main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Idiot Plot: Live-Action Film
    open/close all folders 

    Intentional examples 
  • Lampshaded in Angels and Demons:
    Langdon: Oh, jeez. You guys don't even read your own history, do you?
  • Burn After Reading is one of the few examples of an Idiot Plot done deliberately. And thus, it manages to be hilarious and entertaining rather than annoying, like most straight examples.
  • A lot of other films by The Coen Brothers also depend on characters being idiots. But most of them are acting in-character, as such it works. Some even manage to subvert it, like in The Big Lebowski: Walter figured out the whole plot from the beginning.
  • The Comic Strip Presents: The Supergrass would have been about 15 minutes long had the police actually bothered to investigate Dennis and find that there was no truth to his claims of being a drug dealer. It's the Comic Strip, after all.
  • Dumb and Dumber is one of the few movies that invokes this intentionally (it's in the title) and does it well.
  • Played intentionally and lampshaded in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
    • Nothing would have happened if Kumar had the patience to wait until their plane touched down in Amsterdam, where weed is 100 percent legal, to start lighting up. And that's just the beginning. Similar to the original, the severity of their situation is only heightened by the stupidity (and, often, racism) of all the people around them.
    • Further Lampshaded in the Choose Your Own Adventure-esque feature on the DVD ("Dude Change the Movie") where if you have Kumar instead choose to not smoke on the plane the entire movie plot is discarded. (Instead you get Harold and Kumar Go to Amsterdam which is, tonally, very different from Guantanamo Bay.)
  • Lampshaded in Aliens.
    Ripley: "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"
    • Which didn't stop the film itself from relying heavily on it: Pretty much all but one (possibly two) of the characters in the movie act, at all times, in a way that is entirely consistent with idiocy; the main exception is acting on hidden orders, but until you know what those orders are the character appears to be an idiot.
  • Idiocracy. Perfectly justified, of course, since the plot of the movie is almost literally "It's the future, and everyone is an idiot." The only non-idiot is the ridiculously average Joe, who is out of his depth and unused to leadership.
  • Played for laughs in Mystery Team.
  • Mars Attacks! Although a lot of the scenes are filmed in the style of a straight drama, this parody's plot is run by every possible stupid decision that could be made in the event of an alien invasion.
  • Pretty much a given with Mom and Dad Save the World since Spengo is described as "a planet of idiots".
  • Pain and Gain is constructed entirely around the fact that the main characters' scheme is so stupid that no one believes the Asshole Victim could possibly be telling the truth.

    Film A-F 
  • Here a Cracked list of 6 movie plots that could have been solved in minutes.
  • Avatar: If the main character simply did his job and tried to negotiate with the Na'vi like he was supposed to, it is most likely the second half of the movie could have been avoided. But instead he does nothing but waste time getting into their culture and seemingly forgets why he was sent there to begin with.
  • Tim Burton's Beetlejuice.
    • The entire series of escalating problems encountered by the main characters (almost culminating in their destruction) stems from their inability to comprehend the Handbook for the Recently Deceased which was provided to them, and failing to heed the advice of their caseworker. Clearly the handbook itself was not incomprehensible, because every character in the movie except the Maitlands seemed able to understand and make use of the book's contents. The running gag was "this thing reads like stereo instructions." Adam quotes one part of the Handbook, "Geographical and temporal perimeters: Functional perimeters vary from manifestation to manifestation."note (slaps book shut in disgust, spraying dust in his face) Lampshaded (and arguably justified, since it was the reason he picked them) by the title character, whose first scene has him reviewing the obituaries, seeing the Maitlands, and saying, "What have we got here? The Maitlands, huh? Cute couple. Look nice and stupid, too." Truer words were never spoken.note 
    • Everybody here's a Turn of the Millennium troper who can confidently use and troubleshoot computers and text editing software at the basic level at the very least. Remember The Eighties joke about how only geniuses could program VCRs? The Maitlands were Country Mice — a small-town architect and a housewife. The Deetzes were yuppies — and so were the caseworker and her fellow afterlife bureaucrats!
    • No matter how dense the handbook may seem to them, why are the Maitlands having trouble figuring out how to harass the new residents when they've known from the beginning of their haunting that they can move objects in the house?
  • In Best Laid Plans, the entire plot is moronic, but the viewer doesn't learn this until near the end. It starts with a deadbeat kid (Nick) learning that he's inheriting nothing from his dad (he'd expected to get a tidy sum of money so he could move away and start a new life). Nick meets a girl (Reese Witherspoon). They hit it off and become a couple. A co-worker asks Nick to help him rip off a drug dealer. Nick would get $10,000 just for driving. Nick agrees, they pull of the job, but end up getting caught by the drug dealer who demands Nick pay him $15,000 in return. Nick then plots to steal a valuable artifact from a house where his friend is house-sitting. To keep his friend from reporting the theft, he sets up a scenario where his girlfriend has to sleep with his friend and she threatens to charge him with rape. The friend panics and cuffs the girlfriend to a pool table and calls Nick. Nick pretends to kill his girlfriend and puts her in the trunk of his car. The drug dealers steal his car, then let him walk home where they're waiting for him, so the reason for stealing the car is beyond me. When they ask him for the money, he finds out it was all a scam because there are peanut shells on the floor and his supposedly-dead friend eats peanuts. He realizes they weren't drug dealers after all. They were college graduates who set up the elaborate scam to pay off their student loans. Aside from the other intricacies of the plot, four guys committing numerous felonies and faking the death of Nick's co-worker hardly seems worthwhile when the payoff is only $3,750 each, which would only make a small dent in most student loans. Plus, their reasoning was overly optimistic. They had thought he had inherited some money, but then assumed he would turn right around and pay the $15,000 on demand.
  • Fernando Meirelles' Blindness, a film adaptation of Saramago's novel, has a brilliant premise but doesn't make much sense. It is an Idiot Plot because the politicians in the novel and the sequel SEEING ARE idiots. Fortunately, no real politician would act like them.
    • Oh, and the filmmakers are of the belief that not only do people stop caring about hygiene when they go blind but they will be reduced to crawling around and acting like animals.
    • It should be noted that, in ALL of those aspects, Meirelles was merely being faithful to José Saramago's novel, and Saramago's point is exactly that society is a very fragile structure and can easily collapse into chaos. Moore's character is exactly an anti-heroine, and a big plot point is exactly how hard it is for her to accept her role and her responsibility. Also, nowhere is it implied that the blindness is caused by a virus. Basically, the "stupidity" described in this item are, at least according to Saramago, only human nature. It something should be condemned for this, it's the book, not the film.
  • Bride Wars. The entire plot is driven by everyone involved being petty, self-absorbed, vindictive, and above all stupid. Granted, it's a decent satire of wedding preparation insanity...
    • In his review, Film Brain notes that the entire reason for the movie — that the two women want to have their weddings on the same day, at the same hotel, is pointless, since the times of the wedding are still different. They could still both have their weddings on that day and at that place. The only handwave we get is the weak excuse that they don't want to have weddings on the same day. Somehow, just putting on a brave face and dealing with that isn't less difficult and more mature than completely trashing and ruining their lives and each other's lives.
  • The Cell premise is "a psychologist helps the police and enters into a Serial Killer's mind to discover clues in order to locate his latest victim and save her before it is too late", which is eventually proved to be totally useless, has the case would have cracked by the police without the psychologist's help if they correctly made their job. The manufacturer logo's clue (which serves to locate where the victim is held) that the inspector eventually finds during his own mental travel to the killer's mind near the end of the movie? It is a replica of one that was in the killer's basement the whole time (yes, the basement of the house in which he is arrested). It even appear on the screen during the scene when police are searching through the house, during the arrestation sequence!
  • Chain Letter:
    • It is about a Serial Killer who sends a chain letter to teenagers and kills them if they don't send it to five others because he was tortured by insurgents for having a government-issued cell phone. If the creators were trying to send a message that technology is bad, they did it in a fucked up way.
    • Also why does he only target teens? Don't adults use cell phones and computers too? And shouldn't he be targeting government officials, not harmless teenagers who had nothing to do with his torture?
  • In its last third or so, Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy rapidly becomes an Idiot Plot. By the end of the film, only two characters remain sympathetic: Banky, who started off as an idiot and becomes slightly less of one; and Hooper, who spends most of the film pointing out the idiocy of others.
