Related to the Genius Ditz or the Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, you have the Brilliant but Lazy character, who is more than capable of taking care of any situation that the heroes have to deal with, but doesn't care. He'd rather relax and do nothing to help. This character will likely Refuse The Call when it comes, feeling that, whatever's going on, it's not his problem. Expect them to be very sarcastic as well.
Expect such a character to be indifferent, uncaring, and, at worst, obnoxious or self-centered.
However, when it's crunch time, and the heroes need someone to come save them, guess who decided to give them a break?
Subtrope of Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and often a form of Obfuscating Stupidity. Can be associated with Book Dumb. If they're also rich, they may be an Upper-Class Twit. When they try to be The Slacker, they usually turn into a Professional Slacker. See also Unskilled, but Strong, which a Brilliant But Lazy character can be if they have great power but don't bother working to improve on it.
An obvious subversion here is the notable difference between someone who actually is Brilliant But Lazy and someone who thinks they're Brilliant But Lazy but is actually just Lazy. This also applies to those who are secretly afraid they're not brilliant and hence refuse to exert themselves for fear they'll be exposed. They should also beware of falling into the trap of Laborious Laziness if they find that their smarts and their desire to avoid doing work is in fact making them work harder at being lazy than they would be working if they just did what they were supposed to.
Contrast Nerds Love Tough Schoolwork.
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Anime and Manga
Professor Ryoto from Wild Life. One of their best veterinarians, but spends a lot of his time slacking off and reading manga, while tricking poor Tesshou into doing his work.
Sonic the Hedgehog is often portrayed this way, particularly in the OVA—he doesn't even lift a finger to save an old man from his malfunctioning aircraft, instead allowing an irate Tails to try and take care of it. It's not until it's apparent that the both of them are in grave danger that he does anything to help them. Of course, since he has Super Speed, he can afford to wait until the last minute.
Shikamaru Nara from Naruto may be the smartest ninja in the entire world with an I.Q. over 200, but has the energy levels of a 80-year old man in the body of a teenager and would rather sit back and grumble while playing board games than do any actual work. At the beginning, he was so lazy that he was willing to fail school instead of studying. (It's explained he had the second lowest grades in the academy, and counting Naruto's Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, the lowest.) Even lifting the pencil to take a test was a chore for him. Despite this, he was so smart he passed anyway.
He may have also forced himself to work just enough to pass without having the absolute worst grade in the class. His mom would hassle him endlessly if he flunked, and that's even more work to deal with.
In Naruto Shippuden, after some Character Development triggered by Asuma's death, he becomes more of a Badass Bookworm, regarded as one of the best candidates for Hokage. Because of this, he single-handedly takes down Hidan, a member of Akatsuki.
Shikamaru was also the only participant in the Chunin Exams that actually got promoted, despite forfeiting his match against Temari (having determined that there was no way he could win). The rest of the Konoha 11 (except for Naruto and Sasuke) eventually caught up to him, with Neji overtaking him, due to his laziness and lack of ambition. Even then, he still can command even Jonin, the level above him, on missions.
Later in that same arc, the Sound ninja used a genjutsu to put everyone in the arena to sleep. Only some of the elite Leaf ninja figured out what was happening and dispelled the technique on themselves. Shikamaru was among those few, but still pretended to be sleeping so he wouldn't have to join the battle.
We also have Deidara, whose power is instantaneous, but prefers to sit back and watch for awhile.
Kenshin's master from Rurouni Kenshin is capable of laying the smackdown on basically anything, but doesn't do so much because he prefers to make Kenshin do the heavy lifting.
The other theory on his inactivity is that he knows whichever side he chooses to aid will win, so he doesn't choose.
Also, Negima's Yue Ayase (she already has a similar position on the Pantheon). She's The Smart GuyMr. Exposition who only fails in class because she's too depressed to study. When she entered Wizarding School and found a class she's interested in, she went from a complete novice to being the most capable student in the entire school within one month.
Eriko Futami from Kimikiss skips nearly all her classes but places at the top of every examination consistently.
Motegi, a minor character from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. He's an excellent duelist who can see and communicate with Duel Spirits (who uses a Human Wave Deck, a difficult strategy to master) but tends to lose interest in anything except dueling and fall asleep when he gets bored.
Shunsui Kyoraku from Bleach is definitely one of these, preferring to get drunk and veg out under the sun over battling, despite being one of the strongest captains in the Soul Society. When ordered to fight and/or kill the intruders, he asks Chad to come drink with him so he won't have to make the effort (and because he didn't want to hurt him unless he had no other choice). Coyote Stark has the personality for this as well, offering to pretend to fight in the middle of the very-probably-maybe climactic battle, and being the most powerful Espada probably qualifies him for the brilliant bit. Fittingly, the very-probably-maybe climactic battle pits the two against each other.
Rangiku Matsumoto is also this. She is a vice-captain, and when you're a vice-captain, it means you're rather powerful. She prefers drinking and annoying her captain to actual work.
Reconstructed, as much as this trope can be, in Shaman King. Yoh is Brilliant but Lazy, sure. However, he wants to be the Shaman King (who essentially gains the powers of God), explicitly so he can relax and do nothing for the rest of his life. He essentially is willing to work his ass off so that he will eventually never have to do anything again.
Lelouch Lamperouge of Code Geass cultivates a public image of this as an alternative to being a Rich Idiot with No Day Job; however, it's true in regards to "everyday life" (i.e., everything not relating to fighting The Empire), as he could easily score straight A's and move on to a successful corporate career (and maybe even score a few girls on the side) if he weren't so tied up in revenge. He also feels that becoming successful in Brittanian society would be a form of giving in to his father: he wants no part of the world Brittania has to offer.
Rakshata Chawla is another example. She's a brilliant scientist, and the self-proclaimed "Mother" of Kallen's Gurren mecha, but she prefers to spend most of the series lounging about in a sofa and smoking a pipe. Even when the Black Knights are in the middle of a heated battle, she'll just be laying on a sofa on the bridge of the ship, not giving a care about what will happen next.
Hajime Kindaichi of The Kindaichi Case Files is this in the academic sense. Still, it's pointed out to him that the most shining example of his intelligence (solving locked room murders) isn't exactly the kind of thing that'll get him into a good school. He's basically lazy about everything EXCEPT a good murder mystery. When one of those comes along, he's incredibly dedicated.
Appropriately enough, Sloth from Fullmetal Alchemist. He's easily one of the most powerful and the fastest homunculi, he just can't be bothered to do anything unless Father forces him to. Apparently, even living takes too much effort for him, as he realizes in his dying moments.
Fujitaka from Kitchen Princess acts like a bum most of the time, but he used to work at a three star restaurant and occasionally busts out his cooking skills.
Minako Aino from Sailor Moon is a dedicated fighter, but a complete loser when it comes to pretty much everything else. Usagi Tsukino could count for sheer power, but that's not really brilliance.
Usagi isn't brilliant, but could get decent grades if she simply did the work, a better example may be her brother Shingo, who effortlessly gets good grades, is a whiz at most video games, and is a tinkerer par excellence (he once rigged the bathroom scale to break hilariously once Usagi stepped on it) but spends a lot of his free time messing around and picking on his sister.
Konata Izumi from Lucky Star is smart and athletic, but is too occupied by her otaku habits to actually excel in school.
Also Vert if she's not busy spending days on end playing an MMO, she's smart enough to make a plan that gets Nepgear to strip naked.
Tomo from Azumanga Daioh shows signs of intelligence, but clearly doesn't put it to any use, academic or mundane. The only sign of her intelligence is the high marks she gets when she actually does study. Her 100% on the health test (beating out Child Prodigy Chiyo) highlights this best, but another example is her getting into the same school Yomi did.
Agon of Eyeshield 21. Said to be the quarterback that comes only once every 100 years, and he never shows up to practice. He spends every day womanizing, beating up people, ditching those women, and the few times he practices, he doesn't even put on his uniform. And he's still awesome at football.
