The J. Michael Straczynski reboot of Marvel's Squadron Supreme (a typically Marvel-dark riff on the characters of DC's Justice League of America), has large parts of its plot dependent on the chronic tendency (seen before in much of Straczynski's work) for virtually everyone in any kind of government-representative role to be malicious, incompetent, or both.
The most egregious example is in the story of Mark Milton, or "Hyperion," the Superman-analogue: when a superpowered child falls from the sky in a spaceship, he is taken within minutes by the government and put in the custody of two dedicated agents, who pretend to be married so they can raise him as an American citizen in an artificially created (and heavily-monitored) "perfect family environment". However, with all the effort put into creating this environment, it somehow fails to occur to anyone in the project that getting an actually-married couple to play the role of Mom and Pop would be far easier on the agents, far more psychologically healthy for the child, and far safer should he ever, oh, find out about any of this. And the most egregious part of the most egregious example? The monster who originates this heartless scheme is... um, Jimmy Carter?"He's history's greatest monster!"
The entire Amazon race (the only apparent exception being Wonder Woman herself) carries an Idiot Ball the size of the moon. On the advice of Circe, an evil goddess who has tried to exterminate the Amazons on multiple occasions, they decide to declare war on one of the most powerful nations in the world; one that is home to many of the strongest superheroes in the The DCU. The end result? The Amazon race is scattered across the world, the entire USA hates them, and the reputations of heroes associated with them (Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl, Supergirl to name a few) are left tarnished.
Oh, and the secret weapon they were going to use to bring the US to its knees? Giant magical bees. While awesome, a bunch of giant bees doesn't exactly measure up to jet fighters, attack helicopters, cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guns, or nukes.
Quoth Batman: "Bees. My God." It's a perfect Face Palm statement that sums up the idiocy of this storyline.
The magical giant bee weapon being the height of Amazon technology is made even stupider by the incident that kicked off Amazons Attack in the first place - i.e. an American General Ripper kidnapping Wonder Woman in the hopes of learning the secrets of the advanced Amazonian technology. While the Amazons had previously been depicted as having advanced technology (i.e. healing rays and death rays) Amazons Attack had the Amazons using weapons and armor from Ancient Greece albeit from atop flying horses.
It even becomes a plot-point later on in the story, when Green Arrow discovers a bomb - supposedly planted by Amazons - that we are told is far more advanced than anything Amazons would be capable of making.
Issue #36 of X-Men. To summarize: Professor X and Banshee have been kidnapped in the Alps, and the X-Men need to get to Europe to rescue them before someone uses their powers to conquer the world. The problem? Their plane is out of gas, Warren's parents are out at sea, and the X-Men don't have access to Professor X's bank accounts. They apply for a loan, but get rejected and as they drive away the bank manager notes that they were driving in a Rolls Royce (easily valuable enough to serve as collateral for said loan). The rest of the issue is the X-Men trying to get part time jobs to raise cash. The question is, why don't they just sell the damn car? Surely it would get them enough cash to get to Europe, and hanging onto it can't be as important as rescuing their mentor and saving the world. Sheesh.
The Green Goblin is being hailed as a hero, and is now basically in charge of America's self defense. Just to be clear, Norman Osborn was outed months ago. He was convicted of mass murder. He strafed his own arraignment hearing with pumpkin bombs on live television. He is known to be dangerously bipolar, and that's when he's on his medication. He's the single most infamous example in Marvel of why superheroes need secret identities, given that he's the first MU villain to murder a hero's supporting cast *coughGwenStacycough* . This. Man. Was. Given. Every. Registered. Superhero. On. File. And. Under. His. Authority. Legally. This. Is. Madness.
In addition, they also disbanded SHIELD and gave Norman Osborn full authority to create and run its replacement, HAMMER. So not only have they given him his own private army and intelligence agency, they're not even maintaining the minimal control that having him direct personnel already chosen and loyalty-screened would give them. Instead, Osborn gets to recruit all his own people. Appointing Charles Manson the Director of Homeland Security would make more sense than this!
It ended with Ronin (Clint Barton) actually going on TV and (with understandable shock) rehashing out all the above issues and just how mind meltingly stupid the people are for accepting a known psychopath as their new leader. Of course, this being the Marvel Universe, it didn't work.
Later Norman Osborn (in Dark Avengers) mentions this, points out the above was a criminal who helped the USSR steal Stark Tech, and gives a heartfelt speech about how he used to be all that, leaving the reader feeling that... the entire Marvel Universe is full of morons.
Lampshaded in an issue of Spider-Man, when in the narration he lists his reasons for why anyone would elect Norman Osborn to any public office and he states that number three on his list is that everyone in New York must be on stupid pills!!
Thor: Vikings by Garth Ennis assumes that whatever heroes are available can easily get their asses kicked, but it's okay since Doctor Strange is there, but his plan relies on finding a couple people to fight an invincible opponent and his army face to face, instead of using his own powers to temporarily subdue, banish or restrain them, protect the city with some kind of force field, evacuate people, or find a more clever solution than watching and complaining about how invincible the opponent is.