  • The 2007 Christmas movie Christmas in Wonderland would be a 10 minute short film had everyone not been idiots. The family go to West Edmonton Mall to do some shopping, the dad lets the kids go, one brother leaves the younger kids alone to chase a girl at the Water Park, the two young kids find a bag of counterfeit money, not knowing it's counterfeit, spend tons of it, dad tries to use an expired card at Zellers, the two goons chase the kids around the mall for the money... and it gets worse as the movie goes on.
  • Con Air:
    • It starts off with an Army Ranger meeting his wife in a bar, and her getting hit on by a drunk guy who later tries to beat him up in the parking lot, along with two friends. The drunk guy had to rip off the lead's ribbons-several rows of 'em-before starting the fight. Poe, of course, rips 'em a new one, culminating in the first guy pulling a knife, whereupon Poe gives him a strike to the head that accidentally kills him. Cut to the courthouse, where his lawyer advises him to plead out so he can get a reduced sentence. The judge disagrees, citing the fact that Poe should be held to a higher standard because he's... an Army Ranger. (Which should have given him a trial in a military court to begin with.) Given that he was wearing a uniform before the fight, and the assailants tried to rape his wife and kill him, he should've gotten off with self-defense. The lawyer doesn't even have him dress in a spare uniform—or even rent a suit—at the trial. The rest of the film can be excused by Rule of Cool.
    • His wife implies that he was a hellraiser before he joined the army ("You were almost 'that guy' again"), Poe's wife runs before the knife comes out, and the guys' friends take the knife with them as they flee. This might make a self-defense claim risky... if there hadn't been dozens of witnesses in the bar to prove that the other guy started it earlier in the evening. The Idiot Ball was bouncing off every character in that courtroom.
  • A fine example of this trope not being bad is the Creepshow segment "The Lonely Death of Jordy Verril." Everything that goes wrong in that segment is a direct consequence of Jordy being an ignorant idiot, which is how he's characterized from the first frame.
  • Cyberbully is this trope, as the entire plot consists of the main character creating an account on a social media site, then becoming depressed and suicidal because some kids from school make fun of her on it. She could just ignore their posts, or delete her account like her mother tells her to several times, or just block the bullies, but she doesn't.
  • Christoper Coppola's Deadfall is a complete mess. It starts with a sensible plot, but is then filled with plot twists that made it hard to understand; the only thing that saved it is Michael Biehn and especially Nicolas Cage, who is completely out of control throughout the entire movie.
  • Dennis The Menace Strikes Again:
    • Mr. Wilson being constantly swindled by a pair of very obvious conmen played by Brian Doyle-Murray and Carrot Top. At one point we see a long montage of these same conmen conning Mr. Wilson many times in a row in different disguises. While it's pretty believable that Carrot Top's disguises would fool him, Brian Doyle-Murray has a very distinctive voice.
    • Margaret tries to win Dennis's heart by pretending to like bugs. Rather than actually getting real bugs, she makes obviously fake giant bugs, and Dennis and all his friends except Gina fall for it. Later, they get back at Margaret by dressing Ruff up as a very obviously fake giant bug and she actually falls for it and gets scared.
  • Die Hard 2: While most of the stupid things done can be waved off as people not knowing how many precautions Stuart has taken and being overly cautious, his scheme wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for three things that should never have happened.
    • First, the security detail on Esperanza's prisoner transport consisted of one green private. If there had been a second guard, Esperanza would have been subdued before he could have killed that private, and even if they'd just brought along a minor functionary to sign paperwork, the pilots could have been warned about the takeover attempt and prevented it.
    • Second, the prisoner transport was being sent to Dulles, a civilian airport which is difficult to secure even under ideal circumstances, much less during the crowded conditions of the Christmas travel season, rather than Andrews AFB, a nearby military airport.
    • Third, every pilot flying into Dulles forgetting an FAA regulation stating that any airfield, civilian or military, that is capable of accepting an aircraft in distress must do so. Even though the nearest alternate airfield (Reagan National) was stated to have shut down due to the weather, any aircraft with enough fuel to fly in circles for two hours has enough fuel to fly to another airport. Here's what would have happened if this scheme had been attempted in real life: Within half an hour or Dulles Control warning all the airplanes about the terrorists, every one of those planes would be lining up outside of BWI or Andrews AFB asking for landing clearance, depriving Stuart of any hostages. Then Dulles Control would announce that they are shutting down (Probably blaming the weather to avoid a panic) and asking all civilians and employees not essential to flight control operations to leave. Once they all left, they'd have the government bring in whatever firepower was necessary to regain control of the airport.
  • Dolphin Tale starts off as a movie with a reasonable and believable plot, but evolves into a story where the climax makes no real sense, being resolved in the end by a series of events that made no logical sense. A race is planned for a crippled guy to be pitted against a state champ. In the end, the crippled guy lets the dolphin take his place, but this makes no sense because the race was planned prior to having any idea that the dolphin could swim with the prosthetic tail or that it would even cooperate. This was all done as a fund-raiser where the charity fund is out of money, spending what looks like enough money to fund the organization for a long time, money that could have been spent on funding and paying bills rather than trying to raise funds. The main event of the fund-raiser is to watch a crippled guy race a state champ. In the end, despite having the fund-raising event that was a huge success and the dolphin participating in the race, this still isn't enough, so the man who was trying take over the property in the first place steps up and resolves the problem within seconds by promising to fund the charity for 20 years. End of problem.
  • Drop Dead Fred seemed to move along only because Elizabeth was clearly insane, and not a single character called her out on it until halfway through the movie. Some of them even went out of their way to enable it!
  • Face/Off:
    • Keep a dangerous terrorist lunatic like Castor Troy in a coma in a hospital that three people know about under no security whatsoever while Sean Archer pretends to be him in a super-secret high security prison. Oh, and leave Archer's face in the hospital so that Castor can take on his face if he comes out of his coma. And don't tell Archer's boss Victor Lazarro, his FBI co-workers, or warden Walton at the prison, or even Archer's own wife, about the plan so all Castor has to do to make sure no one knows (except Archer, who has Castor's face, so no one will believe him) is kill Archer's handler, the surgeon who did the operation, and an FBI agent who had knowledge of the face switch. And Castor has an outgoing phone in his room, allowing him to call anyone if he wakes up.
    • This is not even to mention that the entire plot of the movie relies on nobody noticing that Archer or Castor have switched faces in a process that apparently leaves zero scarring. Just their faces. There is a scene wherein Castor sleeps with Eve, Archer's wife of about, let's say fifteen or twenty years, and she flat-out does not notice that her husband's body is completely different. She's been with him for as many as twenty years, she has NO IDEA A SWITCHEROO HAS BEEN MADE, having apparently only paid attention to her husband's face, and absolutely zero to the fact that Nicolas Cage and John Travolta have completely and utterly different body builds.
      • Then again, you notice that Archer undergoes an abdominoplasty when he becomes Castor, given that he had chest hair grown to match Castor's. It's possible Castor got the same thing when he became Archer.
  • Flightplan takes this trope to new heights considering that if the main character and all the other adults on the plane had just listened to the kids that saw her daughter in the beginning, it would have compromised the Big Bad's entire kidnapping scheme in the first couple of scenes. This film just shows how terrible the Just a Kid and Not Now, Kiddo tropes truly are.
  • Fright Night features a boy who tells everyone that his new neighbor Jerry is a vampire. Including the vampire's henchman. He is then surprised when it appears nobody believes him, and further surprised when said vampire tries to kill him. Vampire Jerry, for his part, is stupid enough to get stabbed through the hand by a sharpened No. 2 pencil.
  • The three protagonists of Frozen are this trope, over and over again. Parker doesn't know a thing about how to ski, yet she acts all Damsel Scrappy and ruins her boyfriend's and his best friend's skiing weekend and setting in motion a catastrophic chain of events that ends up with the deaths of both men. Not that they're entirely blameless either; they decide to bribe a ski lift controller for a last ride. When the resort is going to close for five days. With a snowstorm approaching. They deserved everything they've got. Dan is to blame too, for having brought his shrill girlfriend along when she clearly should've stayed elsewhere.
  • When viewed together, F/X: Murder By Illusion and F/X 2, make it look like the police and the mob are both groups of bumbling fools who work together to create personal wealth and they're no match for one movie special effects expert who manages to outsmart them both.