A rare villainous example of this trope; part of the reason Agon is so odious is because he was born with incredible talent and can dominate almost anyone without putting forth any effort. He is fully aware of this and even laughs about it, mocking those who try hard. In a series that's all about improving oneself through hard work and effort, that puts him in direct philosophical opposition to basically every other character.
Emphasized by Agon's brother, who has had to work hard his entire life to be half as good as Agon is.
Sgt. Major Kururu of Keroro Gunso/Sgt. Frog doesn't do anything unless he explicitly wants to do it, even to the detriment of his team.
Given the sheer amount he's responsible for, he does seem to keep pretty busy. It's just always off-panel (or -camera), and has at best ancillary benefits to anybody else. He's always shown as lazy when his teammates are around.
Miyako of Hidamari Sketch is a non-Book Dumb example. Every time we saw her in classes that are not studio arts, she always dozes off— yet her junior high grades were so great that she had the academic portion of her high school admission exam exempted.
Hirasawa Yui from K-On! mostly obeys this trope. One time she is so busy practicing her guitar that she doesn't study for an exam and fails it which requires her to take a make up exam. Yui's fellow band members (mostly Mio) help her study for the make up exam, and she ends up getting 100% - better than any of them. On the other hand, it seems like to learn one thing she has to forget something else.
Slayers' Luna Inverse is The Chosen One, an all-powerful Cipheed Knight blessed with the power of the Elder God of the Slayers universe and the only person in the entire series who can put the fear of God into her psychotic little sister Lina. She could singlehandedly lay waste to the entire Makozu race and still have time for afternoon tea - if she felt like it. Instead, she's content working as a part-time waitress and forcing Lina to do all the monster-slaying work through sheer force of fear.
Dr. Greg "Bear" Egan from Eureka Seven is something on an example... it's just that his lethargy and intelligence don't really interact very much. His reclusive nature and torpid speed of movement is mainly due to his colossal size and enormous weight problem.
Shiro, the central character in Oishinbo is brilliant but lazy and likes to hang out with the homeless guys.
Pascal of Kaze to Ki no Uta is this. He's a very smart student in his school and he is capable of doing well in classes, but he has failed in classes three years in a row because he prefers to study in more useful/interesting things, like knitting.
Admiral Aokiji from One Piece. Most of the time he's on screen he's either sleeping or relaxing on a chair. He also happens to be one of the Three Admirals, the Marine's most powerful commanders, who, in his first appearance brutally curbstomped half of the Straw Hats with almost zero effort, (He took out Robin and Luffy in a single attack). That's not even getting into the sheer carnage he caused at Marineford...
Gecko Moriah, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, has a very powerful Devil Fruit ability that lets him steal people's shadows and implant them into corpses, creating zombies. However, he's lazy as hell, which makes him much weaker than he should be. In fact, he got so weak he actually lost his position as a Warlord.
Hiramaru from Bakuman。 - self taught manga artist and writer who took one glimpse at recent issue of Shonen Jump, get to know few tricks and produced manga so good it got serialized at first try. However, he decided to make manga because he thought that's an easy job and once he finds out it's not a cakewalk, he does everything he can to avoid working. His editor shows several signs of being Magnificent Bastard with new ways he tricks or forces him to do his job.
Aomine from Kuroko No Basuke is this to the core. He prefers to sleep on the rooftop than go to basketball practice and, often shows up for matches at the halfway mark...if he bothers to show up at all. However, he may deconstruct this - he was originally passionate about basketball, and worked hard at it because he loved it. But as he got better and better, his opponents starting giving up more and more easily. Eventually, he gave up on being serious about basketball, because there was no one who could equal him at it.
Keima, the protagonist of The World God Only Knows, is a genius in more ways than one, and could likely do absolutely anything if he put his mind to it. However, he believes the real world does not meet his standards, so he shuns it in favor of dating sims. The only reason the plot moves forward at all is because of the Explosive Leash that will kill him if he doesn't work at capturing escaped souls.
Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop may not be a genius, but he is a better shogi player than Jet and outwits criminals regularly. He is also rarely seen upright without the promise of food.
In Hyouka, Houtarou considers himself less intelligent than Eru because her test scores are far better than his. However, Eru considers Houtarou to be this trope because of his intuitive grasp of logic and reasoning.
Roger Smith of The Big O is 'bout half an example. When he has a job, he'll go at it with the tenacity of a badger, and won't rest 'till it's done. If he DOESN'T have a mission scheduled, however, he's quite content to stay in bed all day - most of the time, it seems that the only reason he gets up at ALL is due to R. Dorothy Waynewright's nerve-wracking piano-playing. In an early episode, he goes through a major mission (including obligatory Humongous Mecha battle) just to get her some piano-lessons so she'll at least wake him up gently. (It works, but even afterwards she still resorts to her old, rapid-fire 'Alarm Clock' playing whenever Roger stays in bed 'till late afternoon.)
Akitsune of Kataribe No List can appraise any antique on sight, quickly comes up with ways to use or counter the Grimm artifacts, and barely keeps up in school despite constantly showing up late or sleeping through class. But he'd rather just skip school entirely.
Fairy Tail: Lucy notes this trope early on in the manga, stating that if she trained her Celestial spirits(which are already fairly powerful), they could potentially be more powerful than Natsu. However, her initial cowardly nature keeps forces her to take a more Weak, but Skilled approach to fighting.
Toshino Kyouko of Yuru-Yuri prefers to spend her days lazing about, snacking, playing video games, and usually irritating either Yui or Chinatsu. But, she's also able to ace her tests with one night of cram studying. Something she does on a regular basis. She's also a talented artist, able to produce Doujinshi and even an animated version of one of her Doujinshi almost single-handedly.
Jughead Jones is frequently portrayed in this way in Archie Comics.
Wally from Dilbert may not actually be brilliant, but he's at least a case of Competent But Lazy. He could achieve a lot more if his immediate superior was someone other than the one and only Pointy-Haired Boss.
The original Wally, in his very first appearance, is brilliant, but trying to get fired to get a company severance package. Scott Adams has said this scenario was exactly based on Real Life.
In one storyline he made so much money betting against the company in the stock market that he was a billionaire. He kept working there because he didn't know how to make coffee.
Wally worked on the company's accounting software in the 80's. 'It's a million lines of undocumented spaghetti logic'. He'll be receiving paychecks long after he's dead.
More than one time he has shown that his true ambition in life is to be useless, not lazy; in fact, he tends to put more effort into creative new ways of avoiding anything resembling a task than any amount that could possibly demanded by said task. He once joined golf to learn new ways of being useless.
Also in Dilbert, Word of God says the smartest person in the strip is Dilbert's garbageman. Why would the smartest person in the world be a garbageman? The author doesn't know, since he isn't the smartest person in the world.
Garfield is incredibly lazy but quite intelligent: he is able to outwit criminals, is a skilled detective, and can build advanced technology out of simple household objects.
Major Bummer centers around Lou Martin, a slacker accidentally given super strength and intelligence by aliens who confused him with a Martin Louis. Lou uses his incredible gifts to lounge around the house, avoid the other superheroes in the area who aren't cute girls, watch cheesy movies, and modify his satellite so he can pick up all the channels he wants.
In The Beano, Roger the Dodger's gimmick is that he's often coming up with schemes to get out of doing work. Ironically, these schemes take much more effort than the work he's trying to get out of doing.
Dr. Peter Venkman of the Ghostbusters has doctorates in Psychology AND Parapsychology. You'd be hard-pressed to tell, given that Ray and Egon always do all the brainwork. But the IDW comics have shown that when the chips are down, Venkman does have considerable skills in the areas. In "Displaced Aggression" he's able to cobble together workable means to capture and contain ghosts by using the remains of his gear and available technology in the Old West.note Of course Ray shows him up pretty good when the next issue reveals that he did the same...but with only the "technology" available during the days of King Arthur! And in the IDW ongoing series, he defeats a ghost that has possessed him by using psychology to figure out its weakness.
Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wields the nunchaku, an extremely difficult weapon to master, while his brother can't. Despite his natural talent, he would rather sit down and play video games.
In Minimonsters, Lupo is this, but it's subverted because he's narcoleptic and he can't help if he falls asleep all the time.
