Idiot Hero

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"Why must the fate of the world always be in the hands of an idiot?"

The Idiot Hero is a common character in action series. Often, he is both the main protagonist and the central character of the narrative. He will frequently use the Indy Ploy, will be too stupid to be afraid of imminent peril, and will often have a short memory span. Despite all of this, he is the most effective member of the cast at fighting. He will also usually be the leader of a tight-knit group of characters, despite the fact that he doesn't have the brains to lead a cat out of a paper bag. This is because he is so stupid as to be incorruptible, and has the ability to maintain a childlike innocence and faith in people that inspires those around him.

The Idiot Hero is usually a mutation of The Fool. However, unlike The Fool, the Idiot Hero usually has some idealistic goal in mind, usually becoming the "best warrior ever", and is usually much more aggressive when irked. The Idiot Hero usually enjoys fighting, and is always looking for a challenge. The only way to actually anger the Idiot Hero will be inevitably to hurt one of their friends, or Innocent Bystanders.

In his early stages, he may be little more than an Invincible Incompetent; however, with Character Development, the Idiot Hero may mature into The Messiah. The Idiot Hero is usually opposed or rivaled by The Stoic or the Aloof Big Brother. If the Idiot Hero is actually a sleazy Badass, then his stupidity is actually an Obfuscating Stupidity.

The sidekick of the Idiot Hero is frequently Mr. Exposition or a Hero Worshipper, who has no compunctions against explaining things the hero ought to already know when The Hero is a moron.

Does not necessarily star in an Idiot Plot.

Not to be confused with Idiot Hair, though the two may overlap.

A reminder that Tropes Are Not Bad.

Examples of Idiot Hero include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Ash from the Pokémon anime, though how idiotic varied over the years. He arguably got smarter in regards to being a Pokemon trainer, but dumber when it came to everything else.
    • Similarly to Ash, considering they're based off the same character, Red, from Pokémon Special. He ends up maturing past this, but Gold and Black from later arcs pick up the mantle.
    • Hareta from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure may qualify as this, though not when he's in a battle.
    • Pokemon manga protagonists as a whole tend to be Idiot Heroes, though several of them mature.
  • Kazuma from S-Cry-ed. He is more philosophical than most examples of this trope, and prefers to think of himself as "hands-on" rather than stupid.
  • Luffy from One Piece. As noted by Sanji during their fight against Arlong's men:

"...Looks like I'm following a very loony captain."

    • In an SBS column, Oda replies to a question asking why Luffy is always so calm with "Probably because he's so stupid."
    • The Impel Down arc was partially a deconstruction of this trope, partially an attempt to evolve Luffy beyond it. Luffy's stubborn refusal to stand down or retreat from Magellan ends up almost getting him killed and costing him several years of his life. He attacks Blackbeard in spite of his considerable power, and the only things that keep him from getting into a fight that would be counterproductive to his mission are Jimbei restraining him and Blackbeard not looking for a fight. His pushing himself too far results in his body giving out, and Ace dying to protect him. Many of the strategies he'd fallen back on in the past (such as using brute strength to win and never backing down) fail as he comes up against many opponents he cannot defeat, thus forcing him to either do things in a more intelligent way or get even stronger.
      • Not a complete deconstruction, though. Luffy is still dumber than a rock after the events in Impel Down and Marineford, but at least he now has a quite more realistic outlook on life, not storming into fight with opponents he obviously cannot defeat - and not going into fights for no reason.
  • Flint from Flint the Time Detective'. Being a paleolithic child blessed with super strength, there wasn't a whole lot he needed to know or think about. Problem is he's time traveled to eras where the problems are more complex.
  • Bit Cloud from Zoids: New Century Zero.
  • Tai, Davis, Takuya, and Masaru.
    • Tai and Davis, however, were more realistic than most examples of this trope, and matured as the series progressed. They also seemed closer to their actual ages than most of the other kids: both are eleven in the beginning of Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02. The only reason they ever seem like Idiot Heroes is because the rest of the characters are startlingly mature for their ages.
    • Also, the whole Western-featured Idiot Hero and Japanese-featured Lancer seems to have been averted in both Tai's and Davis' case. Matt (Lancer to Tai) and TK (one of the two Lancers to Davis) are both part-French, and it is they who are blonde and blue-eyed instead.
    • The trend is subverted with Taiki of Digimon Xros Wars, who has the strategic prowess to back up his title of "General" of Xros Heart, and looks like Sun Tzu next to the other protagonists. His successor Tagiru, on the other hand, actually plays it straighter than any of his Idiot Hero predecessors, much to many fans' dismay.
  • Teppei from B't X is very much this trope for a good chunk of the series. He eventually grows out if it, but it's pretty hard to root for him sometimes because of his pigheadedness.
  • Louie of Rune Soldier Louie—the despair of his adventuring buddies. The priestess who was directly ordered by her God to follow Louie as her personal Hero constantly cried "This is not my will!" and has no faith in his heroism until the final story arc.
  • Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann embodies idiot heroism to a degree rarely seen, perfectly happy to run off a cliff brandishing a sword in an attempt to fight an enemy in a giant robot, then dropping the fight to hit on the hot girl who just appeared out of nowhere. A good example is when, believing that sheer bloody minded determination can make up for any deficiency in skills or knowledge, he surpassed the identification system of his hijacked mecha with fighting spirit alone and proceeded to absolutely trash it through careless piloting. Another character-defining moment is when he stabs his Humongous Mecha with Simon's smaller drill-equipped mecha in an effort to combine them. If his universe didn't run on Rule of Cool, that would have been rather awkward, especially since the thing almost impaled his head.
    • The only thing that saves him is Genre Savvy - he needs to act in such a way because it inspires everyone. He needs bravado, because everybody else has lived underground for their whole lives and nothing will change if he doesn't act in this way. He knows that Simon's mecha is special, and considering Simon went on to save humanity, then the universe, it was actually a pretty good bet.
    • It also helps that the mecha in question is powered by Hot-Blooded determination and is capable of rewriting the laws of physics in the presence of enough of it. Kamina, and the rest of the Dai-Gurren Brigade, wouldn't be nearly as effective if the universe wasn't as crazy as they were.
    • Kamina is a pretty interesting example. In term of acts, he acts like idiot hero full stop. But among the cast, or even when you take acount what he actualy did during almost all of his fight, he use tactical advantages of the battlefield and allowing Simon to execute his plan that is absed on using said advantages, developed an effective move that based on tricking his opponent by taking advantage of the characteristic of Simon's mecha, and devise a pretty logical and effective planning throughout. Even by real word standard, he can count as Genius Bruiser
  • Usagi from Sailor Moon is a rare female example, especially in the early series since she matures and becomes The Messiah. She isn't quite so bad in the manga though, the anime tended to exaggerate many characters.
  • ... And her evolutionary descendant, Nozomi from Yes! Precure 5, is an example as well.
  • As is Usagi's sci-fi counterpart, Yuna from Galaxy Fraulein Yuna.
  • Excel from Excel Saga is both a female example and a parody. A parody in that, besides being the henchgirl of an Evil Overlord trying to take over the city and not that nice of a person, she is this trope.
    • Iwata is another parody. He works for the other side, so he thinks he's a hero, but he's really destructive and nothing he does saves the city.
  • Relatedly, Poemi from Puni Puni Poemi is another parody, with the other characters and Poemi herself frequently pointing out her extreme stupidity.
  • Goku from Dragon Ball, induced from him suffering massive head trauma as a baby (which is the biggest reason why he didn't end up a villain), growing up isolated from the outside world until he was at least twelve years old, and his only education to speak of was less than a year of learning basic reading and math from a perverted hermit.
    • Goku was only really book dumb and naïve (probably from living in the wilderness for 12 years. He was perfectly capable of understanding what was going on and coming up with plans. He's even shown fighting tactically several times. Although he's definitely an idiot when it comes to trusting his enemies and trying to give them second chances, but this is as much due to his kind, naïve nature as it is to stupidity.
  • Yusuke, being what appears to be an Expy of Goku with a Jerkass Delinquent layer over him, also falls under this trope. He is severely, SEVERELY Book Dumb; he got a bloody 12 on a science test. Kuwabara is worse; he got a 7.
    • Justified in Yusuke's case because he hardly ever shows up for school. You can't expect him to know material he wasn't in school to learn. Kuwabara is probably a straighter example of this, as even when he did study, he got a 53.
      • And it's implied that at least part of the reason for his never doing so stems from the fact his mother, Atsuko, is frankly a terribly negligent parent. She spends more time out drinking, sleeping off hangovers, or cursing him out in a drunken tirade than doing anything responsible, to the extent that Yusuke himself has very little respect for her. To be fair to her, she was a party girl who got pregnant with Yusuke at the age of 14 and was evidently abandoned by both the father and her family.
    • Kuwabara's case could easily be considered justified as well, most of his school life was spent in a vain effort to beat Yusuke, who he considers his rival. Even during the times when he wasn't getting beat up by Yusuke, sleeping through classes or ignoring the teacher with paper airplanes and the like seem to fit rather well with his early personality. He subverts it by the end of the series by studying hard and getting into a good college.
  • Naruto in Naruto, though it's primarily Book Dumb, and he's a lot better after the Time Skip... at least strategy-wise. In actuallity, he might be a subversion deep down, because he can see through people when they fake their happiness, points this out and tries to help them sort things out, especially in part II. The reason for this is that he sees himself in some of them with harsh pasts simply because his past is probably the harshest and most screwed up past in the entire series, right next to Gaara and Pain/Nagato. He would take the suffering for them because he dosn't like seeing others suffer like he has.
    • There's usually one Idiot Hero per squad. Kiba and Choji are straight examples, while Rock Lee ends up getting better.
  • Kinniku Mantaro/Kid Muscle from Kinnikuman Ni-sei/UltimateMuscle.
  • Tamaki Suoh from Ouran High School Host Club is so dumb, he concludes that his possessiveness towards, his nervousness around and wanting to kiss the first real female friend he's ever had is because he wants to be her... get ready for it... father. His True Companions know he is dumb, but assumed this was just a metaphor. Then they learned that no, he really thinks that is logical. Even though Tamaki's hobby and job is entertaining women, so he knows what romance is. He's the school King of romance.
    • Luckily, he isn't really the King of the Host Club. We all know who the Shadow King is.
    • Also his idiocity only relates to relationships, which is probably explained away by his own family history. He's actually second in his class, right after Kyoya.
  • Gourry Gabriev from Slayers is a personification of this trope and is (as is all of Slayers) at least partly parody. He doesn't know basic facts about... well, anything other than food and fighting, and is prone to forgetting minor details like the names of his best friends, and that time a few months back when they saved the universe in an epic battle of good and evil. But his combat skills are such that he can assess the skills of other characters accurately just by glancing at them and can hold his own in a fight against everything up to deities when he has his legendary Sword of Light. Word of God states that in addition to his skill with the sword, he's got the innate talent to be a truly frightening sorcerer—but he's too dumb to remember the necessary magic words.
    • Gourry subverted the trope, in a way, in the one time throughout the entire series that he showed any signs of intellect; when Xellos is finally revealed to be a Mazoku, good old Gourry is shocked to hear that no one else had figured it out. He had known since the beginning.
    • Speaking of Slayers, this is somewhat subverted in one episode ("Geoffry's Knighthood") with Geoffry, whose mother employes Lina and Naga to accompany him on his quests. Although Geoffry is an "idiot", he fails somewhat on the "hero"—all of the badass fighting is actually done by his mother ("disguised" by a bag over her head). However, the final Boss is genuinely terrified when Geoffry appears...
      • That's got little to do with Geoffry, though. As one comes to expect of Slayers, there's a new layer of parody here. The main boss is Geoffry's Dad!! And the reason for the fear is eminently logical; the man KNOWS his maniac of a wife will be by to defend Geoffry. That reaction is pure channeling of Harry Mudd, my friends.