    Film G-L 
  • God's Not Dead is about a Hollywood Atheist forcing his philosophy students to sign paper that reads "God is dead" or else they will fail his class. The movie hand waves the main character not dropping the class, but completely ignores one pretty glaring error. Apparently the dean of the college is unaware this is going on, because if he did, he would throw that teacher out of the university, or at the very least have a talk with him to tell him to knock it off. But this is never even brought up, and none of the 80 students or any of their friends they told, or any teachers aware of this, bothered to let the dean know that such blatant discrimination was occurring on campus.
  • The Grey: The entire plot is started by Liam Neeson's character; in defiance of any survival guide such as this one, he decides the group should start walking away from the crash site. This is also in spite of the fact that the crash site has shelter, fuel, and materials to make weapons with.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army:
    • This movie is rife with these. Beside the usual "I'm pregnant but I won't tell him as to maximize the angst" plot, the heroes rapidly capture one of the McGuffin the Big Bad needs to awake the titular Golden Army. Now, they realize that they have no particular need for that item or the Golden Army, but rather than destroying it by giving it to the one team member who can melt anything, they leave it with Abe's Satellite Love Interest, who told them explicitly that she acts as a magic homing beacon for the Big Bad. Guess what happens?
    • There's also the fact that Nuala seems completely unaware of the fact that she ought to actually warn the Paranormal Investigation team about stuff. She just stands there with her mouth hanging open when her brother drops the Forest God seed, not telling then to keep it from water until it's two inches from a drain. She then oh-so-casually tells Abe that her very dangerous, psychotic, human-hating, murderous brother will be able to find their hide-out because they are mentally linked and thus he knows everything that she knows. Apparently this wasn't worth mentioning before bringing her there, so they could find some way to hide her without her figuring out where it is? Or that she only thinks to hide the map and crown piece when her brother is right at the door, breaking in? Or Abe deciding to get drunk and sing love songs after being told that Nuala's brother would be showing up for blood instead of warning the team?
    • Nuala herself could end the movie at literally any time. When we are first introduced to her and her brother, it is determined that her brother must die for the good of the world. Since they are linked, this would kill Nuala as well. She is actually asked if she is okay with this, and agrees to die. But the brother attacks, and she flees, and the entire rest of the movie happens. Then at the end, she stabs herself, killing them both. Since she was resigned to die from the very beginning in order to stop her brother from going on a rampage, why did she wait until he had already gone on a rampage?!
  • In High-School USA, few people do anything that makes any sense. Beau Middleton, the antagonist, is given incredible leverage over all the teachers in the school when his parents put him in charge of deciding which of the school's teachers will get money from them. Jay-Jay Manners, the protagonist, is portrayed as a good guy, but he's constantly initiating trouble with the bad guy by doing things that would reasonably upset someone, like crashing his party and hitting on his girlfriend on more than one occasion, but this is shown as being okay because he's the good guy. Jay-Jay gets in a fight with Beau and to settle things, comes up with the idea to have a car race against Beau, betting him $4,000 in the process. Beau knows Jay-Jay doesn't have any money, but agrees to the bet anyway, despite assuming all the risk if he loses. Jay-Jay steals his friend's new Trans-Am and takes it out for a joyride, but his friend ends up wrecking the car. Then, they hatch a crazy scheme to steal a bus and use the engine from the bus in Jay-Jay's car. Why they didn't bother to steal another car is anyone's quess. Of course, Jay-Jay wins the race, but spends the winnings on tuxedoes for his friends so they can attend the prom. Jay-Jay gets the girl in the end and Beau's once fiercely-loyal friends abandon him because he lost the race and the teachers suddenly lose interest in the money they were trying to win.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost In New York: Kevin has been found by the two bandits who want him dead, so he makes a break for the hotel he's been staying at to get his stuff and head home. He gets grabbed by the Concierge who thinks he stole his credit card and threatens to call the police on him... so he runs away. He never once considers that A: The card isn't stolen, it's his dad's and B: His family is looking for him. Getting grabbed by the cops would give him a free ticket back home to his parents and the entire third act of the movie wouldn't have happened. Though to his credit, I'd probably flee in terror if Tim Curry grabbed me as well.
    • Possibly justified in that while he definitely has the smarts to plan things out like an entire battle plan of death traps, Kevin is still a kid who can't think rationally in the heat of the moment when danger confronts him rather than vice versa. Remember, in the first movie he knew from the second act on the bandits wanted to rob his house, but he wouldn't tell the police note  because he feared they would send him to prison for shoplifting a toothbrush that he didn't mean to shoplift.
    • Note that in the novelization of the movie, it is mentioned that one of the commercials Kevin sees on the TV at the very beginning of the movie (when he sees the ad for the Plaza Hotel) is a public safety notice about the police cracking down on credit card thieves, regardless of age. Then they reference back to that when the Concierge confronts Kevin in the hotel.
  • Not that anyone was counting on it to be the apex of cinematic genius or anything, but The Human Centipede starts with two stupid girls happily accepting the hospitality of a doctor who's so creepy he might as well have slugs in his veins instead of blood. Even if they couldn't see that he's obviously evil, as horror protagonists are wont to do, the artwork in his living room would be a huge red flag to a non-moron.
  • Into The Blue hinges almost entirely on the main character, Jared, being nosebleed-inducingly dumb at every possible turn. Why does he drive his girlfriend away by refusing to tell her that her life is in danger because of his dumb deals with the gangsters? Why doesn't he try to tell the gangsters why there's been a delay in the plan instead of getting into a firefight without a weapon? Why does he leave his girlfriend tied up at the mercy of the gangsters to dive in the water WITH his hands tied behind his back? Why does he destroy the drugs when they're the only thing the gangsters are interested in? Why does he randomly tell them all they need to know about the giant treasure?
  • In Johnny Mnemonic, the bad guys looking to suppress the data stored in Johnny's headnote  are, for some reason, bent on specifically cutting off Johnny's head and cryogenically freezing it, even though suppressing the data would be as simple as killing him and destroying his head (which is even easier and only requires a gun and a bullet to achieve). Johnny also gets the bright idea that the data in his head is "worth a lot of money," despite that among the two factions who want the data, one doesn't want to use it for anything at all and the other wants to give it all away for free; nobody is in any position to get any money or make any money from the data.
    • Faulty assumption above. While the bad guys have no interest in selling the cure for the disease, they would still need a copy for themselves if any of them happened to get sick.
  • Roger Ebert's review of Key Exchange quotes almost word-for-word the textbook definition the term: "The movie comes dangerously close to exhibiting an Idiot Plot, defined as a plot that would be over in five minutes if everyone in it were not an idiot."
    • Not to mention Ebert's page quote on the Idiot Plot main page on Narrow Margin.
  • Killing American Style would have been a much shorter film if most of the characters had an ounce of intelligence. The most glaring moments would have to be the villain sending the protagonist out unsupervised to do errands for him under threat of his family getting executed and the protagonist never asking the police for help. This happens two times. However, the main plot would have never happened if the the police officers driving the prison bus carrying the main villain hadn't stopped to help a seemingly innocuous bystander and get killed for their efforts without effectively defending themselves.
  • Knowing, and that's the charitable way of describing the actions of the entities who are either Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, angels, or possibly both. Riddle me this: You're a Random not-quite-Omnipotent Being, and you know that The End of the World as We Know It is going to happen to earth fifty years from now. Do you:
    • A: Write a letter explaining what's going to happen and when, apologise for not being able to do anything to prevent it, and give humanity blueprints for an FTL drive or Deflector Shields or some other technology that might help us save ourselves, or...
    • B: Leave us a bunch of cryptic clues in the mind of a seventh-grader, driving the poor girl insane in the process, and then turning up a matter of hours before the shit hits the fan to grab a handful of children for some sort of Adam and Eve Plot?
    • Guess which option describes the plot of this film. And no, the obvious Alternate Character Interpretation and its side-order of Fridge Horror does not appear to have been intentional on the part of the director.
  • Looper could pretty much be called, "In the Future, Nobody is Smart".
    • The film's very basic premise is fueled by the mob killing off their members by sending them back in time 30 years and having them shot out in a field in the middle of nowhere (where cars pass by a lot), in the open, and the corpses are dumped in an incinerator.