Kyon was this trope in Kyon: Big Damn Hero. Then his mother issued an ultimatum to get him to pull up his grades. Soon, readers see him topping the class, and he becomes nearly as good as Haruhi, resident Ace, in school.
Ebony Dark'nessDementiaRaven Way of My Immortal. Supposedly the only one who can defeat Voldemort (and easily out-matches him in Chapter 9), but would rather shop at Hot Topic and have sex with anything that moves instead.
Jormungandr in The Great Slave King is extremely crafty and intelligent, but is quite laid back and relaxed, to the point of falling asleep during moots and being more concerned over the lack of catering than one of his fellow deities lying dead on the floor.
Film - Animated
In Disney's Treasure Planet, Jim Hawkins is this according to his mom as he overhears her talking.
"And you know how smart he is. He built his first solar surfer when he was eight! And yet he's failing in school..."
Film - Live-Action
Peter Parker is accused of being this by Dr. Curt Connors and Dr. Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2, before Octavius learns why Pete is too busy to do much in the field of science, of course by then... he has other problems to attend to. The irony of the trope namer being one of the people least likely to ever end up on this page is delicious. Even Otto echo's this irony when he repeats his earlier line at the end to an unmasked Peter.
Max Fischer from Rushmore is a variation - he's failing at school because he devotes all of his brains to extra-curricular activities and mad schemes (like getting Latin cut from the curriculum in favour of Japanese... and then saving Latin again. Huh.)
Chris Knight from the film Real Genius. He's not even that lazy, a lot of his schemes require a massive amount of planning and work to pull off; he even mentions that the sheer amount of work he's already done not only on the laser but other projects at the school would earn him a degree and then some. It's more of a case of Brilliant but Rebellious.
The Dude of The Big Lebowski actually would be a fairly capable detective if he put his mind to it. He just happens to prefer lying around, drinking White Russians, listening to music and smoking.
In the 2009 Star Trek movie, James T. Kirk is far too busy getting into bar fights and being an overall jerk to heed Captain Pike's Call to Adventure. But, when Pike uses Kirk's daddy in an attempted Dare to Be Badass, Kirk seems to change his mind.
Or, to use Pike's own words, Kirk is "the only genius-level repeat offender in the Mid-West."
David Lightman, the protagonist from WarGames. Despite mediocre grades at high school, he knows more than a thing or two about computers and hacking.
Avatar in Ralph Bakshi's Wizards is a wise and powerful wizard but prefers to spend his time sleeping and ogling the beautiful Elinore. In fact, when he confronts his Evil Twin Black Wolf, he claims that, unlike his brother, he hasn't practiced a lot of magic in years. Which is true, as he barely uses any magic, beyond simple tricks, throughout the movie.
Subverted in Amadeus. It seems at first that Mozart spends most of his time partying, chasing women, and getting drunk. But when it came time to compose a song, he could do it brilliantly out of thin air. However, after his jealous rival, Salieri, sent a maid to spy on him, it's revealed that Mozart spent countless hours at home constantly working on new compositions and was over stressing himself. The stress would lead to his poor health and him dying young.
Mycroft Holmes. Sherlock Holmes acknowledges that his older brother is more brilliant than he; his problem is that he's the single laziest man in England. His world consists of his lodgings, his job at the Foreign Office, and his club (the Diogenes Club, the club for unclubbable men, which happens to be across the street from his lodgings). Sherlock explains that Mycroft refuses to do anything practical, instead preferring to act as a giant computer to crunch all the information he receives. On the other hand, Mycroft's work determines national policy, and Sherlock states that in some ways Mycroft is the British government. Sherlock, on the other hand, only uses his towering genius to solve private mysteries that interest him. He skips cases that bore him and sometimes prefers to just stay at home.
Nero Wolfe, a portly gourmand and brilliant detective, he solves cases from his home, between enjoying gourmet dishes prepared by his personal chef and breeding rare orchids in his private hothouse. He's quite capable of turning down all cases for months at a time if the bank account is healthy. He hates going outside. He sends his handsome assistant Archie Goodwin out to do all his legwork. One of Archie's many responsibilities is to goad Nero into working when needed. (Some people conjecture that he's the grandson of either Sherlock Holmes or Mycroft Holmes.)
The Marquis of London in the Lord Darcy novel Too Many Magicians, by Randall Garrett. Given that he's a straight-up homage to Nero Wolfe (his secretary's name is "Bontriomphe"), it's only logical.
In the FantasyNoir series Garrett, P.I. features the Dead Man, who is usually capable of solving whatever problem or mystery Garrett brings him but usually has to be bribed or forced into it because he's incredibly lazy. (Think Nero Wolfe's telepathic corpse.) He kind of has an excuse—what with being, y'know, dead—but Garrett learns during the series that the Dead Man was about as energetic when he was alive.
In The Black Company power or magic ability is determined by how hard you work at it. A very few individuals are born with an innate magical ability, with varying degrees of talent, but anyone can do anything as long as they put in the time and effort. The Company's wizards are all mediocre in ability, as they prefer getting blasted and beating on each other. Their potential is shown whenever they work hard at something, like with One-Eye's spear which can kill a god.
Hamish Macbeth would prefer walk his dog, go fishing, court his love interest or just sit around drinking coffee than do any actual policing. It's only when a murder takes place that he has to get himself in gear and solve the crime. It's also been noted that while Hamish is smart enough to be a great investigator, he doesn't actively seek promotion and is perfectly happy to stay in his small police station in Lochdubh.
The protagonist of Peter Pays Tribute has perfected the art of the low B average, getting just good enough grades so that his Dad leaves him alone.
The Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail, from Heinlein'sTime Enough for Love, is a warped example. He went to Annapolis because it was easier than farming, and memorized mathematical tables because it was the easiest way of handling the hazing from the upperclassmen - and that's just for starters. This character was largely based on Delos Wait, a fellow classman of Heinlein's at the Naval Academy.
"Progress doesn't come from early risers — progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things."
Ryan Oberoi, one of the three titular characters in Chetan Bhagat's book Five Point Someone, could fall under this trope. However, when he finds something he is really interested in, he is capable of working really hard at it.
In the Agatha Christie book The Big Four, Poirot mentions his brilliant but lazy brother Achille, who is essentially a parody of Mycroft Holmes.
That's how James Potter and Sirius Black of Harry Potter were described by Minerva McGonagall and others when they were students.
Also Fred and George Weasley. They were both brilliant wizards, creating all manner of magical tricks and novelties, but failed at many exams because they didn't care about them. They don't mind though, openly acknowledging that "our talents lie outside the realm of academic achievement." Days later they drop out in spectacular fashion and go on to run the most successful shop in Diagon Alley.
Fred Cassidy in Roger Zelazny's Doorways in the Sand. His uncle's will provides him a healthy amount of money as long as he's in school. Fred has consequently been an undergraduate for thirteen years.
Victor Tugelbend in the Discworld novel Moving Pictures. He's described in the text as the laziest person on the Disc — but his laziness takes a rather odd form. ("He put more effort into avoiding work than most people put into hard labour"). In order to avoid ever having to do any work, he chooses to remain a student wizard (which, in the days at Unseen University when Klingon Promotion was still popular, is also safer than becoming a full wizard). That means never passing his final exams (passmark 88%) and also never scoring below 80% on an exam (so he still qualifies for the generous inheritance he's received from his uncle). He therefore applies his intelligence to consistently scoring 84%, every single time. At one point, his teachers catch on and attempt to give him a one question test: "What is your name?" He also takes the view that the physical tasks of life are much harder if you're physically limited, so he works out quite a bit. He ends up becoming the Victor Mature of the Discworld.
Ivan Vorpatril in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. In Ivan's case it is a case of self preservation. He may be third in line for the Barrayaran imperium, and as such has been the target of multiple plots. He really doesn't want anyone thinking that he is future emperor material. On the other hand, his uncle Aral (Count Vorkosigan) points out that this would have made him a very cunning five year old indeed.
