Created By: JDogindy on October 17, 2012 Last Edited By: JDogindy on January 7, 2013

Too Dumb to Escape, Too Smart to Enter

When the revolving door becomes your greatest enemy, and when the security code was always

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"Don't laugh at me. I was once like you." -Homer Simpson after getting "trapped" in a spraying fountain and quickly giving up

Possibly a Sub-Trope of Speak Friend and Enter, but with idiots!

A general encounter involving characters that also test their level of intellegence (or overcompensation about a situation) basically proves their overall stupidity by being unable to escape from the most basic of problems.

As a general rule here, the reason they cannot escape is because of stupidity. Ignorance doesn't help a person, and if emotional stress or fear is involved, those emotions can cloud one's mind. This can be a litmus test to exhibit the idiotic nature of a character, from those that just can't surf the Internet to those that are just Too Dumb to Live. One example of this is if There Was a Door within the basic grasp, but instead of going for the easy solution, the nimrod would do everything else.

Likewise, the process of enterting a location can be hindered by people thinking too much on the subject, which presents itself as an offshoot of Speak Friend and Enter. Naturally, dumb people would still be hindered.



  • A Dilbert comic strip saw the Pointy-Haired Boss trapped in his office for days and having to use his stapler to claw himself out. His secretary, Carol, reminds him that his door is a "push" not a "pull".


  • The quote at the beginning of this topic comes from the episode "My Sister, My Sitter", where Homer accidentally walks into a spraying fountain and, despite it just shooting off streams of water, they might as well steel bars to him. He then quickly gives up hope of ever getting out.

  • In the Futurama episode "A Bicylops Built for Two", where Leela believes she found the last male cyclops (who was really a shapeshifting grasshopper who wanted five wives ), Fry ends up in prison while trying to explore a "forbidden area". The first joke is that Leela had already gotten Fry out from that problem and he was back in the prison for an unknown reason, and the second is that Fry manages to get out by a fluke accident and nearly screws himself up by letting the door start to close before he makes his escape.



  • An opening joke in Tommy Boy is a good example of your standard nincompoop unable to get through the door. Tommy Callahan Jr., who's late for his finals, can't open a door and loses it, but a fellow college student pushes it open. He non-chalantly gets up and then rushes into the building.


  • The pilot episode of The Big Bang Theory features a problem for Leonard and Sheldon, both very intellegent human beings. Their attempt to get a TV back for Penny from her ex-boyfriend, Kurt, met a snag when he wouldn't let them into their apartment complex. Because they didn't have keys or know the pin number, they felt like it was the end of the line, but a couple of Girl Scouts press all of the buttons at a nearby keypad and the door opens for them.


  • While we associate the majority of characters on "the Simpsons" to being very dumb (by nature or Flanderization), a few examples of people thinking too hard have occured.
    • When Marge Simpson is training to become a police officer in "The Springfield Connection", she tries to scale a brick wall. Chief Wiggum then comments the difficulty that women have with the wall because they don't go through the door like everyone else.

  • Basically a combination of both occurs in an episode of "Family Guy" where Peter's faux pas has the Griffin family's Christmas presents sent to a family living in a trailer park. He shows Brian a very intricate blueprint and explains the process of going through their security system, to which Brian asks Peter if he can buy pot off of him.

  • In the "Phineas and Ferb" movie "Across the 2nd Dimension", Dr. Doofenshmirtz is trying to get into his apartment building to confront his alternate dimension self. The problem he encounters is that, despite living on the top floor of the building, nobody else living there seems to know who he his, and even mistake him for different tenants.

Community Feedback Replies: 5
  • October 17, 2012
    An odd case of this, possibly falling under "too smart to escape"

    • In the Discworld book Guards Guards, both Sam Vimes and Lord Vetinari are thrown into the Patrician's Palace's dungeons. Vimes searches high and low for any sort of secret compartment or, hidden key, or the like. Only after Vetinari points it out to him does he realize that the cell is designed with one big, powerful heavy lock on the outside, and all the nuts, bolts, and screws on the inside. Not only that, but Vetinary has the means to retrieve the key to the big, powerful heavy lock anytime he's ready.
  • October 17, 2012
    This appears to be a Sub Trope of Speak Friend And Enter (using solutions that are unnecessarily complex). That page has many examples of people overthinking how to enter a location.
  • October 17, 2012
    Crikey, that term paper thesis you call a description needs to be trimmed down to about 10% of what it is now. I didn't even bother to read beyond the first paragraph.
  • October 18, 2012
    Well, I really do plan on offering a shortened version really soon.

    I basically streamlined the "thesis" down to a more digestable trope. I had felt that, because this may have been a sub trope, I wanted to explain it.
  • January 7, 2013
    • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon is sick and they're out of soup, so he goes to the Cheesecake Factory where Penny works to order soup. She asks him, if he's so sick why is he out like that?
      Penny: Why didn't you just have soup at home?
      Sheldon: Penny, I have an IQ of 187. Don't you imagine if there were a way for me to have soup at home, I would have thought of it?
      Penny: You can have soup delivered.
      Sheldon: I did not think of that.
    • A Cutaway Gag on Family Guy shows Peter getting locked inside his car with the keys outside on the sidewalk. He doesn't think to just open the door.