    • Guns used to close loops are kept out in the open, and confirmation of dead bodies is done in a public store.
    • Both Old Joe and Young Joe seem to be having a stupidity contest throughout the whole movie- the main example being with Young Joe that he refuses to kill his older self for some reason only the film's writer would know. Old Joe's motives are worse: Old Joe explains that he's planning to hunt down and kill the kid who'll become the Rainmaker so that Joe's wife won't end up getting killed by the Rainmaker's thugs; Young Joe points out that if he really wanted to save his wife, he'd take steps to ensure that he never met the woman in the first place. After all, she died as colateral damage to his own kidnapping and execution- which Old Joe knew was going to happen for the last thirty years. But instead of just showing Young Joe his wife's photo and sparing her, Old Joe refuses to listen to any kind of reason- a course of action that leads him to murder a child and attempt to murder two others in his attempt to stop the Rainmaker.
    • In his attempt to defend Sarah and Cid from his older self, Young Joe opens fire on him with a blunderbuss... when he's still too far away to hit him. Worse still, before he can get within range, Kid Blue shows up and attacks him, giving Old Joe the time to flee the scene and attack Cid. Had Joe just dropped the gun and charged him- after all, Old Joe probably wouldn't have shot his younger self- he might have been able to finish him off before Kid Blue showed up, thus ensuring that Young Joe didn't have to perform a Heroic Sacrifice in order to save Sarah's life and prevent Old Joe from accidentally turning Cid into the Rainmaker.
    • Come to think of it, Kid Blue also plays a part in enabling the plot through sheer stupidity: his attempt to save face by capturing Old Joe and bringing him back to Abe's lair results in Joe killing every single mobster in the building, including Abe. For good measure, Joe also learns the exact location of the future Rainmaker from the base- something he might never have figured out thanks to Young Joe ripping the map of possible locations in half.
    • Everything involving Emily Blunt's character is pure idiocy. She takes in a dangerous assassin to her house and allows him to stay. That's right, an assassin who the cops are looking for. And she is also housing a young kid that has telekinetic powers, who ends up being who Old Joe goes after. Of course, she tells nobody that her kid has rather violent tendencies and allows him to get away with them.

    Film M-R 
  • Mamma Mia!:
    • Movie reviewer Eric D Snider felt that the film version had an Idiot Plot. Sophie invites all three of her possible fathers to her wedding, believing she'll just know which one is actually her dad when she sees him. And then when they individually figure it out and each tell Sophie that they're giving her away, she just goes with it. That whole idiot plot could easily have been solved by a DNA test.
    • Of course, Sophie eventually figures out that it was a pretty dumb plan and her fiancée gets really upset with her for it, so yeah. One has to wonder why Donna didn't start to suspect Sophie having any hand in it though, especially considering that it was her wedding coming up at conveniently the same time all three men did and she gave an outburst about how sucky it is for a child to grow up without a father.
    • And then there's the fact that the entirety of Donna's angst over Sam is simply because he has to wait the whole damn movie to finally say two words: "I'm divorced."
    • For the record, that's the plot of the original stage musical too.
  • Marry Me: Hmmm, let's see. The mother told her not to tell about seeing the husband with another girl, why exactly? And then, for some equally stupid reason, she's not to tell about another man proposing to her, to fill the room with awkward tension with her refusing both men without giving either a decent reason. Nobody bothers to ask Immy if she even wants to be passed off to yet another foster parent (she obviously doesn't) until after it's already done, and while we're at it, apparently it's okay to get a background check on the relatively innocent guy Luke (compared to someone who leaves a girl to go take pictures of frogs) but not the foster parents in question.
  • Minority Report
    • OK, so your top Pre-Crime cop is going to commit a murder. Naturally, he needs to be arrested. But, revoke his access to the police station, holding cells and all other high security areas? Never. He goes back in once, much later, and his wife follows suit even later.
  • The Negotiator: What's the smartest thing to do when you've been laughably inexpertly framed for a crime that a 1st year law student could get you off scott-free from? Go nuts and take hostages, then watch as the situation escalates quicker than you can say "Oh yeah, that was a dumb thing to do!" When all the evidence against you is circumstantial, when the only thing linking you to a crime scene is a gun registered to you that could be (and, obviously, was) stolen, when you're a "hero" of such good standing that everyone who isn't part of the frame-up would stand as a character witness for you, when the only possible motive you could have hinges on some paperwork in your house that's mysteriously devoid of any fingerprints and left lying where anyone can find it despite it apparently being absolutely damning, and when that paperwork would only take a phonecall to the bank to be proven to be bull (you can't set up a bank account without being present in person, and none of the conspirators could pass for Samuel L Jackson even in really bad light)... Lean back and let your attorney do the work. Worse still is that not one person in the film makes even a passing remark as to what a sucky job the bad guys have done of framing Mr Jackson's character, they all just go with it.
  • The NeverEnding Story 2 -- The Next Chapter.
    • Bastian has an item that will grant an unlimited number of his wishes. No further commentary is really needed here, but for the sake of it, we'll go a bit further: He spends the first half or so of the movie being inexplicably reluctant to make any wishes at all despite repeatedly being confronted with deadly situations and surviving at the last second through other means. At one point he accidentally creates an incredibly destructive dragon, and then has to spend a chunk of time hunting it down and lucking into it being blown up instead of just wishing it became nice or any number of similar solutions. He then discovers that any time he makes a wish, an evil witch uses a machine to steal one of his memories. His wishes are now limited by the number of memories he has left. It never occurs to him to simply wish for all his memories back, and for the machine to explode, and the witch to vanish, or any big picture solution at all until he's down to his last wish.
    • It's worse than that. Bastian easily gets a confession out of the villain that she's the one responsible for all the bad things going on (after seeing the monsters guard her castle). Her and her bird-boy lackey (who makes no attempt to pretend he's not working for the villain) have been urging Bastian at every opportunity to make wishes. Bastian, who has held out pretty well until now, starts making wishes like crazy, because it never seems to occur to him that doing what the bad guys want you to do is a bad idea. He also starts getting really chummy with the villain, doing what she says, despite the fact she's supposed to be HIS prisoner and even believing Atreyu is plotting against him (despite the fact he knows and should trust Atreyu far better), because the villain says so. What's incredibly sad about all of this is that Bastian is supposed to be a very well-read kid (in the first film he rattles off a list of classics he's read... at ten years old) so you'd think he'd be a bit more Genre Savvy.
    • Then there's also this part: Bastian is trying to climb up to the top of a tower. Problem: He's outside and the walls are too smooth to grab on to. So he decides to wish for steps in the wall on which he could climb (not very stupid). At about the half way point, the steps stop and Bastian can't get higher unless there are more. While a normal person would just wish for there to be enough steps to make it to the top, Bastian does something that takes more time and was much more harmful to him. He wishes for more steps. INDIVIDUALLY. That's right, he makes 20 or so wishes that are the exact same thing, "I wish there was another Step! And another! ..." Even if Bastian DIDN'T know that he was losing his memories at that point, he still wasted valuable time and wishes doing something a five year old would have been able to do more competently.
    • The villain Xayide also acts like an idiot. She can summon giant killer robot monster-things, teleport anywhere at will, and who knows what else. She could just zap to Bastian's location, surround him with monsters, kill him and take Auryn for herself. Of course, she does no such thing.
  • Night of the Lepus: "We have to stop this insurgence of rabbits, so let's inject one with a serum I know absolutely nothing about. That should do the trick!"
    • Even better: The little daughter of one of the scientists had been begging for one specific test rabbit as a pet. "My little girl has been running around unsupervised in the test animal room. She still wants a rabbit, but not the same one. Let's give it to her!" note 
  • No Country for Old Men: The movie should have been over in about 10 minutes were it not following this trope in spades. Llewelyn is initially shown to be a somewhat crafty and aware veteran, but makes two horribly stupid mistakes that serve no purpose other than moving the plot forward.
    • 1. After successfully taking the money from the botched drug deal with no witnesses, he returns to the scene of the crime probably at least six hours later to bring a bottle of water to a man on the verge of death. Not only was it incredibly risky, it seems somewhat pointless because the man would likely have been dead anyways. This idea is so bad that even the character admits he's about to do the stupidest thing he's ever done. You can practically hear him say, "but if I don't do it, how else is this movie supposed to go on?"