The titular Boy of the Three Year Nap, disguises himself as a god/demon and convinces his wealthy neighbor that if his daughter doesn't marry Nap Boy she'll fall into a coma. It turns out Nap Boy's mom is smarter - she turns his trick on him and tells him that if he doesn't work hard he'll die.
Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit – Will Travel: Kip's dad. Though it's not so much "lazy" as it is "fed up with having to work and get ulcers and fill out taxes". He keeps his money in a basket and just sends a wad of it to the IRS each year.
Brilliant doesn't seem to begin to cover it. Kip's dad is frequently pestered by Government officials begging him to come work for them. He refuses, plainly explains that he currently lives within his means, no longer has ulcers, and offers the man more coffee. He rubs elbows with one of, if not THE most important scientific mind on the planet, according to alien invaders. And he drills a work ethic into his less-than-motivated teenaged son by... Plainly asking him what his plans are for life, and pointing out that the table for cube-roots in the back of a math text didn't descend from on high via an angel courier.
Older Than Print: The classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms uses this trope to describe Pang Tong initially. He was first assigned to help govern a city, but did very little else than get drunk and laze about. When admonished for not doing his job, Pang Tong (still drunk) issued several edicts in a span of mere minutes and every problem in the city was taken care of. Subverted in that Pang Tong acted like this intentionally, offended that someone of his talent and brilliance was reduced to such a lowly position, to prove his worth.
Mogget of the Old Kingdom series ends up this way due to being bound with a miniature Ranna. (A bell with soporific effects on the spirit.) He spends as much time as possible asleep in Sameth's pack, only rousing to eat an offered (or not so offered) fish. That said, he's one of the cleverest of the four. Probably for good reason.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley. Despite consistently failing assignments and tests in school, he has shown considerable intelligence in economics, relationships, and computer sciences. It is simply because of his adverse social skills that he is seen the way he is academically.
Jessica Wakefield of Sweet Valley High. In one of the earlier books, it's stated that she gets good grades in most of her classes, despite her primary concern being boys, parties and shopping. Later books indicate that she's a poor student, but it seems to be everyone's opinion that she'd be an excellent on if she simply applied herself, which in fact does happen several times in the series. Additionally, she is shown to have a natural aptitude and skill for certain things. And in the best example of this, she aces the SATs, considerably outscoring Elizabeth, despite barely studying. Unfortunately, rather than congratulating her, everyone thinks she cheated.
Ser Jaime Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire. He finds ruling and scheming extremely boring and generally prefers to solve his problems with violence. When that is not an option, however, he can be quite clever.
Marco from Animorphs is frequently noted as having below-average grades and not really trying in school, which becomes hilarious when the books gradually reveal him to be by far the most cunning and clever member of the team.
Elliot in The Magicians isn't hugely lazy, but being one of the few students for whom magic comes easily, he passes over his chance to be tops in the class.
Corina the Lazy Enchantress. The title says it all.
Matt from The Wheelof Time magically ends up being a brilliant strategist, but spends most of the books trying to avoid being an actual military leader, instead spending his time flirting and gambling. It doesn't really work out for him most of the time, though, since he is drawn into battle and troublesome situations all the time, forcing him to follow his destiny even though he would prefer to stay as far away from any danger as possibly.
Live Action TV
Jesse from Breaking Bad for much of the series, due to his drug habits and later depression. When he does cook meth, he is as good at it as Walt, but does not have the business sense to run a business by himself.
Shawn from Psych is a gifted observer, and he earned a perfect score on the detective's exam at age 15 for fun. He beat his dad at chess when he was eight, solved Sudoku upside down, and possesses an eidetic memory. Also shown to be a crack shot, as he hit all of detective Barry's bullet holes in the shooting range with zero training. He can't join the police force due to a car theft as a teen, and honestly wouldn't bother if he could. Instead, he took up a random string of jobs purely for their entertainment value. He opened his own "psychic" detective agency and is on contract with the Santa Barbara police department after solving a series of crimes from television reports. He's a Phony Psychic because after solving all those crimes with his own criminal background he needed an explanation to avoid being convicted as an accomplice. Phony Psychic also happens to pay well, and allow him to be a lazy detective. He is still something of a slacker, but when motivated, will work hard.
At least some of Shawn's laziness is explained as being a reaction against his father's absurdly overbearing attempts to groom him to Follow in My Footsteps and become a police officer upon recognising his abilities; it's often implied that had his father just backed off a bit and let Shawn develop at his own pace more, Shawn would have likely been more willing to do so, or at least make more of his abilities than he did before the series.
Season eight of Scrubs has the intern Ed, who acts as a Deconstruction of this trope by pointing out that if you try to start out being Brilliant but Lazy, you're on the fast track to becoming a Crutch Character. When he becomes lazy to the point of not even trying to better himself, he gets fired and replaced.
House, House, House. It's a given that he will become involved eventually, but the other characters often have to talk him into it while he's busy playing video games or watching his soap operas (ordownloadinginternetporn). Especially applies to his clinic duty, since that doesn't usually have the promise of intellectual stimulation. Since he is a Sherlock HolmesExpy, this isn't entirely surprising.
Eric from Boy Meets World is said to be this several times by Mr. Feeny. It's true that as time goes on he becomes a Cloudcuckoolander with shades of Fun Personified but he also maintains (mostly) good marks in college despite a late start, has Rain Man level counting skills, is amazingly adept at reading people and is an excellent judge of character.
Lois shows elements of this on Smallville — she skipped out on classes in High School and then dropped out of college but is shown to be extremely capable when motivated as a political campaign manager, a Senator's chief of staff and a journalist.
In Doctor Who, the Doctor exhibits this in most of his plans with the end result quite simple and easy. At least mentally. Physically he runs everywhere.
And in "The Waters Of Mars" he wasn't even particularly keen on having to do that, asking why they couldn't have had bikes.
Heck, pretty much every adventure he gets involved in results largely because he's happy enough to just bumble aimlessly through the universe and see where he ends up; he just happens to keep ending up right in the middle of trouble.
Likewise a good number of his companions, e.g. Rose and Donna from the new series, have menial jobs and normal lives and never seem anything out of the ordinary. However, when they travel with the Doctor, they're forced to become braver, bold, quick thinking and rely on their atrophied but innate intelligence.
Ditto for Amy, whose kissogram background hardly prepared her for, well, anything. Her boyfriend/husband Rory, though, is a nurse, who does occasionally have to make use of his medical knowledge.
In the episode where the Doctor meets Vincent Van Gogh, he's forced by circumstance to sit around for hours waiting for a monster to arrive while the Van Gogh is painting a church. The Doctor is bored to tears, commenting on how crushingly dull time is when he's forced to experience it the way everyone else does.
The Doctor: Is this how time normally passes? Reallyyyy slowwwlllyyyy. In the right order. There's one thing I can't stand; it's an unpunctual alien attack!
Detective Steve Billings from The Shield; brilliant police officer who at some point in his career, stopped giving a damn and went on auto-pilot while counting down to retirement. Loathed because of his laziness, his brilliance has saved him from being fired.
Jim Halpert from the US version of The Office is lazy and unmotivated. But when his job is on the line or when he wants to buckle down and work, he's among the most competent workers there.
Pam: The thing about Jim, is when he's excited about something, like the Office Olympics, he gets really into it and he does a really great job. But the problem with Jim is that he works here, so that hardly ever happens.
Oz in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the highest-scoring person on the SATs ever to fail to graduate, because he had a bunch of incompletes and didn't go to summer school to make up for them. He'd much rather work on perfecting playing the E-flat, diminished ninth chord on his guitar.
That's a man's chord. You could lose a finger.
Adrian Monk's brother Ambrose isn't so much this as Brilliant But Hopelessly Socially Crippled.
Ned from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide is labeled as a "smart but lazy student" by some of the school staff. He's clever enough to come up with Zany Schemes and write a School Survival Guide with very useful tips, and he could make straight A's if he would only try, but he never cares enough to do so.
Although it's also implied part of his reason was to spend more time with his mom, who was HIV-positive from getting stuck with an addict's needle, and in bad straits at the time for heath coverage to keep her alive.
Colonel Sheppard, when he isn't being a Colonel Badass, is this. When Ronon accuses him of being a coward during a fight, Sheppard retorts that no, he's just lazy.
Sheppard is also a genius, having aced the Mensa test but not feeling like actually joining the organization. In an Alternate Universe, he is shown to be just as smart as McKay. He just prefers to seem like a simpleton (a bit like Jack O'Neill, actually).
Even more so in the Alternate Universe episode "Vegas", where he doesn't join the Stargate program and ends up as a police detective in Las Vegas with drinking and gambling problems. And yet he is the only one who figures out where the Wraith is.
Sam on iCarly. Extremely lazy. But she shows occasional signs signs of brilliance, like innate ability to discern the amount of a certain food product in a giant jar, and her ability to Houdini an A when she didn't bother doing a science report using just an orange from her bag.
Daisy: You could have gone far if it wasn't for your handicap.
Onslow: What handicap?
Dave Lister from Red Dwarf certainly qualifies. Despite being the biggest slob in the galaxy, he is able to rebuild Kryten (twice), form a cunning scheme to defeat a time-travelling simulant that is capable of erasing people from history, display a knack for Esperanto (Well, better than Rimmer anyway) and form philosophical opinions on a variety of themes. That Lister has brains but has never used them is the primary reason he was sentenced to being erased from existence by The Inquisitor (the above time-travelling simulant). Lister's response to claims he had wasted his talents? "So?"
Jonathan Creek can appear this way initially; with his keen intelligence and lateral thinking skills, he could easily have been a great magician or a great detective if he so desired, but prefers the more anonymous life of a director and set designer for a stage illusionist who rather reluctantly dabbles in detective work. As the series explored his character, it turned out to be not so much that Jonathan is lazy -being the Only Sane Employee of the Adam Klaus magic show is extremely hard work- as that he's uncomfortable with the limelight and easily bored.
Kimoto Mami in Boss. She prefers to take a taxi to a walk of a few seconds. Also constantly armed with a pillow.
Jess on Gilmore Girls. He's actually quite intelligent with a passion for literature and very handy, having practically raised himself due to his mother being delinquent in the parenting department. He maintains a Jerkass Façade while in Stars Hollow as no one aside from Rory had real expectations for him, so he skips school to work instead before failing due to low attendance and leaving town to sort his issues out. He eventually resurfaces in Rory's life as a Self-Made Man who operates an independent publishing house/art gallery and is heavily involved in the Philadelphia arts scene.
This was before they changed it and the highest score you could get was 1600.
LazyTown's Robbie Rotten is the epitome of this trope. He prides himself in being lazy, and even schemes to make the rest of the town's citizens as lazy as he is, yet he is easily the most brilliant person in the entire town and is able to create anything out of anything. He even has a microwave which make inventions for him.
Jeff: Well, the funny thing about being smart is that you can get through most of life without ever having to do any work.
It's gradually played with over the course of the series, in that while Jeff's quite smart and definitely very lazy, whenever he tries to coast on his wits something inevitably goes wrong and causes him more trouble than if he'd just put an honest effort in.
Surprisingly, Sherlock completely averts it in Mycroft's case, to the point where it's something of a role-reversal: Mycroft is a high-ranking officer in the security services while Sherlock often requires a certain amount of prodding to apply his vast intellect to anything practical.
Though a token nod to Mycroft's canonical dislike for actual physical labour is made in The Great Game, where he explains that his reason for not investigating a case himself - instead delegating it to a reluctant Sherlock - is its requiring "legwork."
Hardison on Leverage seems to be this in parts of season 1 and it is a major plot point in the Mile High Job.
Nate: You can't skate by on talent and luck forever.
On The Big Bang Theory, Leonard gets accused of this by his mother and Sheldon, both of whom think his work in validating theories and other's experiments is a waste of time and of his potential. That said, he's been published multiple times and he points out that science isn't just going to take Sheldon's "word for it" when he comes up with a theory, he's going to need someone like Leonard to test it. It doesn't help that both Mrs. Hofstader and Sheldon are insufferable geniuses.
In Power Rangers Samurai, Mike the Green Ranger is possibly the smartest out of the original five before Antonio came along. He is a master tactician who can make strategic battle plans effortlessly. However, he is incredibly lazy and would rather be playing video games and loves to rebel against authority.
In Power Rangers Mystic Force Xander is shown to be this. He's a natural leader and quite logical but his lazy attitude and dislike of being told what to do, often hold him back. But when the situation requires it and he tries his hardest, his plans often work very well in his favor.
This is how Franciscod'Anconialikes to come across. Various characters ask him why with his brilliant mind he just wastes his time crashing parties and seducing women but it's all actually a facade.
Alex Russo from Wizards of Waverly Place is probably just as smart her brother Justin but chooses not to use her intellect except for elaborate pranks. Several times she has been referred to as an evil genius (though evil is used 'very' loosely)
Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle. It took until the sixth grade for anyone to even notice that he was a genius, which came as a huge shock to everyone, and in the first season, he hated being in an advanced class because he had to do twice as much homework as the regular kids when he'd rather be scheming with his brothers, playing games, or watching TV, as his portrayal was very much not a TV Genius. In later seasons, he gradually became more serious about his studies because he became afraid of ending up a failure like his parents, but he remained lazy in other respects and a good chunk of his intelligence was still spent on stuff like teaching himself advanced child psychology so that he could fake mental disorders convincingly enough to be sent to therapy, and therefore get out of class periodically.
Tarras Douberg from Witch Hunter is shown to be very powerful and capable as an A-ranked WH, but he isn't seen as such for a period of time, and is regarded an extra from his lack of participation in a fight. At one point in time, he claims he shouldn't waste his energy fighting the underlings. He also later takes a period of time to join into a fight when he is troubled by his own personal, and considered somewhat pathetic, problems.
Phonsekal Laure from Tower of God, a genius Wave Controller who has a strong habit of sleeping everywhere. Especially on the battle field.
In West African mythology, this is one of Anansi The Spider's major character traits. Most of the times where he had the tables turned on him were due to the fact that he is so intent on avoiding work that he often screws himself over.
This is one interpretation of Askeladd from Norwegian folktales. In nearly every story he's said to occupy himself with poking the ashes in the fire, a job reserved for weak (or sometimes just plain lazy) members of the household. But he saves the day by B Sing his way through everything.
Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. He brings home Cs and Ds, when the viewers (as well as Calvin's parents) know he's capable of much more, given how much effort he puts into his plans to throw Snowballs at Susie, has a lot of creativity that he spends building Snowmen, and knows just about everything about Dinosaurs. He thinks of things much beyond the simple first grade material, but he'd much rather hang out all day exploring the woods behind his house. In one strip, he gets a good grade on a test, but he feels that it's just not worth the effort. Lampshaded in another strips, where his teacher says: " Calvin, if you'd put half the energy of your protests into your schoolwork..."
Jeremy in Zits can be this way. He gets a 3.7 GPA at high school (and is in AP classes) yet can't be assed to try harder. Of course, he's also incapable of doing household chores but what teenagers aren't?
This varies depending on the storyline. In a few he has a GPA above a 4.0 and works feverishly at his schoolwork, but his class is so full of highly-caffeinated (and occasionally flat-out cheating) overachievers that this barely puts him in the top half of the class.
Caulfield in Frazz can run circles around his teachers, but he avoid serious work whenever possible.
TNA calls Kevin Nash "the smartest man in pro wrestling." However, he's also the least motivated man in pro wrestling; he simply can't be bothered to do much of anything unless it involves a big, fat paycheck.
Dungeons & Dragons: the titular dragons are highly intelligent, with terrific Hit Dice and top-notch spell casters. One must guess the only reason they haven't taken over the world is because they just prefer to pile up a nice hoard and take a nap on it.
They're not even the worst examples. The serpentine Yuan Ti, for example are as smart as dragons, have their own array of cool tricks, and unlike dragons are actually fairly well organized and not prone to excessive Chronic Backstabbing Disorder when compared to other Chaotic Evil creatures, which enables them to work together on long term projects, but they almost never actually seem to do so.
