Created By: windower on February 17, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on February 26, 2013

Sufficiently Advanced Idiot

When the sufficiently advanced alien is too stupid to do anything right.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Every now and again we'll see the heroes encounter a creature that possesses God-like powers. We know it can't be fully benevolent otherwise the heroes will have no reason not to ask it for help, striping away all chalenge and making the villains useless. And it can't be completely malevolent either, otherwise the writers will have to resort to a huge Ass Pull or Deus ex Machina to ensure that the heroes remain victorious in the end. Most of the time they just have no concept of good and evil and just stay out of the way.

And then we have the god-like beings that have the mental capacity of a tooth pick, usually written in such a fashion as to not upset the balance of power too much. Sometimes it's done because the writer can't think of any other way to make the story believable.

There are three types of this trope:

[[foldercontrol]]

The Omnipotent Jackass: The God-like being has no goals besides keeping himself entertained and/or is too stupid to understand human behavior. He tends to be less of an ally or enemy and more of an annoyance to both sides.

[[folder:Examples:]]

Comics

  • The Impossible Man from Fantastic Four is all about having fun and the only reason it leaves the Earth is because he got bored.

Live-Action TV

Web Comics

  • Sarda in 8-Bit Theater has been described by Black Mage as an "omnipotent jackass," which is a pretty good description of a guy who screws with the universe for his own convenience and/or amusement. In one case he rewrote history so his dinner would be finished before he had to cook it. Another time he dropped the entire continent of Australia on Black Mage, which involved yanking it out of our universe and dropping it into theirs.
[[/folder]]

The Chaotic Evil High School Drop-out: These are the types of God-like beings that are the antagonists to the mere mortal protagonists but sadly they always go the most roundabout way of accomplishing their goals just so the good guys can have a chance to foil it, or they forget they can just will their problems away, or use their powers in the most impractical, inconsistent and sometimes completely useless fashion even though they should've figured out a better/more creative way to use their powers and generally behave in a less than intelligent fashion.

[[folder:Examples:]]

Literature

  • The Firstborn from the Arthur C. Clarke novel of same name are the poster children for this type. I a not too distant future they hatch their latest plan to destroy humanity which involves a slow moving planet eating bomb on a collision course with Earth that's moving slower that humanity's spaceships. Giving them ample time to find a way to stop it, which they do at the cost of Mars, guess why. Instead, a more sensible plan involving using their time travel technology which they demonstrated numerous times in the book and its prequels to prevent humanity from ever becoming technologically advanced enough to foil their previous plans to begin with, never occurs to them. Or better yet just use it to prevent humanity from existing in the first place.
[[/folder]]

Single-minded Manchild: A benevolent God-like being that sadly lacks the mental capacity to be of any real help and/or it has a goal that is ultimately benevolent and possibly tangentially connected to the heroes' goals but it refuses to aid the protagonists in a direct way as it sees no real point to aiding them.

[[folder:Examples:]]

Literature

  • Vanamonde from the Arthur C. Clarke novel The City and the Stars has child-like personality and while he can alter reality at will he will only do it to fight a malevolent God-like being when it escapes from its Black Hole prison.
  • Tom Bombadil of The Lord of the Rings is a benevolent entity of indeterminate power who is completely unaffected by the One Ring. However, he is so absent-minded that he ends being little to no help in the war to destroy the ring, and the plan of letting him safe-guard it is thrown out because he would likely forget about the ring and thus risk it being stolen.

WesternAnimation

[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • February 17, 2013
    Ryusui
    ...Examples?
  • February 17, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Maybe the Energy Being alien from Futurama's Star Trek episode would count? The guy's powerful enough to provide new bodies to the Star Trek cast and a whole lot of other things which you expect from a Trek Sufficiently Advanced Alien.... but if the whole barrage of odd events that happen when the heroes arrive to his planet hadn't made you think of 'Alien Trekkie' already, we find out at the very end that he *still lives with his parents*... like, you know, many stereotypical fictional loser comic book fans do.

    And speaking of Trek, I guess that Q is one hell of a good example for Type I.
  • February 17, 2013
    StarSword
    Webcomics: Type I:

    • Sarda in Eight Bit Theater has been described by Black Mage as an "omnipotent jackass," which is a pretty good description of a guy who screws with the universe for his own convenience and/or amusement. In one case he rewrote history so his dinner would be finished before he had to cook it. Another time he dropped the entire continent of Australia on Black Mage, which involved yanking it out of our universe and dropping it into theirs.
  • February 17, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Come to think of it, Omnipotent Jackass is a pretty good title.
  • February 17, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    • Tom Bombadil of The Lord Of The Rings is a benevolent entity of indeterminate power who is completely unaffected by the One Ring. However, he is so absent-minded that he ends being little to no help in the war to destroy the ring, and the plan of letting him safe-guard it is thrown out because he would likely forget about the ring and thus risk it being stolen.
    • Jackie Chan Adventures: The noble ram who possesses the power of Astral Projection initially cares about nothing but flying about with its newfound power. Justified because it's a sheep.

    Compare Neglectful Precursors.
  • February 18, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • On Freakazoid an advanced alien comes to give the earth an important message - but he can't remember what it is. All he can do is repeat his name "I am Mo-Ron!" and scratch his belly. He appears again in a later episode, but his name is changed to Bo-Ron in order not to offend actual morons.
  • February 21, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Television
    • Alf could be the poster child for this trope, a Type I. Alf crash-lands on Earth from a distant star, where he's as useful as a sack of hammers, and as perceptive as a dizzy houseplant.
  • February 25, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Western Animation
    • Men In Black the series: A villain named Brainard is fulfils this trope literally as a sufficiently advanced alien with powerful psychic powers and pretty much an idiot.
  • February 25, 2013
    DRCEQ
    Trope "Types" are being discouraged and eventually will be repaired so they no longer exist. I suggest you broaden the definition. When I saw the title, I immediately thought of Genius Ditz Mihoshi from Tenchi Muyo because she is a sufficiently advanced alien by Earth standards and is quite an idiot when it comes to doing most everyday things.
  • February 25, 2013
    StarSword
    Link fixes and a grammar fix.
  • February 26, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^ Deleted the "Type 1", "Type 2" and "Type 3" from the OP description as per Type Labels Are Not Examples.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=a33mkhh2ejhrxaphx5sdx8zp