    • 2. After going on the run with the bag full of money, he doesn't look in the bag and find the transponder for several DAYS, as he wonders why he keeps getting found. So, he never decided to count the money, see if there is anything else in the bag like guns, drugs, etc. Once again, had he simply looked in the bag from the start, the movie would have been over.
    • Aside from Llewelyn, everyone who deals with Chigurh loses 50 IQ points. After pulling him over and handcuffing him, a deputy simply holds an entire phone conversation with his back to the man and gets strangled. The Sheriff realizes that this hired contract is running around killing people and going after Moss, and instead of contacting federal authorities, other law enforcement officials, etc... he basically does nothing and just retires. Also, an idiot ball to anyone who works with Chigurh as he apparently is quite willing to off any employers or associates if it strikes his fancy.
  • The ending of the original Oceans Eleven movie. How stupid could the team have to be to put the money in a coffin and not make sure that it wasn't cremated. If the coffin in question was a regular burial coffin, and not the flimsy version used for cremation, then we either have a classic case of poor research, or a legendarily stupid operator at the crematorium (the other reason is that the film couldn't show a gang of criminals getting away with it).
  • The Odd Life Of Timothy Green was this and more. Here's a couple reasons why:
    • The Framing Story overall: an adoption agency listens to a couple tell a fantastical story, and never seem to confirm its truth or check for the sanity of the speakers.
    • A couple finds they can't have children, but never consider adoption until the end of the movie.
    • When a child magically appears in the backyard they decide to take him in, rather than call the police to see if he's someone else's kid or a runaway.
    • When finding out he's being bullied, they let him to go a party at the bully's house alone so he can "fight his own battles."
    • Timothy accidentally kicks a girl in the head, and his parents fear she'll try to get revenge. When finding out she instead befriended him, they fear and hate her... for forgiving their kid?
    • The coach lets Timothy on the soccer team, despite intending to never use him.
    • The couple's lesson from all this is that if they were to do it again, they would make better mistakes. The agency thus lets them having a kid, despite hearing a testimony of complete irresponsibility.
  • Open Water 2 Adrift concerns six people who sail a luxury yacht into the middle of nowhere and decide to go swimming. It would have been nice if one of them had remembered to lower the boarding ladder first. The one hydrophobic woman who didn't want to go swimming gets thrown overboard by her 'friend' trying to cure her fear of water. So now we have six people trapped in the water and an infant alone on board. Believe it or not the stupidity level increases from there.
  • Orphan:
    • The only one in the movie who wasn't a complete idiot was the mother. Esther breaks her own arm in a vise to frame her, and the doctors somehow believe that the mother was able to do it one-handed. Daniel (her son) decides not to reveal Esther's violence until he has evidence, even though the mother had already asked him about it and would believe him anyway. But Maxine (the deaf daughter) swept the medal podium at the Too Dumb to Live Olympics. Maxine watches Esther break a young girl's leg and murder a nun, but covers for her out of fear. Okay, I'll buy it, even adults can be cowed by threats. But then Esther tries to murder Maxine herself twice, tries to murder Daniel at his treehouse (Maxine at least intervenes), and then succeeds (in certain cuts of the movie) in murdering Daniel at the hospital — Maxine never tells a single adult.
    • Throw in the fact that Esther was a little creeper right from the start. Maybe the family really did want a slightly different child, but surely there were less morbid ones at the orphanage?
  • The spread of the disease in Outbreak is only made possible by repeated instances of utter stupidity on the part of several characters, many of whom are supposed to be qualified professionals. An outbreak of a virulent disease is discovered in Africa. A biotech company illegally transports an infected monkey back to United States. Then, an employee steals what he knows to be an intended test animal to sell in the black market. When he fails to find a buyer, he sets the monkey free in the wild. As if this wasn't enough, a lab technician who was working with the blood of one of those infected by the monkey manages to break a vial and infect himself.
    • These are all things that do actually happen in real life. Just not usually all at the same time.
  • Oz: The Great and Powerful - The whole movie requires Theodora/Wicked Witch of the West (and a bunch of other people) to be dumber than a box of rocks for it to work.
    • Theodora falls in love with Oz based on the prophecy that he is to save the Land of Oz. In 5 minutes. Evanora tricking Theodora into thinking that Oz is in love with Glinda shouldn't even work if Theodora has any faith in the prophecy at all: how does she know that getting in Glinda's bed isn't his master plan to save the Land of Oz? Now, the argument can be made that Evanora tricks Theodora into thinking that this person is not THE Oz who will save Ozland. However, this creates a Voodoo Shark in and of itself - if the guy is the guy in the prophecy, then he will come through, and not fall for the Wicked Witch, Theodora still has a shot. No reason to get pissed. If he's not the guy in the prophecy, then a rich, powerful, attractive, princess of Ozland avoided being scammed by a flim flam artist with no powers. And the problem here is? They try to make it look like Theodora is constantly unloved, and no man would want her because of her temper, and that she's so much uglier than Glinda, however they fail miserably. At worst, she's Suetiful All Along, as the movie thoroughly fails to convince anyone that there is no man in Ozland who would want a young, rich, magically talented princess who looks like Mila Kunis, or that said princess (who up until now has been kind, friendly, and helpful as anything) has any actual negative qualities that would intefere with a relationship.
    • Oz learns that magic in Ozland is real, powerful, and dangerous. However, when he sees the royal treasury, he decides to go kill the Wicked Witch. He doesn't ask for weaponry, stats on the witch, supplies, or anything - basically making this a suicide mission - Oz knows he has zero powers. It's understandable that he wouldn't ask for help from Evanora, since he's lying straight to her face, however he doesn't even do basic research on the insanely powerful witch he has been sent to kill. Even worse, he doesn't tell Theodora that he's leaving, which right there would have prevented 3/4ths of the movie.
    • When Theodora eats the apple and becomes the Wicked Witch of the West (WWW from here on out), she immediately becomes powerful enough to singlehandedly kick the ass of everyone in Ozland. At the same time. She straight up ignores the Evil Overlord List, and lets everyone live until later.
    • When Glinda attacks WWW and WWEast, the bad witches respond by sending their troops out into a field behind the castle that puts them to sleep. Unlike Dorothy and her companions in the 1939 film, both WWs KNOW the poppy field is out there and what it can do - it's right behind the freaking castle THEY LIVE IN. This is like running after an enemy through a mine field that you yourself put up and forgot about. They try to hand wave this by covering the poppy field in fog, but it fails, because once again, the field is right behind the castle THEY LIVE IN! This is the equivalent of forgetting where your front yard is because it is covered in snow.
    • When fighting Hologram Oz, it never occurs to WWW to attack at the base of the cloud he appears in, where the highly conspicuous wagon was not 30 seconds earlier. Indeed, the only reason Oz's plan works is because the WWW chooses to forget about her powers, and how much of them she has, and throw single fireballs at a time, as opposed to scouring the entire plaza in flame, or using telekinesis to drop stuff on him, or doing a super speed blitz, or anything other than firing single fireball shots, and floating in place like a dumbass.
  • Paranormal Activity; basically the whole reason the demon keeps getting stronger is Micah, who is practically suicidal with stupidity. When an expert on the occult tells him to not aggravate a supernatural and malevolent demon, what does he do? He taunts it constantly. His perpetual skepticism about the demon flies in the face of ON CAMERA, concrete evidence that yes, it exists. He's so stupid it's a relief when the demon finally murders him.
  • Everything about Prometheus. This short video sums it all up. Arguably it was because the writers were trying to evoke Alien. In Alien, though, the characters were Space Truckers who were understandably out of their depth dealing with an alien killing machine, so their less-than-intelligent responses made sense. Here, however, the characters are supposed to be scientists and other highly trained professionals, yet still act like Space Truckers.
  • The Room. William Shakespeare could have been describing the film when he wrote "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
    Mike Nelson: They must be having a dumb contest. It's the only explanation.

    Film S-Z 
  • Nobody would have died in Shakma if Sam had properly killed the title animal in the beginning of the movie like he was supposed to. And that's not going into the number of times Poor Communication Kills in this movie.
  • In Sliding Doors, so much trouble could have been avoided if James Hammerton had thought to say to Helen Quilley on their first date 'Oh, by the way I'm separated from my first wife and we're getting a divorce, but don't worry, it's all amicable'.