In the Planescape setting, there's Factol Karan, the leader of the Xaositects - sometimes. As the leader of a group that embraces Chaos, he doesn't always use his skills to their fullest pontential, even though his is a powerful warrior. As The Factol's Manifesto puts it, "Karan is a great leader, he just doesn't lead his men to great things."
Exalted's Eye and Seven Despairs is a villainous example. He is implied to be the most brilliant and devious of the Deathlords, who are already the most devious Big Bads in the setting. His base, Cold House, is simultaneously part of the Labyrinth at the depths of the Underworld, while existing in Creation — a feat that nobody else can even understand, let alone emulate. He uses this brilliance and the world-conquering power invested in him by long-dead Primordial super-deities... to torment three specific people for offenses they committed in their past lives, which they don't even remember or know about. He has accomplished exactly nothing else—well, he did also invent an infectious and terrible zombie plague, but more or less forgot about it once a chance at overly-convoluted revenge against people who have no idea what's going on presented itself—and only halfheartedly stirs himself when his Neverborn masters force him to. As a result, he's viewed as lower in respect amongst the Deathlords than the one that was almost fed to Oblivion for her screw-ups.
His fellow Deathlord, the Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears, is also a good example: she's conceived of a Batman Gambit to conquer Lookshy, one of the great military powers of the setting, with hardly a shot fired. She's even gone so far as to construct the Trojan Horse for the plot and arrange for them to capture it. But she hasn't actually gotten around to triggering the booby trap inside it and sending in her legions to mop up...because she finds war terribly boring.
Ella: He's not a playboy! He's a very talented playwright. Gwynne: Yeah—but all he does is play. He never writes.
The Pokémon Slaking, whose stats are on par with legendaries. What's stopping it from being amazing is its Truant ability, where it loafs around doing nothing every other turn. An opponent with Protect can easily make him useless, but he has his niche in double/triple battles.
Similarly, the legendary Pokémon Regigigas has the ability Slow Start, which cuts its Attack and Speed in half for five turns after you send it out.
Maya also shows herself to be a gifted medium, frequently able to channel her sister in seconds whereas normally a ritual is needed. She's also easily able to channel Dahlia Hawthorne, a person she's never seen before which is a big prerequisite for chanelling someone that even Pearl needs while scared out of her wits, cold, tired and very hungry. However, she tends to shirk her training for various reasons and solve murders with Phoenix instead.
From the same series, there's also Reimu, who is absurdly powerful for a human but never bothers with training (to the point she spent 11 games and several other spinoff works before learning how to use the powers of the gods of her shrine), and so intuitive she can just fly around in a random direction and be confident she'll stumble on the final boss of the game at some point. It's a testament to Yukari's laziness and magnificent bastardry that she has managed to rope Reimu into solving various incidents for her.
Shinigami Komachi Onozuka fits in this category as well: she's a slacker that barely hangs on to her job. But if you do something to screw with the cycle of death and rebirth, you can expect an ass-kicking. The problem is that that's not actually her job...
Sho Minamimoto from The World Ends with You, a math genius who wastes all of his time piling junk. And then there's Koki Kariya, the bean paste-loving Harrier Reaper, who deliberately turned down several promotions to officer because he hates simply being "one of the suits" sitting in the office all day.
The demons hanging around Laharl's castle in Disgaea are all ridiculously powerful, and none of them ever bother to help Laharl except for the odd Hopeless Boss Fight.
Etna is both powerful and wise enough to be the Overlord, but as the Etna Mode (where she ultimately decides it is not worth it) and the Prinny games (where she leaves the position open even though Laharl is a Prinny) have exemplified, she is too irresponsible and lacks the drive to do it.
Suikoden V has Shigure, one of the members of the Oboro Detective Agency. Oboro insists that he's a talented investigator, and combat-wise he's a Lightning Bruiser who can easily slice up enemies... but he'd much rather lay around, and complains "What a pain..." whenever he's roped into working.
Juan from Suikoden IIIis in a similar boat. Physically he's the best attacker in the game and a talented combat trainer. However, he's very lazy and even starts battles asleep.
Rennac in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, at least according to his in-game description. His supports reveal that he's an extremely cunning thief and entertainer, but also horribly apathetic due to his raising.
Forde, too. He's one of the most trusted knights of Renais... but he'd rather be a painter, and he likes to take napsin the battlefield. To the point that he specially outfitted his horse saddle so he can nap while riding without falling off.
Both original Fallout games had the Gifted trait, which essentially amounted to this trope. Gifted characters had the best SPECIAL stats in the game, and due to the importance of the stat, usually a very high intelligence value as well. The trade off was the ease of which everything came to the character turning him into a slacker—namely, less skill points per level (though from a game play standpoint, it was universally considered the best trait).
Diego Renault of Vandal Hearts is the heir to a business empire that he's implied to run very well in his ending but instead he plays archer for Ash's tiny squad in the capital's police. Similarly, Grog is a brilliant sailor and fighter, but he spends his time drowning his sorrows instead.
In Vandal Hearts II, main character Joshua is an intelligent and competent fighter and leader, able to stand toe to toe with the fiercest of knights and shows an intelligent mind from time to time. He'd rather live a life of freedom and not get involved in politics though.
The vice principal in Canvas 2 grudgingly admits that Hiroki is an excellent teacher when he bothers to actually do his job.
The Thief series' protagonist, Garrett. Can break into any building undetected, steal any item, kidnap any person. Has saved the world three times. Very justifiably known in-setting as the greatest thief who ever lived. Left to his own devices, however? All he really wants to do is steal enough to pay the rent and keep the City Watch off his back.
The Dnyarri of Star Control 2. The only reason they didn't conquer the galaxy sooner with their awesome powers of Mind Control was because they were too lazy to design their own starships. Fortunately for them, the Ur-quan visited their world...
Jet Bradley shows many signs of the Trope, much to his father's annoyance. Getting arrested for hacking into the school's server (because he was "bored"), getting an "A" in computer science while getting three incompletes in his other college classes, getting sent to the principal's office in high school for making sarcastic comments in class. When he does clean up his act, he turns down a promotion in order to continue making video games.
In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, it's implied that Link has a habit of spacing out in (or downright skipping) lessons in the Knight Academy, only to breeze through them anyways.
The Lorulean Blacksmith of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. When you first meet him, he is a Henpecked Husband who hardly does anything for the benefit of his business, a far cry from his diligent Alternate Self in Hyrule. When you show him the Master Sword after the Hyrulean Blacksmith has upgraded it, however, he suddenly gets the inspiration to upgrade it even further into the most powerful sword in the game.
Every so often, gamers actually fit this trope themselves. This is especially prevalent in multiplayer games, wherein a player may know the game, and in some cases even more than their team/clan leader... but they just don't want to be the ones in charge. They may know the fights, they know what everyone is supposed to do, but hate being the one telling others what to do and would rather let the others take control.
Kotomi Ichinose from CLANNAD never shows up for class, but still remains at the top of the country's national rankings. Though arguably, she isn't lazy, because she skips to do research on topics far far above what any normal university would ever teach and that nobody has ever really understood except her parents.
In the visual novel Crescendo, Ryo (the main character) certainly qualifies. He's calculated the exact number of days he needs to attend school and tests he needs to pass in order to graduate, and passes the entrance exams for a prestigious university simply because it's in walking distance of his house.
Gilgamesh from Fate/stay night is a villainous example of this Played for Drama. He is so retardedly powerful that every other character in the game combined wouldn´t stand a chance against him but his massive ego makes it so that he never actually gets serious, which comes back to bite him.
Idril from "Destiny Fails Us" will go out of her way to print off a fake report card, instead of do the actual homework. Just because she wants to play some video games.
Riff from Sluggy Freelance. Partially it's the tendency to invent totally insane devices that carry a higher probability of demonic possession than you would like but that boy would be a lot further in life if he just put more effort into coming up with more of his awesome inventions.
Several times it's mentioned that he tried to patent a device but got rejected because his device's power adapter got loose and ate the patent agent, or something similar. Many Sluggy plots have revolved around someone else taking one of his discarded ideas and working out the bugs that he couldn't.
