There was a series of Eggo Waffles commercials where a Bumbling Dad was constantly trying to steal the eponymous waffles from his daughter while she wasn't looking with his attempts always ending in Amusing Injuries. Honestly, why doesn't he just get his own eggos out of the freezer, or better yet, buy himself some Eggo Waffles from the store?
Also, the kids from the Lucky Charms commercials; why don't they just buy their own, instead of chasing Lucky for them all the time? This is Double Subverted by one Trix commercial. The Trix Rabbit just buys his own cereal. The kidssteal it from him.
Anime & Manga
Yu-Gi-Oh! features several occasions where a bad guy could achieve his goal without an obligatory Duel, but nevertheless does one for some unknown reason. Repeatedly lampshaded in Yu Gi Oh The Abridged Series.
Yami Yugi: Did you even consider just asking me for it? I mean, do you have any idea how much time and money you've wasted with this whole facade? People have died because you wanted a necklace! I killed a gay clown, for Ra's sake!
And again in the second season...
Rare Hunter: We are here to take your rarest card. Joey: You mean you're gonna kick the crap out of me and steal it? Rare Hunter: No. First we will challenge you to a children's card game. Then we will kick the crap out of you and steal it. Joey: ...wouldn't it be much easier just to skip the first step? Rare Hunter: Yes. Yes, it would. (proceeds with card game)
And in one of Marik's Evil Council meetings:
Marik: "We are going to challenge him to a card game! But this will be no ordinary card game. This one will take place... On a boat!" Bakura: "Why a boat?" Marik: "Because, uhm, when he loses the card game, we'll, uh, throw him over the edge. Into the sea. His hair will be so soaked, it'll take him hours to dry it!" Bakura: Why do we need to play a card game against him? Marik: "Foolish fool! The card game is integral to the plot. The evil plot, of which I am the evil mastermind!"
And from another Council Meeting:
Bakura: "Can't we just kill him?" Marik: "No, and even if we did, those EFF-tards would just censor it."
In the Yu-Gi-Oh GX manga, Misawa admits that he could have just asked Judai for Asuka's phone number instead of dueling with him, but that his pride would not allow him to do so, and that he wanted to duel Judai.
In Patlabor, SV2 Division 2 is often derided for the massive collateral damage they cause while fighting crime... and 90% of those are caused by Ohta. Now, his gung-ho, gun-loving attitude is supposed to be played for laughs, and he is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold really, but just the same, getting rid of him would've saved much of SV2's troubles.
Note that in the manga version, Ohta is shown to be less incompetent than his anime counterparts.
Also note that one of the later TV shows, points out that Ohta is very skilled, "He's never hit a cockpit" Gotoh remarks. Besides, the only other suitable pilots were on command track/or slated to go back to the US in a year.
This is reinforced in the second movie, where he cooly demonstrates that he's capable of aiming from the hip with their Humongous Mecha and nailing a moving target; the recruits he was drilling at the time couldn't fathom the purpose of the exercise but are impressed nonetheless.
In Inu Yasha, the heroine has the ability to travel back and forth in time to Ancient Japan. Presumably, she and her friends who remain in the past after the defeat of Naraku could arrange to preserve the information on how it was done in such a way that Kagome could easily discover it in the present, take the information back to the past where the as-yet-undefeated Naraku is still wreaking havoc and use it to defeat him. Of course, trying to explain the logistics of such a paradox-based plan would most likely make all of the characters heads' explode, which would itself end the series right there. But of course, that depends on the exact logistics of the time travel, and, judging from the amount of present day school she misses, the amount of time she can go back and forth is fixed.
Blue Seed has this as its central concept. If they had just killed Momiji (normally, that is), the monsters will all be gone and peace would be restored. However, the basis of the series is to find a way to get rid of the monsters without killing her. It's directly discussed at one point in the series that earlier Kushinadas had been sacrificed during the Rite of Matsuri throughout history and the effects of their sacrifices in order to put down the Aragami were only temporary. The characters in the series recognize this and actively try to find a long-term solution.
Code Geass would have ended much sooner in Lelouch's favor had he abandoned his favoritism and made a much earlier attempt to kill his best friend turned rival Suzaku, or geassing Villetta into forgetting everything that happened during their first encounter. Even sooner if he'd simply made some "Follow all of my orders" commands, which he finally begins throwing around near the end of the second season. There are some (admittedly fairly flimsy) reasons for not doing these things; Lelouch's personal brand of selfishness makes him willing to do anything for the people he cares about at the expense of everyone else, (he started his entire war for the sake of his little sister,) so it is a recognisable character flaw for him to hold back on Suzaku. He also dislikes taking away people's freedom (it's one of the reasons he hates Brittannia,) so he only Geasses innocent people temporarily, and his finally being willing to go that extra mile is a sign of his general breakdown. Yes, there is a lot of ambiguity and hypocrisy in his personal code of ethics (which he's well aware of,) but he does actually have a reason for not solving his problems this way. His failure to deal with Viletta properly (either by Geass or by execution,) is certainly a stupid oversight, but could be excused by the stress of his first battle and new-found powers causing a What an Idiot moment.
Inverted in Houshin Engi. Being the genre savvy guy that he is, Taikobo decides the best course of action in one of the first chapters is to take the fight directly to Dakki. Just find a way in the palace and catch her when he guard is down, get the happy ending. The problem is that Dakki is dangerously genre savvy and also a manipulative bastard. She knows Taikobo's every move before he makes it and nearly kills him in a pit of snakes.
In Ranma ½, not one single character who has gained a curse at the Jusenkyo springs has thought to take a dip in whatever spring would cure them before they leave, despite there being a helpful guide there who happens to know what curse each spring carries.
There is also a storyline which involves a bar of soap that apparently cures the curse. However at the end of the story we discover that the fix is only temporary. However, it didn't seem to occur to the characters that they could have continued immunity to the curse if they used it every day like, say, one does with a bar of soap.
Rogue From Marvel Comics is a mutant who broods constantly because her mutant power has the potential to kill anyone she comes physical contact with. However, since mutant negation technology is widely available (and has been shown to work on her in the past), it should be no problem to simply make a necklace or something with the embedded technology and just put an on/off switch on the circuit. End of meaningless brooding.
Note, however, that this depends on which incarnation is discussed, as well as what the technology does specifically. In Evolution, Nightcrawler's hologram machine is only able to change the appearance, but is still a blue furry humanoid with three fingers on each hand. The animated series had devices that nullified powers on the mutant-hating Genosha, but the controllers would be a hassle to carry everywhere and she would need to hide it so it does not get damaged or turned against her.
The implicit explanation usually was that power-negating devices belonged to villains and thus were not freely available, or they weren't exactly devices so much as actual living persons (such as Leech of the Morlocks or the power-negating mutant serving with the Genoshan Pressgang). In X-Men vs. Alpha Flight Rogue was briefly given the ability to control her power by Anodyne, a normal human given healing powers by Loki, but Rogue gave up her control when it emerged that the process that had given Anodyne her powers had the side-effect of killing magically-based superheroes like Alpha Flight's Shaman and Snowbird.
In one story written by Scott Lobdell, Joseph (later revealed to be Magneto's clone) created a device that allowed Rogue to skin-to-skin contact without negating Rogue's powers. It was not surprisingly promptly forgotten. However, all of this is now moot since Rogue eventually became able to control her power in X-Men Legacy.
Many fans of Batman have, for a long time, been shouting to Just Kill The Joker. The fact that Batman knows the Joker will eventually kill again arguably makes him complicit in their deaths and suggests that he puts his own pride and moral high ground above innocent lives... which incidentally destroys his moral high ground. He fears that if he crosses that line, there was no turning back. Batman has actually been called out on this multiple times, and Depending on the Writer, is not always depicted as being completely in the right on this stance.
Of course, this doesn't explain why some other hero, one who doesn't have such reservations, hasn't stepped in and done it. Wonder Woman, for example. Failing that, it also doesn't explain why some random member of the GCPD doesn't blow his brains out and declare that he was 'trying to escape'.
Back when the Legacy Virus was ravaging Marvel's mutant population, a common fan suggestion was to intentionally infect Wolverine with the virus and use his antibodies to develop a cure. In fact, it's rather remarkable that this was not the way the writers ended up curing it. The cartoon series, however, did cure the virus in this manner.
In the Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog book, there have been numerous characters that have enough mystical power to defeat Dr. Eggman themselves, yet no one ever does this. Some of these characters are relatives of Tails and Knuckles, who could honestly say they're protecting their homes and families. Tails and Knuckles themselves have gained power enough to defeat Eggman on two separate occasions each, typically becoming reality warpers of various degrees, yet it never occurs to them to personally take out Eggman, even when they do have non-lethal measures available to them.
Chuck, you could have just asked to be reassigned to administrative work, you know.
They could've pretended to be bisexual instead of gay.
Or they could have pointed out that the case against them was based entirely on the fact that they didn't conform to stereotypes.
Blood Simple justifies this with its title; people in those situations aren't in the best of mental states, generally.
Rosemary's Baby. Call home to Mom, have her buy you a train ticket. Since everyone around is being creepy and lying to you, and the honest ones are dying, just go back to Nebraska or wherever. And since those special witch foods aren't available back home, that should solve the problem of the inconvenient pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Rosemary doesn't do this because of her several personality traits, for which she was specifically chosen by the witches. She's the type of good Catholic girl who won't leave her husband, or have an abortion, no matter what. She's also the sort of person to remain in denial about a situation as long as she possibly can, so that she will continue to convince herself everything is just fine long past the point that another woman would go running for help. In fact, that was the mistake the witches made the first time was not being careful enough to select someone who would keep telling herself all the warning signs were just her imagination, and had to help her into suicide.
Meanwhile, in The Stepford Wives, the above Rosemary's Baby justification for stupidity is also relevant. Yes, you at least have more reason to stay, as you're tied to your kids, but you're the one who was making so much over wanting a career. You're not even fighting for independence at this point, you've already achieved it; and you've already figured out what's rotten in Denmark, so you're the last woman (actually, she literally is) who should be sticking around for the inevitable.
In Enchanted, Giselle is teleported to the real world by going out from a sewer. It seems that to come back to her original world she just had to go back to said sewer and throw herself in it as it was shown in the ending by Prince Edward and Nancy.
In the second Spider-Man Trilogy film, a large subplot is the fact that both Peter and Aunt May can't make rent in New York. While Peter might not want to live with May for safety reasons, the characters never even discuss the possibility. Further, Peter's professor Doc Connors complains that he is a great student but has terrible attendance (because he's working the pizza parlor and superheroing), but they never consider working for the university as an option.
IIRC, Peter mentions being fired by Conners in the first film (for the same reason he got fired from the pizza job, presumably, though he doesn't mention that for obvious reasons).
If he did work for the university it would be an internship, and that doesn't exactly pay at all.
In the third film, Mary Jane is forced by the New Goblin to ditch Peter Parker, on pain of death. She doesn't even explain to Peter why she is dumping him, which brings up the obvious question: why doesn't she just tell him what the New Goblin is doing?
In Stagecoach, John Ford was once asked why, during the climactic chase scene, the Indians didn't just shoot the horses to stop the stagecoach? "Because the movie would have ended right there", he replied.
The Twilight series. Why doesn't Edward turn Bella into a vampire? It would avert almost all of the conflict after the first movie. At first, its more justified as Bella asks Edward and he refuses because he doesn't like being a vampire and doesn't want her to be one. But when it becomes clear in later installments that they're going to be together and that everyone agrees that she should become a Vampire with even Edward agreeing to do it, Edward's reluctance needlessly continues to complicate the matter. Furthermore, most of the other Cullens are on board with her becoming a vampire. They abstain from turning Bella themselves out of respect for Edward's wishes but as their lives are continually places in jeopardy trying to protect her, you'd think eventually one of them would just turn Bella and get it over with.
Edward is afraid he would kill her, but also wants to do it himself rather than letting Carlisle who turned the majority of the Cullens.
I think it would also break the treaty with the werewolves.
In Journey to the West, almost every story features Xuanzang believing Zhu Bajie's lies about Wukong, taking his bad advice, or taking his side in arguments. He gets captured by demons as a result, and despite this happening dozens of times in the story, he never realizes that Bajie is always wrong. Every single time.
In the second Twilight book, why did Alice not just call someone to check if Bella is dead, since presumably she knows that her visions aren't always set in stone and can be altered? Why did she not wait to tell her family what was going on before she left to confirm what was up? It couldn't have taken more than a day or so to figure out, and it would certainly save Edward the trouble of thinking Bella's dead after leaping to conclusions from calling her father, who happened to be at a funeral.
On the subject of Twilight, it would have saved a whole lot of trouble if the Cullens had just banded all seven of themselves together and ripped off the heads of the three vampires threatening Bella. One could argue that the Cullens were trying to be more peaceful than that, but their immediate plan after James and Victoria are out of sight and making plans of their own is to lure the two vampires away and kill them!
Eclipse would have been a lot shorter if the Cullens decided to drop on by Seattle and have a quick look in on the newborn who was going on an insane killing spree, if only to keep away the Volturi if not to prevent further human deaths.
If Bree Tanner had realized that she could have run away as soon as it became evident that the leaders of the newborns she was with were dangerous (which she figured out very early on), there would have been no plot to the novella at all. Even if Bree didn't want to risk hiding in shade during the day, she still doesn't think to run away when she does learn that direct sunlight is safe!
And come to think of it, how much of the crap everyone in the series goes through could have been avoided if just one person in the entire Cullen family had realised just how badly Edward was coping with being a vampire and persuaded him to get some counselling?
Live Action TV
Named after what is likely the most egregious example: the title character from Gilligan's Island, whose bungling so often sabotaged the rest of the cast's attempts to get back to civilization, that one has to wonder why they simply didn't eat him — or at least arrange for some sort of "accident" to happen to him. Or if they didn't want to be killers, they could've just locked him up until they got off the island (which would likely only take a week), then send someone back for him afterwards. Or they simply could have given Gilligan a less critical role in the plan.
Lampshaded on an episode of That '70s Show, when Red, watching Gilligan's Island, wonders why the rest of the cast doesn't just kill Gilligan.
"As a man who has thirty years of naval experience, I can say with all confidence that if that crew got together and shot Gilligan, they'd have been off that island in a week. Problem solved."
Evidence from the show itself actually helps Gilligan's case. Statistically speaking, out of 98 episodes, only 37 involved a direct possibility of escaping the island. Of those 37, only 17 potential rescues were foiled as a result of Gilligan's actions. Admittedly, that's still a lot of rescues for one man to screw up, but the series also has a large number of episodes where Gilligan's actions save everybody - from death, enslavement, imprisonment, etc.
The backstory between Gilligan and The Skipper is that Gilligan saved The Skipper's life by pulling him away from a loose depth charge. This sets up an even more interesting paradox: Gilligan saved the Skipper, and as a result they teamed up to eventually strand themselves and five other people on an island. If Gilligan just let him die, there would have been no series at all.
Alternate question: if the professor is such a genius on every subject, how come he doesn't know how to build a new boat? Russell Johnson's (The actor who played The Professor) stock answer: If you were a mega Science Geek trapped on an island with two beautiful girls...would YOU be quick to get rescued?
Third question: if the Minnow had, as passengers, one of the world's richest men, and one of Hollywood's favorite actresses, why weren't there more exhaustive rescue attempts? Considering how many people managed to stumble onto the island, it couldn't have been all that far from the mainland, and since the boat was still in one piece, even if it wasn't sea-worthy, it should have been visible from a low-flying plane specifically searching for it. It was probably really all Thurston Howell's fault. Someone had plotted to eliminate him, and when he wasn't killed in the shipwreck, then to keep him on the island, in order to have control of his money. Either his nearest relative, or estate trustee probably knew where he was the whole time.
Just about any show which features Time Travel as a plot device has the potential to suffer from this trope if the heroes are too stupid to figure out a way to use that device to its full potential.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure falls victim to this until almost the very end, when the two not-so-bright heroes finally realize that, duh, they have a time machine, and proceed to arrange it so that, in some future time, they will go back into the past and cause certain events to happen in the present which will allow them to escape from jail and make it to the school in time to deliver their fateful history report. The climax of the sequel features both Bill and Ted andBig Bad Nomolos DeNomolos playing this game, each attempting to get the advantage in a Mexican Standoff... until Ted rightly points out that only one side gets to win, then go back in time and stage everything just right, and they had in fact planted all the items he thought he planted to lull him into a false sense of security. Probably not so much of a concern, because the film is too silly to be taken seriously.
A similar stand-off occurs between the Doctor and the Master in the Doctor Who parody film The Curse of Fatal Death. The Doctor wins the fight by arranging for the architects to have built a trap door under where the Master's feet would have been after the race goes extinct.
The Doctor Who series proper handwaves this by saying that the Doctor "can't interfere with established events"—which is code for "can't use time travel in any fashion that would make the dilemma of the week too easy to solve."
The in-universe explanation for this is that The Doctor and other "time aware" species like the Daleks are aware of fixed points in history that cannot be changed. This is usually indicated by their significance in subsequent history books. It seems that the more an event is ingrained into legend, the less power the Doctor has to alter it. Like the Titanic Sinking, the volcano which destroyed Pompeii, the mysterious destruction of the first Mars colony, etc. Attempts to push against these boundaries seem fruitless as Fate keeps making them happen anyway. It is implied that it *is* possible to beat fate, but only by accepting all the ramifications to the stability of time. Even a Dalek is shown sparing someone's life because it realizes she isn't meant to die yet.
Series 6 shows what happens when a "fixed point" is altered; it breaks history. The entire history of Earth is altered so it all takes place at once, and it's always the moment when time is broken.
In Lost in Space, Dr. Smith is a sanctimonious coward who constantly gets the whole ship in trouble through his greed. A great many potential future problems could have been solved simply by leaving him to get killed in the mess he's caused for himself.
A later comic continuation by Innovation Comics partially addresses that by the Robinsons and West finally losing their patience with Smith, throwing him in one of the ship's cryo tubes and keeping him there. At least the movie adaptation gave an explanation as to why he wasn't immediately thrown out the airlock after his first treachery, and they did eventually leave him to die after his betraying them yet again.
The third season episode 'Time Merchant' establishes that had Dr. Smith not been aboard the Jupiter 2, it would have been destroyed in space by a collision. Dr. Smith's additional mass changed the ship's trajectory enough to avoid the collision but also threw the Robinsons off course. It seems that Dr. Smith is incompetent all around.
In the original pilot (and the first few episodes) Dr. Smith was a scarily competent, utterly ruthless spy and saboteur who sneaks aboard the ship, disables (or kills) a guard with his bare hands, reprograms the robot to sabotage the ship, and only stays aboard because he miscalculates the amount of time he has to get off (he may have been set up by his controllers so he wouldn't still be around to answer any embarrassing questions). He was changed into the bumbling, cowardly character we all love to hate because the producers (and Johnathan Harris himself) realized that otherwise, they couldn't possibly justify the rest of the crew not getting rid of him somehow. In fact, Irwin Allen originally planned to kill off the character for exactly that reason, but was convinced it would be better to use him as comic relief.
Power Rangers: Many a fan has wondered why the Big Bad never just sends all the monsters at once instead of doing it one at a time, or simply launched an attack themselves if they were so powerful. Immediately, that is, not at the final episode where the heroes get an inexplicable power boost either. Similarly, more than a few seasons had the Rangers know exactly where the villain's base was located, but it never occurred to them to take three or four Humongous Mecha to the location and stomp on stuff until a final battle was forced.
Explained in Shin Kenjushi (New/Heart Gunman) (Née Jushi Sentai [Musketeer Squadron]) France Five, an Affectionate Parody of Super Sentai and French culture. The Eiffel Tower projects a forcefield around planet Earth, meaning that the Big Bad can only send small squadrons of troops to Earth at a time, including a monster, some Panous-panous and his two lieutenants.
As per Tony Oliver at Power Morphicon 2007, quoting Haim Saban: "Because if they call 911, then I don't have a TV show."
Also makes sense in Power Rangers RPM. The city of Corinth is surrounded by a forcefield, meaning that each monster has to have some way to get around that and into the city. Also, finding out where the enemy's base is is a major plot point.
The lead villain in the delightfully self-aware Power Rangers Ninja Storm actually attempts to supersize all of his monsters at once, only for the computer to respond with a memory error and his underling pointing out that he skimped on the memory upgrade that would let him supersize more than one monster at a time.
Similarly, "Why don't you just get the Zords from the beginning and stomp the monster?" was discussed (while not done in a way that justifies it for the whole series) when the Rangers were having trouble fighting multiple monsters who managed to break the Conservation of Ninjutsu (oh, and they actually were ninjas, working for the ninja-based villain faction.) Ronny suggests sending the Zords even though "we don't normally do this," but they couldn't be launched due to an earlier monster-inflicted computer virus.
Except once in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, but the result wasn't good, because this monster was specifically designed to hijack the Zords. And in Power Rangers Turbo, because the monster was sun-powered, and the Rangers decided the only way to defeat him was using the Megazord to shadow him.
The Zords couldn't be sent "all at once" because the "laws of Good" prevent Good from "escalating" the violence. The bad guys, especially in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers most likely have limits such as the magic taking a heavy toll on the user. In fact Ivan Ooze in The Movie needed to hypnotize people to build the technology so that he could use it.
It's also Lampshaded in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers comic — one of the team asks why they don't just go straight to their Megazords and squish the villain while he's still small. The response is that Zordon has instructed them to only match force for force against their enemies, due to some pseudo-Eastern mystic from space logic about fair play... of course this means that the enemy will cause more suffering, death, destruction and damage than if they'd fought "un"fairly....
Then again, it's probably a giant waste of energy to send the robot to squish the not-yet-big monster. Zord fuel can't be cheap.
"Why don't villains just blow up the Rangers' houses at night?" has also been dealt with, once again, by Ninja Storm. The Dragon suggests attacking them at the sports shop they work at, but Lothor says that a Ranger's power can only truly be destroyed while the Ranger is morphed. (Mind you, we've seen that prove untrue more than once in the past, but hey, they tried.)
