Recently I have become a bit obsessed with The Bridge, a Swedish/Danish crime series that features a detective called Saga Noren, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome and is able to see connections that no one else can… but she’s also a bit of a social challenge. Watching Saga’s unusual behaviour onscreen made me think of some other genius characters I love who have… issues… and so this rather unusual list was born.
Played by: Benedict Cumberbatch
Show: Sherlock (2010 – )
Area of genius: Photographic memory, abilities of deduction
Flaws: Using others for his own purposes, destructive behaviour when bored, reveling in any crime he finds entertaining, complete lack of tact
“Sherlock Holmes: Dear God, what is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring!”
Dr Sheldon Cooper
Played by: Jim Parsons
Show: The Big Bang Theory (2007 – )
Area of genius: Physics
Flaws: Seeing himself as the centre of the universe and demanding that everyone else comply
“Sheldon: But then some poor woman is going to pin her hopes on my sperm, what if she winds up with a toddler that doesn’t know if he should use an integral or a differential to solve for the area under a curve?
Leonard: I’m sure she’ll still love him.
Sheldon: I wouldn’t.”
Seven of Nine
Played by: Jeri Ryan
Show: Star Trek: Voyager (1995 – 2001)
Area of genius: Astrophysics
Flaws: Relating to others, being overly literal
“B’Elanna Torres: [reading Seven’s study of her and Tom from a PADD] ‘Stardate 52647, 1400 hours: Subjects quarrel in corridor outside female’s quarters. Male returns with twelve flowering plant stems, species rosa rubifolia, effecting a cessation of hostilities. Stardate 52648, 0300 hours: Intimate relations resume.’ – How the hell do you know when we’re having intimate relations?
Seven of Nine: There is no one on deck nine, section twelve, who *doesn’t* know when you’re having intimate relations.”
Played by: Sofia Helin
Show: The Bridge (2011 – )
Area of genius: Making connections between events
Flaws: Saying everything that pops into her head, ignoring social norms, being overly literal
“Saga Noren: Very few women fantisise about small penises.”
Dr Spencer Reid
Played by: Matthew Gray Gubler
Show: Criminal Minds (2005 – )
Area of genius: Photographic memory, making connections between things
Flaws: Making connections with others, being overly literal
“Special Agent Derek Morgan: So tell me, what does keep young Dr. Reid awake at night? Wait, let me guess. Memorizing some obscure textbook? No, no, no. Working on cold fusion? No, I got it, I got it, I got it. Watching Star Trek and laughing at all the physics mistakes?
Dr. Spencer Reid: Actually, there aren’t that many scientific errors in Star Trek, especially considering how long ago it was made. There are certain improbabilities, but not that many outright errors.
Special Agent Derek Morgan: Right.”
Dr Gregory House
Played by: Hugh Lawrie
Show: House M.D. (2005 – 2012)
Area of genius: Medical diagnoses
Flaws: Lack of empathy for anyone, excessive drug use
“Dr. James Wilson: Your real fear is me having a good relationship.
Dr. Gregory House: Yes, it keeps me up at night. That and the Loch Ness Monster, global warming, evolution, other fictional concepts.”
Played by: Gustaf Skarsgård
Show: Vikings (2012 – )
Area of genius: Boat building and just generally being ahead of his time
Flaws: Being away with the fairies, talking in riddles, taking crazy risks.
“King Horik: Floki, you have betrayed the gods.
Floki: No, King Horik. I only betrayed you.”
Played by: Bryan Cranston
Show: Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013)
Area of genius: Chemistry
Flaws: No knowing when to stop, egomania
“Declan: Who the hell are you?
Walter White: You know. You all know exactly who I am. Say my name.
Declan: Do what? I don’t… I don’t have a damn clue who the hell you are.
Walter White: Yeah, you do. I’m the cook. I’m the man who killed Gus Fring.
Declan: Bullshit. Cartel got Fring.
Walter White: Are you sure?
[Declan looks at Mike and Mike shakes his head]
Walter White: That’s right. Now, say my name.
Declan: [quietly] Heisenberg.
Walter White: You’re goddamn right.”
Played by: Clare Danes
Show: Homeland (2011 – )
Area of genius: Intuition, making connections
Flaws: Mania, general lack professionalism, not knowing when to stop
“Carrie Mathison: [Saul and Estes question the validity of an asset’s intel] It’s not lost on me why people don’t trust my judgment. Why you didn’t even want me here.
Saul Berenson: Carrie…
Carrie Mathison: It’s not fair, I know, for you to have to be the one to decide.
[Carrie starts to cry]
Carrie Mathison: It fucked me up, Saul. Being wrong about Brody, it really… it fucked me up. Because I have never been so sure… and so wrong. And it’s that fact that I still can’t get my head around. It makes me unable to trust my own thoughts. Every time I think I see something clearly now… it just disappears.
[Carrie takes a moment to calm down]
Carrie Mathison: We have a chance to get Abu Nazir.
Saul Berenson: I know you want to think that. I won’t risk American lives on a hunch.
Carrie Mathison: And I would not ask you to. I recruited her, Saul, right here in this city. And it’s been eight years. I know… I know a lot of things can change. But I helped her through an abusive domestic situation. I practically saved her life. And I remember… I remember knowing at the time… that one day… she would be ready to leave here… and when that time came, she would be on my side. Look, the… the way I am now, I wouldn’t trust me, either. But the Carrie who recruited her… that one I believe. “
Played by: Richard Ayoade
Show: The IT Crowd (2006 – 2013)
Area of genius: Inventions
Flaws: Inability to actually take care of humself, understanding social conventions
“Moss: I wanna go back to being weird. I like being weird. Weird’s all I got. That, and my sweet sweet style.”