Kevyn Andreyasn of Schlock Mercenary, the team's resident Mad Scientist. His bio mentions that he entered university to study theoretical physics and left without a single course finished because he'd inevitably do all the coursework and read all the literature in the first month, grow bored, and drop out. He is stated to be one of the smartest humans in the galaxy, which makes his chosen career as a mercenary all the more puzzling to his would-have-been academic peers. The answer is simple: he thinks it's fun.
Elf is another example, although a level lower (she did the same thing in high school). After spending a lot more time with Kevyn, she starts to show that she's really extremely bright.
This is stated outright to be the reason behind Jim's behavior in Darths & Droids: Roleplaying is his downtime. When he games, he likes to turn his brain off.
TaffeTorbern in Pacificators. According to Word of God, she is actually somewhat of a genius, but she has no motivation because she never wanted to be a Pacificator, and tends to fall asleep when bored.
Dexter Grif of Red vs. Blue may just be this according to Church, being the only member of the Red Team that the Only Sane Man is willing to take seriously as well as usually forced to play Commander Contrarian to Sarge, who's plan focuses entirely on ways to get Grif killed. In one of the Multiple Endings where the characters are forced into combat against each other, Grif actually does pretty well, taking out a tank and killing Tucker.
Lopez easily notices the flaws in everything the soldiers do but doing nothing to help them. Considering what they put Lopez through it might be more passive aggression rather than outright laziness.
Tucker might be this as well. He develops into a more than competent combatant throughout the series, and it's implied that the only reason he's not running the Blue Team is because he simply prefers not to, and just lets Church handle it.
Chet in The Escapist's new series "Game Dogs". According to his employee dossier, he's known for two things: his lacking work ethic and the attendant reprimands for tardiness and missed deadlines, and the unparalleled brilliance of his work and problem solving when he does produce something. As only the pilot has actually been aired, it remains to be seen whether or not this will turn out to be an Informed Ability.
Ryney from The Mystery Sphere is possibly one of those. It depends on whether his apparent apathy and laziness is true or whether he is faking it.
Hinted by Genius DitzNostalgia Critic. He knows how to take over the world but doesn't want to tell, and he can learn languages really fast when he's obsessing over something meaningless.
Plenty of the high schoolers at Superhero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. Askey can't be bothered to go to classes, as all he wants to do is play video games or make video games. Thrasher is the son of a supervillain, and uses his superpowers to... thrash on a skateboard. Fantastico has Exemplar skills and a perfect memory, but couldn't be bothered to write a paper for English class (he has money too, so he paid one of his minions to write it). The mutants who are brilliant and not lazy are flat out scary.
It turns out the title character of Generator Rex is a lot smarter than he looks, and is actually quite the Math Prodigy.
Justified Trope due to his use of geometry in using the cannon, as explained in show. Not to mention both his parents AND his older brother were/are genius scientists, so it's only logical that he has some brains.
There were actually indications early on that Rex had some knowledge of electrical engineering and that he had to design his weapons himself. Also, using Nanite mass, he possibly unconsciously built a Humongous Mecha.
Xiaolin Showdown has several, with the main characters initially being like this, but quickly becoming heroes after the first episode. After that, the ancient hero Chi Master Dashi is shown to be this; after saving the world once, he'd rather sit back, let his dragon do the cleanup work, and avoid people he doesn't know trying to look for him. Once he finds out a problem is serious, however, he agrees to help.
Raimundo especially. In the 5th episode he completely tanked a battle then after a quarter an episode of studying came back and whipped the same enemies butt in what is possibily a CMoA.
Experiment 625 in Lilo & Stitch: The Series is every bit as powerful as Stitch... but he has no interest in using his abilities, and would rather make sandwiches. He does get to work to help Lilo a few times, though.
In the Grand Finale movie, Leroy and Stitch, in addition to finally getting his own name, Reuben, he gets a Crowning Moment of Awesome when he successful repairs Gantu's crashed ship, something Gantu had been unable to do all series.
In The Venture Bros., Rusty Venture and Pete White are both brilliant scientists who tend to be incredibly halfhearted in their endeavors, and it shows. Rusty in particular, though he is capable of creating numerous death-dealing devices and created a process to cheat death through cloning and computer memory back-up, would rather sit on his ass and leech off his dead father's reputation than earn respect and admiration through his own inventions.
Kim Possible's Shego is all over this trope. The one time she actually applied herself she took over the world, but for the most part would rather be on the beach, filing her gloves (don't ask) or lazing about reading 'villains' magazine than actually working.
This trope applies more to the plucky sidekick Ron Stoppable, who is actually more skilled and capable than at first appearance, but rather enjoys chilling and gliding through life. Up until the Grand Finale, at least.
Control Freak from Teen Titans might qualify. He has invented things that border on Applied Phlebotinum, but he tends to use them for very trivial goals. In other words, he's good at building things, but not too good at finding useful ways to use them.
Bart Simpson. He can be pretty cunning, deductive, and intelligent when he puts his mind to it, particularly when up against his nemesis Sideshow Bob, but in school he'd rather do the bare minimum (if that).
Don't forget that he mastered two languages (Spanish and French) in a relatively short time. Only to 'forget' French and have Spanish knocked out of him. And Japanese along with Homer after a short while in jail.
This also shown mixed with his short attention span where he's willing to algebraic equations as a distraction from the ten page book report he was assigned.
When an aptitude test shows that he's not useless and is suited to be a police officer, he unleashes that potential. For a while.
This also overlaps with Book Dumb, as when he actually does try in one episode, he technically still fails the test. He only manages to pass because he related his experience to something he read in his studies, which got him extra credit for "applied knowledge".
A Flash Forward shows that he will be a Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Made even more impressive in that in a not-as-far flash forward, he went to night school for his law degree.
Then again, in almost all the others, he's a bum, or at least hardly works.
Another example on the show is Barney Gumbel, Homer's barfly of a friend, who has proven to have a lot of talents when he isn't drinking. In fact, a flashback showed that he was Harvard-bound as a teenager until Homer introduced him to beer on the night before they had to take the SATs. Probably the biggest example was the poignant and touching movie he directed and starred in about his alcoholism. (The only really bad thing about the otherwise excellent film was the title, Pukahontas.)
Jeff Albertson, the Comic Book Guy is probably the biggest example on the show. He's actually a member of Mensa, and does tend to talk like a "book smart" (though snobbish and egotistical) type, and he once did write and self-publish a comic book called Everyman that was a brief success (and cancelled it later when it he couldn't condone the truly terrible movie it was made into) but usually all he does with his smarts is profiteering (Maybe it makes sense at first that he can justify charging $150 for a photo of Sean Connery that was signed by Roger Moore, as he did in one episode, but when you think about it for a few minutes...). And he's definitely lazy, being a morbidly obese couch potato who doesn't give a damn about his health, in one episode buying a hundred tacos for a Doctor Who marathon. (In another episode he admitted to being a 45-year-old virgin who still lives with his mother.)
Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is said to be the most naturally gifted athlete of the four, but his lack of focus and laziness hold him back from being the best fighter.
Tallest Red of Invader Zim is implied to be this. In "Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars" he's shown to manually control the entire planet-sized ship and repair its hacked programs single-handedly. He'd still rather be screwing around and eating doughnuts, though.
The only reason Mordecai and Rigby from Regular Show haven't actually been fired yet is because when they actually get around to working, they're pretty efficient.
Toki Wartooth and William Murderface in Metalocalypse. Neither participates in the band's songwriting process, and it's been established that Toki doesn't even bother to practice. Murderface, meanwhile, just really, really doesn't feel like making an effort for any reason. But when forced, they managed to record an entire album - and apparently a good one - by themselves. And Toki is the second-fastest guitarist in the world and Murderface can play bass with his genitals.
Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender is a relatively interesting version of this trope. In all rights, he's essentially The Ace of the series, capable of learning waterbending techniques at a much faster rate than his friend Katara. Katara however was able to quickly surpass him in water bending skills because Aang would rather play around than focus. The "lazy" aspect of his character gets deconstructed twice in the show, when he tried to learn both firebending and earthbending. In the case of former, he had to learn how to finally focus specifically on his bending while on the latter, it forced him to come out of his comfort zone.