  • The film version of A Sound of Thunder, which the Agony Booth's recap describes as an "Idiot Plot fractal".
  • Spider-Man 3:
    • Much of the tension could have been relieved if Mary-Jane had asked Peter "You do realize my role in the play was replaced, right?" Or if Peter would have taken a deep breath and talked things through with her after "killing" Harry. On the other hand, he was under the effects of the evil suit, but it felt like he forgot her entirely after getting his revenge. In fact, there were a lot of problems with that movie's plot, many of which were pointed out in a HISHE episode.
    • Don't forget the admittedly in-movie (but treading actual What an Idiot territory) stupidity of, on a whim, publicly giving an open-mouthed kiss to his lab partner at the same time he was still going steady with Mary-Jane. "Special kiss" in and of itself or not, and not even going into fidelity issues, it doesn't take a sociologist to realize that that is going to raise some hackles.
    • Harry gets his memory back, and then threatens Mary Jane, telling her that he would hurt Peter unless she breaks up with him. Both Harry and Mary Jane somehow forget that Peter is just as strong as Harry, and has had far more experience dealing with superpowered people than Harry ever has. Mary Jane proceeds to break up with Peter, and forgets to tell him that Harry got his memory back, is once again dangerous, and that he threatened her.
    • Harry's butler tells Harry that Peter did not intentionally kill his father. Either the truth about Harry's father's death slipped his mind for several years, or the writers retro-actively made the butler an idiot to advance the plot, and make Harry and Peter friends again. (Word of God is that the butler is a hallucination which makes no sense since there is a scene where Harry talks to the butler in front of Peter and he doesn't notice anything off!)
    • Scientists detect extra mass in their experiment (which has to take place in a pit open to the environment for some odd reason), but rather than actually go check, they assume it's a bird (a bird with the mass of a man?) and keep going with the experiment.
    • Not to mention that Sandman, a man with ability to easily move an infinite amount of sand, decides that the best way for him to make money with his abilities is to be a criminal. It's not as if there are places with tons and tons of sand that need moving, perhaps to access a valuable resource of some kind. Outbidding the guys who created the World Archipelago by a few million dollars would've netted him in excess of several billion. And it's not as if the United States was not currently fighting a war, in a desert. Or as if families of active duty military did not get unlimited free health care. (Granted that he's currently a fugitive from justice, still, if the man can't convince the US government to trade one free pardon in return for him single-handedly kicking the ass of the entire city of Fallujah without getting scratched, then he's just not trying.) Hell, even if he just supplied sand to the construction industry he'd probably be doing better than robbing banks.
    • Even worse, the guy could've at least used stealth in his bank robberies. But no, instead he just thugs through the whole thing.
  • Safe Haven is a movie that starts off with Katie, the protagonist, running from the police. It seems like a pretty straight-forward movie. Then, we find out the police aren't after her. One policeman is. He's her husband. She can't do anything about it because in this world, a Boston policeman is a powerful person who can do whatever he wants, even in North Carolina. Katie doesn't even bother calling the police. When she sees a policeman, she thinks he's after her. That's not all. Her best friend turns out to be a ghost.
  • School of Rock: Dewey should have been exposed as a liar from the get-go. At least two Horace Green faculty (including Roz) would have seen Ned when he went into the school for his interview as a potential substitute and recognized the two look nothing alike; his class' parents would have been quite within their rights to suspect Dewey was not a teacher and phone in a complaint to the school about their rock & roll-based assignments; there's no hint that Dewey has any skills besides his music (if so, both Patty and Ned — neither of whom ask any follow-up questions when Dewey tells them he's "temping" — would know as much). When a teacher notices that a rock band is practicing a few doors down from her classroom, Dewey somehow convinces Roz that no, it was just one guy on his guitar.
    • The whole movie should never have happened-Roz mentions early on that checks would be mailed and made out to Ned, so Dewey could never receive or cash them, and she doesn't even get suspicious when he asks for paychecks made out to cash.
  • The Strangers; if the two leads had a brain cell between them, the movie would've been a lot shorter and NO ONE would've died.
    • Subverted in Ils (aka Them), the French film from which The Strangers cribs its premise. The two leads may be frightened, but they're not idiots, and they do pretty much everything right. It still doesn't save them in the end.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • First, Star Fleet unfreezes a 300 year old guy who was sentenced as a war criminal to help them out with super dangerous weapons. Then they hold people he cares about over his head. Then he proceeds to not make much sense and puts his "family" in torpedos for some reason. Cue blowing stuff up so he can get all of Star Fleet's officers into one room to blow them up. He blows them up then uses the beaming trick from the last film to go to the Klingon homeworld. Star Fleet evil guy decides to send a diplomatic ship there instead of his cool new warship. So they go, not beaming there for some reason, with super ka-boomey torpedos that'll probably alert any Klingon on the planet that they're there. They go down, still refusing to use the beaming trick, get the bad guy up, hear his shit, and find that there's the warship that should have gone in the first place. It follows them through warp... somehow. The evil guy agrees to help them, they shoot him for no reason, then he gets up and promptly kicks all their asses. They can call old Spock, but somehow can't call for help or warn people down below of the warships. Anyways, Spock decides it would be a good idea to piss off Khan and blows the torpedos. Khan plows through San Fran and Kirk dies, and Spock goes after him because that's what Vulcans DO! Except there's this Tribble that was glued to the table and was dead before, so Bones needs Khan's blood, not like he doesn't have 72 perfectly good frozen dudes right there.
    • Everything about the torpedoes is a series of Idiot Plots. It starts with Section 31 thinking that a warlord from 300 years ago, when nukes were still the big thing, is the best person to help them design brand-new weapons, solely because he's genetically engineered. He somehow (supposedly) succeeds, but he "cleverly" uses the torpedoes as a way to smuggle his followers out, only designing enough torpedoes to contain his crew and no dummy ones make his plan less obvious. Section 31 then proceeds to foil the plan and confiscate the torpedoes, but between that and Marcus giving them to Kirk to use on Qo'noS, have apparently not tinkered with them at all, as all the torpedoes still contain the crew in stasis and none have been used. So Section 31/Marcus must have taken the baddie at his word that the torpedoes would work as intended, even though they had no reason to trust him and every reason to at least test them beforehand. And while the audience never finds out if the torpedoes have the all-important range or stealth capabilities that make them unique, they are shown to be explosive. Not exactly the safest feature in containers meant to smuggle people safely.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier:
    • Sybok's Evil Plan is pretty dumb and only works because everyone else in the galaxy is apparently an idiot. He takes a Federation officer, a Klingon and a Romulan hostage so that a starship will be sent for him and his primitive followers to hijack. This plan relies heavily on only one of the three most powerful governments in the galaxy bothering to make a rescue attempt, that they sent one ship rather than a whole fleet, and that that ship would not have functional transporters.
    • Hilariously, Sybok is outraged when Kirk and company attack Paradise City, saying he didn't expect violence to result. Yes, how dare the Federation take the forced overthrow of Nimbus III as a hostile act! And that's to say nothing of how the Klingons or Romulans would treat it...
    • Taken cynically, it makes a bit more sense. Nimbus III was a marginally inhabitable wasteland populated largely by individuals that can be charitably described as scum. Any officers assigned there probably pissed off their superiors, and the Federation, being the only one who would care about its citizens would send a ship, but since Nimbus III is a worthless backwater, they wouldn't want or need to commit all that much.
    • Let's not forget that the Enterprise-A is a malfunctioning mess that even Scotty is having trouble with. Nonetheless, Starfleet decides to send her into the conflict to save the day. Kirk himself asks why another ship isn't sent given the obvious problems with his. An admiral responds that there aren't any other qualified captains on-hand. So why not just loan Kirk and company a functioning ship?
    • This is especially ridiculous as an exterior shot shows the Excelsior in the same dock as the Enterprise! Or, what, is the engine STILL sabotaged from whatever Scotty did to it over a year ago?
    • Star Trek: Nemesis: Even assuming that the Enterprise really is the only ship standing between Earth and the entire Romulan Star Empire, we still run into certain problems. This is a movie in which redneck off-roading on a pre-Warp planet in broad daylight is considered the most sensible way to recover pieces of a dismantled android, and a villain who is dying has no problem with dicking around for 17 hours for no reason rather than trying to obtain Picard's blood, which he needs to survive.
