Stupid Evil

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The logical extreme of the Obviously Evil motif. These are the people who seem to think having an evil alignment means doing nothing but evil every waking moment, even out in broad daylight. Like, say, stabbing a peasant while several high-level town guards are watching for no reason other than you were bored. If the other party members are lucky, this sociopathic insane behavior will extend solely to the NPCs. If the other party members are lucky, that is. The Stupid Evil character is frequently the type who will betray and murder his teammates on the flimsiest of pretenses (even if he'd gain no advantage in doing so), simply because it's EEEEEEVIL.

Oh, and they get angry when they have to suffer consequences for their actions, like guards and bounty hunters after them. It's all about them, after all. If a Stupid Evil person has a choice between accepting a reward for accidentally finding a dog or killing the reward giver, they will choose killing every time. (Somehow figuring out how to do both requires systematic patience and intelligence that isn't part of being Stupid.)

Similarly, the D&D sourcebook Book of Vile Darkness spent a good while detailing how to run an evil character without being a mass-murdering lunatic; but it does give tips for that, too, since even cartoon supervillainy has its place.

Sadly, if a computer-based RPG offers an "evil" path, it's usually Stupid Evil, and it involves committing completely random acts of violence just to get those precious Karma Meter points required to unlock the top tier evil abilities. Only relatively recently did they start adding options for players who want to play sneaky evil characters, with opportunities to manipulate other characters into doing your bidding, or even cooking an Evil Plan. Sometimes, however, this is played anyway because of the Rule of Fun. Watching the ensuing chaos from randomly attacking people is sometimes fun, even if the novelty soon wears off.

This is different from Complete Monster, usually in that those monsters almost always have some kind of goal, desires or something else that they're willing to commit atrocities for - Stupid Evil means doing it when it is both pointless and self-harmingly stupid, although examples the former sometimes does actions that are considered this and earn themselves a fitting Karmic Death.

It is notable that this, along with Chaotic Stupid, is often given as an official reason in a work for why the forces of evil haven't completely destroyed the forces of good yet: They're too busy behaving like this, usually towards other evils, to focus on uniting against good and conquering the world. There's often a conscious concern on the part of the good guys of this fact.

Compare Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid, Stupid Neutral and Stupid Good. Contrast as well Pragmatic Villainy; a villain who is evil only when it benefits them more. Chaotic Evil is the alignment most likely to be reduced to Stupid Evil, for some reason. Threw My Bike on the Roof often overlaps with this.

No real life examples, please; people in the real world do evil things for a reason. They don't have to be good reasons, but they are reasons. They may be emotionally unstable and easily driven to violent outbursts, may have passed the Despair Event Horizon and become numb to morality, may be so single-mindedly focused on a goal that they'll ignore the suffering of others to achieve it, or they may be insane and have no control over their thoughts and actions. Whatever the case, there has never been an actual person in the history of the world who has done evil just for the sake of evil.

Examples of Stupid Evil include:

Anime and Manga

  • Hansel and Gretel, the insane twins from Black Lagoon. After being hired to perform an assassination, they proceed to abduct and torture a bunch of random mooks for sport, and then murder the person who hired them, not because he was planning on betraying them, but because they just felt like it. They then decide to go through with the assassination anyway, even after it's pointed out to them that they are no longer being paid. It should also be noted that their target makes a policy of surrounding herself with some of the most deadly soldiers in the world, is a world-class markswoman in her own right, and is justifiably considered within the series to be the most dangerous woman alive... and the twins try to take her out armed only with an axe. It turns out exactly how you'd expect.
    • Another example is Chaka from Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise, who got the bright idea of kidnapping the daughter of his boss, a Yakuza. This incurred the wrath of not only Ginji Matsuzaki, her hulking samurai-sword wielding bodyguard, but Revy as well. Needless to say, his fate was not pleasant.
  • The Apostle Wyald in Berserk, a berserker who put so much effort into being a vicious sadist that he tried to kill Griffith, the one person he was absolutely not supposed to kill. When he's called on it, he mouths off to his superior, Zodd, who tears Wyald in half for being such a moron.
  • Pretty much the entire cast of villains in Ranma ½ have moments of acting like this, particularly in the manga version and particularly if "Smart Evil" threatens the status quo. Two of the most notable examples are Soun Tendo stealing a cure for Ranma's curse with the intent of blackmailing him into marrying Akane with it, only to blab about it in front of Genma Saotome, who promptly stole it himself... and Nabiki's attempt to sell Ranma Saotome's engagement to one of the other members of his Harem during her stint as his official fiancée, only for the girls to spontaneously decide that it would be better to simply kill her rather then pay her price. If it wasn't for the fact Ranma is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, she would have died.
  • Ribbons in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 blows up his own allies, and replaces them with worthless kamikaze machines that are a complete waste of technology and time; the only goal they achieve is making him look even more evil for using such machines. Most of the atrocities his puppets committed early in the second season including blowing up a country or two were committed for no solid reason. The only reason he gets away with it as long as he does is due to Kataron's ineffectiveness; without the Meisters, Ribbons can do what he well damn pleases, as resistance will be effectively taken out in about a couple of years.
  • Lolly and Menoly of Bleach. "Let's beat up the human girl our boss told us to specifically not hurt, as she is useful to "the plan", for no reason other than we're jealous! Then, let's act surprised when our immediate superior mauls us up for it. Ooh, ooh, and then we can hate her even more despite the fact she took pity on us and saved our lives!!! And we can try it again, only this time let's have our other immediate superior kill us!!"
    • Their ungratefulness, while no less stupid, is at least explained by Fridge Brilliance: the two Arrancar were terrified of Orihime after she used God-like abilities to bring them back, since they are creatures of death.
    • Arguably, Aizen himself falls into Stupid Evil territory when he attempts to kill Harribel, with his justification of getting rid of those he considers weak seeming completely ridiculous; that person was still one of the strongest on his side and, more importantly, this was in the middle of a battle where his own forces were severely weakened already. He should have at least just waited until the battle was over.
    • Aaroniero Arruruerie was obviously far superior to Rukia, and could essentially have killed her immediately. Instead, he feels the need to pointlessly mentally assault her. The only possible reason is that he's just really sadistic. But what's the point?
    • Zommari is in a similar boat: his body control powers are so broken he could have killed Byakuya with little effort, but he proved so full of himself and explained everything about his powers in such painstaking detail that he ended up dead.
  • The buffoonish Complete Monster Genma of Darker than Black has a scene where he uses his Instant Armor powers to dismantle a truck and then amuses himself by beating up the protagonist while transformed into a human mech. This wasn't the brightest idea for two reasons: First, the protagonist was interested in the MacGuffin in one of the trucks, and Genma showed him which was the decoy. Second, when the protagonist starts escaping, Genma's first reaction is to get in the truck to pursue him, but then he remembers he just disassembled his mode of transportation.
  • Paul from the Pokémon anime trained his Chimchar vigorously enough that it was legitimately exhausted enough not to be able to battle the next day. We know this because Nurse Joy, a medical professional told him this. So what does he do? He forces Chimchar to battle anyway, and then when she turned out to be right, he was, for some reason, disappointed by this and left Chimchar, thinking it was simply too weak. This led to Ash taking Chimchar into his care and raising it into one of the strongest members of his team.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, both Lust and Envy fall into this, loving to inflict pain so much that they can't resist "twisting the knife" and antagonizing the heroes, even when it is foolish to do so. In some ways, Lust is the worst of the two, as while Envy is a deranged psychopath, he at least generally avoided trying to kill humans who were "sacrifice candidates", whereas Lust was inexplicably unconcerned about this.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! doing at least one dumb thing that leads to your defeat is practically a prerequisite to being a villain sometimes. Examples that stand out:
    • Panik from the Duelist Kingdom arc. Using flamethrowers in the Duel Arena to intimidate your opponent might seem useful, but he's so enraged when he loses he tries to turn them directly on Yugi, smashing the console and likely breaking any safety mechanism it has. He never considers that burning the forest down (on an island that has No OSHA Compliance to begin with) and killing every guest present (along with himself) isn't a good career move for a duelist mercenary like himself.
    • Yami Marik does this quite a lot, most notably when he sabotages Noah's computer system during the Virtual Nightmare Arc, not seeming to realize that destroying it would kill both Yugi and Kaiba, ruining the most vital part of his master plan: gaining their two Egyptian God Cards. To make things worse, he laughs like a lunatic while doing it.
      • This regular Marik does something very stupid too (which was the biggest reason his Super-Powered Evil Side was able to subdue him and take over in the first place). First, he puts a counterfeit copy of The Winged Dragon of Ra in Rishid/Odion's deck, and given the fact that every other minion who tested these phonies died horribly (as Ra does not like being insulted), it really wasn't smart to have such an important minion have one. Rishid, on the other hand, is smart, and knows that it would likely be dangerous to use it; he would have beaten Jonouchi/Joey without it, but when it seems likely that everyone will figure out that Rishid is acting as Marik's stand-in, Marik orders him to use it in order to cover up Marik's true identity. Rishid reluctantly complies, and... it turns out Marik really should have listened, because the real Ra ended up destroying the fake copy while smiting both duelists, and Jounouchi managed to win by technically...
    • Yami Bakura shows this in his duel against Yugi in the final arc of the series. He uses a card which forces Yugi to discard the same number of cards from his deck as the number of monsters that are on the field, and combines this with another card that eliminates his own graveyard, making him immune to the effect and allowing his monsters to remain on the field as phantoms (without the ability to attack or defend, but still counting as monsters), the intent being to cause Yugi to lose the duel by "decking out". It eventually gets to the point where Bakura could win the duel simply by ending his turn without making a single move, something he even points out, but he decides instead that watching Yugi squirm would be more fun and continues the duel, using a monster whose effect further depletes Yugi's deck by five cards. Yugi is left with only one card left in his deck, but it just so happens to be the exact card needed to defeat Yami Bakura's strategy, which costs him the duel.
    • Moving to the Sequel Series Amon showed this in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. His ace card was Exodius the Forbidden Lord. It seemed completely indestructible and immune to all card effects, and granted him an automatic win if it attacked five times. But he became so Drunk with Power because of it, he challenged Yubel using it... Completely forgetting that Yubel was the one who gave it to him. You'd think if this card had a weakness (and it did), she'd be the one who knew about it. It ended badly for Amon.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: Divine, Aki's Evil Mentor and a complete asshole. After having been tricked into revealing he was responsible for the death of Misty's little brother, he mocks him and her anguish over his death... Doing so while Misty has her Earthbound Immortal (a lizard-demon the size of a skyscraper) summoned and in plain view. Cue Divine getting Eaten Alive as payback.
    • Aporia, much like Amon, tries to turn against Z-One with incredibly powerful cards that Z-One himself gave him. Aporia doesn't even manage to scratch Z-One, and is defeated in the most humiliating way possible.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal:
      • Tron has a habit of giving his henchmen (who are also his sons, by the way) cards that are too powerful for them to control, which cause disasters when played. The first example was when he gave IV a Spell Card called Flaming Hell Blessing to use in a duel against Rio Kamishiro; it won the duel for him, but it also caused a raging fire that destroyed the building they were in. Rio was in the hospital for months recovering; IV managed to get out (being the one who carried Rio to safety and likely saved her life), but not unscathed. The accident left a scar on his face that never healed.
      • Even worse was the card he gave III to use against Yuma, Angolmois. The true effect of this card was to open a portal to the Barian World, which would basically have done the same thing that a black hole does. If it had worked, it would have killed everyone, Tron included (and he didn't even seem to care; he was laughing his head off as he watched the duel). Fortunately, III, being a lot smarter than his dad, came to his senses before that happened, and Yuma was able to win the duel before the full effect occurred.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, after Sora's true nature is revealed in his duel against Kurosaki/Shay, Sora gleefully mocks his opponent about how much he enjoyed decimating Shay's home dimension and reducing it to a war-torn wasteland. He seems to completely forget that they're in the middle of a duel and Shay has just summoned his second-most powerful monster, the Duel Monster's equivalent of a B-52 Bomber, and when he brings out his most powerful monster and, well, suffice to say, Sora gets thrashed within an inch of his life.
    • And of course, the movies:
  • Overlord:
    • Most of the monsters in Nazarick fit, though it really isn't their fault. Before the odd phenominon that transported them to another world, they were little more than mooks who had been programmed to be Exclusively Evil enemies for players, with little individuality or identity. When Momonga can give them instruction, they do okay, otherwise they show very little strategy, coordination, or cooperation in battles, and almost no skill in diplomacy or subtlety.
    • Philip Dayton L'Eyre Montserrat (a minor noble of the Re-Estize Kingdom) does a lot of stupid things that ultimately doom the kingdom, but the stupidest was stealing a shipment of grain that was in transit from the Sorcerer Kingdom (lands ruled by Momonga, the series' protagonist) to the Holy Kingdom, thinking this was easy money. First off, Momonga alone has proven able to defeat entire armies of the Re-Estize by himself, and relations between them aren't good. Plus, the grain shipments were intended as humanitarian aid. It doesn't take a genius to predict the two-front war this is likely to cause.
  • Butler, the Big Bad of Pokémon: Jirachi Wishmaker. A Mad Scientist and member of Team Magma, his attempt to create Groudon from a fossil fails, which causes the guys in charge of Magma to fire him. (Pun not intended.) So to get back into their good graces, he decides to capture another Legendary - as in Jirachi - to make a second attempt. It ends badly, as what he actually creates is Eldritch Abomination that resembles Groudon, and once it starts to rampage, Butler realizes he never had a plan to restrain, contain, or subdue it.

Comic Books

  • The vast majority of Comic Book villains between 1930 and 1980 qualify, especially the ones made during World War II, where they really needed to convince the nation that the enemies of the USA were all dog-kicking, baby-eating, nuclear-war-mongering bastards.
  • Special mention should go to The Joker, where this seems to be his power. At many point, the Joker is simply Chaotic Evil bordering on Chaotic Stupid, and his M.O. can arguably be summed up as the definition of this trope. Only replace "evil" with "funny". Of course, The Joker is sometimes considered a Genius Magnificent Bastard. What is not up for debate, however, is that he is 100% insane.
  • Superboy-Prime also goes from Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds to this; he's a psychotic teenager with the Hair-Trigger Temper to end them all, though with a very strong Freudian Excuse. That notwithstanding, he flies off the handle at the slightest provocation and responds by destroying everything in sight and killing anyone who looks at him funny.
  • Norman "Green Goblin" Osborn had the world as his oyster during Dark Reign, with him in charge of the US security, the Avengers replaced with a team of villains loyal to him, and all the regular heroes incapacitated or wanted fugitives. But he just had to defy the President, go rogue and attack Asgard for some reason, losing everything and getting the good guys back in power in one day.
    • The fact that the Norse god of mischief tricked him into doing it explains, but does not excuse, his behavior.
  • The Monitors in Countdown to Final Crisis, whose plan makes no sense, accomplishes jack shit other than pissing off a bunch of other villains, and involves grandstanding to cover for The Mole even though there's no one for them to grandstand for. Then again, this is the Countdown to Final Crisis.
  • Any villain in Marvel who tries to rebuild, use, or - especially - upgrade the Sentinels. Ever since these monsters first appeared in X-Men #14, a wide variety of bad guys have gotten ideas about improving upon the original design, and almost without exception, the Sentinels malfunction, turn against whoever uses them, and become as much a threat to humans as they do to mutants, the upgrades often making it worse. You'd think someone would learn after a while.
  • Mammoth of the Fearsome Five:

Psimon: So who do we blow up first?
Mammoth: I want to destroy the United States for putting us in jail all those times!
Psimon: Shimmer, please explain to your brother that it's a bad idea to nuke the United States. Where we are.

