The scientist, the professor, the doctor; he is the cool and logical thinker who will find a rational solution to the problem. He’s not necessarily a man of action, but don’t for a moment think he can’t act when he has to. The scientist relies on his logic, the facts and his problem solving skills to get him out of trouble. He’s not an action hero and he probably doesn’t carry a gun all the time, but don’t count him out when trouble comes looking for him.
As a romantic hero, the scientist (think Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. rather than Indiana) is the thinker. He’s the puzzle solver. In modern literature he is best represented by Dr. Robert Langdon in the Dan Brown books Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code and the upcoming The Lost Symbol. Brown’s Langdon is not an action hero, he doesn’t use guns, halo jump out of airplanes and he isn’t a master of fighting in hand-to-hand combat.
Robert Langdon is a brilliant detective of symbology. He deduces meanings, sees patterns and solves mysteries. In the Tom Clancy novels, President Jack Ryan fits the mould of romantic hero as a thinker because of his skill in ferreting out intelligence, although his military background makes him ideal for the law-enforcement or soldier archetype.
In Lincoln Child’s Utopia, the romantic hero is Dr. Andrew Warne, a brilliant engineer. In Kelley Armstrong’s Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic, the romantic hero is Lucas Cortez, an attorney and research sorcerer. He is much more a thinker than an action hero, using his brains more than his brawn.
Gray Grantham from The Pelican Brief is a little cross-over, as a writer, but he’s an investigative journalist who uses his mind rather than a gun and action to get to the bottom of a problem.
In comic books it’s easy to find great scientists who become heroes. Reed Richards leaps to mind. This scientist leads the Fantastic Four and even though he has the ability to stretch his body five ways from Sunday, he is a scientist and thinker first. In Watchmen, Ozymandias is a brilliant scientist who uses his mental acuity to literally out think everyone and create the world he believes they should have.
Dr. Bruce Banner is a scientist first and foremost. He continues to research solutions to his becoming The Hulk constantly. Professor Charles Xavier is probably the epitome of this ideal, he is a brilliant thinker, teacher and scientist. He is wheel-chair bound, yet his mind is capable of so much. His telepathy is literally an extension of that think his way out of problems archetype.
Scientist Leads on TV
The Professor from Gilligan’s Island leaps to mind. Long before MacGyver, the Professor could make a radio out of two coconuts and some fishing twine. In the feature film, it was Dr. Daniel Jackson, an archaeologist and brilliant thinker that figured out how to make the Stargate work. In the series, it’s Daniel’s ability to think through a problem and gift of linguistics that allows guides the team time after time.
On sister show Stargate: Atlantis the role of the professor falls to Dr. Rodney McKay who is far more acerbic and biting than Daniel. From across the big pond, we have the quintessential thinker Doctor Who. Yes, he spends a lot of time running, but he thinks circles around the rest and never seems to need more than his own mind as a weapon.
Paperback Heroes: The Thinker
In the first installment of our look at archetypes in romantic heroes, the thinker (also known as the professor, scientist or doctor) uses his brilliant mind to solve the problem and save the girl. He may not be the ideal alpha male and he is almost certainly not an action hero, at least not at first, but the thinker is the guy who makes things happen.
Who is your favorite professor, doctor or thinker romantic hero?