  • Star Wars:
    • Pretty much everything that happens in The Phantom Menace:
      • The Trade Federation: After locking two Jedi in a chamber filled with poison gas, they decide to open the doors and send in the oh-so-defeatable battle droids to try to kill them, rather than waiting an hour or two for the Jedi to choke to death. Then they land their forces on the other side of the planet from their objective, a completely undefended, pacifist city. After capturing the queen, they decide to send her out of the secure, occupied palace for "processing" rather than making her sign the damn treaty. And once the queen escapes, they send away their entire fleet save for a single droid control ship to hold down the planet.
      • Darth Sidious has his own set of critical mistakes extending beyond merely the stupid things his Trade Federation minions do. Secretly, the whole reason he's orchestrating the crisis on Naboo in the first place is so he can use it to his advantage in his secret identity as Senator Palpatine to get himself elected Supreme Chancellor, meaning that the more public and drawn-out the situation gets, the better things work out for him. Yet he repeatedly acts as if he wants the Trade Federation to win efficiently and decisively; he orders the two Jedi killed (and their arrival covered up) rather than sending them back to relay the details of the blockade and impending invasion, disrupts all of Naboo's communications instead of leaving them free to make a fuss to the rest of the galaxy about their predicament, is determined to see Queen Amidala captured so she can sign a treaty declaring the invasion legal, and so on. He also sends Darth Maul to Naboo even though the two Jedi he knows are returning to the planet are doing so for the express purpose of tracking Maul down and getting as much information as they can out of him about the Sith and their plans, and at the same time doesn't send the Trade Federation any advance notice that the Queen or the Jedi are on their way there.
      • Qui-Gon Jinn should be expelled from the Jedi Order. His plan on exfiltrating from a Trade Federation starship involves him and his apprentice splitting up and hitchhiking on separate troop transports, without any idea of where they're headed, much less whether they're going to land within a thousand miles of each other. On Tatooine he tries to Jedi Mind Trick a vendor into giving him the spaceship parts he needs, and when that fails, hatches a convoluted scheme to bet on a slave boy to win a race to win the parts (a gamble he uses the Force to cheat on), rather than trying a second vendor, trading his broken luxury ship in for a less ostentatious but functional one, hiring passage on an independent vessel, contacting Coruscant to send someone to pick them up, or just stealing the parts he needs since he's already willing to abuse his power.
      • The rest of the good guys aren't much better. To escape from Naboo they fly into the teeth of the Trade Federation blockade, which is neatly lined up on one side of the planet, rather than taking advantage of the third dimension. Padme places herself and the future of her planet at risk by pointlessly keeping up her charade as a handmaiden rather than letting the Jedi Knights who saved her life in on it so a hypothetical future crisis doesn't wind up with her sacrificed to protect the decoy queen. The Chancellor needs to send a committee to verify the testimony of the Jedi he personally sent to investigate a situation. When faced with reports of a deadly Sith Lord running around (a conclusion backed up by no evidence beyond the attacker's skill with a red lightsaber), the Jedi Council sends a whopping two Jedi to deal with him even though the Sith was encountered on an entirely different planet and has nothing to do with the Naboo crisis as far as they should be able to ascertain. At a crucial moment during the resulting lightsaber duel, Obi-Wan's failure to employ the superspeed Jedi have earlier been shown to possess leads to his master's death, at which point Obi-Wan proceeds to cut Darth Maul in two without having learned anything from him despite the fact that the Jedi were only sent back to Naboo in the first place to "discover the identity of the dark warrior." The good guys commit to a ground war with the Trade Federation when all they needed to do was sneak some pilots into the hangar and shoot down the droid control ship, neutralizing the entire enemy army, and leave the Jedi behind to capture the defenseless Gunray before he has a chance to flee.
      • In fairness, it was the Trade Federation who suggested that a committee verify the validity of the invasion rather than the Chancellor, although why Valorum seems to agree with them rather than just saying "no" is anyone's guess. They have the testimony of the Naboo leadership, as well as two Jedi and Jar Jar. In few to no legislative bodies in the world can a single member of Parliament force the executive to publically verify such sensitive intelligence. The fact that all communications with Naboo have suddenly been cut should also have sent alarm bells ringing. There is also the question of how a completely unprovoked (as far as we know) blockade by a private company against a member state of the Republic, with the purpose of subverting the law of the Republic, can be legal at all. It's also established in the second film that the Republic did not have an army at all, meaning that there was nothing they could have really done about the invasion anyway.
    • Everything about Anakin's training. In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn is established to be a bit of a Jedi hippie, defying the Jedi code. Qui-Gon discovers a nine-year-old slave boy who has great potential for power. Qui-Gon goes through ridiculous lengths to free the boy (which itself is part of an above-mentioned Idiot Plot) and presents him to the Jedi Council to request to take him on as his apprentice. The Jedi wisely tell him to fuck off, telling him that he's too old and his attachment to his mother and his past as a slave (which would be traumatic for any child) make him dangerous and a possible threat. Even Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon's apprentice and best friend, tells him that the kid is dangerous. Some shit happens and Qui-Gon gets killed by a Sith Lord, who is swiftly killed by Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon's dying wish is for Obi-Wan to train Anakin, based on some ancient prophecy that says someone would rise to bring balance to the Force... despite the fact that there are only ever two Sith Lords at a time (no more, no less) and that Obi-Wan just killed one of them, and the fact that all things considered the Force is pretty balanced. Ignoring the fact that there is a good chance Anakin will fall to the dark side, ignoring the fact that there is a Sith lord out there no doubt looking for a new partner (remember, no more nor less than two), and ignoring how the kid is clearly troubled, sweating and scowling during his examinations, Yoda decides to let him become a Jedi anyway. Essentially, all these Jedi Masters' instincts keep telling them what a bad idea training Anakin would be, and they repeatedly mention how they don't trust him, how he's dangerous, how sending him off on these missions is risky — but they do it all anyway, so Darth Vader can happen.
    • Attack of the Clones. Obi-Wan impulsively jumps out a window to grab an assassin droid without knowing where it's going or what it's armed with. The droid flees back to its owner instead of self-destructing or deliberately taking him on a wrong path. A bounty hunter hired to kill Padme subcontracts to a second, less skilled assassin instead of doing the job himself. When pursued into a nightclub, the assassin attempts to ambush and kill the pursuing Jedi warriors rather than getting the hell out of Dodge. The Jedi send the young, rash Anakin to guard a woman he already had emotional bonds with and was clearly flirting with. The safest place for the endangered Senator is evidently picnicking in romantic, wide-open areas on her home planet. Obi-Wan is told that the clone army was ordered years ago by someone impersonating a dead Jedi, but nobody investigates where this suspiciously convenient army came from.
      • No reason is ever given as to why the Separatists would follow Sidious. In the second movie the Trade Federation only follows Dooku because he claims to be opposed to Sidious after he betrayed them in the first movie. All of Palpatine's plans seem to rely on every leader of both factions being completely incompetent, to the point of leaving obvious clues that the Separatist leadership commissioned the clone army specifically to be used against them. A lot of the problems in the trilogy could be explained as him making things extra-convoluted for his own amusement, just because he could get away with it. His hologram doesn't even hide his face or change his voice.
    • Red Letter Media points out most of the above problems, and paraphrases Palpatine's addresses to the Senate in Revenge of the Sith as follows:
    But anyway, he tells the Senate that the Jedi (an organization of monks that have been the guardians of peace and justice for over a thousand generations) have suddenly decided to Take Over the World. "Oh, and I just also happen to look and sound like a monster that wants to Take Over the World. Don't mind my creepy black cloak, my horribly evil-sounding voice, or terrifying face. Also don't mind the fact that I'm yelling about creating a galactic empire run exclusively by me. No, no, you see, it's the Jedi that are the ones who tried to take over. And that warranted them all being executed by the army that I control by myself without any kind of trial in the courts to prove what I'm saying is true. Yup, we just killed them all! Including the children! And then we burned down their temple, and you're all just gonna have to take my word for it. Trust me, look at my face! Would this face lie to you? You see, I've successfully eliminated the only opposition I might have had to form my own galactic empire. Please continue with the applause. So remember to vote Palpatine in the next election that will never happen. Because I said so."
