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A device employed by writers to demonstrate that a character is particularly intelligent or knowledgeable. A character (often the TV Genius) will be shown watching a game show on television and instantly blurting out the correct answer to every question. May be played for laughs if the questions are obscure and esoteric to the point of absurdity.
In America, the game show is most likely to be Jeopardy!, as it has garnered a reputation for being the most difficult of the popular game shows, not to mention because of its distinctive, relatively fast-paced game structure. In the United Kingdom, the notoriously difficult, long-running University Challenge fills this role.
Of course, it should go without saying that trivial knowledge has little relation to intellect, but this is just a quick and easy way for writers to establish a character as smart.
A common subversion is for the character to have watched the episode before and memorized all the answers.
- The Taco Bell dog successfully pulls this off in one of the campaign's earliest commercials.
- A Coca-Cola ad played in movie theaters features a large, stereotypical trailer-trash woman watching Jeopardy! and getting all the right answers. At the end of the commercial, she rewinds the tape and starts watching it again.
- Armed Forces Network had an ad of two guys watching Jeopardy! at night with one of them getting all the answers correct. The other guy wasn't amused. This ad meant to tell there's an alternate station for people living in the Atlantic zones who can watch during the day. Atlantic channel has the exact same programs as the Pacific. These two live in the Pacific region watching Jeopardy! on Atlantic network at night(one had already watched it on Pacific).
- The Ultimate X-Men version of Doug Ramsay got into a private school for mutants due to his smarts, exemplified by his record-breaking streak on Jeopardy!.
- Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.
- Morgan Freeman's character in The Bucket List.
- Played with in Groundhog Day: Bill Murray's character had seen that particular episode over and over again.
- To the point that he's giving the right questions before the answer has even been revealed.
- Parodied in She's All That, where the dad gives answers that are obviously wrong.
- In Diner, Kevin Bacon's character sits in front of a TV and aggressively snaps out answers to College Bowl questions, marveling at the dim-wittedness of the contestants.
- Inverted in Slumdog Millionaire, in which doctorate holders do not succeed at the quiz show, while Jamal — a moderately intelligent lower-class boy — learned all the answers through his life.
- White Men Can't Jump: Later, Gloria appears on the show and becomes a five-day champion.
- One of the old men does this in the "Kick the Can" segment of Twilight Zone the Movie.
- Played with in Saved where Mary's mother constantly gets the questions wrong throughout the movie until the very end, when she suddenly starts getting them right, and the answers lead her to an epiphany.
- This is done with the hero of Stephen King's "The Moving Finger". In the original story, he was actually watching Jeopardy!, but in the Monsters adaptation, it was a generic quiz show.
- An ex-con in Jodi Picoult's Salem Falls does this every night. He started doing it to protect himself from Prison Rape by making a bet with the other convicts that he could always beat the scores of the televised contestants.
- In Seinfeld, George becomes a genius by abstaining from sex. Jerry asks whether it's a rerun, but it's not.
- Phoebe does this in one episode of Charmed.
- Parodied in one Friends episode: Joey is watching Wheel of Fortune. He laughs at a player, who can't solve a puzzle with the clue "_OUNT RUSH_ORE". He yells to Chandler, "It's easy! Count Rushmore!"
- This is one of Cliff Clavin's defining character traits. Comes full circle when he actually was on Jeopardy!, but he loses in the final round.
- In one episode of the fourth series of The IT Crowd, Moss participates in the show Countdown and keeps winning, despite crazy odds, by using amazingly obscure words like "tnetennba".
- On one episode of Alright Already, Carol watches an earlier airing of Jeopardy! so that when she watches the same episode later in the day she can impress her boyfriend by knowing all the answers.
- In one Shoe comic strip, one character is watching Jeopardy! and getting all the answers right, but at the end another character leans over and says, "What is 'rerun'?"
- In The Fairly Odd Parents, Cosmo and Wanda conjure up a set reminiscent of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to prove that Timmy "knows everything".
- Parodied in The Simpsons. When the host asks which German leader gave his name to the capital of North Dakota, Homer yells "Hitler!"
- A Pinky and The Brain short on Animaniacs had Brain go on the quiz show "Gyp-Parody" in order to raise enough money for a device to Take Over the World. He gets every single question right, but bombs the final question and loses everything. Of course, the answer to the final question was Ralph Kramden, which Brain would have known if he had listened to Pinky earlier in the episode.