Cool but Stupid

aka: Stupid Yet Awesome
"So, ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking."
— Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The intersection of the sets "Stupid things" and "Awesome things", which, surprisingly, are non-disjoint sets. A field mainly occupied by the obsessions of 8-year old boys, but one that can be surprisingly fertile for all that.

Examples should be confined to things that are acknowledged in-universe as being stupid or ridiculous, yet are treated as being awesome or cool despite or because of this.

Differs from So Bad, It's Good and So Cool It's Awesome by being the localized case; those apply to the whole show. See also Achievements in Ignorance, a Sister Trope: when the "impossible" is achieved due to not knowing it's impossible; frequently, cases of Cool but Stupid are acknowledged as being stupid, but carry on regardless "just to see what will happen". Compare Awesome but Impractical.

In-Universe Examples Only

Live Action Television
  • Many of the things Jeremy Clarkson builds on Top Gear. Past examples have included a V8 powered blender, a flamethrower mounted on a snowplough, and modding a car so much it caught fire. Although May and Hammond once converted a Reliant Robin (very small plastic three wheeled car) into a space shuttle. It is also their opinion of the Pagani Zonda. The Top Gear equivalent of Cool but Stupid, frequently leveled as a judgment on their own projects, is "Ambitious but rubbish."
  • Many a "carry the myth to its logical conclusion" test on MythBusters. Past examples include a car with dimples like a golf ball and a boat made out of duct tape.
    Adam: I've just had one of those "what the hell are we doing" moments.
  • Many of Tim Taylor's "improvements" on Tool Time. One being a rocket-powered riding lawnmower.

  • Toby Keith said that he decided to record "Red Solo Cup" because it was both the stupidest and most awesome song he had ever heard.

Newspaper Comics

Tabletop Games
  • Flavor text from Dungeons & Dragons suggests that most of the gnomes' most brilliant inventions started with astoundingly dumb ideas. For instance, the Gnomish Magnetic Armor, which repels magical attacks, was originally intended to repel metal debris on workroom floors.
  • GURPS Ultra-Tech has the rocket striker. It's a swinging melee weapon with a rocket engine attached for extra power. Yes, you read that right. May be either So Bad, It's Good or just far too silly for the setting.
  • Rifts has no such compunctious, however, and will gladly introduce weapons like the bangstick, a truncheon(also available in staff and hammer) with a single-round shotgun chamber built into one end and an impact trigger. It sells like hotcakes because Rifts' Earth adventurers and mercenaries are stated in-universe to live and die by Rule of Cool, and many of them love the concept of being able to finish off the enemy by poking them with a stick.

Video Games

Web Animation
  • SWAG.MOV's climactic battle between a Kaiju-sized Rainbow Dash and Discord. The Freeze-Frame Bonus in this scene reads, "THIS IS SO FUCKING RETARDED OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M ANIMATING THIS".

  • The Alt Text for this strip of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja (in which Doc focuses his energy to fight ghosts by humming the Ghostbusters theme) reads, "Very stupid ideas taken very seriously. Dr. McNinja."
  • Sword-chucksnote  in 8-Bit Theater. Every character except their inventor is fully aware of how completely idiotic this is, but they end up working perfectly.
    • In a guest comic, Fighter even makes staff-chucks to cast spells with. They're considered even more ridiculous and turn out to spray destructive magic uncontrollably when used. Since he made them as a gift for Black Mage, it all works out.
  • In Knights of Buena Vista, this is how Mary feels about watching a Michael Bay movie.
    "I know his movies are really stupid. That's WHY I like them."

Web Video

Western Animation
  • The martians of Invader Zim destroyed their own civilization and worked themselves to extinction to turn Mars into a workable space-craft (except, of course, that upon completion there was no-one left to drive it). Why? Because it was cool.

Alternative Title(s):

Stupid Yet Awesome, Stupid But Awesome