->''"The Idiot Plot, of course, is any plot that would be resolved in five minutes if everyone in the story were not an idiot. And rarely has there been a film in which more idiots make more mistakes than in this one."''\\
-- '''Creator/RogerEbert''' in his [[http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19900921/REVIEWS/9210302/1023 review]] of ''Narrow Margin'' (1990)

Originated by SF author Creator/JamesBlish and popularized by film critic Creator/RogerEbert during his review of the remake of ''Narrow Margin'', this trope is a term for a {{Plot}} that hangs together only because the main characters behave like idiots. [[JustEatGilligan A single intelligent move or question by any of the characters, and all problems would be resolved]]. It's not so bad if the characters are ''supposed'' to be [[TheDitz acting like idiots]], but it's ''very'' bad if the Idiot Plot depends on a character [[PlotInducedStupidity suddenly acting stupid enough]] for the Plot to work.

Even worse than that is "second-order idiot plot", in which the plot can only function if the world population [[IdiotBall suddenly loses about 50 IQ points.]] In fact, author Creator/DamonKnight [[Website/TurkeyCityLexicon originally coined the term]] "second-order idiot plot" to refer to a science fiction story that features a fictional society that can ''only'' exist if everyone living there is an idiot.

Idiot plots can often be avoided with a simple [[HandWave wave of the hand]]. If the audience would have spent the entire story wondering why the hero didn't try some obvious tactic, a hand wave at the beginning of the story as to why that wouldn't work would prevent an idiot plot, regardless of how contrived the excuse was. However, if the hand wave is bad, it may [[VoodooShark actually create a new obvious solution just as bad as the original.]]

It is important to note that this [[TropesAreTools not always a bad thing]], and is sometimes the entire point of the story. Part of what can make a drama so dramatic or a tragedy so tragic is that the characters could truly have avoided it if they had acted rationally instead of irrationally. Likewise, this is frequently PlayedForLaughs in a comedy. And sometimes it's just a case of RealityIsUnrealistic; many real-world problems, viewed from a distance, can seem like Idiot Plots themselves. That said, for obvious reasons, NoRealLifeExamplesPlease

* [[IdiotPlot.AnimeAndManga Anime and Manga]]
* [[IdiotPlot.ComicBooks Comic Books]]
* [[IdiotPlot.FanFiction Fan Fiction]]
* [[IdiotPlot.AnimatedFilm Animated Film]]
* [[IdiotPlot.LiveActionFilm Live-Action Film]]
* [[IdiotPlot.{{Literature}} Literature]]
* [[IdiotPlot.LiveActionTV Live-Action TV]]
* [[IdiotPlot.NewspaperComics Newspaper Comics]]
* [[IdiotPlot.{{Theatre}} Theatre]]
* [[IdiotPlot.VideoGames Video Games]]
* [[IdiotPlot.{{Webcomics}} Webcomics]]
* [[IdiotPlot.WesternAnimation Western Animation]]