Of course, Kamen Rider usually avoids this trope by not using the same "Big Bad sends a minion to defeat the hero each week" format as Super Sentai, but there are exceptions. More recent series (notably Den-O and Kiva) have the villains start using mass produced MotWs as Mooks, but by that point the hero's gotten his Super Mode and they're no challenge (as seen when Kiva takes out six with a single Finishing Move). Meanwhile, in Kamen Rider Double, the villains of the week don't actually work for the Big Bad, whose plan just requires observing the thugs he's sold powers to, and he is perfectly happy to have Kamen Riders fighting them and getting them to show their true strength.
If the Guild of Calamitous Intent has taught us anything it's that provoking massively powerful superbeings with private armies is a bad idea. The good guys are five teenagers who are invariably placed against nigh-impossible odds. Escalating the war would cause the villain to actually get off their duff and start actively trying to destroy shit. Sure a few buildings are destroyed along the way but it's better than the alternative.
In another terrible Power Rangers rip-off, Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills, the bumbling sidekick of the Big Bad gets a chance to be in charge while the villain is away, and implements an ingenious Genre Savvy tactic of sending down a monster, recalling it when it was close to death, and sending a new one, repeated until the heroes were worn down and defeated. On the verge of success, the Big Bad returns from his trip and proves that he had a firm grip on the Villain Ball by demanding that things be returned to the proven-to-fail "one monster each week" strategy.
In Season One of The Vampire Diaries, killing Damon would pretty much have solved everyone's problems. It wouldn't have been too difficult, if the cast just put in a little effort. But of course, no antagonist means no drama, which means no show.
Of course, Damon turns from an antagonist into an anti-hero, and is one of the best-developed characters on the show. It's been established that, despite how much Damon and Stefan say it, they can't kill each other because they're brothers and still care about each other on some level. And since by this point, trying to kill Damon without Stefan's help would be suicidal, there's not much anyone can do about it.
Almost invariably in the early seasons, the Monster of the Week would be trashing the Power Rangers, and Rita would declare, "If you think you're having it rough now, wait until you see this!" before making the monster grow to a preposterous size. At this point the Power Rangers would use their cool toys and destroy the monster, every single time. If only Rita had left the monster at its original size, she could have won easily. For that matter, why didn't the Power Rangers just use their giant mechas on the "human-sized" monster? Another thing: every villain in Power Rangers ever has had the ability to teleport at will, anywhere, through walls, and even bring along passengers or cargo. Picture the cataclysmic implications if they were to use this power intelligently. In the Alien Rangers arc of MMPR, Goldar and Rito did just that, only with a bomb of the usual villains' making.
In Beetleborgs, a new villain showed off his Genre Savvyness by waiting until the heroes' base rose out of the ground and then having the monster-planes bomb it while the vehicles were still inside. Though the heroes eventually got new, cooler, vehicles, it was a devastating blow. It also made you wonder why absolutely no-one's ever thought of that before. Which is really strange, because in the rest of the many-parts episode, this monster didn't use Genre Savvyness. On the contrary, at this point he destroyed all the other weapons playing by the rules, just to show he could do it. And when the heroes get new weapons and match him, he won't be Genre Savvy anymore.
In the third, fourth, and fifth seasons of Degrassi The Next Generation, more than half of the plots could have been resolved in ten seconds if the characters had chosen to just eat Jay Hogart. What did his victims do when they finally realized he was manipulating them? They glared at him really angrily, and sometimes even spoke harsh words. Some of these kids have beaten each other up because of his tricks, but when they find out the brawl was his fault, they don't even throw a punch at him. However, he does become a semi-helpful member of the cast in the sixth and seventh seasons.
Star Trek: Voyager. If the crew had simply tossed the Lawful Stupid Captain Janeway out the airlock after her silly Starfleet rules prevented them from getting home the first time, they'd have gotten home by the next week.
At one stage Q hints that Voyager would get back home a lot quicker if Janeway "mated" with him. As a feminist icon the captain rightly refuses to use her body as a bargaining chip, but in later episodes so much emphasis was placed on how much Janeway is willing to sacrifice to get her crew home, fans couldn't help wondering why she didn't just boff him.
SF Debris (who, ironically enough, is a vocal critic of the Janeway character) neatly solved this conundrum by pointing out that it wasn't just sex, it was having a child. This is fundamentally life-altering and adds many more factors to the decision. Besides, this is a Chaotic NeutralEnergy Being who is "worshipped" as the God of Lies on at least one planet; it's doubtful at best that he'd keep his end of the bargain.
SF Debris also (falsely) noted that judicious use of a Time Bomb in the pilot would have turned the series into little more than a TV movie. The Sadistic Choice at the end of "Caretaker" was, should Voyager destroy the Caretaker Array and leave themselves with hoofing it home, or use the Array to get home and let the Kazon enslave the Ocampas? Janeway chose to blow the Array. Chuck Sonnenburg's solution was to set a time bomb aboard the Array, set to go off just after it chucked Voyager back to the Alpha Quadrant. Unfortunately, there was an easily-missed line where Tuvok notes that without the Caretaker, it would take several hours to activate the Array and that's assuming that it doesn't get even more damaged in a multi-hour firefight. It's understandable, since even the writers seemed to forget that bit of information.
Since it's Star Trek, the diplomatic option bears consideration. Janeway could have tried negotiation a deal with the Kazon (whether or not it would have worked is another matter). Don't shoot, and let Voyager use the Array to get home. The Kazon have waited long enough, so a few extra hours while taking notes over Janeway's shoulder would have been an acceptable trade for her not destroying their prize.