  • Iznogoud, while displaying intelligence occasionally and being much smarter than both most people around him and the Caliph, still falls into this trope: a lot of his plans backfire precisely because he made idiotic mistakes, or couldn't resist the temptation to Kick the Dog at the wrong time.
  • Nicky Cavella tries to make The Punisher angry(er) by digging up the bones of his family, urinating on them and filming it. It works.
  • The mere existence of the Suicide Squad seems to be showing how much an idiot Amanda Waller is, seeing as she usually uses them to covertly clean up some other mess she started and lost control of.
  • In a story in the Batman: Streets of Gotham, third-rate villain Jennifer Duffy (aka the Carpenter) is hired by the Director to build a Death Trap complex with the intent to use it on Batman and film it, intending to market the footage as a Snuff Film. And he doesn't plan to stop there either, having "scripted" similar films with Superman and Wonder Woman as victims. He even advertises these movies. One movie poster shows Diana's dead body hanging from a gallows. Duffy's own opinion of this is, Batman is going to curb-stomp him, and she hopes to be paid and get miles away before that happens.
  • During the Acts of Vengeance arc, a Red Skies Crossover originating in The Avengers, Loki has an idea that looks good on paper. He gathers together a group of villains with a lot of influence among other villains - Dr. Doom, Magneto, the Kingpin, the Wizard, the Mandarin, and the Red Skull - and has them trade enemies, directing their minions against heroes other than the ones they usually fight. (For example, Spider-Man ends up fighting Gravaton and the Brothers Grimm, among others, while Daredevil has to deal with Ultron.) With the advantage of total surprise, this seems like a valid plan, but Loki's obvious mistake was putting the Red Skull (a Nazi) and Magneto (a Holocaust survivor) on the same team, or for that matter, putting them in the same room. (In fact, the other villains all had reason not to cooperate with the Skull, Doom is Romani, Mandarin is Chinese, the Kingpin is a capitalist CEO of a large conglomerate, not a big fan of fascism, and the Wizard, well, no conflicting background there, but he still isn't one who would associate with Nazis.) His plan is foiled not by the Avengers, but by the infighting among his intended pawns that his poor choices cause.
  • Speaking of the Red Skull, in Captain America's new title (released for his 75th birthday), the Skull befriends a little girl who is actually an evolved Cosmic Cube; the exact same one he used to own when she was just a Cube. Seeing as she remembers him and has the naiivette of the little girl she resembles, she trusts him as she would a father. The Skull now effectively has the ability to alter reality any way he wants. But rather than change history so that, say, the Nazis won World War II or something like that, he chooses to alter history so that Cap was his disciple, making Cap a sleeper agent and a loyal member of HYDRA. Seriously, he's that obsessed with revenge that he delays his chance to rule the world. He doesn't seem to realize that making Cap into his pawn does not ensure loyalty (Cap quickly becomes The Starscream as a result, something the Skull intended to do to Hitler but never got around to) and also doesn't seem to realize that whatever the Cube does, she can just as easily undo, which she does when she discovers he's a liar.
  • Fantastic Four villain the Wizard claims to be a criminal genius, but he seems to have very bad taste in accomplices. A Running Gag in the franchise is how he can never find a fourth member of his Evil Counterpart team the Frightful Four. The original team consisted of himself, Sandman, Trapster, and Medusa. However, Medusa was an Amnesiac Hero who, after regaining her memory, double-crossed him. Now sure, no way Wizard could have known that, but he recruited her for the team again twice, when she didn't have amnesia, and both times she only did so to double cross him again. Same with Thundra, her Heel Face Turn occured before Wizard thought to ask her to join, and again, she betrayed him. In fact, it seems a lot of fourth members caused their plans to end in disasters, simply because the Wizard was too stubborn to admit this Evil Counterpart team idea just couldn't work.

Fan Works


  • Evil Bill and Evil Ted from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. They try to run down cats while steering their time-traveling phone booth, just because. Of course, they are evil duplicates of the Stupid Good heroes, so it's no wonder.
  • The Umbrella Corporation in the Resident Evil film series seem to live and breathe Stupid Evil, not unlike the games they're based on. Their actions are geared entirely towards nothing more than propagating the existence of a deadly, uncontrollable virus that has no discernible practical applications.
  • A big problem in Johnny Mnemonic.
    • The thought of an evil Mega Corp profiting from distributing a cure for a deadly virus affecting half the world's population lacks the real oomf villains need, so they try to suppress it instead. However, they still want to go through the very specific trouble of cutting off and cryogenically preserving Johnny's head (the only remaining source of the data for the cure), even though they could just shoot him or completely destroy his head, and the cure would be permanently suppressed.
    • Of course, the bad guys are not immune to infection -- should any of them personally end up hit by the virus, they would need the cure. Also, it's stated that since the cure is cheap and requires only one dose, but the palliative treatment used to help disease-sufferers before the cure was invented is expensive and requires repeated doses, the corporations would genuinely make a greater profit by not distributing the cure. (Personally, I don't see how this works -- after all, the above calculation assumes that your entire potential market can afford the expensive version, which they probably couldn't -- but it's a plausible enough logic chain that the corporation execs don't look like total morons for following it.)
  • Sebastian Shaw, the mutant villain of X-Men: First Class, plans to purposely start a nuclear war between the United States and Russia, resulting in humans killing themselves so mutants can rule the world. Yeah, plans that start with "start World War III on purpose" never end well. First off, despite being labeled homo superior, most mutants aren't much tougher than humans, meaning he'd probably kill as many mutants as he would humans. Even if they did outnumber humans in the end, what would be the point? All they'd have to "rule" over would be a nuclear-ravaged wasteland.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe examples:
    • Ego the Living Planet from Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2. His goal was to destroy all mortal life in the universe in order to become the dominant species. Yeah, no-one's really certain what he'd do after that. Not only is this a stupid plan, it makes very little sense: he previously claimed to be lonely, the reason he fell in love with a mortal woman.
    • Thanos from Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. For most of his career, the Mad Titan (who truly deserves that title, no matter how sick he gets of hearing it) considered himself a Well-Intentioned Extremist and Necessary Evil who claimed the only true way to save mortals from doing themselves in was to reduce populations of inhabited worlds. Gaining the Infinity Gauntlet gave him god-like power, able to complete his goal with a snap of his finger, but also made him the most hated and reviled man in the cosmos as survivors had to watch family and loved ones turn to dust. He never considered that maybe he could abandon his original plans and instead use this omnipotent power to, say, construct more livable planets and heal existing ones, while providing them with infinite supplies of food and drinkable water. He'd have been viewed as a heroic savior instead of the horrific villain he became. Word of God has indeed admitted that Thanos is not as well-intentioned as he claims, and is desperately trying to prove that his previous plan could work to the point where it blinded him to all better options. This is proven in the second movie, when he stops pretending to care for anyone but himself and attempts to destroy the universe so he can remake it into one where people will be forced to be grateful to him.
    • Loki does a lot of dumb things in The Avengers, but yelling at the Hulk was probably the dumbest. As anyone who knows the Hulk can tell you, insults never do much but make him angry, and the angrier the Hulk gets, the more dangerous and destructive he is. This ends rather badly for Loki.
  • The schemes of some James Bond villains can be pretty dumb sometimes, and not just for the obvious reason:
    • Elliot Carver, the Big Bad of Tomorrow Never Dies. A media mogul who is the embodiment of New Media Are Evil he seeks to provoke a war between the United States and China to boost sales and ratings of his news divisions. (Again, the old "start World War III on purpose scheme" that never ends well.) This guy can actually blackmail the President, something he does as a Character Establishing Moment; if he has that much influence, maybe he could fulfill his goal by manipulating something with, you know, much less chance of extensive civilian casualties and global economic crisis? Not only does this plan get 007 after him, but China's equivalent, who eventually sides with Bond.
    • Gustav Graves, the Big Bad of Die Another Day. He plans to use his solar-powered Kill Sat to destroy the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, so the North Korean army can invade South Korea. Even the guy's father - an actual North Korean general - realizes low ludicrous this is and the one-sided slaughter such a blatant violation of the treaty they hold would result in. Graves actually murders his father as a result, proving to everyone he's a bona fide lunatic.
  • The Wishmaster films, in a big way. The Jerkass Genie actually has motivation for his job: once the person who releases him makes three wishes, genies will be freed from the hell-dimension they're trapped in and rampage across the Earth. Time and again, however, he proves not just to be Obviously Evil, but also a unique combination of Stupid Evil and Chaotic Stupid. He could simply trust that the person who released him would have three things that they wanted to wish for - and the odds of that are pretty high - but instead, he insists on causing mayhem and destruction whenever someone makes a wish (particularly random people who aren't the person who can free the genies with three wishes), ensuring that whoever actually did free him will never make their three wishes.
    • It's justified, although it tends to depend on the movie. In all movies, granting somebody's wish effectively allows him to take their soul when they die (and the interpretations of these wishes usually end up with the person making the wish dead); in the third movie, it's mentioned that he needs 1000 souls before he can achieve his goal, although this detail wasn't present in the first two movies.
  • Helena Bonham Carter's version of Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies borderlines on this. She's portrayed as an insane character who delights in petty acts of vandalism like shattering windows and setting houses on fire. In the books, she's described as much more serious - she's considered insane only because of the level of her devotion to Lord Voldemort.
  • Super Mario Bros. - man, where to begin here?
    • King Koopah's evil plan is to merge his world with ours so he could conquer it. Assuming this didn't cause two Earthshattering Kabooms, his world has only one settlement, Dinohattan, meaning he'd be facing off against multiple armies with his limited forces. This includes the police of Dinohattan, who are overworked, understaffed, and incompetent; Koopa's enforcers, the woefully stupid Goombahs which were purposely made so via devolution; and his cousins Iggy and Spike, whom he trust to get the MacGuffin he needs after the two morons kidnap the wrong girl five times before managing to grab Daisy.
    • Also, Koopa is rather careless for a totalitarian ruler, seeing as every citizen is armed and weapons are lying around everywhere, just waiting to be picked up. Half of the movie is one big case of Boss Arena Idiocy, giving the heroes easy access to bombs, high-tech guns, and rocket shoes. Which, in all fairness, are kinda cool.
  • The Empire in Star Wars. Seriously, the oft-copied and oft-mocked thermal exhaust port that renders their "invulnerable" battle station completely vulnerable to a single proton torpedo wasn't something a smart organization would overlook. Some fans point out that the intent of Rogue One was to explain this, but in truth, it only made the Empire look stupider. Galen Erso might as well have had "Rebel saboteur" printed on his forehead, and once he was exposed as one, a smart dictator would have demanded every project he had been involved in checked with a fine-toothed comb. But again, the Empire is stupid.
    • The time lapse between Erso's being exposed as the traitor and the destruction of the Death Star is maybe 48 hours (remember that the ending scene of Rogue One is immediately before the start of ANH), and the Scarif facility holding the reactor plans has been destroyed and Erso's death makes the original designer of the reactor unavailable, so faulting the Empire for not re-examining all of Erso's work after his death is a bit unfair. They have no time to complete such an examination and arguably don't have a clean copy of the schematics to examine with.
  • The Big Bad in Catwoman is an evil cosmetics CEO who plans to market an anti-aging cream which has rather dangerous side effects: prolonged use makes the user's skin deteriorate and atrophy if use is halted. She thinks this will ensure customers continue using it and bring a constant cash flow. She never considers that the FDA would likely outlaw it first, nor the onslaught of lawsuits she'd have to deal with.
  • Deacon Frost in Blade. This vampire's Evil Plan involves turning everyone on Earth into vampires. Several more sensible vampires in the movie see the obvious flaw here - vampires prey on humans, and without them, they'd starve. Even if Deacon planned to keep supplies of blood in cold storage, it would be a limited supply, and he'd just be ensuring the extinction of his own people.
  • Jerry in Fargo. He needs money (cause he's got none) and his scheme, being the Stupid Crook he is, consists of paying some other Stupid Crooks to kidnap his wife so his rich father-in-law will pay a ransom, planning to split the ransom with the hired kidnappers, a stupid and dangerous plan that works as well as you'd expect. Jerry also doesn't notice some obvious warning bells, like his hired thugs bringing along "Carl”, someone nobody seems to know anything about. Sure enough, Carl is the one who messes the whole thing up.
  • Batman and Robin gave us two iconic villains turned into morons with another, "destroy the world without thinking about the long term” plot. Mr. Freeze plans to freeze the world so Poison Ivy can cover it with mutant plant life, so they can rule the world as Adam and Evil as Freeze calls it. The idea that two villains with such vastly different goals acting as a team is dumb enough without trying to consider what they'd do if they succeeded.
  • Die Hard was a great movie with great writing and an equally great villain, but one has to wonder why Gruber expected his escape plan to work. Surely he realized he couldn't fit all his henchmen with their duffle bags loaded with stolen bearer bonds into that one ambulance? Even if he did get away, it's obvious he'd be the prime suspect when the authorities found the empty vault, especially with no bodies indicating anyone died in the explosion.
    • Remember that the explosion was intended to kill all the hostages - the 'no bodies' problem would be solved by there being a whole lot of bodies, all blown to anonymous hamburger. As for escaping with the bearer bonds it's only necessary for the bags to all fit in the ambulance - the anonymous mooks can mingle with the crowd and exfiltrate on foot.
  • The Cabin in the Woods; while the SCP Foundation-wannabes in this movie are clearly kind of lax with their plan from the start, what ultimately dooms them when they're discovered is Dana and Marty hitting the system purge button, which releases every monster from their cells, who proceed to decimate and devour their former captors. Which begs one simple question: Why would they have this button in the first place?
  • In the horror movie It Follows the monster is indeed terrifying, a tireless creature that relentlessly pursues its victim nonstop. But when you think about it, not very well, as it always seems to take the path of most resistance. It can’t seem to comprehend the concept of doors, in one scene struggling with a locked door for several minutes before trying something else, and in another breaking a window without even seeming to notice the door. Now, while one could speculate this fiend is effectively mindless, even predatory animals can learn quicker when presented with a barrier they can’t get by.
  • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg the Dragon-in-Chief of The Fifth Element was so stupid, he has under his belt a dubious achievement that no other science fiction villain had ever (or since) accomplished. But first, the reasons for it:
    • First, his entire plan is stupid. A billionaire industrialist whose company is primarily into weapon dealing but has a hand in almost everything, he makes a deal with the Eldritch Abomination (the actual Big Bad) that intends to destroy the world, thinking there is profit in doing so. This being is Obviously Evil, its voice deeper than Darth Vader’s, and simply talking to it causes Zorg to bleed from his forehead, yet he doesn’t get the hint that this cosmic demon is playing him for a sap.
    • Second, he hires the Mangalores to steal the Stones needed to halt the destruction. The alien mercenaries have the Proud Warrior Race mentality of the Klingons (apparent because Zorg mocks such an honor code in an early scene), but the mental capacity of a box of hammers. Their attempt to steal them results in them grabbing a box they think contains the Stones, but turns out to be empty. After chewing them out for not having the brains to open the box first (an action he did not instruct them to do), he seems to calm down and pay them anyway, giving them the crate of high-tech weapons he had promised. And then activates the self-destruct mechanism inside the crate. Seeing as he would have lost those weapons either way. he is, in effect, making enemies of the Mangalores to protect his pride, which would come back to bite him later.
    • Also, when his board of directors has “feelings” about budget concerns, he quickly decides to fire a million employees, including those in his taxi company. For one thing, this means Korben Dallas (the protagonist) is out of a job, leading to him reenlist in the Army, leading to him being the one to save humanity from the Great Evil. Granted, there is no way Zorg could have predicted this, but seriously, why axe the taxi company of all things? Transportation is an industry that, by design, will never lack demand, customers or profit, meaning getting rid of it will ensure Zorg losing profit in the long run. Even a Bad Boss with no concern for the welfare of his employees knows this is a boneheaded business decision, which he makes on a whim.
    • Then he has Cornelius dragged into his office to interrogate him on the true location of the Stones, implying he’s not going to let Cornelius leave alive. Zorg is having dinner during his villainous rant, and then starts choking as a result. Cornelius, being a priest and a nice guy and all, saves Zorg’s life with a swift blow to the back, and as a result, Zorg shows a small bit of decency and lets him go. Of course, now Cornelius seriously knows too much, and Zorg could have detained him, but hey, Honor Before Reason here.
    • Briefly moving away from Zorg as far as this Trope is concerned, his second in command, Right Arm (who is slightly smarter than Zorg, but not much) finds out the Stones are on a luxury cruise spaceship. Shouldn’t be hard for a multi-billionaire like his boss to get tickets, right? Wrong. Right Arm has to swipe them from a passenger. But rather than target a lower-key passenger for this, Right Arm tries to impersonate Ruby Rhod, a drag queen and celebrity host of a talent show with at least 50 billion viewers. Naturally, Right Arm blows it badly and does not get on board.
    • So, after killing Right Arm by detonating a bomb in the public phone Right Arm uses to to report his failure (because, you know, that’s what stupid villains do) Zorg decides to finally get involved himself. He sneaks onto the ship - where by now, the Mangalores are causing chaos trying to steal the Stones themselves as part of a revenge plan against Zorg - and covertly grabs a box he thinks has them (making the same idiotic mistake he lambasted the Mangalores for) and then sets a bomb to go off when he’s in the clear. In case it didn’t sink in yet, this guy loves blowing things up For the Evulz, but in this case, the ship has bomb detectors (even Ruby Rhod knows this) and the crew and guests evacuate with ample time to spare. Certainly, should Zorg survive, this will not go unnoticed and his business will likely suffer tremendously.
    • But he does not. He finally decides to get a look inside the box, and upon realizing it's empty, returns to the now-empty luxury ship in a panicked attempt to stop the countdown. That’s right, this multi-billionaire Arms Dealer did not have the sense to include a remote kill-command on the bomb. He makes it with ten seconds to spare, but unfortunately for him, the Mangalores placed another bomb, and they did have the sense to include a remote detonation mechanism on it.
      • Which brings us to that dubious achievement that no other science fiction villain had ever (or since) accomplished: he is done in completely by his own stupidity, never once interacting with the hero in any way. In fact, the snafu with boarding the luxury liner is pretty much the only thing the good guys do that affects his plans at all.[1]
  • Serone from Anaconda wanted to capture the eponymous reptile alive so he could sell it, using the rest of the cast as bait. Though this was likely given how dangerous it was, even if he had trapped it, how in world would he have transported it?
  • Belloq and Those Wacky Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark fit the bill in some ways that are not unlike the actual Nazi regime.
    • Belloq claims that he thinks the Nazis are after the Ark because any army that carried it into battle was unbeatable. In the Bible, Chapter 4 of the First Book of Samuel has the Israelites soundly defeated after they carried the Ark into battle without God's specific direction to do so; the Philistines who captured the Ark were stricken with plague and the desecration of their god Dagon's statue within its temple well into the next couple of chapters, after which it was eventually returned.
    • Belloq also attempts to look into the Ark, believing it a conduit to God. However, the Bible also details a punishment for that within the same book as the above: "But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the Ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them."[2] Indy, who has done the research, tells Marion not to look, and both are spared as Belloq and the Nazis die horribly.
    • Of course, Belloq is more a glorified thief than an “expert archaeologist", as Indy would attest: though he makes a token attempt to dress like a priest, he's not even Jewish, let alone a Kohen Levite - they are the only ones among the priesthood permitted to even carry the Ark, and as the Book of Numbers detailed, even they would die if they touched it. Without any actual Kohanim present, any attempt to open the Ark is a fool's game. On that note, as the Nazis are a genocidal regime bent on exterminating the Jewish people, any attempt to use their artifacts - much less a Biblical artifact of this nature - as a Weapon of Mass Destruction easily registers as a ludicrous idea.
    • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny continues the tradition of stupid Nazis. The main antagonist - former Nazi Jürgen Voller - is actually kind of smart, realizing from the beginning that Hitler was an incompetent madman, and intending to use the eponymous Dial of Destiny to travel back in time, assassinate Hitler and assume command of the Third Reich, in order to change the outcome of World War II. His henchmen, however, are complete idiots:
      • In the second act of the movie (the first happening three decades earlier than most of the story) Vollner (a Villain With Good Publicity tells his men to Leave No Witnesses, and they seem to comply at first, using guns with silencers and disguising themselves as linemen. But when their escape route is cut off by a ticker tape parade (the one celebrating the Apollo 11 moon landing, no less) they proceed to back into a cab, start an argument with a cabbie (letting Indy escape), punch a police officer while pursuing Indy, steal a convertible car being used by a beauty queen (naturally, she screams for help) and pursue Indy through a busy subway station and then through the tunnel, all with sub machine guns blazing, and to make this worse, they do it all in front of one of the henchmen whom they know is a government agent who was tricked into helping them. Voller then cancels his trip to Los Angeles (where he was to meet with the President, thus standing him up) in order to pursue Indy to Morocco where his actions cause the U.S. Army to intervene. In short, by the third act, after everyone in America with a television witness their crimes, he is no longer a Villain with Good Publicity.
      • Of course, given the nature of his plans, Voller assumes none of this will matter in the end. However, the villains’ ultimate act of stupidity comes in the final act. While Voller himself has a brief moment of sanity and subverts the Cassandra Truth Trope, ordering his men to abort the mission, it is too late and they fly into Ancient Greece into the middle of the Siege of Syracuse. Stupidly, they open fire on the Roman soldiers, making them think there are dragons attacking them. While Indy and Helena (being smart) parachute to safety where they are met by Archimedes himself (inadvertently creating a Stable Time Loop that enables the Dial to be completed), the villains’ plunge to their deaths as the plane is brought down by Greek fire from the retaliating Roman army.
  • The Purgers in The Purge. (First movie, that is.) While This Troper is no expert on the subject, one would assume that gangs intending to invade a home and murder the occupants on the day of the year it is most likely to happen would expect some level of resistance. Nobody wants to be dragged out of bed and murdered in the middle of the night by people wearing horrendous-looking masks, right? Yet, the Purgers in this movie aren’t exactly up for the task. Despite this movie occurring in America, they carry surprisingly little in the way of firearms. Plus two of them they literally act like children (sociopathic murderous children, that is) giggling wickedly and giving each other piggyback rides, actions that make them seem like evil lunatics, right up to the part where the much savvier homeowner James blows their brains out with a shotgun. The rest fare little better, easily ambushed and killed by the Sanders’ neighbors, seemingly forgetting that when you go out on Purge Night, you are not the only ones purging.
  • Poppy Adams in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, head of Poppy’s Pharmaceuticals, which is, in fact, a front for the eponymous cartel. Her scheme to gain a monopoly on illicit drugs and near-infinite wealth is to poison her wares with a toxin that causes paralysis, mania, and agonizing death to whoever uses them, offering the antidote if the President of the United States ends the country’s war on drugs and grants her and her cartel legal immunity, broadcasting her demands publicly. This plan fails because there’s a President Evil in office who feels the only good drug user is a dead one. Still, even if he had caved to her demands, this plan was absurd for more than one reason. Assuming the U.S. even could grant her full legal immunity (doubtful, as she marketed her drugs globally) she’d never be able to assure that they wouldn’t renege on such a deal. Plus publicly announcing that you’ve poisoned the drugs you are selling is not likely to gain customers. Even the most desperate of addicts are likely to look elsewhere or even seek treatment rather than buy from her afterwards.
  • Superman’s Arch Enemy Lex Luthor’s competence as a villain (or lack thereof) is very much Depending on the Writer, the whole “destroy California as part of a real estate scam” in the original movie not the brightest idea, but without a doubt, the dumbest version of Lex was in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. His plan goes as follows:First he frames Superman for murder by planting a bomb at a congressional hearing, building up anti-superhero sentiment among the public, angering Bruce Wayne, who then, as Batman, breaks into a museum and steals kryptonite to build a weapon to bring Superman down. Then Lex kidnaps Martha Kent, ordering Superman to kill Batman in exchange for her life. So far, so good, Lex is playing both sides like a Chessmaster who… Clearly cannot play chess. Sure, the two heroes fight (that’s what heroes do, after all) but only for about five minutes, before they figure out who the real enemy is and Lex now has two angry superheroes after him. To his credit, Lex has a backup plan, but it’s no less dumb, releasing Doomsday (who in this version is a genetically enhanced clone made from his own and General Zod’s DNA) to sic on the two heroes, with absolutely no way to control this living weapon. By now, the destruction and carnage is so widespread that Wonder Woman shows up, with Lex and Doomsday now having three heroes to deal with, practically cementing an alliance between all three. Long story short, if this movie was supposed to portray Lex as an evil genius, it failed miserably, making Lex the type whose plan relied on the heroes being dumb, the plan itself making him look double-dumb. Oh, and he wasn't even bald in this version.
  • The Hurricane Heist. In this movie, the villain is a rogue federal agent named Connor Perkins, who along with his gang of other crooked agents plans to loot $600 million from the Federal Reserve. He realizes that getting the money out of the vault is the easy part, and that the hard part will be getting past the army of National Guard troops who would swoop him and make him give it back. So he decids to stage the heist as a destructive category 5 hurricane is about to hit the city. Uh… right. Connor makes two big mistakes here, one, the good guys give him far more resistance than he had assumed and two, a hurricane does not play favorites. In the end, when Connor is the sole survivor of his gang, the winds rip the trailer off the semi truck he is using as a getaway vehicle, and then drops it on the cab, killing him. Karmic Death.
  • SETI from Species. One could say the decision to even conduct this experiment was a stupid idea, but when Sil breaks free, their attempts to recapture her border on absurd. As dangerous as Sil is, she has the mental capacity and personality of a child (and technically is one, having been "born" only a few months previous) motivated only to reproduce, how hard can it be to track her down? In the case of these idiots, pretty hard.


  • The Forsaken from the Wheel of Time series pretty much ran the areas they were in charge of during the Age of Legend into the ground, because the only thing they were capable of doing was fighting. Asmodean, a relatively weak Aes Sedai, was made one of them because he only did things like kill all of his musical rivals, instead of feeding everyone to trollocs. When they were released from their prison, they didn't do much better. Most of the times they are seen holding the Idiot Ball, because they don't seem to understand that they can hold off on being evil for one day. Rahvin allows Morgase to escape because he's too busy brainwashing people so he can have sex with them, and Sammael does such a poor job running Illian that the nobles hand the country to Rand as soon as he kills Sammael. There are implications that they were picked by the Dark One precisely for being people with huge issues.
    • And all the less important Darkfriends (anyone who pledges himself to serve the Ultimate Evil) are even stupider. They spend slightly less time committing evil than their Forsaken masters, but only because they're too busy dying like flies. If they're not being ordered off into suicide missions or being executed for failing other impossible tasks, they're being stabbed in the back by their rivals or casually tortured and killed just for being in the wrong place when somebody important has a temper tantrum. And to add to the Stupid Evil of it, they all earnestly believe that they'll get the immortality and infinite power they were promised, even though the Ultimate Evil hasn't given that to anyone in over three thousand years.
    • Jordan himself noted that much of the Forsaken's behavior and group dynamics are based on Nazi internal politics, a group notorious for being really good at out-backstabbing one another and not so good at running things. Of the Forsaken, only Ishamael cum Moridin has a deeper more philosophical understanding of the nature of oblivion and the Dark One's seeming true goals; he is arguably the most dangerous because he isn't selfishly evil and is much more deeply nihilistic.
  • Draag, the Dark Paladin in Game Night by Jonny Nexus, plays Stupid Evil to the hilt, as his answer to nearly every problem is either A) Pull out his evil sword DeathSinger and stab it or B) Pull out his evil sword DeathSinger and torch it. The opening chapter has the GM/God of the world having to rewind time several times as Draag first stabs a gatekeeper before he can tell them the riddle they need to solve to get past, and then stabs the gatekeeper after he delivers the riddle, but before they can answer. Then, once they do solve the riddle, he kills the gatekeeper anyway.
  • Clandish "Cybomec" Consto in Stationery Voyagers. Astrabolo of the Yehtzigs is even worse.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Joffrey Motherfucking Baratheon. Crown Prince and later king of Westeros, and a Spoiled Brat with far too much power. He hrows his royal weight around whenever he possibly can, openly mocks everyone regardless of their standing or authority, has a friend of Arya's killed as vengeance for Arya making him look like an idiot, sends an assassin after Bran Stark armed with a valyrian steel blade that no assassin would have, which leads the Starks to start suspecting the Lannisters of treachery, and orders the Execution of Ned Stark, sparking off a gigantic Civil War.
    • Also Ramsay Bolton. His father discusses this trope in A Dance with Dragons, pointing out the foolishness of his son's openly cruel ways.
  • Tak from Stephen King's novel Desperation. It murders an entire small town for kicks, despite needing a fresh supply of human hosts in order to survive. (To make this even more absurd, the town in question is in the middle of the desert.) The characters even come to this conclusion when they question its actions.
  • Voldemort was the feared and dreaded symbol of Pure Evil in the Harry Potter franchise, and also one of the stupidest villains in modern fiction:
    • For the record, the whole franchise would never have happened had he not failed in his first attempt on Harry's life due to a misinterpreted prophecy. The biggest reason he failed to kill Harry as an infant was because Lily sacrificed herself to save her son - but in hindsight, did Voldemort really need to kill Lily? If he had instead used the Cruciatus Curse to subdue her (or frankly, even just pushed her aside), he'd have had a clear shot at Harry. Killing Lily not only fouled up later attempts to kill Harry, it gave Harry a valuable ally, and speaking of whom...
    • Snape's crush on Lily was sort of creepy, but using a For Want of a Nail scenario, Lily's death was the sole reason Snape turned against him, giving Harry a potent ally. While Voldemort's most stated weakness is his inability to comprehend concepts like love and friendship, he does know a thing or two about loyalty, pride, and holding grudges. He should have known Lily's death would enrage Snape to the point of desiring revenge; and for all his Jerkass tendencies and uppity attitude, Snape is a competent and very powerful wizard, and not someone you want on your bad side if you can help it. Indeed, had Snape remained loyal to Voldemort, it is very likely Snape would not have gone out of his way to save Harry during the Quidditch match where Quirrell booby-trapped Harry's broom, ending the young hero's career in his first year.
    • One of the reasons heroes with capes and masks use secret identities is because of a common trick bad guys use to get to the good guys, trying to do them in through their family and friends, but even though Harry has neither cape nor mask, he has plenty of allies he cares for who depend on him: Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Dobby, to name a few. Yet, this is something Voldemort rarely tried. He did it once, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, sending Harry visions of Sirius Black, and it worked; how hard could it have been to expand this theme? Especially seeing as Hermione's parents are both Muggles, how hard could it have been for him or another Death Eater to kidnap her during summer vacation?
    • One of his biggest mistakes was making the conflict with Harry a personal issue. Sure, Voldemort is an evil wizard, and it's understandable that he'd blame Harry for having to share Quirrell's body, feed on unicorn blood, and looking, well, hideous. And he believed a prophecy about being the only one who could kill Harry. But frankly, he could have survived had he just let go a little. His vendetta was an obsession, and his insistence on doing Harry in himself is the biggest reason the Boy Who Lived, er, lived as long as he did. Due to his orders, his followers were goofing around giving the students cursed diaries rather than make any steps towards eliminating Harry, and even when he did come back, his "leave him to me” mentality only helped Harry escape, often with far more information than the villain would have liked.
    • His entire plan in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Here's the problem: You need the blood of your enemy to restore your physical body. So you decide to convince Barty Crouch Jr. to kidnap "Mad Eye" Moody, brew a year's supply of Polyjuice potions, have Crouch infiltrate Hogwarts disguised as Moody, teach the Defense Against Dark Arts class for a year (giving Harry and his friends some very useful info about combating black magic), manipulate the Goblet to compel Harry to compete in the Tri Wizard Tournament, push Harry in the right direction during said Tournament, and finally, turn the trophy into a port key that delivers Harry into your clutches. Well, it works, but wouldn't it have been a lot easier to just enchant his toothbrush or something? In the end, Voldemort's whole plan seems to be a whole lot of unnecessary effort and cost for something that, on the surface, he could have done easier.
      • Not to mention, if he really needed blood of an enemy, the dead body of poor Cedric was right there, but Voldemort was so hung up with his obsession with Harry to consider that option. In fact, the only folks who didn't qualify were the Death Eaters. Even Pettigrew (you know, the guy who thought spending three years as a rat was a valid plan?) thought this was a bad idea.
    • There's also his complete inability to use subtlety in his assaults on Potter. Despite what Dumbledore would have you believe, Hogwarts' security, to be blunt, stinks. A 12-foot-tall mountain troll manages to get as far as the dorms in the first book before the staff even realizes its there (requiring the Power Trio to take it down; Sirius Black, a fugitive convicted of murder who had just broken out of jail, was able to sneak in, vandalize the Fat Lady's painting and get away before anyone noticed; Rita Skeeter spied on numerous staff and students in order to write her slanderous stories; and Peter Pettigrew spent three years in the students' dorms disguised as a rat before anyone noticed. Had Voldemort actually tried to sneak in himself after Goblet of Fire (or had one of his minions do it), possibly using a Polyjuice potion to disguise himself as Ron, Hermione, or for that matter, anyone Harry trusted, it would have been all over. But each and every time he confronted Harry, he had to make a big show out of it, giving Harry the chance to escape or fight back.
    • A point often brought up by fans is how big part of defeating Voldemort lay in finding and destroying his Horcruxes, but it seemed he made them way too easy to find. Why not sink one in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or bury another in Antarctica? It isn't hard to imagine that Godric Gryffindor himself would be challenged if he had to find them there.
    • Another missed opportunity, the Unbreakable Bond. This spell places two wizards into an agreement that will kill one of them should he break it, and it seems surprisingly easy to cast. Fred and George nearly made one with Ron when they were just kids, so it's absurd to think Voldemort couldn't have used it to prevent his own minions (including Snape, Karkaroff, and the Malfoy family) to prevent desertion and/or betrayal, but he seemed content on using the Black Mark, which in the long run, did little to ensure loyalty.
    • Good old lovable idiot Horace Slugthorn, the guy who inadvertently told Tom Riddle about Horcruxes in the first place. Poor guy was paranoid that the Death Eaters would try to silence him, but one has to wonder, did they even try at all? One would think Voldemort would put at least some effort into eliminating this dangerous loose end, but no, Slugthorn not only lived long enough to retire, but come out of retirement, and eventually give Harry the info he needed to take down Voldemort.
    • And finally, there's the Time Turners, a major plot device (and a lot of wasted potential) in Prisoner of Azkaban. Lucius Malfoy (one of the Death Eaters) may have had a hand in inventing this device[3] and despite how powerful it was, it seemed easy to get, given how many the Ministry of Magic had. Sure, there are rules governing their use, but when has Voldemort cared about that? He had so many chances to grab one, and could have used it to undo any of the mistakes he made on this list, but it never seemed to occur to him.
  • From The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Killing a man in public and leaving behind part of the murder weapon wasn't the brightest idea on Hyde's part, and he does a sloppy job burning his papers at his rented room before fleeing, leaving many of them still legible. Indeed, Utterson recognizes the cane as belonging to Jekyll, confirming that the Mr. Hyde who killed Sir Danvers Carew is the "friend" of Jekyll he knows.

Live-Action TV

  • Sylar and Elle of Heroes: Elle is bored on their first mission date and decides it would be fun to kill the rental car guy. Sylar gets one after killing four people in broad daylight and then not even trying to hide all that blood.
    • Also, Peter Petrelli during his brief Face Heel Turn phase after absorbing Sylar's ability and its corresponding psychosis. In comparison, Sylar, for his part, is perfectly capable of faking being normal if it will advance his long-term goals, and may even occasionally show mercy if the mood strikes him. Evil Peter, on the other hand, had No Indoor Voice and was instantly compelled to decapitate every single person that he met after he gained Sylar's craziness.
  • Doctor Who examples:
    • Let's start with the Big Bad himself, the Master. He seems to want to take over the universe for the fun of it. In "Logopolis," he not only accidentally kills octillions of people, he draws attention to himself by randomly killing a policeman and The Doctor's companion's aunt. This is caused by the extreme Flanderization he went through soon after his first appearances.
      • The Rani calls him on this: she just wants to rule one planet, beneficently if she can get away with it — but what are you going to do with the Whole Universe?
      • The new series attempts to rectify this by making the destruction of his homeworld and his species in the Time War the motivation to take over the universe, and giving him a Freudian Excuse as motivation for his more psychotic actions. Its success is debatable, although, as he still enjoys killing lots of people just for the hell of it.
      • Alternatively, this has led to the completely serious fan theory that the Master is evil simply to get the Doctor's attention, in the manner of the stereotype of a boy pulling the hair of a girl he likes. After all, why would he consistently target the Doctor's favourite planet?
      • The most likely explanation, offered by the new series, is that while he claims to want to conquer the universe and have big plans, he is simply driven to acts of destruction by the pathology that started when he looked into the Time Vortex and the sound of drums filled his head.
    • The Daleks: Sure, these things are pure Nightmare Fuel for anyone who grew up watching Doctor Who, but in retrospect, you might actually be ashamed of yourself for ever being scared of them. They're pretty dumb, for a variety of reasons; and would be candidates for a racial version of the Darwin Awards if they just did the universe a favor and stayed dead for once. Note that, to be fair, a lot of this can be blamed at least partially on Davros, who created them with a flawed design:
      • For starters, while they claim to be "superior" to every other species, the design of their cybernetic exoskeletons is just plain... wrong. A lot of jokes have been made about how, in early episodes, the only handicap they had that was worse than their inability to maneuver up a set of stairs is their even worse inability to maneuver down a set of stairs. Later incarnations managed to correct this with levitation devices, but they had other problems. Their optic-sensor-on-a-stalk has always been another Achilles heel: it gives them absolutely no peripheral vision or depth perception, and they have to rotate their entire bodies simply to look around. You could theoretically run rings around a Dalek as it was struggling even to get a bead on you with one of its weapons. The Doctor famously blinded one of them with his hat in one episode, and this Troper is fairly certain there was at least one episode where a Companion did so with a wad of chewing gum. Some of them have a sensor ray to correct the first problem or can heat the eyepiece to remove any foreign material, but the only Daleks who use these additions are the ones who must survive for sake of plot. Also, that plunger-arm they have is pretty good for draining knowledge from a victim's brain or information from a computer, and their manipulator-arm is useful as a cutting tool, flamethrower, or seismic detector, but both are downright terrible for turning pages in an ordinary book, opening a door with a key, or any other task that requires fine manipulation or opposable thumbs. Their gunsticks are powerful weapons, but would be even better if they didn't have to swivel their entire bodies simply to aim them. A Dalek can move almost silently, so a smart one would try to sneak up on their victim while using a weapon like this, but Dalek's can't help but scream "EXTERMINATE!” all the time at the top of their lungs in their squeaky, scratchy, jarring voices, making them unable to sneak up on anything with a sense of hearing. It is discovered later (earlier?) that this is a command word that reloads the weapon, but that just adds another design flaw. They used to have a "dry ice gun” (which they were eventually smart enough to stop using) a deadly weapon designed for close range, a type of combat no sane Dalek would engage in. In short, the only reason their invasions ever succeed is because in this series (like many others) Earth's armies consist of soldiers with no fight-or-flight response. Usually, that is; some ordinary soldiers can trounce them pretty well. Worst of all, they tend to technologically regress every time they have to rebuild their civilization, and speaking of which...
      • Daleks also have a self-imposed Hive Mind (sort of) that links them all through a data-sharing network (the Pathweb), but the efficiency of said network borders on pathetic. In one episode, Clara manages to hack into it and delete all knowledge of the Doctor's existence, and it took her all of five seconds. ("Doctor… who?? says a puzzled Dalek afterwards.) Sure, this was the mistake of an "imperfect” Dalek who was later killed, but it seems they discover and "EXTERMINATE!” members of their own kind for being "imperfect” at least twice per episode where they appear. Still, the problem with Pathweb is mostly an extension of their individual brains. Designed only to hate other races and destroy what they hate, and showing any positive trait or emotion other than hate (like showing mercy, gratitude, or generosity) will mark a Dalek for death by its Social Darwinist kin. The Doctor and his Companions also discovered quickly that the best way to confuse a Dalek is to spout nonsensical babble; they're struggle to make sense of it until they panic out of frustration. Something they do a lot, actually, screaming and shooting their weapons blindly (often falling down stairs!) if a plan goes sour. It's a miracle these things survive long enough to reproduce, and speaking of which…
      • A Dalek's biological make-up is the biggest reason they've been "brought to the brink of extinction” so many times, due to their own biological experiments and relying so much on the exoskeletons. They cannot reproduce on their own, and creating new Daleks requires technology and genetic material from other beings. Usually Davros (someone they have grown to hate) does this, but they have been known to plead for the Doctor to aid them too, and even when he does, they never show any gratitude. One has to wonder what would happen if they succeeded in obliterating all other races; they'd likely die out, either from this inability to create more or turning on each other, and speaking of which...
      • Possibly the Crowning Moment of Stupidity for the Daleks came with the Cult of Skaro, a group of four Daleks designed to research methods and strategies that most Daleks found unorthodox. Selected by the Dalek Emperor, these four Daleks were allowed to have individuality, even having names, and were allowed to base their ideas on emotion and imagination without fear of consequence. One of them, Dalek Sec, has since become known as the smartest Dalek who ever lived, for good reason. He did indeed get some clever ideas, which enabled him to rescue millions of other Daleks from a Time Lord prison. He figured, to paraphrase, "Wait, if humans are inferior, why do we keep losing to them?" He then proposed combining their DNA with that of humans, using himself as a test subject; as a result, he became smarter and stronger, even to the point where he could function without his cybernetic armor and freeing himself of every flaw mentioned above due to the ill-conceived design. For a while, it seemed there was hope that the Daleks could prosper. But despite the positive results of this experiment, the other members of the Cult saw Sec's ideas as blasphemy and murdered him, and act that led to the Doctor quickly killing two of them. Only Dalek Caan survived, only to again put his species back on the same unending cycle of hatred and failure. In fact, the next time the Daleks came close to extinction, it is heavily implied Caan's insanity had led him to do it on purpose.
      • What's more, Dalek schemes tend to show ridiculous incompetence. Say a story ends with the Daleks having dwindled to a dozen or so due to their last defeat and the above-mentioned problem. Their plan will start by finding a way to replenish their species, but before their race is even close to recovering, they'll launch their genocidal campaign again, eventually bringing them right back to where they were before. They also suffer from the flaw of all arrogant and overconfident villains, telling the hero every minute detail of their plans and giving what he needs to figure out the flaw in them, something a supra-genius Time Lord can do pretty quickly.
    • Davros, aside from the aforementioned faulty designs and his stated goal to "DESTROY ALL OF REALITY!" and assuming there are benefits to it, usually avoids this Trope. However, one lesson he simply refuses to learn is that the Daleks will always double-cross him, something they do every single time he works with them. It's almost become a Running Gag with him.
  • Any vampire who attacks Buffy the Vampire Slayer, knowing who she is, instead of running away from her. Newly-turned vamps who are unaware get a break.
    • Exceptions can be made for any vampire legitimately powerful enough that their odds of taking a Slayer in hand-to-hand are respectably high (such as the Master, Angelus, or Spike), but vampires that tough are anything but common.
  • In detective shows, anyone who commits a crime when they're aware that the famous detective is in the area.
  • In the CSI episode "Bad to the Bone", the killer is close to this (he's shown to have a short temper and be extremely violent). He steals poker chips (and never cashes them in despite having thousands of dollars' worth), starts fights (in which he beat a man several times his size to death with his bare hands) and then walks into a diner covered in blood to wash his hands and order a sandwich. He's killed when he decides to try and strangle Grissom as he's swabbing his hands for blood residue, and dies in the ensuing brawl with the police (his sister, and only surviving family member, is relieved he finally got himself killed). The rest of the episode is devoted to the team finding the remains of one of his victims in his garden.
    • While he's not the only example in the series, he's the only one who doesn't have the excuse of being on drugs or a stupid kid.
  • Dear God, the Borg. While dreaded and feared in Star Trek mythos, a combination of poor design, lack of creativity, inability to adapt, and lack foresight makes them absurdly easy to outsmart. A supercomputer is no good if it uses no firewall or antivirus, and the Borg takes such an analogy Up To Eleven. They never prepare for stealth-based viruses and sabotage, never learn from their defeats from such, and never seem to come up with new ideas on their own. They're unable to even see beings not registered as threats, meaning you could waltz right into one of their giant cubes, plant a nuclear bomb, and leave without being caught, so long as you made no threatening moves. Seven of Nine's parents lived and studied them right under their noses for two years before being caught, and they didn't even learn from that. They also never bother to study the history of the races they assimilate; Picard was able to mow them down with a tommy gun in one episode involving the Holodeck, something that should have been the equivalent of an American soldier standing up to a Blitzkreig with a squirtgun. How they ever became powerful enough to be considered The Dreaded in the first place is a mystery. "Resistance if futile"? More like "Resistance is Fruitful".
    • In one multi-part episode, the Borg's inability to prepare seems almost laughable. They invade the Enterprise, and the crew is pinned down because their phasers are ineffective against their personalized forcefields. The crew retunes the "frequency of the upper Ian band", and in the next confrontation, the Borg are gunned down with ease. The Borg Queen makes a complete overhaul of the system in part 2, only for the crew to tweek them again, and again, the Borg soldiers are gunned down with ease; this happens in Star Trek: First Contact as well, except the heroes are using the same strategy with phaser rifles. For all their supposed superior intelligence, it seems the Borg cannot remember a finite number of frequencies or modulations on the weapons or defense systems their arch enemies use to foil them in every skirmish.
    • A good analysis of why this dreaded, technologically superior Collective is, in fact, a bunch of idiots is detailed here.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Cardassians could often be considered a whole civilization that fits this Trope, but special emphasis goes to Dukat. An incompetent egotist and narcissist bordering on a messiah complex, Dukat claims he only wants what all Cardassians want - to protect his family, serve his people, and to save and empower the Cardassian state, and if those were indeed his goals, he'd make a great leader. However, he lies. His true goals, illustrated by his actions, are to be a legendary hero known throughout the galaxy. He wants the respect and approval of both his allies and enemies, including Sisko. (Or rather, especially Sisko.) He wants the Bajorans to slavishly bow to him (the Star Trek equivalent of the Israelis surrendering to the Arabic nations and worshipping them, or vice versa). And of course, his desire to get into Kira's pants, despite the small inconvenience that she utterly despises him. Not that he's above using other Cardassian women as Sex Slaves. In pursuing these impossible goals, he is a complete failure, and as a result, he is responsible for about 90% of the idiotic things the Cardassians do, their plans always ruined and any progress they make undone by his own rash desires and the poor decisions he makes as a result. Even Quark laughs at the idea anyone would consider him admirable or competent. Detailing all examples would take too long, so an example will do of how he justifies his crimes and claims he deserves the respect and prestige he desires:

Sisko: You are responsible for the murder of over five million Bajorans on your watch! Two are-
Dukat: False! I tried to save lives during my administration! I was convinced that a gentler hand was required to deal with the Bajorans. Child labor was abolished. Medical care was improved, food rations were increased. After one month of my administration, the death rate had dropped by 20%. They blew up an orbital dry dock. I ordered 200 members of the resistance rounded up and executed, 200 lives for 200 lives. Time and again, I would reach out as an open hand of friendship, and time and again, they would slap it away!

  • Okay, let's analyze this. Dukat is basically saying, "I tried to be friendly, but those ungrateful Bajoran terrorists had the audacity to try to liberate their people from the folks that enslaved them, and the other subjugated slaves still treated me like dirt." More rations? Of yes, thanks for giving back a few more crumbs of the rations you stole in the first place, and the fact that there even was child labor in those prison camps or a death rate you could reduce speaks volumes. Dukat's naïve attempt to convince his victims that he was a benevolent dictator while acting like a tyrant was the political equivalent of pissing into the wind.
  • One bad habit that villains in the Power Rangers franchise never seem to get tired of (but never seem to do right) is using some sort of spell or curse to brainwash a friend, ally, or classmate of the heroes to use against them. It literally never works, and more than one Sixth Ranger has been recruited this way. Rita takes the cake here - after Kat became the Pink Ranger, Rita tried to enspell her again twice, and failed both times.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

Professional Wrestling

  • Any ally of a heel wrestler challenging a face champion for a title who will enter the ring and strike the champion for no apparent reason, thus getting their partner disqualified (though this actually makes sense if the heel is the one who is champion, since a champion can get disqualified and still keep the title). Sometimes the interfering ally will weakly try to justify this by claiming to have wanted to "help" his friend, which is not only completely ridiculous but kind of insulting as well, particularly if the challenger who was just "helped" is the interferer's superior.
    • Of course, since Professional Wrestling matches are completely scripted, actions such as this are more for added entertainment than due to genuine stupidity.
    • More recently[when?], the ally will usually at least try to wait until the ref's back is turned to do something. Of course, also recently, the ally will usually fail in their effort and end up getting their ass kicked.
  • Kane kept falling into this pattern of behavior when he was trying to get John Cena to "Embrace the Hate" in the course of their recent feud. Although his long-term plan was to poison relations between Cena and the "Cenation" (his fans in the stands) and then between him and his friends Zack Ryder and Eve Torres (and this plan proved partially successful), Kane just could not restrain himself from attacking and maiming Ryder (or further maiming, since he had already put Ryder in a wheelchair) simply because he could, which only shifted attention away from Cena's ambivalent relationships with his allies and motivated Cena to oppose Kane all the more.

Tabletop Games

  • In Warhammer 40,000, the forces of Chaos (appropriately enough) make some pretty questionable tactical decisions from time to time, including sacrificing hundreds of their own cultists for purely symbolic reasons (as opposed to sacrificing hundreds of cultists for perfectly practical reasons, like summoning daemons, bigger daemons, and really really big daemons to attack their opponents). In addition, infighting between various Chaos factions has spelled the ruin of more than one attack on the Imperium. It's not for nothing that their symbol is eight arrows pointing in different directions.
    • Don't forget diverting shock troops in extremely rare and strong armor, even by Space Marine standards, from a strategically important battle to take out an enemy propaganda station run by a dozen unarmed monks, then annihilating it from orbit while the shock troops are still inside. Chaos commanders seem to have a collective inferiority complex or something.
    • A specific example: Kharn the Betrayer is such a bloodthirsty, frothing Ax Crazy that even his fellow Ax Crazies don't want to get anywhere near him. This is because he has a tendency to slaughter friend and foe alike when his blood is up. Justified in that Kharn is fanatically dedicated to Khorne, the Blood God, and Khorne cares not from where the blood flows, so long as it flows. Kharn is particularly notable among Khornates because he lacks even the very rare pragmatic tendencies they do exhibit. The source for the quote at the top of the page? The quote on his page in the Chaos Marines Codex.
      • At one point, when the World Eaters (Kharn's legion of Chaos Space Marines) were attacking an enemy force of Emperor's Children (another Legion of Chaos Space Marines that worship Slaanesh), a blizzard so terrible even the genetically-enhanced and daemonically-powered Super Soldiers couldn't take it descended and forced both sides to retreat into shelter. In a fit of rage, Kharn burned the World Eaters' shelters to the ground and proceeded to run around in a psychotic frenzy, slaughtering anyone that came within chainsaw-axe range. Both Legions suffered such horrendous casualties that they were never again able to take the field as a unified fighting force, and are now reduced to fighting alongside other Chaos warbands as shock troops. Thus, as far as his faith is concerned, he was doing the right thing and all the other World Eaters where being cowards. This is represented in the tabletop game by Kharn's special rules: if you roll poorly to hit in close combat, where any other character would simply miss, Kharn instead hits someone on his own side.
    • Dark Eldar love torturing stuff. Technically, they do have a reason, as they do it so that the evil god their ancestors ended up creating won't eat their souls, but besides that, they just love torturing people for fun (especially when you consider that such actions created the thing in the first place). So much so, in fact, that their vehicles are designed for swooping in, grabbing prisoners, and zooming off into the sunset at the expense of all else -- including armor and crew & passenger protection, though not necessarily firepower.
  • The Skaven of Warhammer Fantasy Battle are very much Stupid Backstabbers. While this serves a useful purpose in ensuring only the strong survive, this isn't saying much since Skaven take the We Have Reserves and Zerg Rush approaches; on the other hand, their tendency to turn every minor engagement into a five-way leadership battle is pretty much the sole reason apart from sheer troop inadequacy that they haven't taken over the entire friggin' world. Seriously, in one of the Gotrek and Felix novels, Thanquol could have won by page 200 if he hadn't been sending the heroes to eliminate his rivals out of fear for his position.
  • Dungeons and Dragons examples:
    • Drow elves in most campaign settings. Being forced to live underground, surrounded by swarms of magic-eye-beam-firing, mind-controlling, acid-spewing and other nastiness-causing beasties? Sure, why not worship an insane demon and turn your own civilization into a Social Darwinist nightmare so you expend three-quarters of your energy fighting yourselves? Of course, the Drow pantheon in most settings has an Ax Crazy Goddess who rules their society and demands that they constantly double cross each other. She is specifically described as "constantly watching for signs of too much cooperation", and must also rein them in when they inevitably go overboard.
      • Though she encourages a lot of the backstabbing and plotting, the problem is without her, they don't quite stop backstabbing as such. She at least keeps it from escalating into large scale bloodbaths or otherwise threatening their cities as a whole — via civil wars of large cohesive factions, cooperation with outside forces against their kin, unrestrained mass destruction, etc. Without a divine guidance specifically addressing this problem, the Drow would be inclined to walk closer to the edge of extinction - and, at least in Forgotten Realms, explicitly did, more than once! This is not unlike the tendencies of other elves despite their own divine guidance — which is naturally much more benign, but not helping with the persistent fatalist problem. With her, it's not all pretty, but they still have enough of an excess population (which is capped hard, as the Drow are a Terminally Dependent Society living in caves, after all) to waste in raids on others. So she steers them toward a less stupid sort of evil.
      • Of course, the Drow are far from alone amidst evil D&D monsters and villains here. In fact, some of the most blatant examples are human (many of the Zhentarim in the Forgotten Realms come to mind) -- in this case, their individual evilness may be unconsciously or deliberately played up because they have no convenient "monstrous" traits to clearly mark them as Obviously Evil otherwise.
        • The Zhentarim can at least replace their casualties from the general run of humanity, which is how they survive having an internal casualty rate as high as they do. The Drow are a separate race as well as a political faction; if their fratricide damages their gene pool beneath the threshold of viability then they're done, because they damn sure ain't picking up any new Drow from elsewhere.
    • Any mortal spellcaster who makes a habit of summoning demons qualifies. Sure, it might be possible some of the smarter ones have dark secrets such mortals could use, but with the possible exception of Pazuzu and maybe Graz'zt, demons do not make deals with mortals (that's what devils do), they're just too chaotic and rarely do anything but destroy. And an evil wizard who summons them too much will eventually make a mistake causing the summoned demon to break free, which will certainly create a lot of destruction.
    • And for that matter, demons are this. Their stupidity laced with insanity is the Order Versus Chaos Blood War between Devils and Demons has been in stalemate for eons, despite the fact that the demons of the Abyss outnumber the armies of Hell by almost a hundred to one. The devils live and breathe discipline, planning, and strategy; while the hordes of the Abyss can be explained in three words: "Scream and charge". It's telling that the Abyss and its demons are functionally infinite, so its armies in the Blood War are only the rare few who overcame their chaotic nature to the point that they could scream and charge at the enemy.
  • Intentionally employed in the Paranoia RPG system, where all of the player characters are supposed to be stupid evil and the "plot" is just an excuse to put them all in one room while they try to out-backstab each other. Not only that, but they're all at the mercy an omnipresent Lawful Stupid NPC, Friend Computer, so that have to try get away with being Stupid Evil while acting like they're Lawful Stupid.
  • The Old World of Darkness as a whole seems to always have a Stupid Evil faction for the players to fight against (or join). In Vampire, we have the Sabbat, who want to rule over humankind openly, ignoring that the Camarilla, their opposing faction already basically rules the world. In Werewolf, we have the Black Spiral Dancers, who would really really like to help the Wyrm destroy the universe. And finally, for Mage, we have the Nephandi, who want to help demons/the aforementioned Wyrm/every other otherworldly abomination destroy the universe basically for the lulz.
    • The New World of Darkness has its share as well, most notably Belial's Brood in Vampire: The Requiem.
    • Lampshaded in the Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade supplement Infernalism - The Path of Screams: "Here comes my Dark Lord! Booga-Booga-Booga!" "No, you don't - taste my steel!" SPLAT! End of story, right? Not if you do (Infernalists) justice." That passage goes on to describe complex and intelligent motivations and behaviors for Infernalist antagonists.
  • Subverted with Exalted and the Infernals... most of the time, anyway. Even after offering their souls to the Yozi and merging with a demon, most Infernals are at least practical in their quest to turn Creation into a living hell. That being said, Infernals are expected to be paragons of demonic will while they are in Malfeas, and participate in baby-eating contests and the like.
  • The Rakdos from the Magic: The Gathering Ravnica bloc are this intentionally. They even draw a great deal of their strength from mindless slaughter, which is also reflected in their representative gameplay mechanic (Hellbent).
    • The Gruul might also be either this or Chaotic Stupid, depending on who you ask. They have good reason to be pissed, though: Backstory tells that when the guilds were first formed, the Gruul were put in charge of "protecting nature." The problem is that Ravnica, their setting, is a plane-wide city, so between having much of their purpose being co-opted by the other Green-based guilds, or just eliminated by urban planning, they were eventually cast down as a guild. They didn't take it well.

Video Games

  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura is a perfect example. Most evil actions fall into the Stupid Evil category. For example, you recover a wedding ring for a person who offered you 200 gold for it; the wedding ring is worth 30 gold in the pawn shop. The good option is to sell him his ring for 200 gold; the evil option is to murder him (and not get any money since he doesn't carry it on him). Almost every single morality choice in the game is of a similar vein.
  • The textbook video game example is Morrigan, from Dragon Age: Origins. She's supposed to come off as merely practical and ruthless — but given that she actively suggests you screw over other people who you need to defeat the Blight, encourages betrayal and being a prick to people whose aid you need, and in general, just being a snarky asshole, she comes off as Stupid Evil. The most blatant example of this may be the fact that, as an apostate mage who has lived her life on the run from the Templars, she approves of helping the Templars kill off Ferelden's entire Circle of Magi... because they allowed themselves to be shackled by the Templars in the first place.
    • Justified and played with in that Morrigan was raised to be Stupid Evil -- because her mother Flemeth is an enormously powerful and smart evil, who needs Morrigan only for her body (that she intends to eventually take over), and having Morrigan become competent and develop her own independent powerbase in the interim is not on her agenda. However, Morrigan still has to be evil and not just raised to naively be a good person who believes everything her mother says, because nice trusting people often make friends without even trying and friends are people who fight Flemeth to save their friend's life. And so, Stupid Evil. (Admittedly, the PC ends up fighting Flemeth to save Morrigan's life anyway so the plan doesn't quite work, but you have to give Flemeth credit for trying.)
  • Completely averted in Planescape: Torment. You can try to be Stupid Evil, but this just gets you a visit from Sigil's resident Physical God, the Lady of Pain. You get many, many chances to be a highly intelligent Manipulative Bastard, bordering on Complete Monster, though, and the Practical Incarnation, probably the smartest of your previous incarnations, was easily both.
  • Can be played straight, averted or even subverted in the first two Fallout games. While it's quite possible to go through the games killing nearly everything that breathes, many of the "evil" side quests can be accomplished without wholesale slaughter or dog-kicking malice, and many of the "good" side quests can be solved with needlessly violent acts as well. Need to get a hostage from the slavers? Don't bother negotiating a deal that benefits everyone, or seducing the leader. You can just kill them all! An evil-pacifist run isn't entirely impossible, just annoyingly difficult.
    • To be specific, in Fallout 2 the most ideal ending for New Reno, where it stops being a Wretched Hive and becomes somewhere you'd actually want to live, is gained by wantonly killing everyone save the Wrights (and not becoming a made man with the Wrights, since this will lead to the Wrights using the military tech in the Sierra Army Base to create a military dictatorship).
    • Or you can simply cloak-and-dagger tactics to eliminate the heads, each being a case of being Hoist By Their Own Petard; each New Reno head have a way to die without pissing off their fellow family members.
    • A common criticism of Fallout 3 is that, while the game allows you to play "good", "neutral" or "evil" characters, the Karma system much more frequently gives you "good" points for completing quests. It's virtually impossible to become "evil" or even remain "neutral" by playing just the main quest. Therefore, the only way to be recognized by the game as "evil" is to be an unthinking sociopath, literally going out of your way to be a dick, paying no attention to what you're actually supposed to be doing, and in the process engaging in numerous acts that are unnecessarily risky. In other words, the same thing as Neverwinter Nights mentioned below.
    • Some of the main quest "evil" choices make no sense even from the perspective of immoral self-aggrandizement and can only be justified by misanthropic, psychopathic stupidity. The extra caps given for doing the evil options are usually a pittance and in many cases even major rewards aren't worthwhile. What's more valuable? A house in a well placed settlement on several major routes throughout the wasteland (good reward) or an apartment on the extreme edge of nowhere that is under siege by ghouls (evil reward)?
    • Fallout: New Vegas is much better about how evil you really can be, but still a bit stagnant. Legion playthroughs and quest chains amount to about 1/3 of the content of a NCR or House friendly Courier. Granted, New Vegas also reduces the importance of Evil Karma, but at the end of the day you'll probably end up mindlessly gunning down every NCR soldier you can, followed up by gunning down most civilians who are happily aligned with NCR.
    • New Vegas also featured Fallout 3‍'‍s weird bits of random karma for killing certain NPCs. In particular before being patched, killing randomly encountered (fixed location, but they respawn) Fiends would give you something ridiculous like +100 Karma per kill. If you've spent the entire game as the sickest bastard in the Mojave, your first trip down the west side of outer New Vegas can turn you into a saint in as little as two shoot outs.
    • Storyline example: Vault-Tech, the Predecessor Villains of the franchise. Sure, tricking so many people into becoming human guinea pigs for experiments might be considered smart, assuming the experiments worked, which they did not. Some of the experiments might have been useful - if unethical - for biological research and social experiments, but others seemed absurd and silly, like a vault populated by one man and a thousand women, and the one with one occupant and a box of puppets. Plus, it seemed the Vault-Tech leaders never planned to build a Vault for themselves, because as far as is known, none of them survived the nuclear war that they claimed the Vaults were built to shelter customers from.
      • IIRC, the Vault-Tech higher-ups were betrayed by their superiors, the Enclave. Which makes sense; they might have been useful in the setup phase but who wants to actually have these lunatics still around during the post-apocalypse.
  • Street Fighter has M. Bison. Not only does he aspire to Take Over the World, not only does he routinely tell the hero that Soon I Will Be Invincible, he also routinely betrays his own freaking underlings, most of whom would be perfectly happy serving him if they continue being paid (Balrog) or if they get to keep fighting/killing (Sagat and Vega). Incidentally, Bison's lackeys usually turn against him and kill him in their (generally non-canon) endings.
  • Guilty Gear: I-No is a dumbass who frequently causes huge messes in the name of That Man. Not only do said messes more often than not have nothing to do with what he wants, but he usually has to clean up after her. As such, it's really quite surprising that he even still lets her work for him.
  • Most of the things you have to do to get 100% corruption in Overlord are just For the Evulz and grant no practical benefit. The most blatant example is the last peasant-killing requirement, which can only be reached by repeatedly reloading one of the town areas to spawn more villagers to kill.
    • The sequel's 100% destruction path is the same. Among other things, you're required to kill off all the people in your own towns instead of making them work for you. Since the game is not that serious, however, it's not that much of an issue. It also helps that, unlike the original Overlord, you are rated on "destruction" vs "conquest" instead of "Good" vs. "Evil". Enslaving people is "conquest", and slaughtering towns is "destruction", so you are not actually forced to be stupid evil if you don't want to.
  • Many of the options for "Closed Fist" in Jade Empire fell under "Kill people or trick them into killing others or themselves just because you can." However, more memorably and in something of a subversion, many of them actually offered the opportunity to provide interesting justifications; you might not just kill the fox spirit protecting a forest because you could, but because her weakness in allowing evil to taint it was a sign she wasn't fit to guard it anymore... or have a girl who was about to be sold into slavery kill her would-be buyer to teach her that freedom is worth fighting for.
    • It is worth noting that if you get your Closed Fist meter to maximum, the dogs which can be seen walking around the city become targetable. Yes, once you're pure dang nasty evil, you really can Kick the Dog. When you kill them, they drop health powerups! It is further worth noting that if you're in the city where these dogs are, you could also find chi and focus altars that instantly restore their respective energy bars. Even if you get into a fight near a dog, but far away from any altars, you can force enemies to drop any powerup on death. Thus, this action is purely For the Evulz, serving no purpose and offering no benefit to the player.
  • In the game Harvest Moon DS, to marry the Witch Princess, the player has to kill 50 animals (which cost a lot of money to acquire, and then make the player a lot of money in return), litter in the road and poison the stew pot at a festival (which makes everyone else in the valley hate you, naturally), and pass out from overwork 100 times (which costs time and money, again, as passing out will cause you to go to bed immediately and lose half of your gold). Surely there are easier ways to prove that she's evil besides making you play the game horribly to make her like you?
  • The Demon Path of Soul Nomad and The World Eaters. Once you beat the game normally, the New Game+ option opens up to play the game evilly. And boy can you. As a baby-killing, genocidal monster whose only goal is to kill everyone in the most painful way possible, the characterization lies not in you, but in the previous timeline's villains who have to deal with you being Eviler Than Thou. Some actually turn good in this timeline, having joined forces with the heroes opposing you and discovering they like it. Others are still evil, but are scornful of the pointlessness of your actions or are eventually driven mad just by being around you.
  • Wario occasionally. For example, the trouble he has to deal with in Wario World happens after he steals the Evil Black Jewel. Honestly, who'd be dumb enough to steal something like that? Well, Wario, obviously. He even admits he had always been a little suspicious of the thing.
  • Lilarcor from Baldur's Gate II is Stupid Evil personified, seeking only to kill everything the party meets — and he's a sentient sword, with a personality apparently based on a fantastically stupid hick, which fortunately means he's incapable of doing anything on his own.

Lilarcor: I don't know what you were expecting, but as a sword I'm pretty one-dimensional in what I want.

