->'''Johnny:''' How did Brer Rabbit get away, Uncle Remus?\\
'''Remus:''' Who say he git away?\\
'''Toby:''' Brer Rabbit always gits away.\\
'''Remus:''' Don't you be too shure... ain't i done tol'd you that Brer Rabbit, bein' little and without much strength, he's s'posed to use his head instead o' his foots?
-->-- ''Film/SongOfTheSouth''

An Invincible Incompetent is a hero who defeats powerful opponents, despite having very little skill or ability. Frequently, they keep this up for years, heroically gaining almost no power as they progress, so as to make their constant victories even more impressive.

The method by which they do so differs. Some win on sheer, blind luck. Others know exactly when to say "LetsGetDangerous", or intelligently exploit a major weakness of their enemy before returning to their previous state. Many get by on the efforts of mentors and other side characters. However they do it, it makes them effectively invincible, despite being largely incompetent.

This trope caters to audiences who like to identify with the "weaker" side in any conflict. A downside is VillainDecay; it is hard to present a villain as a credible threat if they repeatedly fail to stop the bumbling hero that they supposedly outmatch.

Despite the clear comedic applications of this trope, it is just as often played for (relatively idealistic) drama, with the audience expected to root and identify much more with an outclassed hero.

Closely related to TheFool and the IdiotHero. See also: UnderdogsAlwaysWin, which is this trope on a meta level and primarily applied to sports stories. InspectorOblivious is a subtrope.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/YuGiOh'': Katsuya Jonouchi (Joey Wheeler) perpetually comes from behind to win. Granted, everyone does this, but Jonouchi never seems to be picked as a favorite to win anything, despite several finals showings. Jonouchi's an odd combination of IdiotBall and InformedFlaw. For no explained reason except maybe poverty, his deck is mostly full of [[TheLoad weak cards]]. While his [[XanatosSpeedChess quick-thinking]] and [[GameBreaker few strong cards]] make up for his weaker monsters in life-threatening scenarios, he'd be MUCH more effective if he'd try a more effective deck-type.
** He also uses many luck-based cards, which have frequently given him victory over stronger opponents, though this is a double-edged sword, seeing as luck could play against him sometimes.
* In the ''Anime/IrresponsibleCaptainTylor'' nobody can decide if Justy Ueki Tylor is this or he's just that good but prefers to ''[[ObfuscatingStupidity look]]'' like it.
* ''Ju Ingong'' in ''Manga/TransferStudentStormBringer'' defeats everyone and becomes [=JJang=] of the school without any fighting skills simply through dumb luck, although everyone who witnesses his fights believes him to be using super-advanced fighting techniques.
* In the Unova League in ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'', Ash/Satoshi's new rival Cameron has intelligence that makes Ash look smart by comparison, frequently misses important facts and information yet still proves good enough to beat 8 gym leaders to get to the League. [[spoiler:When the two face off, Cameron handicaps himself with 5 Pokemon to Ash's 6 and ends up facing half his team with only Riolu, and still manages to win.]]
** Ash himself also comes across as this often, if nothing else than because his intelligence seems to get reset to novice level at the beginning of each new arc, made worse by how he immediately benches all of the trained, powerful Pokemon he had captured previously at these points as well, save Pikachu (whose competence and power ''also'' inexplicably resets).
** Ash's Kalos companion, Serena, was something of a novice FauxActionGirl that never really improved in battle skills throughout her run. However she ended the series with her team having not lost a ''single battle'', and rarely even getting scratched, either due to outside intervention, one of her Pokemon evolving at the right time, or most of her opponents being even lower level battlers such as Team Rocket.
* ''Manga/AngelDensetsu'': Kitano. Although no pushover (he's freakishly durable and strong, and can defeat most opponents without harming them by shoving them away), he's blissfully unaware that a lot of people he interacts with are actively trying to hurt and maim him, yet he defeats anyone opposing him while believing with all his heart that they're nice and friendly.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Woozy Winks, sidekick to the DC superhero ComicBook/PlasticMan, was a literal version of this. As part of his origin story he once saved a powerful wizard from drowning. As thanks, the wizard put a spell of protection on him, the result of which was that [[BornLucky he would magically avoid/survive absolutely anything that could ever hurt him]]. [[PianoDrop Falling piano]]? He'll stumble out of the way so that it hits just an inch behind him. Shoot at him? He'll bend down to pick up a penny just in time to avoid it. At the same time, he was so incompetent and dimwitted that he couldn't really take advantage of this, with it being entirely likely he never realized he had this power to begin with.
* [[ComicBook/DisneyMouseAndDuckComics Donald Duck]] as seen in comic books [[DependingOnTheWriter usually]] lands somewhere around this trope when he gets into action adventures. He's basically never a skilled fighter (unless appearing in some alternative version like Superduck[=/=]Paperinik), and otherwise tends to be some mixture of resourceful and dumb. Sometimes the trope will be averted or subverted when someone in a story recognises his crazy ability to survive anything as a real talent. One example of this involved his being hired as a secret agent while the agency also used his weird lateral-thinking brain as a model for their AI, albeit combining it with actual high intelligence.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/PerfectionIsOverrated'' argues that essentially, the MarySue [[DeconstructedTrope boils down to this]], as they succeed despite going about tasks incompetently, become popular even when their personalities are repulsive, and survive mistakes that should have killed them. The [[ParodySue SUEs]], the main antagonists of the fic who represent MarySue archetypes without the PlotArmor or [[CreatorsPet author favoritism]], end up losing to the [[Anime/MaiHime Himes]] because they continue to act as though they're invincible, even when they're not, and it's briefly suggested that their reason for wanting to change the world is because they can't function in it the way it is.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Inspector Clouseau of ''Franchise/ThePinkPanther'' series is a shining example, combined with BatDeduction in that his profoundly stupid and illogical actions often save him and/or destroy his attacker and/or solve the case he's supposed to be working on. Many skilled assassins try to kill him, but Clouseau inevitably survives by some absurd accident, almost always unknowingly killing the assassin(s) in the process. All for the sake of RuleOfFunny, of course.

* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'',
** Rincewind is noted for trying to run away from the plot action, yet invariably winning somehow. It's been noted that he has the favour of the Lady, goddess of luck. It's also been noted that she will lose interest if he ever ''acts'' like someone with divine protection.
** The elderly faculty of Unseen University display this trope in a different way. Despite being a group of old men who like nothing more than to each huge dinners and bicker with each other, they manage to stroll out of situations which should have left them dead a dozen times over. This really annoys anyone who comes into contact with them. There are hints they could be properly dangerous if it came down to it, but danger almost always gives up and goes away before it comes down to it. In the early books Unseen University was a very dangerous place to work at and was filled with powerful mages prone to KlingonPromotion and ChronicBackstabbingDisorder. The current faculty all lived through that time, survived it and came out on top. They simply decided that not trying to kill each other was more restful.
* ''Literature/CiaphasCain'': Has a dark and dramatic take on a protagonist who attempts to run away from the action yet always ends up winning. The difference being that he is actually competent, or he would not have survived very long, let alone lived [[RetiredBadass to retire]] in [[CrapsackWorld the Warhammer]] [[EverythingTryingToKillYou universe]]. However, [[HeroicSelfDeprecation he refuses to admit this]]. Only the first short story actually fits the trope, its plot boiling down to [[spoiler: "I tried to run away but ended up exposing an enemy surprise attack from that direction and looking heroic."]] It's something of a RunningGag in the later books that Cain narrates about how he manages to hold his own in a duel through sheer luck, only for the exasperated editor (who fought beside him many times) to point out that he was actually an incredibly skilled swordsman in a footnote.
* Craig Shaw Gardner's "[[Literature/TheWanderingsOfWuntvor Ballad of Wuntvor]]" satirizes the concept. Within the work, he refers to the trope as the "Eternal Apprentice".

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/GetSmart'': Max Smart, who once disarmed an atomic bomb by getting his tie stuck in the timer.
* ''Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch'': Sabrina went seven years without ever learning even one or two simple spells she could reliably not mess up. Notable in that there usually was no villain except for her mastery of this trope alternately causing and fixing problems.
* ''Series/PowerRangersRPM'': Ziggy the Green Ranger is several leagues behind the other Rangers in fighting skills - and not just the ones on his own team, but just about every other Ranger, period -- but he manages to bumble his way through fights, providing support for his teammates rather than drag them down.

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/MikeyWhipwreck was the epitome of this trope in Wrestling/{{ECW}}. Despite going for months on end without managing to land a single offensive move, Mikey somehow managed to wrack up an impressive winning streak due to coincidental outside interference or just sheer dumb luck. This culminated with him winning the ECW Television Title ''and'' successfully defending it for a while, despite his numerous attempts to vacate the title.

* The main character of ''Webcomic/ArtificialTimeXS'', Sheath, is essentially a teenager with a Ralph Wiggum level of intelligence. Several people try to kill her. None of them succeed. This even carries over into ''[[VideoGame/ASuperMarioThing A Second Mario Bros X Thing]]'' where she survives [[spoiler:the end of reality (granted, she receives a McGuffin that lets her keep existing just before everything else is gone)]], and somehow failed to notice every single thing that happened in the preceding cutscene (including the [[spoiler:end of everything]]).
* ''WebComic/SluggyFreelance'': Sam, as a vampire, is almost invincible against unprepared humans, being ImmuneToBullets and stuff. But against other vampires, or a competent VampireHunter, he's [[SuperLoser just someone who's dumb as a brick]]. Yet he manages to survive not only brush-ins with vampire hunters but being hunted by all of the Vrykolakas vampires for years. It's all dumb luck, like when he discloses his location online but gets the state wrong, causing the vampires hunting him to crash a vampire hunter convention instead. [[spoiler: It gets to the point that one of his former enemies wants to make him a ruler of vampires because he's the only one who's survived against all the three clans of vampires.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Franchise/{{Noob}}'', Sparadrap, one of the worse players, tends to be this on and off. The only situation consistently having it happen is his "fights" against [[PlayerKilling Dark Avenger]], to the extent of becoming a RunningGag.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo'' has this trope in two flavors. The later shows and movies, though still often playing on this trope, gave the gang a bit more of a CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass cred, displaying more acts of genuine competance and bravado.
** Shaggy and Scooby always seem to end up finding the weekly monster despite their cowardice, laziness, and complete lack of investigative skills.
** Despite the inevitable failure of Fred's convoluted traps to catch the monster, the monster usually ends up trapped by the end of the episode anyway.
* Rufus and Amberley from ''WesternAnimation/TheDreamstone'' were bumbling kids somewhat a cut below BadassNormal, however since their foes were [[HarmlessVillain the Urpneys]] and most of their allies were immortal {{Invincible Hero}}es, they usually didn't have to achieve much to win the day.
* ''WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget'': Gadget thwarts Doctor Claw again and again, almost solely on the strengths of his {{Hyper Competent Sidekick}}s or [[TheFool well timed]] [[SpannerInTheWorks slapstick bumbling]]. On the ''very'' rare occasions [[SanityBall he gets a clue what's going on]] however, he is shown to be [[LetsGetDangerous surprisingly competent]].
* Parodied in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'', where Dr. Claw finally puts two and two together and turns Gadget into Film/TheTerminator to kill Penny.
* ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest'': Jonny is pretty powerless through the show's whole run, and is constantly being plucked from danger by his father and Race.
* ''WesternAnimation/FantasticFourWorldsGreatestHeroes'', "[[Recap/FantasticFourWorldsGreatestHeroesDoomsWordIsLaw Doom's Word Is Law]]": While Johnny and Ben are often reasonable fighters they are a lot more effective against Dr. Doom by accident in one episode, dodging missiles because they're fighting each other and using a two-pronged attack because they couldn't agree on a plan.
* Coop of ''WesternAnimation/MegasXLR'' somehow manages to win completely impossible situations out of sheer luck.