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Has eleven doctorates. Builds automated turrets, teleporters, and strength-enhancing prosthetic limbs with 1960s technology. Enjoys cornbread and cream gravy.

An inversion of the "idiotic redneck" stereotype people from The Deep South often have attached to them, in a similar mould to Black and Nerdy.

This character may have the same down-home sensibilities or otherwise act like a good ol' southerner, but is very, very smart. Maybe they exhibit Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness alongside their Southern vernacular, maybe they have a teleporter in their garage, maybe they have 11 Ph.Ds, who knows.

The Simple Country Lawyer exemplifies this trope; he uses his intelligence and accent as a weapon, talking in simple allegories and colloquialisms in order to make people think he's a moron, then brutalizing them with his superior wit.

May overlap with Good Is Not Dumb. See also Southern-Fried Private.

Examples of Southern-Fried Genius include:

Anime and Manga

  • Due to Accent Adaptation, Bill tends to display this in the translation of Pokémon Special as a substitute for the original's Kansai-ben — which was, much like this trope, presumably intended as a subversion of The Idiot From Osaka. Or maybe not — while The Idiot From Osaka is a trope that for some reason has really caught up in the West, the larger Japanese stereotype portrays Osakans, who come from a merchant city, as sharp, witty and moneygrubbing. And this is actually the reason for the idiot trope — the inhabitants of the more samurai-dominated Edo, who valued reserve and dignity, considered brash and loud Osakans rude and uncouth and thus below themselves.
  • The students at Yezo High in Silver Spoon may not do well in traditional academics, but many of them are prone to going into lengthy, university-level discussions on such subjects as the mechanical specs of farm equipment, food processing chemistry and biotechnology.

Comic Books

  • One issue of The Tick had the characters run into this, when a town full of hillbillies got their hands on The Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Flash Forward from the 2001 Doom Patrol revamp is a poor kid from rural Alabama who dropped out of school in the sixth grade. He's also unquestionably the smartest person on the team, and the others aren't exactly morons themselves.
  • Herschel Clay in PS238 is more or less a redneck Tony Stark, with a business empire, power armor—and a gimme cap.


  • John Nash from A Beautiful Mind and Real Life.
  • Coen Brothers movies often feature Southern characters who either are very smart, or talk like it.
  • In the Robin Williams movie RV, the family spends a good chunk of the movie thinking that the RV full of friendly Southern people were redneck hick stalkers. They were two for three (It's a long story.) Point is, near the end of the movie, the kids witness the redneck's kids doing home-school work out of an advanced Calculus book. Cue the daughter asking in complete astonishment, "Wait. You're smart?!"
  • Mater from Cars 2, whose friendly outgoing nature is coupled with an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure car parts. Later, he's the one who figures out the plot to sabotage and discredit the World Grand Prix.
  • Brad Whitaker from The Living Daylights is something of a whiz at both history and military technology.


  • Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, though he certainly doesn't exhibit any real southern stereotypes, at least no negative stereotypes. He's sort of the genteel southern elite, an erudite, upper class southern gentleman. Fortunately for his children and his client, he also displays an educated, liberal tolerance and gentility as well.
  • Cy Ogle from Interface.
  • The main character of The Killer Inside Me. Too bad he's Ax Crazy.
  • The minor character Bud in Kurt Vonnegut's debut Player Piano is a Georgian smart enough (maybe not) to create a machine that makes his job unnecessary.
  • The main character of the Morganville Vampires, and how.
  • Calvin Whitlock from Falkenburg's Legions.
  • Andrew Jackson Libby from Robert A. Heinlein's Future History stories and novels is a boy from the Ozarks who, among other things, discovers artificial gravity and hyperspace travel. Even a thousand years later, Lazarus Long comments that Libby was the only man who ever understood the mathematics of hyperspace: not only is every other pilot who claims to understand Libby's "imperial numbers" a liar and a menace to his passengers, but Every.Single.Computer that can navigate through hyperspace is a copy of Libby's unique mind.
    • Lazarus Long probably qualifies as well, though his is a more general kind of Renaissance genius, capable of doing anything (Libby was a capable mechanic, and at home in greasy overalls, but happier with pure numbers) and anyone. When not deliberately speaking another language or putting on polish, Lazarus reverts to the rusty Nebraska saw he spoke in his youth.

