual abilities he seems to have - like the seven doctorates, Nobel Prize, ability to speak seven languages, read Egyptian hieroglyphics, beat computers at chess by the age of 10, perform advanced calculus by the age of 5...and, of course, inventing time travel. The show at least gave a semi-plausible explanation for any time he came across as less than the smartest person in the world (i.e., any time it was obvious the show was written by people with I Qs below 200): the time travel process gave him partial amnesia (and exactly which parts he could and couldn't remember could change each time he "leaped").
  • Dr. Spencer Reid of Criminal Minds says his IQ is 187, as well as possessing an eidetic memory and the ability to read 20,000 words per minute. He qualifies that statement by saying that he doesn't believe that intelligence can be accurately measured. Every single time that he brings it up.
    • In an early episode, the team goes to the CIA headquarters and is given a quick background on each agent worth investigating. One agent has an IQ of 192.
  • Eureka gives Jack Carter's IQ as 111, averting the 'always extreme' part of the trope. It's pretty realistic, considering Carter is slightly Book Dumb but fairly clever. His daughter Zoe tested a 155, putting her in competition with the rest of the town (all geniuses shipped in from across the country). This is somewhat justified in that Eureka, of all places, would use an IQ test equipped for extreme high outliers.
    • In a humorous display of the Dunning-Kruger effect, when it is first mentioned he believes it is evidence of him having an incredible intellect - he thinks it's a percentage, and puts him even above what is humanly possible. He is corrected on it in the end of the episode.
    • Though the episode does fail at IQ tests in one regard, making the claim that Jack's 111 IQ is exactly average, instead of slightly above the average of 100. (Though still within the 15 point margin for error)
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, where at 165, the titular character has the highest IQ of all...until in comes Barton, who skipped grades to be in the Krelboyne class, had an IQ over 280, and was apparently going to work for NASA immediately after the episode ended. Unfortunately, probably because of the other genius characters being at the very top end of realistic IQ scores, most of his intelligence was shown by having Malcolm haul around the Idiot Ball for the day.
  • Averted in Frasier, where the undoubtedly brainy (Harvard and Oxford educated) titular character was tested and had an IQ of 129, which whilst still high, is technically below the Mensa cut-off point. Niles's, on the other hand, is 156, despite their mother claiming there were only two points between them. Naturally, hilarity ensues once the true scores are revealed.
  • Fringe's Peter Bishop has an IQ of 190. The amount of people in the world at this level is at most in the low single digits, yet Peter has never come across as anything but a person of significant but still reasonable above average intelligence.
  • Played with ambiguously in Six Feet Under. Brenda is mentioned to have a reasonably high score. However, in a bout of self-hatred, she rants about how meaningless her score is and how culturally biased, thus unreliable the IQ test is.
  • In The Paper Chase, law student Franklin Ford III claims to have an IQ of 190.
  • Darien Lambert of Time Trax is described by his computer SELMA as having an IQ of 205 "which is about average." One would think that the people of the 22nd century would revise their IQ tests to keep "average" around 100 rather than using a test that everybody aces.
  • On Night Court, the cast was given a modified intelligence test, and Bull Shannon scored 181, higher than anybody else in the court. He promptly noted that he was holding the paper upside down...
  • Lloyd in Breakout Kings has an IQ of 210.
  • Stealth example in the Lois and Clark episode Smart kids, where some children drink an intelligence-boosting serum. Although no explicit score was given, the scientist who created the formula stated that its effects were much greater than the "10 to 100% increase in IQ" he expected; also, the children were smarter than average to start with. This means their IQs must have been much higher than 200.
  • In Choujuu Sentai Liveman the Big Bad Bias wants his Dragons to gain an IQ of 1000, so he can harvest their brains for himself.
  • Temperance Brennan in Bones. We don't know the exact number but it's 'significantly above' 163.


Tabletop Games

  • TSR once said that in Dungeons and Dragons a character's IQ is about their Int score X 10. This means that any wizard worth playing above about level 6 has an IQ in the 180-200 range. There is a reason why they (or their successors, Wizards of the Coast) have not repeated it.
    • Then again, if you have 20 strength you are as physically strong as an average 18 foot tall stone giant. Having an IQ of 200 seems almost mundane in comparison.


Video Games

  • Commander Keen and his nemesis Mortimer McMire have IQs of 314 and 315, respectively. This is actually the source of their dislike for one another and is played completely for laughs. Especially since Mortimer has decided that everything else in the universe is just much Too Dumb to Live.
  • Dr. Eggman of the Sonic the Hedgehog series has been noted in multiple sources to have an IQ of 300.
  • Parodied in Disgaea 3 Absence of Justice, where Mao repeatedly refers to his "EQ" (Evil Quotient) of 1.8 million.
  • In the first Metal Gear Solid game, Liquid Snake and the genome soldiers are explicitly stated to have an IQ of 180. Yes, those "It's just a box" guys. Their comical ineptitude is mostly down to their lack of actual combat experience, their genetic mutations giving them brain damage, and their brainwashing by Psycho Mantis which compelled them to be suicidally incompetent so Snake could get by them to activate Metal Gear Rex.
    • Snake himself has a slightly more realistic IQ of 165.
  • In the guide for the SNES version of Sim City, it's revealed that Dr. Wright's IQ is 1000. This makes slightly more sense when you remember who originally came up with the game's idea.
  • Yuina Himoo, the resident Mad Scientist of Tokimeki Memorial, is listed with an IQ of 300.
  • The Pokémon Alakazam has a IQ of 10,000, which seems even more insane considering that this is an entire species rather than a single super-smart individual. (It seems even more implausible that such unparalleled intellects would spend most of their time trapped in little balls and participate in fantastic cockfights. Unless they prefer that lifestyle to living in the wild.)


Web Comics

  • Yoshi of General Protection Fault, introduced at age 10, has an IQ of 208, skipped three grades and is almost ready to graduate by the time of the To Thine Own Self arc. Averted with Fred (an intelligent slime mold), who gets an IQ of 139 on an IQ test he took in order to prove his sapience, although he claims they "dropped 70 or more points somewhere."
  • In Narbonic, at various times it's mentioned that Artie the superintelligent gerbil has his IQ of 250, or "1.57 Stephen Hawkings". He was artificially created by Helen Narbon to do her income taxes.
  • The cast page for Mind Mistress says of the title character, "If I.Q. tests were reliable much above 200, she would have one of 794."
  • In Kevin and Kell, it's never stated exactly what Lindesfarne and Fenton's IQ's are, but apparently they're high enough to get them Mensa memberships.


Western Animation

  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shredder has an IQ of 675, and Splinter's IQ is 475.
    • Vernon's nephew, Foster, said he has an IQ of 271 during the science fair interview with April.
  • Martin Prince of The Simpsons has an IQ of 216. Professor Frink, 199 (though it lowers to 197 after he hits his head). Comic Book Guy and Dr. Hibert were both in the 170s. Stephen Hawking? 280 (granted, that's just what he claimed).
    • Lisa is another example, whose IQ is a somewhat more realistic 156 (according to "Homer's Enemy".)
    • This may be justified considering how stupid other people on the show act it may have lowered the general IQ enough to make them more realistic
  • Jimmy Neutron has an IQ of 210.
  • King of the Hill had a very funny nod to this in one episode, with Hank mentioning that Peggy has an amazingly high IQ, 170. Peggy admits that that's true, but still worries about her intelligence since "that is only my own estimate."
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Eye of the Beholder". Scotty says that the Lactran child has an IQ "in the thousands".
  • Billy from the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy gets his IQ of -5 boosted to 200 in an episode where he gets drafted into the CIA.
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