  • Superman II: After Superman gives up his powers to be with Lois, he learns of the presence of three villains from Krypton with all his powers. After he gets his powers back by returning to the Fortress of Solitude and nothing to report here, he battles the three villains in the streets of Metropolis. The problem is that Superman's motivation for giving up his powers in the first place was incredibly lame. The holograms of his parents who ordered him to do so are long gone, and making the choice they hoped he wouldn't make is no more respectful than just ignoring them. Meanwhile, their edict that he couldn't "put one above the rest" assumes that he'd never make any friends at all.
    • For that matter, at the end of the film he kisses her which makes her forget the events of the film, which begs the question, when she first discovered that he was Superman, WOULDN'T IT HAVE BEEN SMARTER IF HE DID THAT IMMEDIATELY?!?!
    • And then there's Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Superman decides to destroy all the world's nuclear weapons, and everyone concerned is okay with this. It doesn't get smarter from there.
  • The 2004 Disney Channel Original Movie Stuck in the Suburbs follows the life and times of a teenage girl who accidentally switches cell phones with a celebrity pop singer and proceeds to royally screw with his life for teh lulz. The entire plot hinges on the assumption that a famous musical artist wouldn't cancel his phone service and buy a new device as soon as he discovered the mix-up, or at least get someone who works for him to.
  • Transporter 3.
    • The villain uses an elaborate setup to force the transporter to do a job, including bracelets Made of Explodium. The villain also has literally hundreds of mooks positioned along the route to keep the pressure up on Frank. The job: Drive a girl across Europe. It's never explained why they need Frank badly enough to justify the fuss about him or even why this big and well-organized crime syndicate needs an external expert for moving a person from A to B.
    • A different idiot plot point revolves around the whole plan to get the girl's father to sign this agreement in exchange for his daughter's return when any contract signed under duress wouldn't hold up in an international court of law. Might as well just forge the signature or forcibly move his hands to sign it for all the legitimacy it would bring.
    • The part where he saves himself from drowning by filling an inflatable dinghy by letting out the air from the car's tires. All the while breathing the same said air himself.
  • 28 Days Later:
    • Monkeys infected with a deadly and highly contagious virus, that makes them super aggressive and can spread by the slightest scratch or bite are held in steel frame cages? Check! A scientist discovers activists trying to release the monkeys, and tries to get them to stop by cryptically telling them the monkeys are infect with "Rage" and leaving it at that? Check! Said activists see said scientists getting all panicked about it, but don't bother finding out what he is so afraid of? Check, check, and double check!
    • Jim walks into an abandoned gas station, alone, because "we don't have any cheeseburgers." His companion Selena reminds him that they have plenty of food, but by God he wants those cheeseburgers. Surprise surprise, Jim finds a zombie in the store and has to fight it off on his own. At this point, everyone is holding the idiot ball. Jim is risking not only his own life, but everyone else's as well. What happens if he gets turned? Meanwhile, Selena, instead of restraining him or telling him he can't go in, shrugs her shoulders and walks away. This particular episode is egregious because it doesn't even drive the plot, only some minor dialogue later in the story. A soldier tells Jim that there's no way he could have gotten this far without killing someone. Well, he could have if he and his buddies weren't all holding the idiot ball.
  • 28 Weeks Later:
    • The so called "shelter", where people are crammed in at the first sign of trouble without first checking whether the zombie that started the trouble is inside or not! And then demonstrate how the doors to this impenetrable shelter can be breached by zombies and panicked humans alike from inside — had no-one in the military heard the saying "don't put all your eggs in the same basket"?
    • That's not even the start of it. For no reason whatsoever, they turn off the lights which not only lowers visibility and harder to see the (so far) lone infected coming, but greatly panics the civilians before it even shows up. Wouldn't it have been easier/safer to tell everyone to stay in their rooms? And what's more, the infection started because a man tried to see his wife (who was an asymptomatic carrier of the virus) was able to enter the room. The room was completely unguarded, despite the military being well aware that she had the virus.
    • There's also when, after everyone in that shed get infected, the soldiers have gotten orders to shoot everyone in sight. Including people trying to hide, drive away, avoid gunfire; if they weren't such idiots, they would have figured out that zombies would not be doing any of those things.
      • This was right after discovering people could be carriers. While the movie poster and an off-hand remark make it clear to the audience this has something to do with heterochromia, we have no indication the scientists in the movie knew it was tied to a rare genetic quirk, much less that they'd told the military about this hypothesis.
  • Unknown: A GM corn company hired a team of assassins for industrial espionage. They assumed that the head of the project would have a copy of the genome on his laptop, and most likely that it was the only copy. They trick an insane assassin into getting rid of a piece of evidence, when they could easily have done it themselves.
  • Underworld Evolution features what is intended to be a crack squad of elite troops trained in killing vampires and werewolves. At the climax, they must seek out and destroy a lair of werewolves before they can unleash the Big Bad. They are surprised to find this lair is only accessible from an underwater entrance, but that's fine — they have scuba gear. Oh, wait. They forgot the silver ammo for their werewolf hunt, so if they go in, they're incapable of doing any damage to the enemy before werewolf bites turn them into werewolves. So they go in anyway.
  • The Woman in Black: Harry Potter is a grieving lawyer who travels to a small village to sort through the paperwork of a recently deceased woman who lived in an Old Dark House. Rather than taking the paperwork back to town, he decides to stay there. He spends most of his time wandering around and looking at creepy things without doing anything at all. Message on the wall written in blood under the wallpaper? Huh, I'll go wander around more. The one thing he tries to do doesn't work. He also doesn't get a lick of paperwork done.
  • The main reason Fritz Lang's Woman in the Moon is remembered for its accurate rocket launch sequence and nothing else is because the rest of its overlong running time is a melodramatic idiot plot. The most glaring example is that the heroes take the villain along on the mission, fully knowing his evil intentions. Yes, he threatened to blow up the ship if he didn't go with them, but did it occur to none of the crew that they could knock him unconscious and leave him behind just before liftoff (or better yet, have him arrested) and go to the moon and he would be helpless to retaliate? The entire third act would've gone much smoother, especially since no villain would have meant no gunfight which means no bullet hole in the oxygen tank which means no depleted oxygen supply which means everyone could have happily gone home with their gold, the end. But no, they had to be idiots.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand:
    • The government hears that Magneto is raising an army to attack the mutant cure laboratory on Alcatraz. In response, they arm the guards there with mutant cure dart weapons in plastic dart rifles, the latter of which is sensible to stop Magneto but the former being Crippling Overspecialization at its finest. This only works because Magneto is equally stupid. They also leave Leech at Alcatraz instead of quietly moving him somewhere else when they know his life is in danger. The loss of life would still be massive, but they would have denied Magneto his prize and made sure he could never find him again.
    • Magneto's plan involves uprooting the Golden Gate Bridge to bring his mutant army to Alcatraz. He could have just as easily dropped the bridge on Alcatraz, removing the need for an army entirely, or flown himself to an unreachable distance and turned the entire island and its large supply of metal (rebar, pipes, etc.) into a deathtrap.
    • Magneto just sends his army in with no plan, using them as fodder to determine the enemy's capabilities. As he demonstrates later, he could just have his A-list destroy everyone in a few moves and they would be powerless to stop him. This essentially serves no purpose but to make Magneto seem unsympathetic.
      • A deleted scene does show Magneto try to get Phoenix to do something. She refuses, telling him, "You're sounding like [Xavier] again". This does not excuse him failing to use his lesser but still ridiculously powerful elites right off the bat.
    • Magneto is surprised that the humans are using plastic guns. This from a guy who's not only been held in a plastic prison for quite some time, but has shown the ability to detect metallic signatures from far greater distances and act on them accordingly. He does so in this very film, in fact.
    • The heroes need to stop Phoenix, so Wolverine is sent in to stab her with his claws. If he's in a position to get close enough to do that and you aren't going to make her vaporize his pants, then he should have grabbed some cure darts (which are literally everywhere) and cured her instead of killing her. Still psycho or not, she wouldn't be a threat.
    • Going with the two above, just like Magneto, Phoenix didn't sense that Wolverine was planning to kill her despite being a nigh omnipotent psychic.
  • In Zack and Miri Make a Porno two friends who are Platonic Life Partners decide to make ends meet by creating a porno. Together. With each other. The question that just popped into your head? Yeah, that happens.
Animated FilmIdiot PlotLiterature

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy