Created By: girlygothgeek on March 25, 2011 Last Edited By: Hero_Gal_2347 on July 31, 2014

Smart Machine, Stupid Inventor

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Up for Grabs, Needs a Better Title, Needs More Examples

Behold, the (fill-in-the-blank)inator!
Dr. Doofensmirtz

In some classic cartoons, there's the villain who has these crazy gadgets that they build themselves that acutally work, but never really get to use them due to their own incompetence. They are smart enough to build the gadget but too stupid to use it. Sometimes they can't even use it properly! The only way you couldn't was if you're an idiot and a genius. You were able to build it but not use it. Takes plenty of knowledge but lots of stupid. Sometimes they use it and it works properly, but their plan fails. That's this trope.

Compare Affably Evil, Genre Blind. These guys could probably make money, were they not evil.

Examples

Western Animation
  • Phineas and Ferb: Dr. Doofensmirtz- His gadgets always work, as in the techenical aspect, but in every episode he is stopped by Perry
  • Powerpuff Girls: Mojo Jo Jo- he always loses to the power puff girl no matter what crazy working gadgets he throws at them.
  • Fairly OddParents: Mr.Crocker- so many examples I could list !- he has a secret lair for catching faries built into a locker! But he builds all this stuff to catch them it works he just can't use it properly

Film

Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • March 25, 2011
    qwertyu63
    It needs more cleaning up, can someone not editing from a Wii fix it?
  • March 25, 2011
    Rainbow
    "Idiot Genius" is rather general. Something like "Makes Gadgets But Can't Use Them" or something else showing that it's about a character who builds devices that they are never (or rarely) able to use or use properly. I think there might also be a trope about the heroes showing up in time to stop the villain from actually carrying out his/her big plan, but I'm not sure which one. If there is, that could be a supertrope.
  • March 25, 2011
    qwertyu63
    I do belive the other trope you are thinking of would be Big Damn Heroes or Just In Time, and, judging by the examples, is unrelated to the main trope.
  • March 26, 2011
    Arivne
    The Evil Overlord warns against this.

    Books On Trope
    I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.
  • March 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    All of your examples are X Just X. Don't just say "Show X: Character Y." Tell us about a time when this happened.

    • Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog: Dr. Horrible. (See how useless that is?) he gets distracted from using his remote control on an amored car by his Secret Crush coming up to him asking him to sign a peition. It goes out of control and he turns it off just in time to save her, but not before his Arch Nemesis Captain Hammer shoves her out of the way, making it look like he's the one who saved her, causing her to go out with Hammer, which leads to Horrible accidentally killing her when he meant to kill Hammer.

    EDIT: Better.
  • March 31, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    There id the Professor from Felix The Cat
  • March 31, 2011
    INUH
    Needs a better picture. Please read How To Pick A Good Image.
  • March 31, 2011
    Flioro
    Would Plankton and his computer wife Karen count?
  • April 1, 2011
    dalek955
  • April 1, 2011
    Dec
    Hmm, I'd argue that this isn't something that unique to villains. For example, in Danny Phantom, Danny's dad usually ends up creating a lot of amazing ghost hunting equipment with his wife, but isn't the best at planning things out. Which leads to situations like attacking a teacher wearing a mask for a ghost drill at school, or "fishing" through the open ghost portal.
  • April 1, 2011
    Rolf
    Smart Machine Stupid Inventor is better title for this.
  • April 2, 2011
    mack
    Dr Drakken in Kim Possible. Averted with Ron's evil alter ego, who is scarily competent and dangerous.
  • April 2, 2011
    girlygothgeek
    EDIT THEN REPAIR DON'T REPLY YOU IDIOTS! oh and the plankton thing I think so but I my bro qwertyu63 dosen't agree add the dang examples
  • April 2, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Repair Dont Reply is usually reserved for trope pages, not ykttw. You seem to want to make it Up For Grabs?

    Oh, and try to be nicer to people, dick.
  • April 5, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • April 6, 2011
    Prime32
  • April 10, 2011
    Dec
    Seems really closely related to the Bungling Inventor, now that I think about it. Not quite the same, though.
  • April 10, 2011
    RodrigoVega
    • Karen and Plankton
    • And maybe that time when Zim upgrades GIR?

  • April 10, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Is the photobucket thing for the page image intentional or a mistake?
  • April 10, 2011
    LeeM
    Needs a better picture host. One that doesn't get blanked out when the bandwidth is exceeded.
  • April 10, 2011
    SonicLover
    You do realize that TV Tropes has a built-in image uploading service, don't you? It's "Image Uploader" in the Tools menu.
  • April 18, 2011
    jboxingfool
    Red Mage from the 8 bit theater gives himself amazing intelligence and engineering skill to build a machine, but when he finishes he forget how, why, or even what the machine does (his stat bonuses are not permanent). It turns out that it drops him down a trap door to meet his boss battle
  • April 18, 2011
    jaytee
    Like Dec says, this isn't really a trope limited to villains or "evil" characters. And when you eliminate "evil" from the description, it's basically just Bungling Inventor.

    Unless there's a subtle distinction I'm missing?
  • April 20, 2011
    qwertyu63
    In Bungling Inventor, the device dosen't work right. In this, the device works just as planned and the problem lies in who is using it.
  • April 20, 2011
    muffinzomnom
    Can we make the trope name a Phineas And Ferb reference, so then Phineas And Ferb can be the trope namer?
  • April 20, 2011
    Rolf
    Named trope is highly discouraged nowdays.
  • May 31, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Bump.
  • June 1, 2014
    DAN004
    Description needs to be cleaner and less complainy.
  • June 1, 2014
    randomsurfer
    The Adventures Of Superman: Professor Pepperwinkle is great at making revolutionary inventions, not so great at keeping them to himself or using them responsibly. One time he activated his working, compact, handheld time machine in an elevator along with Clark, Lois, Mr. White, and a gangster who was about to turn himself into the police, just to prove to them that his machine worked and is newsworthy. Then after they land in caveman times, he realizes he forgot to bring enough fuel to make a return trip so now they're all stuck.
  • June 2, 2014
    DAN004
    Expect lots of Misapplied Phlebotinum.
  • June 2, 2014
    partner555
    You know, I thought this was about a machine with AI being smart while it's inventor is an idiot as well as what would come from that relationship dynamic.

    Perhaps a better name might be needed or perhaps I'm just an outlier in misinterpreting the name?
  • June 2, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Plants Vs Zombies 2 come to mind (Crazy Dave as the bumbling guy and his talking van as the straight gal).

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qsc9gw9ewot1d3592jvasv7l