  • The Baldur's Gate series in general. Most often, the 'evil' dialogue and quest choices have you acting like a big Jerkass to everyone you meet, for no good reason. And the rewards are usually worse than if you'd taken the 'good' path.
  • Mass Effect is a notable exception to the "evil or equivalent is always Chaotic Stupid" tendency in CRPGs. The evil-equivalent options (termed "Renegade") tend more towards I Did What I Had to Do or even Lawful Stupid. Even things as subtle as taking a more aggressive or reckless tack in conversations can earn you a few points for it. You do tend to have to kill more people on this route, but you tend to kill them because it's the most expedient route or "lawful" option, while the good-equivalent ("Paragon") emphasizes restraint, helping those in need, and finding a peaceful and equitable solution whenever possible.
    • Renegade Shepard does, however, engage in a great deal of Insane Troll Logic on occasion to justify racking up those renegade points. A low-score Renegade Shepard may be the best example, as not only will their overly aggressive dialogue fall flat on its face and fail to intimidate anyone, the only way to really get a low score in Paragon or Renegade is to alternate answers. It's no wonder they can't intimidate people: they probably just made some compassionate overtures, then said something bigoted, then over threats and then back to compassionate.
  • Neverwinter Nights (and its related expansions) works like this when it comes to the Good/Evil alignment axis. It's almost impossible to gain evil points unless you kill anyone who looks at you a little bit funny, regardless of the number of witnesses or your own personal credo. Meanwhile, performing any kind of altruistic act—even for nefarious or selfish purposes—will have you racking up the Good points.
    • Unfortunately, this is one of the major weaknesses of alignment in NWN, in that most characters end up as dog-kicking evil, or good. Almost no subtle, selfish evil, and it's very hard to maintain a neutral character over a long (series) of modules.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion Mask of the Betrayer introduced a mechanic of "soul consuming". Your character is given the option to suppress the urge (lawful & good points on alignment meter) or indulge in it (evil and chaotic points on alignment meter). These urges occur at regular intervals of real time. Indulging actually increases the rate of hunger generation; should you indulge, your hunger will grow enough to consume your own soul, ending the game permanently and requiring that you restart the entire game from the beginning or a far enough ago save where you can still salvage it via suppression. The consume path is thus nearly impossible to play to completion unless you do a speed run. This means almost everyone suppresses and are 100% Good/Lawful despite being utterly evil in their choices. A patch was released to resolve this situation by making suppression not affect your alignment.
  • The Mastermind of Mastermind World Conquest, whose goal is to destroy the Earth since he thinks it's the same thing as World Domination. He's also a big example of a Bad Boss, who takes more joy in executing Patsys than he should.
  • As mentioned above, RPG video games can push this to the point of ridiculousness. In the case of Knights of the Old Republic, it seems to be a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation: no sane light-siders like Carth or Bastila would stay with someone who kills every single NPC just because they can, but for the player, it's justified by their pursuit for Dark Side Points.
    • Knights of the Old Republic II presents much more variety in dark side options, such as convincing a mother to sell herself into slavery so she can be together with her daughter. In fact, the game recognizes two kinds of dark side acts: "cunning", which represent a Manipulative Bastard and which your teacher Kreia approves of, and "psychotic", which correspond to Chaotic Stupid and which Kreia scolds you for. There are other party members who do approve of psychotic acts, though, like the assassin droid HK-47.
    • On the other hand, there are moments when you are forced to learn how bad Lawful Stupid and Chaotic Stupid are by the mechanism of only giving you those options. No matter how subtle a villain you are, when a beggar asks if you have any spare change, your only options are giving him money or threatening to kill him. Which means it's lecture time from Kreia, and she won't be telling you to just keep walking and avoid eye contact.
    • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Overseer Tremel will actually call you on this during one of the opening quests for the Sith Warrior if you decided to kill a spy that the Empire had taken prisoner instead of taking the light side points by sparing her life in return for her service to Imperial Intelligence. If you kill her, Tremel basically tells you to never waste someone who could be of use to you.
  • The Combine in Half Life 2 are the Lawful Evil version. They invade Earth for the sole purpose of consuming all its resources (including draining the oceans) and using humans as cannon fodder soldiers; while they're there, they implement a needlessly brutal totalitarian regime in which the "civil protection" forces have "beating quotas", and any captured "Anticitizens" are transformed into the horrific Stalkers.
  • The Ilwrath in Star Control 2 are the epitome of "TORTURE AND BLOOD AND DEATH, BAH HAH HAH" Stupid Evil. Turns out there's a reason for it, though -- the Umgah have been interfering with their culture for generations as a practical joke.
    • You can even momentarily confuse them in a conversation by pointing out that they self-identify as "evil", yet it is the preferred behaviour in their society, meaning that acting "evil" is actually a good thing in their value system, and therefore them calling it evil is a paradox.
  • While calling anyone is Touhou evil is inaccurate at best, there are still those that fall into a downplayed variant of this trope (Stupid Antagonism?), causing mayhem for petty reasons (if they have any at all) in spite of the miko with impervious Plot Armor that will not hesitate to beat the living crap out of them. The best example is Utsuho, who goes mad with power and has ambitions to Take Over the World almost immediately upon receiving her powers from Kanako.
    • In Utsuho's defense, she was stupid before she was evil.
  • If you decide to venture down the path of Corruption in Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising, you'll end up doing things this way most of the time. For example, the very first atrocity to commit is to blow up the city gates thus leaving it unprotected... OR you can walk ten meters aside and open the gates with a switch. Every time corruption points are awarded for lingering with a mission, rest assured that you will have to actually wait for the timer to expire twiddling your thumbs two steps away from the objective. Tainted wargear is just moderately better than the "clean" one so it'll be more like "damn, Cyrus' corruption level is low! Ok, what can I give him to fix things up?" And powers of Chaos, while great, have such long cooldowns it makes them essentially Too Awesome to Use, so they too will be mostly used for their corrupting potential.
  • Joe Barbaro from Mafia II, I guarantee it!!
  • There is a mission in City of Villains that invokes this trope. When checking on a Arachnos base, the agents you come across are spouting Stupid Evil lines. This is your first clue that something is wrong, as most Arachnos agents are Punch Clock Villains. Then, when you defeat one and it blows up, you figure out that they're Nemesis Automatons, which are known for being perfect replicas, until you look closely.
  • Colonel Volgin from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is this trope incarnate. When he captures Big Boss, and "interrogates" him, he actually manages to reverse interrogate him, as Big Boss is too busy being beaten half to death to say anything, and Volgin is busy disclosing the location of The Philosopher's Legacy. Later, when he and Snake are preparing to fight to the death, Snake asks what that is exactly, and Volgin tells him for no discernible reason.
  • Admiral De Loco from Skies of Arcadia. Unlike the Big Bad, he's not in it to make the world a better place, and unlike some of the other admirals he's not a Punch Clock Villain or in it for the fringe benefits. He just plain likes burning things and hurting people, and working for The Empire gives him plenty of opportunity. While he is clearly bugfuck insane and often lets his passion for pain and his vendetta against Vyse get in the way of making the right decisions, his position as the chief of Valua's research and development division is the only reason they don't just jettison him. And nobody gave a damn when his ship blew up in the Vortex after his last battle.
  • Mortal Kombat
    • Shao Kahn is obsessed with conquering other realms, and merging them into Outworld, so that (being the megalomaniac tyrant he is) he can not only cause devastation during his invasions, but exploit and oppress survivors for his own egotistical gain. He's treated as the personification of evil in the series. Problem is, as indicated in his ending in Armageddon, he conquers everything in the universe, destroying all lands AND seemingly all life too. And with nothing else left to conquer, he is left alone forever... to essentially go mad with boredom.
    • Moloch's ending somewhat counts as well. Yes he is a lumbering, towering, destructive demon from hell, but his non canonical ending in Armageddon reinforces that stereotype by telling that he would gain so much power and rage, becoming the ultimate destroyer, but in his stupidity and haste to unleash his power straight away, he destroys all portals to escape the realm he is in, and thus is unable to inflict his wrath upon other worlds.
    • Kronika from Mortal Kombat 11 is this on many levels; the sad part is, it’s easy to tell that the developers were trying to make her a Magnificent Bitch whose diabolical schemes could rival those of David Xanatos, but they wound up with an idiot:
      • First and foremost, her stated goal is to reset the timeline until she has one she considers perfect. In one dramatic scene, she gloats to Raiden that he has never been able to defeat her in the 100,000 times he has tried. This is supposed to make her sound omnipotent and invincible, except… 100,000 times? How many times do you have to hit the Reset Button before you get it right? After millions of years, she has been unable to create her perfect timeline, so either she really stinks at this whole Rewriting Reality thing or it is impossible and she has spent eons wasting time on it. Either way, she's an idiot.
      • Plus, as a Titan, Kronika has vast divine powers that certainly rival Raiden's and supposedly rival that of the Elder Gods, and she shows it in cutscenes. She literally freezes time in one scene to talk to Shinnock’s severed head (meaning she’s talking to herself, by the way, as neither he nor anyone else can hear her with time frozen), she rewinds time to restore a castle (again, no reason other than to show she can), then merges two timelines into one with a wave of her hand, restoring every Kombatant who perished or became revenants in the previous two games. (Well, except Quan-Chi and Shinnock, stupid as she is, she has limits), and that’s all just in the first 30 minutes of Story Mode! Plus her crown lets her literally rewind time (and also makes her tougher physically), she can trap her enemies in pocket dimensions, and teleport to any place in the cosmos at will, freezing foes in place as she does so. The notion that anyone could even get close enough to fight, let alone kill her, seems absurd, the only explanation being carelessness and overconfidence on her part.
      • And then there are the mistakes she makes that are associated with this Trope. She makes deals with Shao Kahn and Shang Tsung (two villains who any fan of the franchise realize are guaranteed to betray her), tells her minions not to kill the living heroes who have revenant counterparts, because doing so would RetGone the revenants (even though the revenants are not helping her much and being killed is required to become a revenant), she leaves her crown (something she needs to use the Hourglass) where the heroes can find it, blatantly tells the heroes how she can be beaten (that her plans involving turning Liu Kang and Raiden against each other because their cooperation is a threat to her). It almost seems like Kronika wants there to be a chance she could fail simply to make the conflict more interesting (which might have been an interesting plot twist, actually) but no, she has no viable excuse other than being a moron.
  • In the Lost Chapters version of Fable, the evil option of the final choice is this. The options are either A. Throw an evil talking mask into the lava (Good) or B. put on the talking mask that tempts you with power and obviously just wants you to put it on so it can possess you (evil). Guess which option is the smart one and which is the really, really stupid one. Come on, guess.
  • The Umbrella Corporation in the Resident Evil series. This group of Mad Scientist-slash-Corrupt Corporate Executive types were obsessed with manipulating DNA and creating biological weapons ("BOWs”) in order to market them to various military firms, only to run into some problems. Problem #1: These BOWs are unpredictable, unstable, and usually destroy whatever facility they're developed in. Problem #2: Said results of these BOWs are usually defeated and destroyed by one police officer. On top of that, they have a task force dedicated to cleaning up these accidents, but most of them are either eaten alive or infected. Problem #3, they never learn, never having any concern for repercussions of their experiments, even when the brunt of such repercussions come crashing down on their heads, and often come off as "evil for evil's sake". They'd nuke a school bus full of preschoolers if they thought it could be For Science, and that is clearly Not Hyperbole; they definitely would. Calling Umbrella "incompetent” would be an understatement. As noted above, the movie's incarnation stay true to this portrayal.
  • Union Aerospace Corporation, from the Doom franchise. Okay, the Earth is in the middle of an energy crisis, so the "geniuses” at this Mega Corp discover an energy source on Mars that originates from Hell itself. (That's right, from Hell itself.) Not only that, they decide to explore Hell itself (which is infested with demons, of course) while mining its resources and looting its artifacts. On top that, they knew one of their own scientists, Dr. Olivia Pierce, has started a devil-worshiping cult among members of the organization, and do nothing. Worst of all, after the demons are unleashed and the heroic Space Marine saves humanity from being wiped out, their idiotic CEO Samuel Hayden doesn't even thank him, and decides to continue research into the project. How dumb can you get?
  • Phenotrans, the Mega Corp main antagonists of the Dead Rising series. This is the group that markets a drug called Zombrex, a daily dose of which is required for anyone infected by a zombie, in order to stay human. And they charge an astronomical price for it. The apocalyptic ramifications of this deliberate price gouging - not to mention profiteering, as they deliberately try to worsen the Zombie Apocalypse - never occurs to them, nor do they ever realize that the overwhelming profits they're making are going to collapse once customers start to lose the funds to afford it. Not to mention they risk turning the entire world into a state where said profits will be worthless.
  • In the Hitman series, many of 47's targets - whether they be mobsters, dictators, terrorist leaders, or corrupt businessmen - have armed bodyguards protecting them, which will hamper your ability to eliminate the target, unless you find a way to convince them to dismiss these minions. There's always some way to do this, and it often seems remarkably easy to d so, often for some trivial reason. Even targets who are Properly Paranoid about someone trying to kill them can be convinced to take a risk that you can exploit.
  • Cave Johnson from Portal, another Posthumous Character whose own stupidity is the reason he's "posthumous". By his own admission, he always "trusted his gut" rather than thinking with his brain. As an industrialist and CEO of Aperture Science, his MO was to greenlight every single idea he thought up, no matter how absurd, ill-conceived, or outright dumb it sounded, and see if any of them panned out, and he claimed a thousand of these ideas were tested a day. While he did manage to make some scientific breakthroughs like matter-manipulating gel, sapient AI programs, and of course, the portal gun, there were dozens of Epic Fails per success, and he simply didn't learn. To give one example of his insane experiments, Chell finds one recording intended for the second group of test subjects for a project involving injecting human subjects with praying mantis DNA, telling them the test was postponed indefinitely, but he now had another test for them - fighting the first group that was now an army of mindless mantis-men. Supposedly, Johnson died from kidney and lung failure due to "moon rock poisoning", and seeing as moon rocks were a main ingredient in the aforementioned gels, he was clearly Hoist by His Own Petard.
  • The Ancestor in Darkest Dungeon. The foul corruption that has turned the Hamlet into a barely-habitable Überwald, every boss encountered in the game (and for that matter, every Mook in the game) is a result of the blasphemous experiments he conducted in his attempts to unearth the eponymous dungeon, squandering his fortune multiple times, often making more mistakes in his attempts to fund his goal, all because he was bored. The Crimson Court DLC shows that the action that caused him to cross the Moral Event Horizon involved drinking vampire blood, not the wisest choice there. And despite acknowledging every mistake he made and often regretting every mistake, he never considered halting the insane goal, only realizing the sheer scope of his folly and taking steps to undo it (possibly) after succeeding and inadvertently unleashing a fiend with the intent to bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Dr. Eggman has done a lot of stupid things in the long history of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, but the one that buries the needle on the stupidity detector is his Evil Plan in Sonic Unleashed. There are these two entities in the center of the Earth, the benevolent Light Gaia, who protects life, and Dark Gaia, who wants to destroy it. These two entities are locked in an endless struggle which must continue for all eternity, lest Dark Gaia break free and destroy the world. Eggman decides to drain the Chaos Emeralds to power a device that releases Dark Gaia, and why? So he can use its energy to fuel the rapid construction of - get this - an Eggmanland theme park! Plus he builds it in the center of the Earth, not the best location for tourism. Ironically, this is also stupid due to Boss Arena Idiocy. Sonic has access to the multiple refreshment stands and souvenir shops in Eggmanland, where he can buy power ups and other useful items with the Rings he collects.
  • Father Zachary Hale Comstock, the Big Bad of BioShock Infinite is A Nazi By Any Other Name before even the true Nazis came to power. Ruler of Columbia, a city that was commissioned as a showcase of American exceptionalism, it quickly degenerated into an ultra nationalist xenophobic militarized theocracy, serving as a precautionary tale to the evils of fascism. He fits the Trope for multiple reasons:
    • First of all, he and his followers have nothing but contempt for undesirables (all the folks the true Nazis wanted to eradicate, meaning anyone except white, male, straight, Anglo-Saxon Christians) being blatantly racist and leaving no question of their motives, their disgusting propaganda spreading vile lies about them. But they certainly don't do a good job getting rid of them or keeping them out. These undesirables are kept in the city as indentured servants or slaves and treated like garbage, but poorly supervised, and given easy access to weapons and things that could be used as weapons. One of Booker's allies is an African-American woman of genius intellect permitted access to a lab, while an Asian man is actually allowed to run a gunsmithing business! Clearly, they foolishly underestimate the intelligence and potential of these "inferior" peoples. Columbia's leadership is practically asking for a slave revolt, and their cruelty has caused all of the unfavored class (plus many sympathetic members of the favored class) to unite under a common enemy, creating Vox Initiative, which Comstock has not, after 17 years, been able to exterminate. As Booker travels to other realities, he finds that bloody revolutions are already happening to other versions of Columbia, and this one is clearly next.
    • Second, Columbia has a great deal of advanced Steampunk technology. Robot soldiers, fantastical vehicles and weapons, the miraculous device that allows access to alternate realities, and the city itself is on a man-made Floating Continent. All of this was invented by brilliant scientist Rosalyn Lutes. While Rosalyn is herself no saint, her brother (or rather, a male alternate dimension version of Rosalyn) has far more of a conscience and convinces her to side with Booker. Comstock attempted to have the "siblings" killed by sabotaging the aforementioned portal machine, but his jury-rigged trap instead grants the siblings godlike power and the ability to alter reality at will. It is stated that they have brought Booker to the city 16 times in attempts to overthrow comstocks rule (the 17th time is where the player takes the controls) but these numerous failures mean nothing to them, as they have all the time in the world, and the ability to manipulate time itself. Maybe trying to use Rosalyn's own technology to craft his trap - which is far beyond his ability to understand - wasn't a good idea on Comstock's part, especially seeing how essential the device is for his continued rule of Colombia. For that matter, trying to kill her in the first place (rather than have her arrested and jailed) was never a good idea, seeing as she is the only one who could conceivably fix it or anything else she designed; he'd better hope Columbia's technology never breaks down… And if their death was absolutely necessary, simply shooting them might have been a better idea than trying to use their own technology to do them in. It's not like secrecy is needed in his totalitarian police state.
    • Not that Columbia would have survived even if Rosalyn had remained loyal to Comstock, given the numerous reckless mistakes. Comstock claims to be an exhalted profit who has been instrumental to many historic events, but he is, in fact, a big phony. Everything he says about his past is a lie, a result of his attempts to rewrite history with him as a hero. (In fact, one big mistake he makes is claiming he led the charge at Little Bighorn and was victorious; a soldier who was actually there is in Colombia, and becomes an important member of the Vox.) The leader of a cult of personality only remains strong when he is seen as infallible, and he is dumb enough to leave evidence of his darkest secrets lying around where anyone can get them, much less someone with dimensional travel technology. Case in point, Elizabeth. His plan involves attempting to mold Elizabeth into his heir, keeping her isolated in a prison tower and subjected to conditioning and indoctrination, which seems to have caused her to hate him more than convert her, not helped by the books she has access too, which even includes a manual on lockpicking. Here’s the kicker; Comstock knows Booker is coming, knows Booker's intent, but the only security he has against him is propaganda and Mecha-Mooks that Booker can gun down with ease. He makes no effort to do background checks on white males that enter the city, so Booker gets in rather easily. Plus, when he knows Booker is getting close to her prison, he tells these Mecha Mook to stand down, letting Rosalyn’s deadliest creation - the Songbird - handle it alone. While the Songbird is indeed incredibly strong, it’s far too big to pursue a foe indoors, and is controlled by a pan flute of all things. While it does foil Booker’s first attempt to rescue Elizabeth, this inadvertently helps Booker succeed the second time, as the first attempt ends with the prison tower and a lot of the city wrecked by the Songbird’s attempt to smash him. In fact, story-wise, rescuing Elizabeth seems the easiest part of Booker's job here.
    • And of course there are the vigors. These potions let whoever drinks them control the mechanical devices in Columbia (including the Mecha Mooks), and they are ridiculously easy to obtain from vendors - one vendor even gives out a free sample! In fact, anyone who swipes even one can of the stuff could use it to rob vending machines to get more of it! Exactly why the Vex never considered using them is a mystery.
    • Finally, Comstock's biggest flaw is his true goal, conquering the United States, thinking victory is certain, because he assumes the visions he has witnessed through the portal device are based on prophecy. As Rosalyn explains, they are actually based on probability. (As in, each is a reflection of what might happen, not what will happen, and some possible futures are more likely than others. Thus, the future he views where Elizabeth (as an old woman in the year 1984) continues his life's work and destroys New York (using zeppelins of all things) could possibly happen theoretically in his reality… but the odds would be very very much against it. Even if it did come to pass, it's very likely the scenario would end with the U.S. Army blowing Columbia out of the sky in retaliation.
    • In the end, Comstock's foolish machinations result in Elizabeth realizing her true past, tapping the true potential of her Reality Warping powers, and recruiting every version of herself throughout all realities, managing to kill Comstock before he even perceives the idea of Columbia, eradicating the regime not only in the core reality but throughout all others. When your own mistakes lead to your plans being Ret-Gone out of existence, you know you're one of the stupidest villains who ever lived.
  • In the first two BioShock games, the trope is not as obvious, but is still there. The production and marketing of Adam isn't in of itself, nor is it dangerous unless a user foolishly overdoses (the Plasmids are living proof of this) but the greed shown by Ryan and Fontaine (proven as how they neglected to address the side effects or post any safety guidelines) and the methods they used to harvest the stock (horribly altering and mutating the little sisters and Big Daddy's in order to collect and harvest) put them past the Moral Event Horizon, resulting in their planned Utopia becoming an apocalyptic nightmare.
    • It's possible for the player to fall into this too if they ignore the obvious moral repercussions of harvesting the Little Sisters. This game does a very good job at making you feel like a jerk should you take the evil path, the resulting endings of such not rewarding or pleasant at all. The sequel is even worse - if the player harvests every Little Sister, Eleanor realizes Evil is the only logical path to success and becomes the worst Serial Killer the world has ever seen.