Then there's Neelix. At his best, he's a useless, obnoxious, egocentric buffoon with the intellect and emotional capacity of a toddler. At his worst, he's gotten several crew members killed and endangered the entire ship on multiple occasions. In one Very Special Episode, he went beyond reckless endangerment and committed bona fide, premeditated treason. Not only does he never earn anything worse than a stern reprimand for the multiple fatalities he causes, he actually gets put in charge of people. Despite not being an officer, or even a member of Starfleet, nor having any noteworthy abilities beyond the sheer gall to appoint himself "morale officer". The bastard child of Spock and Marvin the Paranoid Android would be better for morale than Neelix.
The sad thing being that, in the pilot episode, Neelix was comic relief, but he was competent comic relief. He owned his own starship, was a combat-hardened veteran, was a successful businessman, and had the stones to manipulate the Voyager crew into being weapons against his enemies. Next episode, he suddenly becomes the Scrappy.
He's not just put in charge of morale, but also of cooking, of all things. His food is so awful that in one episode he actually poisons the ship with his cooking fumes. Not the ship's crew, but the actual ship itself. While it's possible he's a competent chef by Talaxian standards, he rarely bothers adapting to the fact that most of the crew are non-Talaxians.
In "Investigations" Neelix conducts a rogue investigation, makes an accusation using weak evidence, and violates the privacy of fellow crew members.
A youtube clip on how Neelix should have been handled in the series.
In the episode "Memorial" Neelix is more overbearing than usual. He insists that a memorial that transmits painful memories into others be left active. The only person who supports him is Janeway.
What makes the above example even more ridiculous is that his reaction to experiencing those traumatising memories was to hallucinate, pick up a phaser and hold Naomi hostage in the Mess Hall, believing he was protecting children in a combat-zone. It took a while for Tuvok to talk him down. And that is one of the memories you want someone else to remember? The poor sod who next undergoes that could easily kill half of his crew, blow a hole in the side of the ship or get himself shot!
Also, is asking someone who witnessed the destruction of his homeworld, and has demonstrated long-lasting psychological scars from that event on more than one occasion, really the best person to give advice on subjecting people's mental health to images of a massacre? You'd think, given his background, he'd be against this?!
GOB routinely screws up Michael's plans to save the company, week after week after week, even to the point of undoing what good Michael has achieved. Given how often this occurs, it is surprising that Michael always has a change of heart right after he decides to finally get rid of GOB for good. Indeed, the humor of the series mainly stems from the Family Unfriendly Aesop that Michael should stop caring about his family, but he is unable to.
If only Michael had moved away from his incompetent, irresponsible and immoral family, he wouldn't have to deal with their shenanigans. To his credit, he did try to leave in the beginning of season two. But the SEC was extra suspicious at that point.
The show actually ends with the SEC coming after the Bluths again and Michael finally going, "Y'know what? Fuck this."
On the other hand,Michael can be just as bad and self-centered as the rest of the Bluths and one of the reasons as to why he hangs around is because he genuinely gets off on his own feeling of self-importance and needing to be relied on by the rest of the family. Him leaving the family to fend for themsleves in order to spend time with his son he previously spent the entire series neglecting is arguably positive character development in the context.
In the children's TV show The Legend Of Tim Tyler, the eponymous hero sold his laugh to an evil baron for the ability to win any bet. It took until the end of the 13 part series for Tim Tyler to discover the one way to screw the baron over... to make a bet that he could laugh.
In the German book Thimm Thalers Lächeln, which seems to be the source, this is both lampshaded by Thimm and made plausible because he couldn't make this bet with just anyone - he was not allowed to tell anybody about the deal, so he had to find someone who figured it out by himself as a partner to his bet.
Played hilariously straight twice in Robin Hood with the obligatory female Kate, though both times it happened without the writers noticing what they'd done. That this girl is a liability to the team is undeniable; she's constantly getting kidnapped, injured and sabotaging outlaw plans thanks to her reckless stupid behaviour. Therefore, it's rather amusing in the episode "Too Hot to Handle" that Kate is kidnapped (again) while the outlaws are on route to the River Trent. Instead of organising a rescue, they just continue on their way without any attempt made to go after her. Later in "Something Worth Fighting For" she marches off in a huff after being tricked into believing that Robin is cheating on her. Despite the amount of shilling that goes on, nobody seems to care about or even really notice her absence — though luckily she arrives back just in time to completely ruin their successful attempt at a peaceful sit-in protest.
Lost thrived on this, which is not surprising considering the connections to Gilligan's Island.
All the survivors of 815 had to do was to hold a big meeting and compare notes about this VERY odd island to keep their cool and work more as a cohesive group. This is what the survivors tried to do initially. Except there were people trying to act in the best interests of the group, such as Sayid and co. keeping the French transmission a secret. And then people acting in their own interests, like Kate trying to keep her past a secret or Sawyer making everyone hate him because he's a Jerkass Woobie. And then there's Locke, who... is Locke. Arguably, part of the show's point is that when left to their own devices, people are prone to conflict and self-destruction
They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.
Part of the show's point is also that people only come to work together when all threatened by the same thing (Smokey, Others, No-Food/Water/Meds, wtf) but when they ain't, it's ''every man for himself''.
As a specific example, you could rename this trope to Just Eat Ben and it would still work. This man who has frankly random people kidnapped and murdered for his own desires, manipulates the protagonists continually, and is a flat out bastard with only a few sympathetic traits (which he is quick to exploit for his own means) is constantly put into scenarios where the protagonists can kill him... and they don't. Every time this happens it comes to bite them in the ass later.
Although by season six they do stop going along with any plan of Ben's. Anyone who was ever thinking 'Stop listening to Ben!' had to laugh when Sun knocked him unconscious and stole the boat he had lead her to, and the last season continued in that vein, with all other characters completely ignoring anything Ben said or wanted to do.