    • Gourry also subverts this trope in the original novel series where he is far more capable and his ditziness is closer to Obfuscating Stupidity. It's the anime series that flanderized this idiot trait to max.
  • Invoked recently in the Mahou Sensei Negima manga. The hero Negi Springfield is intelligent... intelligent enough to worry and hesitate. The Rival has stated that Negi needs more "idiocy" to be a better fighter (Negi goes on to ask his trainer how to be an idiot, like him). Compounding on this, according to flashbacks, Negi's legendary father Nagi appears to be a textbook example of an Idiot Hero. (For example: instead of memorizing his combat spells, he wades into battle with crib notes in one hand.)
      • Nagi is actually turning out to be a deconstruction. Yes, he stopped the Lifemaker and CE twenty years ago... but he never even seemed to realize what their motivation was and had no plan to solve the problem they were attempting to address. Instead, the next generation is the one that has to solve the actual problem. Just look back at Nagi's final beatdown of the Lifemaker after having read chapter 325.
    • Jack Rakan probably also counts. Maybe.
    • Kotaro definitely counts; he even prides himself on it.
  • Goku from Saiyuki. The most recent manga chapters suggest that he is slowly maturing, however.
  • Azuma from Yakitate!! Japan, though he's more of a Genius Ditz.
  • Arguably, Shu from Now and Then, Here and There.
  • Jil, from The Tower of Druaga. In battle, he's been known to do exactly the opposite of what his more experienced party mates consider the most sensible tactics. He's also one of the only characters on the quest for the purpose of slaying Druaga, and has been called a "Justice Freak". Comes complete with an Aloof Big Brother.
  • Arika Yumemiya from Mai-Otome, although in her case it's more a matter of being inexperienced with the world. She gains some confidence and competence as the series goes on, but while almost everyone else in Mai-Otome Zwei has become Older and Wiser, Arika lapses back into Idiot Hero mode.
    • Which is only one of the reasons why Zwei is subject to Fanon Discontinuity by the fans.
    • She's even dumber in the manga, although part of the reason why she isn't good at anything except Butou is that, not having Sergay's sponsorship, she has to work several part-time jobs to support herself.
  • One of the older examples of an idiot hero is Kouji Kabuto from Mazinger Z. Excellent pilot, marvelous sniper, big ass Determinator, pretty good with motorcycles—but his little brother, his girlfriend and his Gonk rival keep correcting and bitchslapping him (verbally and literally) for his lack of tact, sexism and big mouth. Nevertheless, Kouji, unlike many similar hot-heads, may be exceptionally bright if he allows himself think things through. He is more of a Genius Ditz.
    • His sucessor and adoptive brother Tetsuya from Great Mazinger is another determinator Badass and he is slightly more mature and less sexist than Kouji, but some of the stunts he pulls due to his pride, hardheadness, jealousy, obsessivity and unability to listen to good advice are mind-baffling. And then you have he can be a tactless jerk when he gets angry or upset, and it is not wonder how often he has been on the end of several Jun's Armor Piercing Slaps.
    • On the other hand, the remainder male main character of the Mazinger trilogy -Duke Fleed from UFO Robo Grendizer- averts the trope. He can be somewhat rash sometimes, but usually he thinks before of acting.
  • Sonsaku Hakufu from Ikki Tousen is a total idiot. She knows it herself, even though she hates being called stupid, which happens so often that she should actually be used to it. Her inner dragon makes her a very strong fighter, though, and like all other female warriors in the series she is hot, which is a combination that definitely helps her to get more respect from her peers.
  • Momoko from Sumomomo Momomo.
    • Momoko is more Book Dumb which is justified by her not attending regular school until the age of seventeen.
  • Hunter Steele from Spider Riders.
  • Yoichi, the lead of Asu no Yoichi!. Since he spent most of his life training in the mountains, all he thinks about is fighting.
  • While the titular character of The Law of Ueki does have several brilliant insights, especially in battle, for the most part he seems rather simple-minded and clueless. On first meeting Tenko's gignatic dog-like form, he thinks it's just a really big chicken.
  • Black Star of Soul Eater embodies this character type, while main character Maka is quite the opposite.
    • Maka and Soul embody aspects of this character. While Maka isn't stupid, she can be quite naive yet wholesome. Medusa takes advantage of this. Soul was more this during the beginning of the manga, recklessly disobeying Maka to devour souls. Both evolve however.
    • Arguably Kid falls somewhere between the two (which he would not like) - he stops to think at times, but does make downright stupid decisions, at least in part thanks to his very single-minded way of thinking.
  • Domon Kasshu from G Gundam is Hot-Blooded and has No Social Skills - he's Not Good with People. The results are, well, special. His Lancer and The Kid of his group are also a bit idiotic sometimes, but not that bad.
    • Taken a step further in the 2010 manga retelling of the series. To give an example, in one episode he uses an Air Vent Passageway to ambush a fellow Gundam Fighter's boxing opponent and take his place. In the manga version, he ends up in the opponent's room by accident, attempts (pitifully) to talk his way out of it, then beats him up in self-defense and decides to take his place on the spot.
  • Michiko from Michiko to Hatchin arguably qualifies. She tends to make quite questionable decisions while she runs away from the police and tries to find her old boyfriend—her flashy appearance not even being the stupidest. Fortunately, the girl she took with her, Hana, is actually quite a bit more intelligent. Unfortunately, Michiko never listens to her.
  • Alice L. Malvin of Pumpkin Scissors insists on going after evil no matter the odds, so obviously, her subordinates have to stop her from just charging head on into battle and come up with a more effective, less risky plan.
  • Jaden of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX—Goal To Be a Master? Check. Spiky hair? Check. Too Dumb to Live? Check. Idealist? Check. Magnet for True Companions? Check. Big Eater? Check. Book Dumb? Double check. Character Development into The Messiah? Just the opposite. There's only so much a kid can take.
    • Character Development into The Messiah? Check. His development didn't stop when he put on the armor and he spent part of s3 after that as The Atoner and then saved all of his friends and went on to save the world from Darkness, after he helped Alexis, Chazz, and Syrus find the paths they wanted to follow in life. And he's hardly a loner when he lives with Yubel in his soul, his entire deck of spirits in his pocket, and Pharaoh and Banner in his backpack.
    • Yuma from Yu-Gi-Oh Ze Xal is season 1 Jaden all over again. And despite being the protagonist, he has the dueling skills of an amateur, and Astral has to guide him through a lot of his duels.
    • Crow from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, though it's only to assist his friends. Wants to prove to them that he doesn't want to be a 3rd wheel or a burden to them.
    • However Yugi, from the original series, is a subversion. He starts the series as what Yusuke would be if he were a geek, but he's a strategic genius.
  • Musubi from Sekirei, in spades.
  • Natsu from Fairy Tail demonstrates many elements of this. In a semi-subversion, despite being a Hot-Blooded Determinator, prone to causing extreme collateral damage and social obliviousness, he's perfectly capable of fighting intelligently and wins through unorthodox use of his abilities at least as often as through sheer power.
  • Gon from Hunter X Hunter. The only reason he probably hasn't died yet is because he comes up with creative ways to stay alive during a fight. He forgets things often, is easily fooled, rushes into things without considering the consequences, often even disregarding the consequences just to get what he wants.
  • Baccano!!'s Firo Prochainezo is one, and also thoroughly aware of it.
  • Padudu from Magical Play.
  • Yaiba is not the brightest crayon of the box, but sometimes he can came out with some cunning strategy.
  • Dan from Basquash.
  • Hayate Kurogane of Hayate X Blade, who is repeatedly told so by her eventual fighting partner, Ayana Mudou.
  • The main protagonist Hamel from Violinist of Hameln, though he is more likely to be decribed as the bastard hero. Raiel could also easily be put in this category.
  • This is how Yogi from Karneval can act before he starts battle. He's usually rather sunshiny and cheery as well.
  • Played for drama and deconstructed with Suzaku from Code Geass. At the beginning of the series, he's a Wide-Eyed Idealist Ace Pilot who wants to change the Britannian Empire to help the "Elevens" (that's Japanese people, by the way). Unfortunately for him, he's living in a world full of Manipulative, Magnificent Bastard-ly hams, so he gets used by anyone and everyone for their own ends, including to crash other peoples' plans. Since he's nowhere near as smart as the other people he's trying to deal with, he gets in the way of things that would really have furthered his goal faster, more effectively, and in some cases even with less bloodshed. And then the Diabolus Ex Machina hits...
  • Natsuru, main character of Kämpfer, in the anime. S/he was already dumb as a brick with special needs in the manga and light novel, but the anime went Up to Eleven and turned hir into a character thinking exclusively with hir non-existent penis... while being Oblivious to Love. Consequentially, s/he spends most of the series just sorta standing there with a dazed and confused expression, not even bothering to do much fighting or noting the Obviously Evil characters, or wondering what the smeg was going on with the secret magical girl war s/he was drafted into, or why the hot girls kept blushing around hir and taking hir out to eat... S/he is also a Pinball Protagonist, doing absolutely nothing of relevance whatsoever other than obliviously make all the lesbians in the room damp.
  • Every hero in works by Mitsuru Adachi (most famous works include Touch, H 2, Miyuki, Cross Game) would be labeled under the "Lovable Idiot" category. Though they often act like Idiot Jerks they're actually quite smart and tend to be sarcastic and smart mouthed.
  • Maeda Hachibe from Ai Kora is constantly starting or getting into trouble for the sake of his "beloved parts", and those who have them. His idiocy is lampshaded a number of times in the series.
  • Photon, so labeled in the title of the series and in-universe with the word 'Baka' written in magic marker on his forehead.
  • Jinbee from Mushibugyo, although his relentlessly positive attitude even affects The Stoic swordsman who was ready to write him off as just another short-lived rookie.
  • Al from Fire Emblem : Hasha no Tsurugi.
  • America from Axis Powers Hetalia is the poster boy—er, nation—for this trope. He's a Big Eater who is loud (occasionally considered annoying by the other characters and/or fans) and comes up with plans like "building a giant superhero to stop global warming." He is repeatedly told to "read the atmosphere," upon which he looks for it in a bookstore. A quote from the dub:

America: Someone told me that my elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor, but I don't even have an elevator!


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Flaming Carrot from the eponymous Flaming Carrot Comics, actually described in his origin story as "quintessentially retarded". Surprisingly, for some people he's actually a mentor and on occasion it even gives him the "superpower" of Zen Stupidity.
  • Enemies of the Green Lantern Corps attempted to discredit them by giving counterfeit power rings to several idiots. One of those idiots, a G'newtain named G'nort, uncovered their plot and helped defeat them. He was rewarded with membership in the real Green Lantern Corps.
    • His Batman the Brave And The Bold version takes this even farther, as he got his (admittedly unimportant) job in the corps because of his uncle and could only remember The Oath with a cheat sheet.
      • The original version of his origin also was that he just got the job because his uncle was one of the greatest Green Lanterns. That "enemies discrediting the Green Lanterns" stuff sounds more like a Cerebus Retcon. Then again, a real Cerebus Retcon would have gotten rid of G'nort altogether.
      • Specifically, his original concept was that he was an incompetent GL who got into the Corps due to nepotism. Eventually it was retconned to "reveal" that his uncle had actually gotten him into a fake GL Corps (which he thought was real). The retcon was presumably intended to explain how on Earth the Guardians (who never much cared for individual GL's opinions, much less familial relationships) would ever give such an idiot a power ring or let him keep it, but it was still very much played for laughs, including showing several members of the idiot GL Corps.
  • The Tick (animation)
  • Groo the Wanderer. ("What did you mean, 'slow of mind'?")
    • Lacking ideals other than acquiring mass amounts of cheese dip. Early in the title he inadvertently, and often obliviously, pulled Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, but now his destructive reputation has grown to the point that armies will flee at the mention of his name, and the writers are running out of foreign lands to put him in to make use of the trope.
  • Big Johnson Bone is a Small Name, Big Ego type who (due to boredom and overestimating his abilities) cheerfully embraces every single danger that comes his way and never walks away any wiser.
  • Scott Pilgrim. Oh, Scott...


Films[edit | hide]

  • Forrest Gump. He actually appears to succeed because of his idiocy, or rather, because it never seems to occur to him to do anything other than the Right Thing by traditional standards. He becomes a decorated war hero just by trying to save his Army buddy Bubba and his comrades. His shrimping business succeeds only because a hurricane has sunk every boat in the harbor but his; it is strongly implied this is because Gump has been going to church lately and got God on his side. Other characters who do not share his conventional morality, and explore alternative values and lifestyles as so many Americans did in the 1960s and '70s, act like total bastards and/or make fools of themselves. Even the good-hearted Jenny succumbs to Death by Sex, since she gets AIDS. (In real life people like Gump might live happily, but they almost never become rich save by inheritance.)
    • True, but the main reason Gump got rich was because he was just smart enough to know his limitations, and let Lieutanant Dan handle the money for him. The movie would have ended up much differently if Lieutenant Dan weren't a fundamentally ethical person.
    • Gump got rich due to a brilliant stroke of luck, Lieutenant Dan having invested in "the fruit company Apple", which was equivalent to a Real Life lottery winning. Many people have won the jackpot. Most people did not.
      • The Apple investment greatly increased Forrest's wealth, but he was already rich to begin with because of his extremely successful shrimp company. And that success came about because he and Lieutenant Dan were spared by the hurricane.
      • He started his wealth with the shrimp company. How long do you think a man can hold out with just that? Just like people who were made rich after the rubber boot company Nokia got better, they have to find a better place for income for themselves.
      • Proven in the Sequel book Gump and Co, where his shrimp company goes bankrupt.
  • Wikus van de Merwe from District 9. Let's just say that none of his boneheaded decisions throughout the film are out of character. Though it's more a case of Wikus being a Dirty Coward at best and Villain Protagonist at worst.
  • 9. As described on the character page, he's not so much Too Dumb to Live as Too Dumb For The People Around Him To Live.
  • Jake Sully from Avatar. Well, he's a jarhead.
    • That part was intentional as a Take That to the military, but to the audience he's really an Idiot Hero because the whole conflict erupted thanks to his forgetting to do the only thing he was sent to Pandora to do.
  • Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek reboot seems to be playing with this one. Unlike TOS Kirk, the reboot Kirk needs his supporting cast to keep from getting his ass handed to him every five minutes (Spock, Sulu, Scotty, Bones, and Chekov keep Kirk from killing himself in various interesting ways while Hypercompetent Sidekick Uhura holds the ship together!)
  • Oscar from Shark Tale
  • Sam from I Am Sam
  • Inspector Gadget
  • Igor
  • Robin Williams's Character in Flubber
  • Adam Sandler in most of his movie roles.
  • Buddy from Elf.
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop
  • Nick from 30 Minutes or Less.
  • Andy from Taxi.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Several of the "heroes" in A Song of Ice and Fire. Unfortunately, they live in a Crapsack World, so they tend to die a lot.
    • This is usually a matter of Honor Before Reason.
    • Four books and several thousand pages in, and most of the surviving "good guys" seem to be getting better: Jon and Dany have both gained a measure of pragmatism after attaining positions of power; Arya has had to live entirely by her wits since her father's death; and former Wide-Eyed Idealist Sansa is even taking lessons in Magnificent Bastardry from none other than Littlefinger himself. In many ways, this can be seen as the younger generation overcoming the flaws that killed their parents and older siblings.
  • The Dragaeran House of the Dzur, a.k.a. the House of Heroes. Not all Dzurlords fit the stereotype (i.e. near-suicidal bravery and a shortage of little grey cells), but many seem to.
  • Mentioned in an author's note that Eragon of the Inheritance Cycle is not too bright. Obvious from reading the text.
  • Harry Potter: Harry, with sparing moments of clarity. At least Once an Episode he rushes heads forward into a situation he has no feasible way of mastering, usually without any planning or preparation. Only Hermione, The Spock to Harry's Kirk, Dumbledore, the Deus Ex Machina Extraordianre, and the Power of Love keep him from killing himself repeatedly.
    • Word of God does say that "Harry doesn't have a bad mind" however. Being rash (rushing without thinking) is not the same as being idiotic.
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: Verne’s writing constantly inform us (and Counseil and Aronnax repeatedly lampshade) that Ned Land is a Hot-Blooded, Great White Hunter, Big Eater Real Men Eat Meat Book Dumb Badass who is from Canada. Fridge Brilliance when you realize that Land needs to be an Idiot Hero: Ned Land's personality permits him being the Only Sane Man capable of resisting Captain Nemo’s charism.
  • Harry Harrison's Bill the Galactic Hero books involve the titular character being a dumb farmboy on a backwater planet being tricked into enlisting into the fleet. He makes one stupid decision after another, mostly related to drinking, women, and money. In one of the novels it's revealed that his stupidity is directly caused by excessive drinking. When he's put on a prison ship for a few years without a drop of alcohol, his IQ jumps to genius-level, and he figures out several important things, such as the meaning of life (which, in Layman's Terms, can be phrased as "Life = Crap"). Then, at the end of the novel, he shares a toast with his friends, and promptly forgets everything he has learned. Most other characters aren't much smarter, at least the human ones. The Emperor is an inbred who can barely string two sentences together, and the admiral in charge of the fleet in the first book is a baby in diapers. Is it any wonder The Empire is losing the war with the Chingers (which it started in the first place).
  • Michael in the Knight and Rogue Series. Luckily, his squire Fisk was blessed with all the common sense Michael lacks.
  • One of the running questions of the Half Prince novels is whether the protagonist is one of these. Her narration always has some explanation for whatever stupid thing she's just done, but other characters tend to think she gets by on luck, attractiveness, and/or being so stupid that she doesn't "know" she can't do something everyone else falsely thinks nobody can do.
  • Deconstructed in Warrior Cats with Foxleap, whose stupidity inadvertently causes the death of another cat and causes him to start feeling immense pain.
  • Matteo in Someone Elses War is an interesting example of one of these. He is actually rather tactical and tries to plan ahead, but when the situation calls for a snap decision, he always makes a stupid one. (Why yes, Matteo, jumping on the tail of a tank after you've thrown a grenade at it will give you first degree burns.)