Visual Novels

  • The original Student Council of Hope's Peak Academy from the Danganronpa series. The Academy had a reputation of being one of the best (and one of the most expensive) schools in the world, with students who graduated being renowned as experts in their fields. The Academy was originally rather picky about who was admitted until profits from tuition started to decline, so the Council decided to start a remedial program, the Reserve Course, that was just as expensive but lower quality. This eventually led to a caste-like social class system developing inside the school, which led to discrimination against the Reserve Course by both students and faculty - that discrimination soon gave way to violence, followed by actual murders and suicides, and eventually the first of the Killing Games, with its first victims being the Student Council themselves.

Web Comics

  • In Looking for Group, Richard started out like this. In fact, he's still like this a lot. It helps that he's undead and a powerful sorcerer, not having to suffer any real consequences for his actions - although the other party members certainly did.
    • All his Stupid Evil acts do have a point though. When he murders innocents for no reason, he gets to keep his inability to feel pain or be harmed.
  • In Dresden Codak, Dmitri's "Dungeons & Discourse" character is a Stupid Evil "Dark Kantian" as a parody of Kantian philosophy.

"I am compelled to do evil, regardless of its utility."

  • Belkar from The Order of the Stick is a great example because he's not just evil in a stupid way, he's evil because he's stupid. When Vaarsuvius cast a wisdom-boosting spell on him, he swore off evil and needless killing. Then V dismissed the spell and he ran off to kill things. However, he's recently had a vision/hallucination of Lord Shojo which has seemingly convinced him to avoid this; if he's a bit more selective with his carnage and act as if he's playing by everyone else's rules (in his words, "faking Character Development"), he can get people to stop hating him and possibly even get them to do what he wants.
    • Considering the setting (Dungeons and Dragons), Belkar is eerily effective at times compared to more intelligent and less stab-happy people. Belkar may also be smarter than he looks, as shown when he did a pretty effective job of dismantling Miko despite her ridiculous combat proficiency. He is defeated off-camera.
      • Of course, then he was just as stupid as you'd expect when the little hole in his resurrection plan is pointed out.
  • Subverted in the RPGamer comic Knights of the Dinner Table, where player Sara Felton becomes evil because of a cursed object, but acts, as she points out, definitely not Stupid. And she likes it.
  • Black Mage from 8-Bit Theater, who puts the "sociopath" back into Heroic Sociopath — and removes the "heroic" for good measure. His apparent solution to every problem is "kill everyone, starting with the people I hate", and it seems the only reason he hasn't put this plan into action is that he doesn't know where to start.
    • He also has a flowchart.
    • Kary is also this, considering she blows up her own minions just for fun and to prove that she is evil. Later, she blames the Light Warriors for killing her minions despite admitting that it was all her fault.
  • Minor villain Jaxon in Dominic Deegan is in the middle of a chaotic and extremely dangerous wilderness when he decides to stab his boss and go hunting for a monster that completely outclass him. Later, while wounded, he decides to attack the unscathed main character. He's either classic Stupid Evil or just suicidal.
  • Bangladesh Dupree of Girl Genius usually stays close to this but never all the way in (she survives, after all).
    • She has to be beaten unconscious so she stops trying to kill the guy trying to keep the airship they're on from being destroyed. Her attempts to follow orders inevitably add a lot of "kill people" between the lines. In all fairness to that first example, she was dazed, delirious and barely awake, and he had recently broken her jaw. And he did that because she attacked him when she saw him dragging her unconscious boss through the halls.
    • Bang also sees Klaus as some sort of a fatherly figure, so the first time she could as well be protective. In her case, it's sometimes hard to tell motivated violence from unmotivated. She's the girl who complains about orders to not burn any towns and then adds "even if a town really needed burning".
    • Regarding Bangladesh's tendency to add lots of 'kill people' to her orders, her intended purpose in the Baron's retinue is indiscriminate violence. When the Baron needs something done selectively, he uses someone else; DuPree and the Baron are both entirely aware that she was specifically hired to be a Person of Mass Destruction.
      • And remember that despite his motivations, functionally the Baron is a tyrant. He actually has a legitimate need for an indiscriminate terror weapon to threaten people with. The fact that DuPree both has a sincere affection and loyalty to her master and will reliably stop massacring people when given a stand-down order places her solidly in the top one percent of that particular category of Evil Overlord henchmen.
  • In Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic when princess Dewcup tried to join the Drow because Evil Is Cool, she got a thing or two mixed up.
  • Homestuck: Jack Noir (the alpha version, anyway) recently[when?] took a hard right into this trope via a Jail Break-like imprisonment sequence. He ends up beaten senseless by a gang of burly Prospitians.

Web Original

  • Sailor Nothing does a great Lampshade Hanging on Stupid Evil with the Yamiko, as lone-Punch Clock Villain-in-a-race-of-dog-raping-psychos General Cobalt finds out the hard way...
  • By one definition, "There is a fine line between Chaotic Evil and incompetent Lawful Evil."
  • In his regular editorial for the Role Playing Public Radio podcast, Tom Church explained that part of his hatred for the Star Wars RPG is the insistence of players on playing Sith while unable to grasp the concept of quiet, calculating menace that makes them such appealing villains in the first place. "Would you like to go out for some babies later this evening?" "Why yes, that would certainly hit the spot."
  • SCP Foundation; SCP-3288 is the result of a monarch who wanted his bloodline to be eternal rulers, Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia (Very loosely based on the actual Leopold I.) As a result of making a deal with a mysterious woman who was a practitioner of Sarkicism, he discovered DNA and a means to manipulate it using mysticism and alchemy. However, he double-crossed his benefactor and framed her for witchcraft, eventually falling into madness, and his experiments - along with inbreeding - caused his family line to degenerate into cannibalistic Humanoid Abominations; unimaginably depraved, these monsters are megalomaniacal narcissists with an extreme sense of entitlement, and do not even consider normal humans to be people. They continue working towards their ancestor's goal, but do so through aberrant sexual practices, including incest (sibling and parental) and rape. At least one video analysis of SCP-3288 has called them "a monument to human narcissism and stupidity".

Western Animation

  • In one episode of Samurai Jack, Aku promises a genius scientist to spare his village if he will make some super-robots to destroy the title character for him. The scientist does so. After they are done, Aku decides to "test them" by destroying the scientist's village for no reason whatsoever. This naturally leads to said scientist giving Jack the means to defeat these robots. Aku threw Villain Balls around a lot; there were many occasions he successfully caught Jack but ultimately came out short due to his sadistic tendencies, be it stalling his execution in favor of a Cool and Unusual Punishment or doublecrossing a Noble Demon that has the means to his escape for the sheer kick of it.
    • Another example: "Jack and the Warrior Woman". Yes, this is an episode where Aku wins, but dear lord did he take a lot of unnecessary risks in an endeavor simply because he wanted to gloat in Jack's face. He literally led Jack to a time portal (while disguised), just to destroy it and rub Jack's nose in it. Did he ever consider what would have happened had Jack caught on? In fact, episodes like "Jack and the Traveling Creatures" show that Jack learned from this mistake and was henceforth able to identify Aku more easily.
    • Which is Fridge Brilliance as Aku is constantly portrayed as the physical embodiment of evil. This means that his nature compels him to do Stupid Evil things, even though forgoing them temporarily would allow him to solve his problems faster. It's telling that Aku went for the direct killing blow exactly once, having beaten down Jack, pinned him with a massive claw, and was in the process of skewering with his own blade. Sadly (for Aku anyway) the blade simply goes 'plink' against Jack's skin, leaving Aku so shocked that his eyeball flames poof out. Turns out that, since Jack's blade was forged to fight the ultimate evil - Aku himself - it couldn't hurt those who were pure of heart.
  • Almost all the Captain Planet villains seem to have no other desire in life than to pollute the planet for the sake of polluting the planet. It's rare that the villain is actually trying to accomplish another goal with pollution being an unwanted (or even wanted) side effect.
    • Plunder, with his endangered animal hunting, seems to have basic greed as his ulterior motive as he seeks to cash in on his extreme poaching. This is the most sense that any villain makes on that show, and even then it's as one-dimensional as it gets, plus Plunder already has enough cash to finance any business he feels like - and yet he consistently chooses those that will lead to a superhero and his teenage hit squad wrecking everything for him, seemingly just so he can be an asshole to the environment.
    • Sly Sludge was just out for money. In one episode, he was almost a good guy, legitimately disposing of toxic waste for profit, although he didn't realize that his method, a shrink ray, would undo itself after a certain amount of time.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Admiral Zhao of the Fire Nation invades the capital of the Water Tribe; while there, it's revealed to him that there are spirits present that represent elements in nature and that harming them will have dire consequences for the world — not just the Water Tribe, the whole world (Fire Nation included). So what does he do? He decides to kill the Moon Spirit for no other reason than spite and pride. Gee Zhao, you think having the Moon might be a little important? He of course dies a Karmic Death when he once again chooses spite over common sense.
  • In the Grand Finale of Transformers: Beast Wars, Megatron picks up the Villain Ball by deciding to kill the entirely helpless human village before the armed Maximals, and was attacked while waiting for it to recharge. To add insult to injury somehow the attack failed, and it appeared the only ones who died were Quickstrike and Inferno.
  • Dr. Robotnik of Sonic Sat AM leaned into this in later episodes. The guy savored polluting the earth and was vehement on destroying all sentient life or robotocizing everyone into mindless slaves, leaving him the only free willed being on earth, bar his nephew and subordinate (who he was proved to find rather dispensable as well). He also fell into other cliched Villain Ball, capturing Sonic frequently and putting him in an easily escapable Cool and Unusual Punishment, and regularly abusing his potentially dangerously skilled minions (in the comic adaption, Snively did indeed alter Robotnik's devices to kill him as revenge).
  • Dick Dastardly of Wacky Races is on the low end of evil, always wanting to cheat to win, but despite pulling ahead with a huge lead numerous times, he finds himself stopping to try and sabotage the other racers. In the unaired pilot for Wacky Races Forever, Dick gets ahead, takes a nap, has a conversation with his boss, disobeys a direct order to win because he's got it in his head that this was a coded message telling him to do the opposite, and then drives toward the other racers to try and drive a giant cheese wedge into his opponents... despite being only a few feet from the finish line. Dastardly openly declares it's because he can't win fairly; he's a villain, and thus he has to cheat.
    • Though this was almost subverted in one episode where Dastardly, at the end of his rope, decides he's going to win fairly, and immediately blows past all the racers....only to stop to sign an autograph for Muttley, costing him the race.
    • There was another instance he almost won, but he just had to extend the nose of the Mean Machine to make sure he gets in first, resulting in him getting disqualified. Another time, he's one of the racers tied for the lead until he hears it will be a photo finish, causing him to immediately stop, get out of the car and pose.
  • Invader Zim veers between this and Chaotic Stupid:

Zim: I put the fires out!
Tallest: You made them worse!
Zim: Worse... Or better?

  • Miraculous Ladybug Big Bad Hawk Moth edges into this from time to time, the biggest case probably being Mr. Pigeon. Poor Mr. Ramier has been akumatized 25 times (mostly offscreen) and each new time he's been beaten by the two heroes. Clearly he's a lonely and depressed man, making him a prime target for the akumas, but seriously, Hawk Moth would save a lot of time and energy if he just ignored the poor guy and looked elsewhere.
    • This gets even worse. By the time of the special - Miraculous World New York United Heroez - it's up to 51 times. Hawk Moth is just too dumb to give up on this guy.
    • His stupidest move occurs in the special Miraculous World Shanghai where he uses the Akuma on Mei Shu, a Chinese guardian spirit far too arrogant to take orders from someone like him and far too powerful to be controlled. After becoming a Kaiju-sized demon with the intention of wrecking Shanghai, Hawk Moth tries ordering it to stop, only to be vaporize by the monster's Eye Beams. Almost a shame that Ladybug has to restore all the victims when she uses her World-Healing Wave to undo the damage.
  • Lampshaded in Justice League Unlimited: The Flash, stuck in the body of Lex Luthor (don't ask), has to keep up the charade of being Luthor in front of a gang of supervillains. The problem is, all-around-good-guy Flash has no idea how to act like a bad guy, much less one as suave as Luthor, which leads to this exchange as he's walking out of the bathroom:

Dr. Polaris: Hey, aren't you going to wash your hands?
Flash (in Luthor's body): No. Because I'm evil!

  • Boris and Natasha (as in, Rocky and Bullwinkle's enemies, of course) have the reputation of incompetent crooks, but given where they came from, this is justified. Pottsylvania is a nation of war-mongers who have covertly declared war on everyone else, but never act on it because any other army could defeat them. In the past, they tried to get into weapons-dealing and designed the Assassin-8, a powerful heavy-duty military vehicle. Millions of them were produced before anyone took into account that Pottsylvania had only 12 miles of road, the ill-conceived project nearly destroying their economy. They have no resources, art, or other things to export, so their weak economy tends to be supported by Boris and Natasha's criminal schemes, which again, aren't very reliable.
  • In the DuckTales relaunch, the leaders of F.O.W.L. try very hard to avoid this, their preferred methods being global domination through subtlety and subterfuge. Unfortunately, they just can't seem to keep their agents from acting like open and blatant supervillains, which tends to cause their carefully-planned schemes to collapse into chaos. In fact, Bradford - the founder of the group - had simply wanted to call it O.W.L. (Organization for World Larceny) only adding the "F" - for "Fiendish" - in order to convince Black Heron to join them.
  • Bullies tend to be Dumb Muscle types, but Flats the Flounder from the aptly-named SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Bully" emphasizes the "dumb" part. And he's pretty dumb. It's unknown why he's so dead-set on flattening SpongeBob, but he spends days trying to do so using Good Old Fisticuffs, never seeming to realize that SpongeBob is, well, a sponge. After several days of this and it never sinking in that he's not hurting his victim much, Flats collapses from exhaustion.
  • The Pakleds were intentionally designed to fit this Trope when they first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation; when they started appearing as recurring villains in Star Trek: Lower Decks, the Denser and Wackier nature of the series let the writers have a lot of fun with their buffoonery, like say, one of them mistaking an airlock for a rest room (and having to be rescued by the heroes) and testing a bomb, only to discover bombs are not reusable. Often they can be so Laughably Evil they're almost lovable.
  1. The original script did have one scene where this happens, but seeing as it would have consisted of Zorg getting the tar beaten out of him by Korben in a Curb Stomp Battle, it would likely have just made him look stupider.
  2. Samuel 6:19
  3. If Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is considered canon.
  4. An Alternate Universe version of Tommy Oliver who, in his reality, chose to remain on Rita's side