Toph, too. When the gang needs to infiltrate high society she says Aang and Sokka would stick out like sore thumbs. When they point out that she's the biggest slob in the group, she fires back that she was a Lonely Rich Kid whose parents forced her to act cultured, she just chooses not to.
Master Yo from Yin Yang Yo! is a master of Woo Foo, having complete control over both Might and Magic. However, after a long and successful career of heroism, he believes he's earned the right to lounge around and do nothing. He's only training Yin and Yang because the Woo Foo Spirits wouldn't leave him alone until he did.
T.J. Detweiler from Recess is the Badass Adorable leader of the main six, who often comes up with their elaborate schemes...but with everything else, he's pretty lazy.
Buster from Arthur - in one episode he admits to having never read a book. His friends try unsuccessfully getting him to read increasingly simple books ("The sky is blue. The ocean is blue..."). The next day Buster shows up at school with Arthur's several-hundred page book about Robin Hood saying he's almost done with it - because it was the only one he actually found interesting.
The eponymous character in Kick Buttowski sometimes shows signs of this. Allthough he spends most of his time doing mindless stunts, he puts a lot of technical effort into it such as precision, building and planning. He even manages to figure out how to drive a wide variety of vehicles.
He also managed to finish an entire months' worth of homework (mostly physics) twice in one day... the latter one in under 10 minutes. Also, in "Breaking the Grade" his dad happily informed Kick that his grades have being going up significantly... even though in the beginning of the episode we saw that he wasn't even trying.
Twister in Rocket Power, while certainly a Book DumbCloudcuckoolanderDitz, can be a surprisingly effective captain for his friends, coming up with brilliant plays and training techniques. However, at the end, he gives the team captain slot back to Otto because he doesn't like the pressure.
Daria's title character, who easily gets good grades but is too apathetic to do any of the other activities people try to rope her into (until she is either forced or bribed, anyway). Her best friend Jane is similar, but in her case it's not so much brilliance as common sense and artistic talent.
Futurama seems to have a whole race like this with the Omnicronians. Their technology is far more advanced that Earth's, so much that they can threaten the Earth on a regular basis and get whatever demands they want without fear of retribution. Despite this, they seem to spend most of their time watching television. (Of course, since they see that as Serious Business, it's not lazy by their definition.)
Jake the Dog has shades of this. He wields incredible shape-shifting powers and could easily defeat most enemies that appear in the show if he applied himself, but he'd much rather be at a party or eating a sandwich. That, and Finn has so much fun battling things.
The Cluemaster from The Batman was a dangerous example. A child genius, he lost a rigged game show for such children, and did NOT take it well. He became a recluse, doing nothing for decades but plotting revenge against everyone involved. Batman calls him out on this, telling him that he could have accomplished so much in his life (like his intended victims did) if he hadn't let his pride bring him to ruin.
Many gifted kids, especially those who are "undiscovered" are this - they can do what others struggle to do with minimal work, and sometimes never develop a good work ethic. Oftentimes this leads to difficulties later in life, as work genuinely becomes challenging and they have no idea how to begin to handle it. This usually results in depression problems. On the other hand, college and introductory training are in large part designed for this, and they help people develop work ethics, if they haven't already.
Many gifted kids skate through elementary school without being challenged. When they actually have to work to learn something, they become frustrated and shut down. They don't understand why the answer doesn't just pop in their head. This is why it is important to challenge them early and often so they know what it feels like to actually learn something. This concept of challenge is often referred to as the zone of proximal development by educators.
It's said that people become good workers for exactly this reason. They're in the habit of figuring out easier ways to get things done. As the joke goes "there's an easier way to do this, and I'll find it if it takes me all day."
Hobbyist programmers spend most of their programming time writing tools to do work for them so they don't have to.
Programmers in general will do their best to complete their work with the minimum amount of effort - programming anything remotely complex can take a really long time of sitting down writing, and writing, and writing. As well, writing as little as possible avoids issues with redundancy in the code to make later bug-fixing difficult while making the code easy and intuitive to interpret for others. On the flip side, a programmer has to learn how to be as lazy as possible while programming as well.
John Lennon. Just read the lyrics to "I'm Only Sleeping," or "Watching the Wheels."
George Sanders, who could sing, act, and play the balailaka behind his head, but committed suicide due to boredom. Noël Coward even said of Sanders "He has more talent than any of us, but he doesn't use it!"
Commonly seen in sociopaths and psychopaths. Often noted to be wasting their talent. Even though they are usually smart, they are often unreliable and see nothing wrong with living off of theft, money conned from others, or mooching off of family members. They rarely apply their intellect to their crimes.
Shaquille O'neal, a 330+, 7'1 NBA center with great footwork, explosive power and passing skills who rarely put in the effort to be in shape. Legendary coach Phil Jackson said O'neal had the potential to be the MVP 10 years in a row.
Marlon Brando was legendary for not bothering to memorize his lines before going on set (in the case of Apocalypse Now, he hadn't even read the script), often forcing directors to provide him with Cue Cards or just improvising. He won two Academy Awards for his acting and was nominated for six more.
And when shooting a scene in Superman where he was saying goodbye to Kal-El before sending him to Earth, he read all of his lines off of the baby's diapers.
Sometimes, people may intentionally hold themselves back in what they're capable of to avoid Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Subverted with Oscar Wilde who liked to posture as a member of the Idle Rich but in fact was a bit of a workaholic, having two plays performing in the West End and a bestselling book published in the same year.
Adolf Hitler was described by his teachers as having unlimited talent but being too arrogant and lazy to actually do anything with it. Even after becoming Chancellor he was more inclined to take long walks, play with his dogs and watch movies than actually run his country because he thought that the affairs of government would just take care of themselves if you didn't interfere too much.
During the golden era of heavyweight boxing, it was rumored that boxing great Muhammad Ali was this way. A brilliant boxing talent that hardly trained for fights and spent most of his time partying and chasing women. His out-spoken, bragged, behavior seemed to reinforce this idea, which was done intentionally to fool his opponents. Subverted, however, as his trainer Angelo Dundee made it clear that Muhammad Ali was always the first one in the gym, and the last one to leave it while preparing for his fights.
Stephen Hawking was like this during his school days. He notes that during his four years at Oxford, he did about 1000 hours of work (equating to about an hour-and-a-half for each day.) This earned him the ire of his teachers. At the end of his four years, the deans weren't sure if he deserved a first-class or second-class degree, due to the quality of his work. Hawking said that a first-class degree would get him into Cambridge; otherwise he'd have to stay at Oxford for his graduate work. The deans gave him a first-class degree.
Bill Gates, who is known as an intense workaholic, has said that he often hires lazy people to do the hardest tasks because They will find the easiest way to do it.
Charles Bukowski gave up writing for ten years because he stopped caring about it and grew fed up with publishing. He admitted that he was hopelessly lazy and unambitious and spent years in a low-paying position in a post office. It wasn't until he nearly died of a bleeding ulcer that he started writing again. After that he became extremely productive with his poetry. His protagonist Henry Chianski was the epitome of this trope too.
Douglas Adams is well known as a brilliant writer and one of the most important in Science Fiction. He was also a notorious procrastinator who missed deadlines constantly and often had to be locked in hotel rooms by publishers and forced to work.
"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."
Trym Torson of famous black metal band Emperor is renowned as a technical drummer but claims to only sit behind a kit during band practice. Compare the similarly skilled Jan Axel Blomberg of Mayhem who plays 6 hours of drums a day whether his band is around or not.
A common saw among boxing trainers is that knockout power will do this to a fighter. He storms through his early opponents, then the first time he faces someone who can take a punch, doesn't know what to do with himself when the bell rings to start the fifth round or so. So common, in fact, that it's practically a cliché when the color commentator talks about the potential for a fight to turn into this during the show open.
Numerous musicians are like this with new albums, often taking years off at a time.
Give the laziest man the hardest job, he'll find the easiest way to do it.