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • A dramatic example of an Idiot Hero can be found in Peter Petrelli of Heroes. He's technically the most powerful character in the show, but the writers have accidentally made him Too Powerful to Live. However this is balanced out by his naiveness and overly trusting nature which ends up getting him and others into a lot of trouble. For example, in Season 2, Knight Templar Adam tricks him into releasing a virus that could wipe out mankind (though Peter isn't aware of it) and despite many characters including people he is close to telling him Adam was evil, he refused to believe them simply because he just could not fathom the idea of Adam being evil simply because he helped him.
    • This is somewhat justified in-character, as his powers seem to be directly connected to his extremely strong empathy. Hiro acts similar, in that he is an enormously powerful character who acts bizarre because of his childlike nature. In Season 1, we see a version of his character that has matured and Taken A Level In Badass, and it's one of the best plot points.
  • J.D. of Scrubs is Book Dumb in anything that has nothing to do with medicine.
  • Kenji in Madan Senki Ryukendo, who manages to live only because he has dumb luck and far too much power.
  • FBI agent Paul Ballard of Dollhouse, who constantly ignores proper procedure, shares sensitive case information with his neighbour, and charges into dangerous situations without preparation or backup. This behaviour got him assigned to the Dollhouse case, and before long it also gets him fired.
  • Finn from Glee counts.
  • Sam from iCarly has aspects of this.
    • If you want to consider Sam a hero that is. She often verges on Villain Protagonist.
    • When Spencer is part of a scheme or sub-plot, he acts in this way.
  • Gentaro Kisaragi, the eponymous Kamen Rider Fourze; he readily admits to being an idiot and gets ludicrously bad marks on tests (the best we've ever seen him accomplish is a 51). Unlike many of his brothers and sisters on this page, however, he already is The Messiah, with the self-stated goal of befriending everybody, even former Monsters of the Week.[1]


Mythology and Religion[edit | hide]

  • Thor thanks to being depicted by skalds who preferred Odin to warriors who preferred Thor.
  • The mythological Hercules doesn't fit the trope, but a lot of modern interpretations do, usually because the writers Did Not Do the Research. However, in Marvel's The Incredible Hercules, the writers did do the research, and decided on an Alternate Character Interpretation which is hiding from his numerous screwups by being a Cloudcuckoolander Bruiser - Like, he gets too hot, so he fires arrows AT THE SUN. (Does nothing.) Or once the waves are rocking his ship too much, so he leans over the side and TELLS THE WAVES HE WILL WHIP THEM if they don't stop. (They don't.) He also does a lot dick moves and is generally too nice... except when he goes nuts and slaughters people.
  • In the biblical book of Judges, Samson is an archetype of the super-strong fighter who makes a habit of acting without thinking. He's most blatantly an Idiot Hero when he lets Delilah talk him into revealing the secret of his strength.
    • He even tested Delilah by feeding her false information. Despite betraying him twice, he still tells her the (true) secret of his strength the third time.
  • In Russian fairy tales, male heroes often fit this pattern - tell them they must or must not do something, such as not fall asleep while guarding a bridge, and nine times out of ten that is precisely what they will do. Funnily enough, heroines seem to be much better at taking good advice and heeding warnings.
  • Percival from Arthurian myths dumbfounds the rest of the knights with his sheer stupidity. Some of this can be chalked up to him being raised alone in the wilderness and having his knightly education sort of given to him on the fly. It's particularly blatant in that Percival causes his quest to be an Idiot Plot because the hero is an idiot by the author's own admission. Percival finds himself in the castle of the Holy Grail by happenstance, and has questions about what it is and what it does. If he had asked, he could have used the Grail to heal the Fisher King and bring prosperity back to his kingdom. However, he follows his mentors Exact Words not to ask too many questions of his host and allows the Grail to pass by him without comment. Characters will frequently engage in Calling the Hero Out because if he had just spoken up the whole quest would have been over right there.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Siegfried from Richard Wagner's Ring cycle is told that he has to learn fear and is embarassed that he appears too stupid to learn it, which makes this Older Than Radio.

Anna Russell: "... he’s very young, and he’s very handsome, and he’s very strong, and he’s very brave, and he’s very stupid…. He’s a regular Little Abner type."

  • The title character in Wagner's Parsifal (Percival) is a "pure fool" who can only be enlightened by understanding others' suffering.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: The ideal of a Gascon Cadet: You can do anything stupid as long as is heroic enough. As one cadet declares at Act IV Scene III:

The First Cadet: ... Gascons should ever be crack-brained...
Naught more dangerous than a rational Gascon.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Guybrush Threepwood, when he's not being saved by Elaine or showing occasional random intelligence.
  • Jimmy Hopkins from Bully may be a subversion. Possibly just Brilliant but Lazy as he does have the intelligence to ace every class as well as the charisma to score with every girl (and a couple of guys) in school. Although he seems to wise up as the game progresses. Russell is a straight version of this, after his Heel Face Turn.
  • Andy from the two first Advance Wars games.
  • Lloyd from Tales of Symphonia, who really takes the Idiot Hero → Fool → Messiah evolution to a whole new level of exaggeration, insofar as he actually sprouts wings near the end of the game.
    • Subverted. He is absolutely Book Dumb, but he is very competent when it comes to crafting. As the game goes on, he proves to be a competent leader and other characters sometimes remark that he's better at making quick decisions than them. Some of this is Character Development.
  • Another Tales (series) protagonist: Luke fon Fabre. Although he becomes a better person after his Important Haircut he still has plenty of moments that prompt someone, usually Tear, to tell him that he's an idiot.
    • It should be stressed again - Luke is mentally seven years old, due to the whole Cloning Blues thing. When you see it from this perspective, he's quite smart for his age.
      • Further subverting Luke's Idiot Hero status is the fact that, in addition to having to learn everything from scratch over the past seven years (including walking, talking, and the faces of his family) he spent the entirety of those seven years being locked in his mansion with his family, closest friend and beloved teacher doing their best to keep him from getting any info about the outside world, ostensibly for his own security but actually because they're either plotting to eventually trick him into being a suicide bomber, kill him and his family, or both.
  • But before that, Tales (series) has its own first Idiot Hero in form of country-bumpkin Stahn Aileron. His genes of Idiot Hero is passed down to his son Kyle Dunamis.
  • Adell from the second Disgaea game. Adell is far from an idiot in most matters that don't conflict with his Honor Before Reason out-look on life... but—as noted by Rozalin in the page quote -- having that outlook seems practically suicidal, given that he is the only human left in a world overrun by demons. This makes him both a perfect, defining example of this trope and a subversion of it at the same time, if that makes sense. He has proven capable of providing great insight, and can solve complex Geopuzzles within seconds without even thinking too hard, which astounds his most recent friends (who thought of him as a more archetypical idiot). He even lampshades this himself a few times: it's not that he doesn't see the problems with his approach to things, it's that his code of honor won't let him do anything other than formally challenging his enemies head-on, so he puts those problems out of his mind and proceeds on faith. Also worth noting is that Adell is the Only Sane Man of the game, and he knows it.
    • Axel plays it straight in his storyline in Dark Hero Days.
  • Junpei Iori from Persona 3. One of the rare non-central protagonist cases. He tends to make up for his idiocy with pure heart, but not always.
    • While Junpei displays astounding levels of Book Dumb, he straightforward approach to problems usually gets him through. However, he displays some truly amazing (for him) insights into situations and people that imply he might be smarter than he looks.
  • Atsuma from Enchanted Arms. An especially bad case in that he has to be taught how to, among other things, use ladders and swim across shallow water. To his credit, he does get the hang of swimming right away, but still...
  • Yuri from Shadow Hearts and its sequel. Deviates from the norm in that he's a Badass who also serves as a Lampshade Hanging Straight Man to the inherent weirdness of the Shadow Hearts universe.
    • I really don't think Yuri is an idiot hero in any sense. Joachim (Covenant) and Frank (an expy of Joachim in From The New World) play it straight, however.
  • Beat from The World Ends With You. Example: After discovering a box with a button on it, Beat happily presses it, despite knowing it was left by the main antagonists. Neku puts it best when he says "I think they design traps like this with you in mind."
    • There's also the manner of his death, when he tried to save his sister from a speeding car by jumping in front of her to shield her from the impact. Even he admits that this one was pretty stupid.
  • Forget what you've heard about Flonne... Heart Aino from Arcana Heart is the naive Love Freak dialled Up to Eleven.
  • Roger Wilco from Space Quest isn't the sharpest tool in the janitor closet. The only reason he manages to momentarily escape his janitorial vocation in Space Quest 5 is because he cheats on a test and a mouse chews up the wires in the test's scoring computer. Still, the guy managest to step up to the plate and save the galaxy more times than he's had showers because he has the Indy Ploy down to a science.
    • Roger's stupidity suffered from Flanderization starting in the fourth game. Prior to that, he wasn't so much stupid as lazy and incredibly ineffectual at his job. It's only when he steps outside his job description that he really shines, though his janitorial skills do come in handy at times.
  • Bartz Klauser from Final Fantasy V is a gung-ho, idealistic hero who rarely (if ever) thinks things through and who, among his famous feats, is typically outwitted by a turtle. Okay, granted, it's a very ancient turtle, but still...
    • Bartz's personality is actually somewhat more defined in Dissidia, where he is portrayed as a guy that can find the fun in any situation, and gleefully does. This doesn't make him take a given situation any less seriously, he just likes to put a positive spin on it. Sometimes to the point of idiocy.