In the first season, many problems encountered in Farscape could have been averted if they'd "Just Ditched Crichton", as he was always the primary target of the BBEG. Unfortunately, this stopped being an option when Scorpius (and later Grayza) started putting bounties on anyone that could lead them to Crichton, meaning that dumping Crichton would have been pointless; more to the point, around this time the crew had bonded to an extent that they wouldn't have done this even if they had to.
Farscape also gave Rygel a great many opportunities to prove himself a life-endangering nuisance in the first season: at one point, trying to fool a gang of mercenaries into believing that he still holds a position of authority, he "borrows" a critical part of Moya's circuitry to decorate his sceptre- and almost gets the entire crew killed when the mercenaries kidnap him, sceptre and all. And after almost erasing Moya's data banks in an attempt to get home, releasing a virus on the crew, he eventually goes on to sell out his shipmates to Scorpius... only for the crew to begrudgingly accept his return when the attempted betrayal goes sour. Even the second season took a while to actually transform him into a useful character...
For some reason, the characters in Keeping Up Appearances never just refuse to do whatever Hyacinth says. When Hyacinth ignores a "No", the characters appear resigned to obey her. It gets turned into a running gag when Emmet tries to coach Liz into refusing coffee with Hyacinthe. She's just. that. SCARY.
You could make a case for it, but the title character's steadfast refusal to tell anyone about the fact that he has magic has caused more problems than it's solved. In particular, his treatment of Morgana led at least partially to her Face Heel Turn. Particularly as she likewise discovers she has magic in the second series. Her neck is on the line just as much as his, as it doesn't seem like that Uther would have been merciful.
As of Series 5, this has turned into "just kill Morgana". Sure, he can't track her down, but he has so many opportunities to just snap her neck with magic and yet he doesn't. Why? Just...why? She's way beyond redemption by now, and is probably too insane to even be bargained with. And yet in Another's Sorrow, he doesn't even kill her when she's strangling him, even though his life is in danger and it would be painfully easy for him to explode her head. I guess you could say that he still feels sorry for her, but he doesn't seem to have any problem with attempting to kill Mordred, who is an In-UniverseDesignated Villain.
Mission: Impossible actually has this inverted. Whenever there seems to be an easier, alternate way to accomplish the goal for the episode, one of the characters will bring it up in the pre-mission briefing and then an explanation as to why that can't work is given. In fact, the standing reason why the Impossible Mission Force can't just assassinate targets (which is obviously much easier than the convoluted schemes on the show) is because of a "policy decision" on behalf of the higher-ups in the United States.
Dennis The Menace. Mr. Wilson's life would be much better if the Mitchells would move away. The worst part is that the man is Genre Savvy enough to know this, and his warnings to the other characters are tragically ignored. An episode of the animated series dealt with this. Dennis breaks Mr. Wilson's window and he boards it up, and tells Dennis to just pretend that he has moved away from now on, in an attempt to get some peace. A pair of movers show up, having gotten lost while on their way to move an entire house, and ask Dennis if he knows anyone who is moving. Dennis points them toward Mr. Wilson's house, and they take the boarded up window as a sign that he is right. They lift the entire home onto a truck and take it away, with Mr. Wilson trying desperately to stop them. Eventually his house ends up in a nice coastal area, and he realizes that not only is his new location better, but no Dennis. But the movers figure out their mistake and take the house back over his protests.
In Survivor, several seasons had people shouting, "Just vote out x!" at their TVs. Especially recent seasons, wherein players seemed to have become afraid to rock the boat and try taking control of their alliances and vote out the designated "leader".
Redemption Island would have had a very different outcome if the Ometepes realized Rob was too dangerous to be allowed to run the game. Especially jarring considering the very first tribal council, Kristina reveals she has the idol meaning that Rob doesn't, and has a very big sign reading, "Vote me out" on his face. Unsurprisingly, he wound up winning.
South Pacific. Did it simply never occur to the Savaiis that they probably should have voted out Cochran? Especially after all they did to him?
One World. Viewers very quickly began to expect that everyone would just let Colton walk all over everybody. He did- until he was medevaced.
Season Seven would have had far less complications ensue in the second half of the season had the main characters invented some kind of mandatory "touch" system where they would have to make regular physical contact with each other to see if everyone present was corporeal. The First Evil caused so many problems by imitating other characters as an illusion that it seems odd that no system is invented to regularly verify that everyone there is really who they say they are.
The Buffyverse explains that guns don't do very much good against vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness (except that one time with the rocket launcher). Of course, it has also been shown on several occasions that guns work just fine on the slayer and her compatriots. There's really nothing preventing an average mook vampire from buying a gun, waiting for Buffy to deliver a snappy one liner, then whipping it out and shooting her in the face.
Two possible reasons for this: Most vampires in the series seem to have a deep sense of tradition, see the practices of the Order and their practice of taking Halloween off being taken very seriously, so they may consider guns and modern weapons to be beneath them. Note that Spike, one of the least traditional vampires, DID try to use a gun against Buffy (but his chip still prevented him). Also, shooting a person usually tends to make them lose a lot of blood; most vampires likely don't want to just kill the Slayer but eat her, and don't want to see all that yummy Slayer blood wasted. Weak reasoning maybe, but you get the idea.
On why the bad guys don't use guns, they just never thought of it due their super strength (the only exception, apart Spike, is Darla, who was well known as someone who did actually think through, and while sure she would manage to force Angel to kill Buffy she had a couple guns just in case). On why the good guys don't use them, it's just a problem of availability of the right ammunition: incendiary rounds for small arms do theorically exist, but the military tend to not stockpile those smaller than 12.7mm NATO caliber and they are quite expensive on black market.