Live Action Television

  • J.R. Ewing of Dallas is a folksy ten-gallon hat wearing Texas good old boy and yet arguably the most famous TV villain of The Eighties. Every inch The Chessmaster and Magnificent Bastard.
  • LAPD Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson of The Closer, who is a CIA-trained interrogator, is phenomenally skilled at obtaining confessions... and sounds like she just took the train up from Georgia. Which, y'know, she did.
  • Trip Tucker. This depends on the episode though, sometimes he's presented as an engineering genius and others he can't do grade school math.
    • And earlier in the series, "Bones" McCoy did his undergraduate studies in Mississippi (although his accent wasn't quite so noticeable as Trip's). His birthplace is only defined as "somewhere in the South." Common Fanon puts it in Georgia like his actor.
  • Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is from Texas, but this trope is subverted in that he doesn't have the stereotypical Texan accent.
    • He does on occasion, usually when he's very, very upset. Not enough not to subvert, but enough to surprise and be comedy gold.
  • Sawyer of Lost. He's a very successful con man, after all, and is commonly seen reading a wide variety of literature.
  • The West Wing has Ainsley Hayes, the Trope Namer for Blonde Republican Sex Kitten, who trounces one of the main characters in a televised debate in her Establishing Character Moment. There are other, lesser examples throughout the series.
  • Supernatural's Ash, from season 2. And in season 5, he's able to hack Heaven itself, easily, and for shits and giggles.
  • Ballistics expert Calleigh Duquesne of CSI: Miami.
  • Lindsey MacDonald from Angel.
    • Not to mention Fred.
  • A non-heroic version appears on Boston Legal in the form of the sleazy Southern defense lawyer Alan would occasionally cross swords with.
  • Astronaut scientist John Crichton hails from the Florida. This trope is taken even further with his "super-evolved" version who speaks with a clear Texan drawl.
  • Dwight Hendricks of Memphis Beat (with a side of Defective Detective).
  • Abbie Carmichael, of the Law & Order Mother Ship, was a Southern Fried Legal Genius, with a dash of Blonde Republican Sex Kitten (OK, brunette Republican Sex Kitten, but really, does it matter?) and a bucket of Hello, Attorney!.
    • Also DA Arthur Branch, a smart man, whom the writers made no attempt to hide was simply his actor (the actually excellent lawyer and former US Senator from Tennessee Fred Dalton Thompson) in the form of a fictional character.
    • One of McCoy's opponents deliberately invoked this trope to appear simultaneously a down-home country boy, just one of us chickens to pair with his rapier wit and encyclopedic knowledge of the law.
  • This concept was discussed in an early QI, where Stephen Fry said that it's difficult to imagine someone from the American South becoming a professor of fine art, and Rich Hall agreed, saying that if you come from the south, it's difficult to have any credibility if you do anything other than play a washboard with spoons.
  • Overton the handyman on Living Single, he knows Hebrew for one.
  • Bones: Finn Abernathy, the squintern introduced in season 7, is initially teased by Hodgins for his Southern drawl (and calls him out on it), and manages to impress Temperance Brennan with his forensic skills when they first meet(no mean feat there).

Video Games

Web Comics

  • All of the mages in What's Shakin' speak with a southern accent, but are also highly intelligent.
  • Clem from Sluggy Freelance.

Web Original

  • The Whateley Universe has Loophole.... a southern belle with an accent as thick as creamed corn, who also happens to be an inventor and gadgeteer who built her own ersatz, space-worthy Iron Man suit... and who got her code name by knowing the rulebook (which rulebook, you ask? ALL OF THEM) inside and out and exploiting them ruthlessly.

Western Animation

  • One episode of Jackie Chan Adventures had Jackie and Co. meet an entire family of these, including two brothers who were a nuclear physicist and an archeologist, respectively, yet still worked on their father's farm. "Doctor Buford McDonald? Your books are very insightful!"

Buford: Thank yee. *Punch*

  • In an episode of Robot Chicken, there's a parody of Paris Hilton's reality show The Simple Life called Country Folk R Morons. A toothless redneck in overalls is standing in front of a chalkboard covered in equations.

Hick: ...aaaand that's about all there is to know about quantum mechanics.
Paris: Beat You're [bleep]ing stupid.


Real Life

  • Google "redneck geeks", you'll get quite a list.
  • Jay Maynard, the computer programmer who became a minor internet celebrity as "The Tron Guy". Though he now lives in Minnesota, he's most emphatically a Texan, with the accent to prove it.
  • Travis Taylor, as well as several of his literary Self Insert characters. Also, his castmates on Rocket City Rednecks.
  • Jimmy Carter is from the Deep South, and he has an exceptional IQ of 170.
    • Served as a submarine engineer and was in line to be one of the very first nuclear engineers in the Navy, at that(though he had to quit to run the family peanut farm before he finished). As a result, while most modern presidents (Ford, Reagan and Bush I) have had aircraft carriers named after them, Carter got himself a submarine.
  • Colonel Harland David Sanders may very well be the literal Southern Fried Genius. Along with his "secret recipe", his use of pressure frying to cook chicken more quickly and crisply as opposed to pan frying it are one of the reasons why his KFC restaurant chain was so successful.
  • Quite a few of the United States' Founding Fathers were from Virginia.
    • The Founding Fathers' genius embraced such diverse disciplines as clockmaking, gunsmithing, architecture, legal drafting, theology and wine appreciation... and that was just Thomas Jefferson. No wonder that when John F. Kennedy hosted a gathering of Nobel Prize winners, he said, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
  • Robert E. Lee was a professor at West Point before the American Civil War and went on to become President of what is now Washington and Lee College after.
  • Let's not forget about Leland, Mississippi's favorite son, Jim Henson.
  • The Southern Agrarians, a socio-politio-literary movement that began at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in the 1930s. Especially notable in that they started writing specifically to counteract the "idiotic redneck" stereotype which was, if anything, even more prevalent than it is now.
  • Mark Twain anyone?
  • Kris Kristofferson: country and western/folk singer and songwriter. Also Rhodes Scholar, summa cum laude BA in Literature, B Phil English Literature, military helicopter pilot and was offered the position of Professor of English Literature at West Point.
  • Edward Osbourne (E.O.) Wilson, a biologist and Pulitzer Prize winner who is known as the father of sociobiology and probably most famous for his 1990 reference encyclopedia The Ants, hails from Alabama.
  • In general, the South includes a lot of fine educational institutions, including Vanderbilt, Rice and Georgia Tech, among others.