Zidane: Bartz, do you even have any idea where you're going? If you only focus on what's right in front of you, you'll never see the route ahead!
Bartz: Eh, I don't mind a little aimless wandering. In fact, it's what I do best! Besides, since there're all these guys trying to stop us, we must be going the right way!

Zidane: ...Is this guy for real?

Laguna: So, we need to go this way?
Vaan: We just came from there. We need to go this way.
Laguna: ...I knew that. Just testing ya.

  • Lyner Barsett of Ar tonelico, in both general intelligence and romance. In an early part of the game, upon being told by a companion that he will have to learn Item Crafting to defeat enemies immune to physical attacks, he protests, "But I can do it if I just put my spirit into it!" In keeping with the trope, he becomes The Messiah by the end of the game, having united the world's various divided factions he's met throughout his journey and convincing Mir to give up her plans to Kill All Humans.
  • Yuna Kagurazaka, lead character of Galaxy Fraulein Yuna. In the first game, Elner is frequently chiding her for getting distracted or not using her head; Yuna mostly matures out of it later on.
  • Jack from Radiata Stories.
  • The hero from Adventure Quest is kind of a moron most of the time. This is due to the Rule of Funny, but it gets a little weird when a mage with 200 intellect is falling for Zorbak's latest zany scheme.
  • Lan from Mega Man Battle Network.
  • Resident Evil's Steve. While he lasted, anyway.
  • Edy Nelson from Valkyria Chronicles is this, surprisingly enough. In her DLC, she and a small detachment get separated from the squad because she went Leeroy Jenkins on the Imperials. As it turns out, most of the squad were scattered, so Welkin orders all those separated to regroup, but when she heard that Imperial forces were attacking a nearby village she tells the group with her to attack, ignoring the fact that the enemy has tanks and their group only has Jann. Later, she hears that Rosie got shot so she ran across the battlefield just to make sure she's okay, afterwards claiming that she did that because she can't let anything happen to Rosie until she surpassed her on the stage.
    • The hero of the sequel, Avan, takes this to Up to Eleven levels in that he scored a negative ten on his last exam, according to his backstory. In fact, he's so stupid, some fans have begun theorizing that he's batshit insane.
  • Crash from Crash Bandicoot.
  • Nikki from Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis. She's not too idiotic, but very impulsive. She also has Idiot Hair that seems to "overreact" as much as she does...
    • While we're on Mana Khemia, Ulrika from Mana-Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy fits this trope even better, especially intelligence-wise. At one point in the game, Ulrika takes a look at little Enna's lesson book and she doesn't understand a single bit of information written on the book, much to Enna's and Chloe's shock.
  • Death Spank is a satirical example.
  • Sanada Yukimura from Sengoku Basara is young, naive, and very Hot-Blooded. He rarely thinks things through or comes up with battle strategies, which results in getting punched repeatedly by his master. However he does mature somewhat throughout the series.
  • In spite of the quote above, Link is a subversion when he might appear to qualify at all: while there's plenty of swordplay in Zelda games, the meat of the experience is puzzle solving, whether getting past obstacles or figuring out the trick to the Boss Battle.
  • Bowser in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story plays the role of an Idiot Villain Protagonist prone to incredible moments of baffling stupidity. However he usually manages to bounce back (usually thanks to Mario and Luigi working their magic inside his body) and turn an Idiot Ball into an opportunity for a Crowning Moment of Awesome or a Crowning Moment of Funny.
    • The fandom loves to portray Mario himself this way.
  • There are idiot heroes, and then there is Ethan Kairos of Time Hollow. When his friend Morris tells him of a book about parallel universes that might greatly inform his current predicament, Ethan thinks about it for a moment - then decides he can't be bothered to retrieve it from their clubhouse and wants to go to a nearby antique shop instead. He routinely, stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the blindingly obvious and just as often fails to do anything to follow the leads that are actively handed to him. He's also a bit of an unlikable prick.
  • Fallout 1 and Fallout 2 were filled with conversation options to allow for the player to be the Idiot Hero, and you can even lower your INT below 4 and have your character be mentally retarded. While Fallout 3 didn't have this option, Fallout: New Vegas writes it back in (possibly owing to the fact its developers include Black Isle refugees and thus are fond of making throwbacks to the first two games).
    • Two Words: ICE CREAM.
      • Somewhat. You don't get the same feeling of Idiot Hero as in the original games and you can still complete most of the game. So it's not really as much as "the village idiot actually manages to do something useful" as it's really "the guy who lost half of his brains when shot at beats armies."
  • Likewise Arcanum. 'Idiot Savant', 'Frankensten's Monster' and 'Bride of Frankenstein' backgrounds allowed for a subversion, highly intelligent characters with total communication incompetence.
  • While he is obviously not the hero of the story, Kilbert from Atelier Annie is a send-up for this character type.
  • Last Scenario, being deliberately designed to see how you can turn a Cliché Storm into very deep and moving plot, has one of these in Hilbert, who has a lower Intelligence then the rest of the party at game start. True to the game's form, his initial naivete is gradually transformed into insight, making him increasingly good at the Batman Gambit.
  • A common portrayal of Cirno is to give her Idiot Hero traits...while still keeping her as one of the weaker memebers of the cast. Marisa Kirisame also has some Idiot Hero traits but is actually The Lancer and quite studious.
  • Rayman seems to fit this trope in the upcoming prequel Rayman Origins. He was also a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander in the original game.
  • Battleblo from Cla Dun: This is an RPG! His goal in life is to seek out the "ultimate shield" so that he can defeat his rival Sunday, an Action Girl in search of the "ultimate sword". In-story, he uses shields as a means to solve all of his problems.
  • Kirby, a Cloudcuckoolander in his own right, is quite fond of being an Idiot Hero as well, simply because there are some times where he goes around in a quest to solve a problem whose real source he doesn't know anything about. For example, in Kirby's Adventure and its remake, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, he thinks King Dedede tried to mess with everyone's dreams by stealing the Star Rod from the Fountain of Dreams, breaking it apart and giving each of its seven pieces to one of his friends, but he doesn't know that Dedede was actually hiding it safely away from the real culprit responsible for the problems in Dream Land, a vampire-like wraith called Nightmare who rode the currents of the fountain, wreaking havoc and tormenting Dream Land's citizens.
    • Also, there's Kirby: Squeak Squad, where he chases after the Squeaks thinking they stole his strawberry shortcake. But Meta Knight knows the secret of said treasure chest that Kirby doesn't know about - the chest is the prison of Dark Nebula, the ruler of the underworld (Lord of Darkness in the Japanese version). Hence, why Meta Knight snatched the chest before Kirby could take it back from Daroach.
  • Usually the playable from most Artix Entertainment games will be this, particularly Dragon Fable and Adventure Quest Worlds, except when they're being the Only Sane Man.
  • Ragna the Bloodedge of BlazBlue is, as his stalker Rachel says, quite a moron and as foolish as always because he has a foul mouth and curses too much and has a tendency to run headlong into trouble. He has quite an "I will do what I want" attitude, and when other people try to convince him to refrain from trying to do what they think is impossible, he refuses to listen and just keeps on going - because he never gives up, no matter what the future has in store for him.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, we have the reigning queen of stupidity: surprisingly enough, Spiritia Rosenberg of Rosenkreuzstilette. She has quite the long list ahead of her. For starters, being an Expy of Mega Man, she is naive, as pointed out by her colleagues (some of them even think her naivete could be her fatal flaw) - naive enough to believe that Iris really is a kind, innocent girl who wouldn't even hurt a flea. When her friends at RKS start a war against the Holy Empire, she does the whole "Swiper, No Swiping" deal with everyone without knowing that Iris actually started the war between both factions just For the Evulz and without snooping around to get to the bottom of the madness (at least she does what she thinks is right). And then there's the moment in Rosenkreuzstilette Grollschwert where Tia tries to stop Grolla from killing Iris herself believing that she was a sweetheart. Grolla knows otherwise from her own personal experience. And, to top it all off, she is quite clumsy and is a TERRIBLE swimmer. Yes, you heard us. A TERRIBLE SWIMMER.

