No hero, or team of heroes, is complete without the techie. Every starship has an engineer. Every secret agent has his (or her) gadget-maker. Every superhero team has the person who can fix stuff. Usually, this person is pushed to the background — but they end up being our favorite character anyway.
Here are 10 reasons why we love fictional techies and engineers best of all.
1. They save the day at the last minute.
You think Captain Kirk is the master of the last-minute saves — what about Scotty? He's the one who always comes through just when things are at their diciest, by getting the engines back online or by coming up with a totally brilliant, never-before-seen use of the ship's deflectors. And even if the main hero takes credit for a last-minute save, you know it's really the techie who made it happen, by rigging something up.
2. They always have the coolest lab.
Sure, it's cool to be the main hero and ride around in the fancy car or sit in the captain's chair, but that's boring compared to being down in the lab testing exploding shoes and fountain-pen lasers, and an endless assortment of booby traps. Basically, blowing shit up and creating the world's most lethal toys for a living, day in and day out. Plus, the engine room on any starship always seems like the coolest place to be.
3. They're the first to throw a punch.
It's really true. While the hero is keeping a cool head and judging the situation, the engineer goes in and starts slugging. Just ask Scotty in "Trouble with Tribbles." Or B'Elanna, who practically earned the nickname Slugger. Engineers aren't afraid to get their hands dirty — including getting a spot of someone else's blood on their hands.
4. They can solve a centuries-old mystery in minutes.
Say there's a device or an obelisk or a spaceship or a superweapon that's been sitting around for thousands of years, covered with the dust of those who tried to understand it in the past — but it's miraculously still operational. Who's going to figure out how the damned thing works, preferably five seconds before it's absolutely needed to save the day? (See reason #1 above.) It's always the techie. Usually with no small measure of smugness.
5. They're usually the funny/clever character.
Who gets all the funniest lines? The gadget person. Who has all the snarky asides on whatever ridiculous danger the good guys are sailing blindly into this time around? The engineer. Who's always taking the situation apart, in exactly the same way that he or she takes machines apart? The tinkerer. Who's the voice of the audience? You know it.
6. They have the best love stories.
You know that the main heroes are never going to get hitched permanently, because they need to have a love interest of the week, or whatever. But the engineer often has the most interesting, coolest love story of the bunch. There's also the fact that people who roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty are just plain sexier. Come on, you know it.
7. They pop up just when you least expect them
Whenever someone needs a cool gadget or technological fix to get them out of a tricky situation, you can count on the helpful techie to appear out of thin air with exactly the right device. Sometimes they literally pop out from behind a bush, or show up in a bar in Bangladesh someplace with a suitcase full of toys. Sometimes they beam down right when you're in a tight spot, or turn out to have been at the center of the ancient megastructure all along, just tinkering quietly.
8. They have healthy loving relationships with machines.
Which is something we can all identify with, as we sit raptly at our computers. We love technology, and we want to be closer to it. And we automatically love people who want to understand how technology works, and who save the day by being technical.
9. They always have to take it apart and see how it works.
You can't leave one of these people in the room with the latest super high-tech device, or centuries-old scientific marvel — or you'll come back an hour later, and it'll be a pile of pieces, each separate piece being carefully examined. Of course, they'll always promise that they'll put it back together, good as new. Or better than before, because they've made a few improvements.
10. They have the best life expectancy.
Who doesn't go on the away team? Who gets to stay in the engine room during the fight with Reavers? Who's busy inventing the next cool gadget, instead of being in the giant Alpine chase scene? The mechanic or fixer is also the least expendable person on the team — and that's including the leader. Of course, there's always "Trip" Tucker, who's an exception to this rule as well as several others on this list. Poor Trip.