Films and TV shows love to use chess as a way of defining the intelligence of a character – Smart People Play Chess. It is such a common gimmick that we no longer need to be told anything at all, we see a chess board with pieces often set out in mid game and we immediately know that this person is a brain.
But of course quite a few of the people who create films and TV shows tend to assume that the viewers of their creations are idiots. I’m not sure if that assumption really works in their favour, but I suppose it is a symptom of the smartest man or woman in the room syndrome, the Insufferable Genius.
So they usually feel the need the explain their gimmick. Cue the life is like a game of chess analogy.
Just in case we are still too stupid to understand that the character is super duper intelligent, a game of chess will ensue, perhaps the game will overlap with the plot, every move made on the board reflected in moves being made in the story. The Chessmaster Trope. It will be the ultimate game testing everything that our character knows about the subject. Defeat will loom over them, then a flash of inspiration will strike and they will snatch victory from the smugly salivating jaws of their opponent. An archvillain is defeated by a superhero.
Intelligence Tropes are plentiful. Sometimes a show will use a blend of several to build up a character to make us understand that we are in the presence of cerebral greatness, with a dash of some flaw which will make them personable in some way if they are a goodie, if they are a baddie other rules apply.
I watch a lot of TV and film, and a side effect of that is that everything becomes a tad predictable. The plot is too familiar. The formula behind the show is too obvious. This is often a gimmick in and of itself.
Sometimes I just switch off, but sometimes I like to play a game of spot the tropes. The creators of the films and TV shows know certain viewers like to play spot the… games. They sprinkle their creations with Easter Eggs, hidden symbolism and a genius bonus. Have you ever noticed that in US TV shows women who work in the law, particularly FBI agents, often wear the same type of earrings. A little gold disc. Hmmm… I wonder what it means.
TV Tropes is a great site for checking out the most common tropes, discovering ones which perhaps you may have missed, having a laugh, learning about film, TV, and writing gimmicks, such as how to build a character so that your audience will connect with them immediately.
Need an idea for a blog post or story, try the Story Generator. It has links to get those creative juices flowing, and apart from being fun it is very insightful. You may even get some ideas about how to beat those villains in your real life using some well known devices.
It’s a very large and fascinating site. With lots of excellent links, and… I’ve barely even scratched the surface of it. Love it!