Sepperin: (To Tia) Hmph. Such naivete. You are still a child, after all...

  • Mortal Kombat gives us Shujinko and Taven, both of whom were exceedingly gullible. At least in Taven's case, he has the excuse of being a case of Sealed Good in a Can, awakening in a different realm after thousands of years of rest, and being attacked by everyone, including other heroes.
  • Dekar and his expies from Lufia series fit this trope to T. They are very hot blooded and dumb to the point that the party picking on him becomes a Running Gag in the DS remake of the second game.
  • Red from Solatorobo. Elh has good reason to call him "an idiot with a bad mouth".
  • Amitie "Amita" Florian of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny, who seems to have watched way too many Super Robot and Toku shows and believes that the only things you need to succeed in are Fighting Spirit! and Guts! and Hot Blood! Among other things, she accidentally causes a lot unnecessary confrontation with the older characters by pointing her guns at them at the beginning while asking for their help, gets immediately distracted when confronted by Arf because "Squee~ Dog girl with dog ears and tail", and refuses medical attention for a virus because she states that Fighting Spirit and Guts are all you need to overcome. She also believes that she's a Superhero, though she's more right about that last one since she's a Ridiculously Human Robot from the future who fights for her planet.
  • Ratchet from Ratchet and Clank has his moments. Notably in R&C5 when Ratchet is completely confused as to why Luna has a latch on the back of her head with monitors and Technomites inside.

Clank: Ratchet? Do you notice anything strange about Luna?
Ratchet: Well, she does seem to have an unusually large door on the back of her head.
Clank: And why do you think that is?
Ratchet: Because she's a... uhm... robot..?

  • Subverted wholesale in Xenoblade. Protagonist Shulk is actually quite intelligent, just inexperienced. Even Reyn, who would normally be next in line for the title, is well-spoken and capable of reasoned debate. You can count the total moments of protagonist stupidity that aren't due to misinformation or traps on one hand.
  • Lampshaded directly in the trailer for the Portal 2 DLC, regarding robot co-op avatars Atlas and P-Body:

GlaDOS: You don't know fear. (shot of them rushing in and being mangled) You don't know pain. (shot of them rushing in and being mangled again) You don't know anything. (beat) You'll be perfect.

Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • Stinkoman, from the Homestar Runner 20X6 setting, can be seen as a parody of this character type.
    • It's entirely possible that Homestar Runner himself started off as one of these when he was first created. However, character development exaggerated the idiot part while diminishing the "hero" part. He's still a well-meaning guy, if thoughtless.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

Elan Nale! You're alive!
Nale Of course I'm alive you moron. What I can't figure out is how you didn't know I was alive the whole time. You're the bard, surely you should have known that when a bad guy dies off-screen, he's not really dead unless you see the body. And half the time, not even then.
Elan Yeah, but the hero always THINKS the bad guy is dead until he shows up again.
Nale But... If you know that, how can you be surprised... Why didn't you realize that you thinking I was dead was... I mean... Gah! I'm giving myself a migraine just trying to understand the level of willful ignorance that requires!
Elan First blood: Elan!

Lothar:(after Wildfire's stupidity has ruined their mission New rule: No member of the team is allowed more beam swords than brain cells.

    • She was so stupid, The team had her chloroformed, passed of as injured (complete with full body cast), and sent back to Taika in exchange for Rogue, who they, after what Wildfire's done, are delighted to see.
  • Abraham of El Goonish Shive is a mild Deconstruction: He's so stupid that he's a Knight Templar. First he accidentally created an Artifact of Doom, which he then tried to destroy "by every means possible" (but if nothing else, we know he didn't even try to throw it in a volcano), and then swore an oath to be petrified and only return to life to destroy the "abominations" created by the Artifact of Doom.
  • Dhur of Meat Shield is fairly dim, being a half orc barbarian and all.
  • Subverted in every notable instance in Homestuck. That Blue Blood Big Guy is a genius roboticist. The hipster obsessed with irony later keeps an intricate timeline of Stable Time Loops straight in his head. The main character, John, initially seems like a goofy kid who's not really all that bright, but in a matter of hours he's managed to figure out every bit of practical knowledge in the game. His sister is a Teen Genius and his father was an Omnidisciplinary Scientist.
    • John does have hidden depths, but he still plays this pretty straight most of the time. He's pretty gullible (having been lead to his death at least once), wastes time reenacting inane scenes from terrible movies, generally has far less clue about what's going on than the other characters... but is the only human so far to ascend to God Tier, and is capable of using The Windy Thing to produce tornadoes so strong they can drill through the planet. He seems to be heading toward The Messiah. He considers himself the other kids' friend rather than their leader, which (as Rose points out) is precisely why the other kids consider him their leader.
  • Minmax from Goblins. The fact his player traded such things as the ability to read for fighting ability is a major Running Gag.
  • Even though they're known for burning down friends' apartment buildings just by properly using kitchen appliances, Grymm and Creepknight from Voodoo Walrus are still able to use unconventional methods to defeat a compliment of union ninjas.
  • Mega Man from Bob and George. When he isn't an evil genius, that is.
  • In Greg, Gregorious maintains his idiocy throughout the Medusa story arc by repeatedly falling victim to Medusa's nude charms.
  • Both of the protagonists in Skullkickers, although Shorty more so than Baldy. They're actually extremely competent, they just aren't very bright.

