The premise of the show Eureka is that they take a average intelligence man and make him the sheriff of a town filled with nothing but geniuses.

I've just got a few episodes into season 3 of the series, and it seems that Sheriff Carter is some sort of master detective (relative to the series of course. He's no Batman). He seems to see connections that others in the town can't see, he seems to solve all the problems (or help the people that can come to a conclusion).

Did Carter actually arrive to Eureka by accident, or was Carter actually recruited to come to Eureka? Is he actually a genius like the rest of the town?

  • 3
    Is this really a valid question here - the answer is easily available by watching the very first episode of the series.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 22:16
  • My question was about whether Carter is smarter than we think or if he didn't end up at Eureka by coincidence. Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 22:18
  • Your question is "Was Sheriff Carter recruited to come to Eureka?" - it's obvious from the first episode that his arrival in Eureka was an accident, but that he was kept on because of his ability to resolve the situation and help the previous sheriff.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 22:22
  • 1
    “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” -- Einstein. I think this certainly applies to Carter.
    – Chad Levy
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 23:03
  • Another Einstein quote that applies to him: “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”. (Think times where Carter explained something quite complex like a particle accelerator as "a big honkin' gun".)
    – Chad Levy
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 23:05

3 Answers 3


No. He ended up in Eureka by accident. From Wiki synopsis of the pilot episode, combined with Carter Wiki entry:

While transporting his delinquent daughter back to Los Angeles, U.S. Marshal Jack Carter crashes his car near Eureka. He assists in a case involving a tachyon accelerator, built by an amateur scientist.

When the previous sheriff was crippled as a result of this case, Jack took over temporarily and solved the problem. The old sheriff retired and had him promoted to be the new sheriff as he was impressed by Carter's handling of the situation.

According to Jack Carter Wiki:

His I.Q. is 111.

IIRC a Genius IQ is considered to be above 140.

However, he has very good talent for thinking outside the box and for making unusual connections, which is why he succeeds as Sheriff (plus,l ad Chris noted in the comment, he is a good law enforcement officer before he becomes Eureka Sheriff in the first place).

Please note that usually, it doesn't require a genius level scientific IQ to be a good detective - it requires a good understanding of human psychology (as far as I know, a lot of law enforcement people have psych degree or a minor) - which Carter has; and ability to leverage smart subject area specialists for scientific details (e.g. Henry for Carter as a perfect example).

  • I'll also add that Carter is a "regular guy" surrounded by people who live with their head in the clouds day-to-day. That alone gives him an advantage. Plus, he's an experienced U.S. Marshal - that counts for a lot. Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 21:14
  • I was asking if his accidental voyage to Eureka wasn't accidental. Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 22:05
  • @OghmaOsiris - I definitely get what you're driving at, even his daughter turns out to be a genius. So far though, it's just a fun plot device, the folksy sheriff makes some stupid suggestion that the geniuses turn into reality. And as you likely recall, the old sheriff didn't seem to be a genius either, it just turns out a certain sort of personality is suited to be the Sheriff of Eureka. Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 22:39
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    @SteveJackson - see my additional paragraph at the end that somewhat addresses your point. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 2:13
  • Further points I'd like to add are that as a US marshal, Carter likely has more experience, which spans the nation (federal jurisdiction as opposed to local/county). The residents in town and at Global Dynamics are definitely book smart, but he's got street smarts that does indeed allow him to "think outside the box".
    – ackmondual
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 22:46

A genius is actually with an IQ over 150, although a specific figure is no longer considered a proper measure. Mensa - who only accept geniuses - require people in the top 2% of the population, something which can change with time.

The point of the series, if there is one, is that Carter the "ordinary person" can achieve solutions to problems that all of the IQs of Eureka cannot. The geniuses cause the problems, the regular guy - IQ 111 puts him just slightly ahead of average, pretty well normal, I would guess for his sort of job - sorts it out, and does the "right" things. These are not necessarily the "clever" things.

  • Mensa doesn't only accept geniuses. Mensa accepts top 2% of the population which maps out to 130+ IQ. Whether someone without a clue calls those above-average-smart people "geniuses" is irrelevant - genius IQ is either 140+ or 180+ depending on who you ask. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 2:09
  • Sort of my point. Mensa used to accept IQ 150+, defined then as Genius level. These days their requirements are equivalent but differently defined. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 19:28
  • "require people in the top 2% of the population, something which can change with time." IQ is periodically renormalized (more precisely, IQ tests are periodically renormalized) and also changes with time, in the same way a %-derived cut does.
    – user1030
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 11:50

Carter wasn't recruited to come to Eureka. In the pilot episode, Jack explains his presence in the town. He was taking his daughter to L.A. (she ran away from her mother) when they encountered themselves traveling out of town, which led to an accident, which led to them stopping in Eureka (to seek help) instead of simply passing by.

Carter: Well, I was transporting this one to LA when we had a little bit of an accident.


Carter: I mean, one minute I'm driving my delinquent daughter back to Los Angeles, and the next I'm in the middle of the freaking Twilight Zone!

At the start of the show, Carter was a fugitive-chasing US Marshall, not a town sheriff. After the town's existing Sheriff, Bill Cobb was incapacitated, Marshall Carter was recommended for the position as his replacement.

Beverly: Actually, we're here on behalf of the Major. He was very impressed.

Carter: You mean Colonel Colonel Briggs.

Beverly: No, Major William Cobb, Army Intelligence. He said you two worked together recently.

Carter: Oh, you mean the Sheriff?

Beverly: With his recommendation, your security classification and pay level will increase, effective immediately. Marshal. Sir.

Carter: I don't understand.

Beverly: Relax, Carter. It's a promotion.

As to why he was chosen for the role, it most certainly wasn't for his genius (his IQ is repeatedly stated to be determinedly average) but for his tenacity, insight and people skills. This allows him to be the "everyman" in a town of geniuses.

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