If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough/
When you get knocked down, you gotta get back up/
I ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer but I know enough, to know/
If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough!
—The Smut Peddlers
The tendency for strength and intellect to be inversely proportional. The Big Guy
and The Brute
are usually slightly dim at the very least (with The Smart Guy
and The Evil Genius
at the opposite end of the scale). Typically afflicted with a form of Hulk Speak
. This is a common assumption: there's a reason Genius Bruiser
is meant to be a shocker
. Overlaps with Gentle Giant
in some cases, as well as Tiny-Headed Behemoth
. A subtrope of Personality Powers
. Often Played for Laughs
Almost Always Male
; only in ultra-rare cases will you see very strong female characters be portrayed as lacking in brains. He might be only Book Dumb
but Street Smart
. Note that this also does not always apply to tactics; a character with this trope might know how to use every weapon he picks up, but if that is true, he will still lack intelligence outside that specialty.
Compare Smash Mook
. Contrast the Genius Bruiser
and the Badass Bookworm
. These types are frequently, but not always, a Top-Heavy Guy
It is not good to call someone dumb, therefore No Real Life Examples, Please!
. It is sufficient to say that strong goons with low IQ do exist, so it is Truth in Television
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- Krekka and Nocturn in BIONICLE, likely also Reidak, but he may be Obfuscating Stupidity. Carapar has shown shades of this due to the effects of being regularly hypnotized by Takadox for centuries.
- Moe from Calvin and Hobbes fits this nicely; Calvin relies on the fact that Moe will not understand any of the florid insults that he (Calvin) heaps upon the bully. Though it doesn't prevent Moe from messing up Calvin's face on numerous occasions.
Religion and Mythology
- Heracles from Greek Mythology was stereotypically portrayed this way in Attic comedy (for example in Aristophanes' The Birds). In the "canonical" version of the myths, despite being prone to fits of irrational rage, he is not dumb, and occasionally pretty sharp — one of his most famous stories is the Twelve Labors, in which he is forced to find clever solutions to twelve seemingly impossible tasks.
- The titan Atlas. After getting Hercules to take over holding up the sky (heavens) for him while Atlas did him a favor, Atlas decides not to take it back as he likes his freedom. Hercules admits defeat then asks for Atlas to take the sky back long enough for Hercules to put a pad on his shoulder. Atlas agrees, and Hercules walks away. And this was the guy the other Titans picked to lead them against the Olympians after Cronus fell out of favor with the rest of them. No wonder they lost. Averted in an alternate version of the myth, in which Hercules and Atlas simply came to a mutually beneficial arrangement in which Atlas did the favor and Hercules built the Pillars of Hercules to carry Atlas's load forever. This version was less common as Atlas was an unpopular character and the ancient Greeks enjoyed making him out to be both a villain and a moron.
- In The Bible's Book of Judges can be found the story of Samson, a man with the strength to kill a hundred men with a donkey's jawbone yet lacking in pattern recognition skills to the point that he doesn't realize his girlfriend is actively betraying him to his enemies. For those unfamiliar with the story, the source of his strength was his long, uncut hair. When she asked about the source, he twice lied to her (first saying he needed to be bound with ribon, then with rope) and was immediately afterwards attacked by men attempting to restrain him using the method he had confided in her. He finally confessed the true source of his strength when she confronted him, accusing him of not trusting her.
- Strong Mad from Homestar Runner. His idea of reading is looking at a waffle with "BUG" written on it in syrup. "THIS BOOK IS TOO LONG!"
- In The Fear Hole episode "All Hallows Adam", the character antagonizer is a parody on Nemesis with the brain and personality of a small child. And he is adorable. Too bad about what happens to him though...
- James Hetfield is depicted this way in Napster Bad—as a gorilla-like Neanderthal who talks in Hulk Speak. In "Metallica Millionaire", he's shown as being too stupid to answer a game show question about what band he plays in, even though every of the available answers is "Metallica" and the host outright tells him to pick anything.