Readers: Why does the human [fill in the blank]?
Writers: Because he's not very smart.
Readers: Why does the dwarf [fill in the blank]?
Writers: Because he's stupid.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Homer on The Simpsons is one of Western Animation's most iconic examples.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants is also another of Western Animation's iconic examples. He exemplifies this trope too. Although in the earlier seasons he was more of a naive Cloudcuckoolander than an Idiot Hero.
  • Inspector Gadget. He regularly bumbles around getting himself in trouble, being unable to put two and two together, and flat out being Too Dumb to Live while his ten-year-old niece Penny and their dog solve every case for him and lead him to the bad guys, while he takes the credit for it.
    • However; there actually exists an Alternate Character Interpretation that this is actually an elaborate charade, he operates under the persona of a Too Dumb to Live not-so-secret agent and distracts MAD so that Penny and Brain can solve the case for him - when he knows Penny and Brain are in danger, he suddenly becomes the supercop you'd expect a cyborg like him to be.
  • Action League NOW. Every character is Too Dumb to Live. Even Thundergirl and Bill the Lab Guy have their moments.
  • Disney's Aladdin fits the trope well. He goes about his life carelessly while making the most moronic decisions, spare for a few moments of flash in the pan brilliance when his or somebody else's life depends on it. It's particularly noticeable when you realize how most of the other characters, save for Jasmine, spend their time trying to steer him to a correct choice. Still, his idiocy seems not to extend too far beyond what's needed for the Aesop of the week.
    • And his moronic behavior goes through stages, as well: in the first movie, it's due to his horrifically low self esteem telling him that lying about himself will make people like him, even when it's obvious that Jasmine loves him for who he is. In the show, it shifts to either overconfidence or his chronic inability to pass by a problem and not try to solve it.
  • An even better example is Launchpad McQuack, of DuckTales, who in many episodes, saves his friends, or even the whole world while remaining a certified idiot. He's even admitted it on more than one occasion.
    • In the new comics, his search for a job since Darkwing Duck went out of the vigilante business is displayed by but a single panel from his interview with the Rescue Rangers. No, Launchpad, you cannot, in fact, fly the Ranger Wing.
  • Toby in Gormiti: The Lords of Nature Return. He's courageous, selfless and a Determinator, but also quite frivolous, impulsive and Book Dumb, and has a tendency to pull pranks at the least appropriate moments, such as, during a battle. Which becomes especially apparent when compared to his one-year-younger brother Nick.
    • Ironically enough, Toby is the Lord of Water, and Water Gormiti—especially Carrapax—are usually depicted as calm and wise.
  • Hot Rod, Cheetor, Hot Shot, Ironhide, Hot Shot, Bumblebee. If they're the Kid Appeal Character in Transformers, they're most likely this.
  • Mahad in Skyland.
  • Most people would be forgiven for thinking that the Flash from Justice League Unlimited fits this trope. (He fits a bunch of others normally associated with this trope, too. His name is Wally, for goodness sakes.) It came as something of a surprise for many fans when he turned out to be a forensic scientist in his day job. Plus there's the fact that he's one of the most powerful members of the League under the goofiness and whenever you push him that little bit too far things tend to get broken.
    • An example of this is faking his own death, on camera, while hooked up to a heart monitor. He speeds up his heartbeat so the monitor can't sense it and flatlines. Even Batman is impressed.
  • Fry from Futurama is a Cloudcuckoolander on a good day. When it's not a good day... well...
    • His 'lack of a Delta Brainwave' is the one thing that allows him to save all life in the universe from annihilation on more than one occasion.

Nibblonian: "There is but one being that can resist them. A child of destiny whose bizarre brain wave pattern makes him immune to the Brain Spawn attack. He is the hope of the universe. The fate of your world - perhaps all worlds - rests in his special mind."
Leela: "Now, when you say 'special'..."

Jorgon: (During the Fairy Baby special) That was close! Someone almost wished for the B word! (poof in Timmy, Cosmo, and Wanda) Ah, Turner. Biiiig surprise.

Jorgon: (During the second Christmas special) It's the day AFTER Christmas! The magic should be going back! (Scanner show the magic is being pinpointed to Dimmsdale) Turner. Of course.

  • The titular character in Earthworm Jim veers well into this territory more often than not; when he's not a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Palmer and Sasha from Titan Maximum are this with extreme emphasis on the idiot part.
    • And the fact that Palmer is regarded as genuinely heroic despite being a gigantic moron who barely knows what he's doing is what motivates Gibbs into becoming evil.
  • George of the Jungle, in the eponymous television series. But Tom Slick (from the same show), a parody of the original Tom Swift, fits the trope even better. He only wins his races because his True Companions aren't morons, and the villains make Dick Dastardly look rational.

Tom Slick: Fear? I don't know the meaning of fear!
Granny: He also doesn't know the meaning of 'brocolli'.

At the time of the cartoon's original airing, brocolli was a fairly new vegetable in the US.
  • The titular character on Jimmy Two-Shoes is dumb (or at least extremely naive), yet he remains the only person Lucius can't break.
  • Wakfu gives us Sadlygrove, resident knight-errant and infamous Iop-head. Also puts the emphasis on the idiot bit, at least until Episode 22.
  • Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas is probably one of the more justified examples, as his idiotic moments come from not being an idiot per se, but from either not understanding concepts outside of Halloween (the whole Christmas fiasco, thinking the shells were fireworks, etc.) or being so excited for Christmas that he doesn't listen to reason (Sally and her prediction). The only thing he does that is just plain stupid is trusting Lock, Shock, and Barrel to take care of Santa Claus.
  • Finn from Adventure Time, by his very own admission with the page quote. Though he's more impulsive than outright dumb.
  • Po from 'Kung Fu Panda,' the character's kung fu is Idiot Hero. Not Drunken Master, but Idiot Master. Not "a big fat panda," but "THE big fat panda."
  • Lion-O from the eighties Thundercats series. A pretty justified case since he aged to physical maturity in a sleep capsule during the long journey to Third Earth. Lion-O is a kid stuck in an adult's body and is fairly naive at first. He eventually becomes a good leader over the course of the series.
  • Rudy Tabootie from ChalkZone.
  • Rodney J. Squirrel from Squirrel Boy.
  • Tak in Tak and the Power of Juju.
  • Eric from Sidekick.
  • Gerold Goode from The Goode Family.
  • Coop of Megas XLR fits this to a T. The guy might know how to customize a giant robot, but no one ever said he knew how to pilot it. Or pilot it enough that it didn't level Jersey City more times than your typical Power Rangers episode!
  • One has to question the logic of these so called "child geniuses" like Dexter or Jimmy Neutron or the Test sisters who resort to mundane efforts of acquiring money such as lemonade sales or selling candy despite the fact that their technology would be worth a fortune, or could make far more valuable products. They probably have the technology to replicate whatever they could want to buy.
    • Why would they want to remain in school and stagnate their careers? The whole "to stay with my friends and be a kid" excuse is a load of crap. They can easily attend a university and maintain social connections with their peers.
  1. Well, except for the Complete Monster, but obviously...