Later on, Iron Man shows up and it's revealed that the reason why the Avengers never detected anything wrong in the first place was because they didn't know where to start. And when they do start asking questions, "Peter" flips out.
Any plot that involves Thor or anyone else trusting Loki becomes one of these after, oh, his tenth betrayal (so, since the mid-1960s). The mega-arc by J. Michael Straczynski was a good example. It is even pointed out, in-universe, that they don't really trust Loki. He's just that good. He manages to get a good way into a plot to destroy Asgard largely by hanging around and making insinuations and perfectly true statements.
To some extent, this is just a case of the writers being true to the source material. It's not just the Marvel version of Thor that could save himself a lot of trouble and embarrassment by determining ahead of time that his default reaction to anything should be "Go beat the crap out of Loki."◊
The Asgardians finally figure this out by the time he's reincarnated as Kid Loki. Unfortunately, this version, while still a sly manipulator, genuinely loves his brother and wants to help. It takes a long while for Kid Loki to start earning some trust, and then the original Loki comes back, kills him, and steals his identity.
The entirety of the MarvelCivil War storyline. Superheroes and the government lose their minds and start up a pointless brawl over laws that had no authority at the time because one superVILLAIN blew up a school. Writers had a tough time justifying the editorially-mandated behavior of some of the characters. Reed Richards, who'd previously opposed near-identical laws targeting mutants, was infamously given three separate reason for joining the pro-registration side.
Marvel's Avengers Vs X-Men is another huge offender, as the plot required both teams, including their normally smart, honorable, levelheaded leaders, Captain America and Cyclops respectively, to act like a bunch of idiots as the Phoenix approaches Earth. And once the Phoenix arrives things just get worse and worse.
The Endgame arc. In the final part, Dulcy explains that dragons are able to sense truth, something treated as common enough knowledge that Geoffrey St. John, Knuckles, and Espio believe that Sonic's been framed for killing Sally (Espio himself saying that "a dragon's spoken word is fact"). No one questioned why she wasn't called in before, especially since this story was about the third time Sonic's been framed for treason. It was revealed earlier in Sally's mini-series, that Geoffrey was in, that Robotnik could make robots that flawlessly imitate real people, so there was no real reason for everyone to take "Sonic's" crimes at face value.
In issue 108, Eggman, using a machine and the residual effects of Chaos Knuckles' reality-warping powers, finds a way to reconstitute the scattered atoms of his predecessor, the original Dr. Robotnik. What do these two geniuses do with this startling turn of events? Have Robotnik form an alliance with the Freedom Fighters on the premise that he escaped Eggman's control, and lure them back to the machine so the two doctors can use the process that revived him to annihilate their hated enemies once and for all. Of course! What else could they do in that situation? It's not like they couldn't have combined their respective 300 IQ to come up with another Ultimate Annihilator, or used the alliance ploy to relearn the location of Knothole and/or learn about and/or sabotage their defenses or something diabolically useful like that, right? Fortunately, the Freedom Fighters get wise to this plot from the get-go, and only play along so they can destroy the machine so Eggman can't use it again (having learned that Robotnik's revival was only temporary)... but even they don't seem to realize how much of a freaking security leak having Robotnik in Knothole was.
Possibly the biggest case is how the book established that Tails and Knuckles had extraordinarily powerful relatives. Merlin Prower, Tails' uncle, is one of the book's most powerful wizards. The Brotherhood of Guardians, Knuckles dad and various grandfathers, had potent magic of their own along with the most advanced science on the planet. None of them have killed Robotnik, even though they would be protecting their homes and families in doing so. Their inactions led to being wiped off from the comics.
WAAAAAAAAAAAAY back in the original mini-series, Sonic catches Sally leaving in a huff, with the princess rudely refusing to tell Sonic what's up. Sonic finds out from Antoine that she's going to see Dr. Robotnik. The two and Tails attempt to confront Sally before she's taken away. The trio race into Robotropolis and save Sally before she's roboticized and when they get back to Knothole, they find out that Rotor had installed devices on her boots to analyze and reverse the process, and their intervention botched the plan. Which, of course, would have been avoided if Sally had stopped for five seconds and mentioned what she was going to do. To make things worse, Sonic, Antoine and Tails were portrayed as the ones being at fault.
In another issue from around the same time, Sally wants to go out for a walk outside of their refuge in Knothole. Sonic points out that it's dangerous to just walk around outside and offers to accompany her as a bodyguard in case that Robotnik's bots are in the area and see her, a proposition that Sally rudely rejects. It then turns out that Sonic was right, as Robotnik discovers her and has her robots capture and take her to Robotropolis. Luckily, Sonic had been following her in secret and rescues her. Of course, that wouldn't have been necessary if Sally had just listened to Sonic. Anyway, he apologizes for disobeying her, despite the fact that he was totally right and she would have been roboticized if he hadn't. Her response? Apologizing for being rude to him? Thanking him for the rescue and admitting that he was right? Nope, she breaks a club on his head for ignoring her orders.
While many of the stories contained are actually pretty good, this requires a number of astoundingly moronic things to occur to set up its scenario. After an earthquake and ebola outbreak the US government decides Gotham is no longer part of the US because it would be too pricey to fix, blows up all the bridges leading to it, and bans people from going to or from it. Leaving aside the immense political improbability of this, it apparently keeps out most superheroes, who don't even try to help. This includes ones who have no reason at all to respect this order, such as Green Lanterns. Superman shows up, but somehow decides he's no use there. Even though the perennial excuse for why Superman can't help with such and such a problem is that he's dealing with an earthquake or a flood or something in a Third World country, so it's pretty well established that he knows what to do in these situations - certainly better than Batman, who's never demonstrated having any experience with large-scale disasters. But no, no one helps. The entire world just writes off a major city as too much trouble.
In the short story where Superman shows up and somehow decides he's no use, he effortlessly defeats Mister Freeze and repairs an entire power plant with his powers and the guidance of the chief engineer. Although this restores power, the lawless citizens immediately form a new violent gang under the chief engineer's banner and flood him and Supes with more responsibility than they know what to do with. Superman takes off after Batman gives him a stern talking to. Now why Supes doesn't just fix say, the entire city instead...
Of course, a lot of No Man's Land's plot hinges on the fact that 1) this was practically a Lex Luthor plot in the end and 2) Batman invokes the Superman Stays Out of Gotham trope on the rest of the DC Universe.
Nintendo Comics System. In "The Buddy System", Lemmy and Bowser use bombs to flood an underwater passageway. Lemmy has effectively wasted many bombs by blowing up the wrong pipes but to top it off, he uses four on the last one which gets Bowser and Mario caught by several Mousers. They are shackled together hostages and led to the water main underground. The Mousers demonstrate what Bowser should have done by lighting bombs right in front of it!!
One More Day. The sheer number of idiotic things that happen in it is phenomenal, and the amount of dumb that goes into both Spider-Man's decision to make a deal with Mephisto and Mephisto's decision to make a deal with Spider-Man, could fill up a page (it filled several minutes of review time when Linkara explained it); but special credit? To the ENTIRE MARVEL SUPERHERO COMMUNITY. Peter Parker's Aunt May gets shot by an assassin and is dying. Apparently the doctors can't save her. So Spider-Man runs all over the world, seeking out his dozens and dozens of superhero friends who have fantastic powers, abilities, and technologies that can save her... except they don't. Every single superhero throws up their hands and basically says that while they are capable of fighting Galactus, bullet wounds are too much for them to handle, including Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme; Elixir, an X-Men member whose entire mutant power is healing wounds (he has total control over the biochemistry of anyone he touches, meaning that there's literally no wound he can't heal); and every single one of the Marvel universe's impressive cadre of supergeniuses. In the words of one scans_daily member, the entire process went something like:
Linkara may have made Chuck Austen's run on Uncanny X-Men infamous thanks to "Holy War", but a few issues later, the revelation of who Nightcrawler's father is turns the entire thing into a farce. He's the son of a teleporting demon named Azazel (a name later co-opted into a much more interesting character in X-Men: First Class). His plan was to create enough teleporting children to get him out of the dimension he's stuck in. The dimension which he had to get out of to conceive all of these children IN THE FIRST PLACE! And yet Marvel nixed the plan to have Mystique be Nightcrawler's father and have Destiny be his mother for being too ridiculous.
Avengers Arena. All of it. For a lot of reasons. Most of this comes from the plot driven nature of the story, which forces the characters to act certain ways to further its own ends. Past friendships and histories are glossed over or completely ignored, and people do stupid things not for any logical reason, but because the plot requires it.
Arcade's game structure fits the bill first and foremost. His game is so poorly designed it requires three direct interventions to get one victim to play along. How is this poor research? In citing (indirectly) Hunger Games and Battle Royale he has outlines of games that were specifically structured to avoid inaction. One possible reason would be the third source of his in-universe influences, and only piece directly cited: Lord of the Flies. However, that too makes the interventions signs of Critical Research Failure. Each intervention undermines the core points of Lord of the Flies: Teenage Wasteland, Kids Are Cruel, etc. In a sense, Arcade lost from the very beginning. Several times over.
Arcade's overall goal for this series (to gain respect from his peers) hit this trope in two ways: 1) He aims low by targeting children and teenagers rather than experienced heroes; 2) By targeting children, he is more likely to anger his peers than gain their adoration—those who harm children are generally not well treated in prisons. Otto Octavius demonstrated his disgust with villains who harmed children in the same basic time frame.
Little is done on screen to justify stupid behaviors needed to further the plot on screen. Some of them have to be filled in through expository dialogue and others are revealed in supplementary material. That's not a good place to put motivations. Ever.
Special mention goes to #10. The sheer amount of stupidity needed to get the character where the plot needs them to be is awe-inspiring.
The fact that if this arc was written with any level of intelligence then you'd have the whole superhero community joining forces to save the kids and stop Arcade.