A moment where a character's stupidity fuels an episode, or a small plot line. If multiple characters have the Idiot Ball it becomes an Idiot Plot
. Temporary (or permanent) Genre Blindness
is often a cause of this trope.
Coined by Hank Azaria
on Herman's Head
: Azaria would ask the writing staff, "Who's carrying the idiot ball this week?" This is generally not a compliment on the writing because the person carrying the idiot ball is often acting out of character
, misunderstanding something that could be cleared up by asking a single reasonable question
or performing a simple problem-solving action, but that he isn't doing solely because the writers don't want him to.
It's almost as if the character is being willfully stupid or obtuse rather than that being the character's natural default character.
Unsurprisingly, this provokes a What an Idiot
response from the audience. However, sometimes, the purpose is to help
the audience. Sometimes, the holder of the idiot ball asks the dumb question to allow a certain amount of exposition to occur, that wouldn't naturally be talked about, but needs to be stated for the audience.
On the other hand, making stupid mistakes can be the hallmark of Character Development
if the person recognizes it in the end. Seeing someone discarding the idiot ball can be a rewarding moment when they are Taught By Experience
Idiot Balls can also deflect a boring Invincible Hero
, which is positive for an audience reaction. There is nothing like a "Why on earth did he do that?" to get the fans talking about the show after its over.
This trope can be seen as Truth in Television
, as everyone makes stupid mistakes every once in a while.
See also Villain Ball
, Hero Ball
, Distress Ball
, Idiot Plot
, Forgot About His Powers
, Alcohol Induced Idiocy
, Oops... I Did It Again
, Three Is Company
, Too Dumb to Live
, What an Idiot
, Conflict Ball
, Bullying a Dragon
, Hollywood Tactics
, Mugging the Monster
, Failed a Spot Check
, Ping Pong Na´vetÚ
, Third Act Stupidity
, Cutscene Incompetence *big breath*
, and Out-of-Character Moment
. A Stupidity Inducing Attack
is essentially what happens when a character deliberately throws the Idiot Ball at another character.
This trope is the opposite
of Smart Ball
, and probably not closely related to Sanity Ball
, Happy Fun Ball
or Advantage Ball
. And not even remotely
related to the Timey Wimey Ball