Then use a recoilless rifle, for goddammit's sake. It's not that anyone qualified to use a rocket launcher hasn't heard of those. And they're just as man-portable (ok, Slayer-portable) and come in calibers up to 80mm.
Sort of a meta example for Growing Pains, but after Kirk Cameron became a born-again Christian, everyone else in the cast suffered for it(see #2 in this article). The simple solution would've been to write off (or more cathartically, kill off) Cameron's character or replace the actor with a less religiously zealous one. But that thought apparently ever occurred to anyone when other cast members were kicked off because Cameron thought they were too "sinful". Well, as the Cracked article states: Cameron was the teenage heartthrob whose face was on the cover of Tiger Beat. Kirk Cameron made ABC money.
Sainte Marina's resident gang leader, Serrat, causes so much trouble for the Colorado sailors (particularly through manipulative actions, such as in the episode "Big Chicken Dinner" where he successfully gets a sailor correctly accused of rape found not guilty so the islanders will get angry and riot in protest against the sailors) that one has to wonder how he hasn't been summarily executed by now. Then again, the sailors (especially Captain Chaplin) seem to be trying to keep up a reputation of honor and justice - also particularly noticeable in "Big Chicken Dinner."
That's not even the half of it. He kidnapped three sailors and used them as hostages to get the Colorado to run a blockade. When they are late, he murders one of the sailors and it is implied that he rapes another (she later disclaims this, but the rest of the crew doesn't know that). He participates in the CIA strike team raid, helping them poison everyone, which leads to two more sailors' deaths. He then straps a bomb vest to another sailor, which King barely defuses, then halfheartedly offers up a scapegoat. Then he starts selling drugs to the sailors, and tortures the COB when he tries to intervene. It would be justified if the islanders loved him, but they don't, they know he's an exploitative thug. It could also be justified if he was well-protected , but he isn't, King and another SEAL sneak right into his living room without difficulty. He's just wearing Plot Armor.
The Gilligan-specific question is subverted in the comic strip Monty (formerly Robotman, then Robotman And Monty), when the main character is trapped on the island from Lost. He discovers that the mysterious other inhabitants of the island are commanded by Gilligan, now oddly reminiscent of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. Gilligan reveals that he was only feigning incompetence to ensure that no-one ever escaped the island, being actually an evil mastermind.
Not subverted at all. Killing Gilligan would still have been the better solution. It would have been harder though.
Doing the "smart thing" is a quick way to get killed in Paranoia, where the number one overall survival factor is "be entertaining." Of course, if you take the trope name literally, your GM will probably find your attempts to eat the other PCs extremely entertaining.
Villainous example: In Megaman Battle Network, it takes the villains until the second-to-last non postgame cut scene in the series to realize that three adults taking on Kid Hero Lan in real life is a better idea than taking on Megaman in cyberspace. Only Bubbleman thinks to use a dangerous machine with no access ports. This prevents anyone from getting their Navis in and hacking the machine to stop. Bubbleman's plan fails because defeating him also shuts down the machines. But the clear point remains, the ONLY way the majority of the cast can combat the bad guys is by sending Navis into their machines, if the villains just used machines with no access ports, or used more real world obstacles, the heroes would be powerless to stop them. Lan isn't even armed, defeating him in person is literally as easy as walking over and subduing a school kid.
In Persona 3, why the hell didn't the good guys actively try to get their hands on Takaya and Strega in general? During the dark hour they have their personas and the ability to locate stuff during the day, by, uh, involving the police? The Kirijo Group manages to make a policeman sell friggin' weapons to teenagers (including firearms), and they have their own crewmen who could look for them, maybe even helped by Aigis who with or without persona would certainly be able to overpower the thin, sickly, looking Takaya, gun or no gun.
If RED stopped building railway tracks leading from their base to the BLU base, it would be harder to blow up their base in Team Fortress 2. Their reasoning is that they want to send a cart of their own to blow up the BLU base. Further parodied in the "Mann vs. Machine" update, where waves of robots are able to blow up Mann Co. store's bases due to giant bomb holes in the ground. The update comics says they're rethinking the policy.
If any of the three heroes in Fable II died, the villain would be completely unable to complete his plan. Not that Theresa would have let that happen.
Which begs the question why didn't the heroes just eat Theresa?
The plots of Grand Theft Auto IV and its expansion The Ballad of Gay Tony would be enormously shorter if the main characters were allowed to use the massive amounts of money they earn to just pay off the debts of the characters they are protecting. By about the middle of IV specifically, Niko can easily be sitting on over a quarter million dollars but you'll still be doing missions for loan sharks that Roman owes money to without the option of just paying them off. This wouldn't solve all the problems but it would make them much more manageable.
The plot of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, although the cast can be forgiven for not realizing it under the circumstances. It takes them 6 full stories of them slaughtering eachother to finally halfway the 7th episode realize that none of that would happen if they'd just trust eachother for once. When they start the 8th story with this information and work together from the start, it becomes no more than a Curb-Stomp Battle against the true enemies.
In the first Spyro the Dragon game, you rescue around eighty full-grown dragons. Most of them give you some helpful advice, sure, but why don't any of them help you fight Gnasty? Because the dragons you rescue in Gnasty's World are dragons you freed previously, there is an implication that if the dragons helped fight him, they'd just be encased in crystal again, but nothing is outright stated. The sequels at least give reasons for it, e.g in Gateway to Glimmer/Ripto's Rage, Spyro's the only dragon available. In Year of the Dragon, he's the only dragon who can fit through the hole left by the intruders.
Terraria has the "Guide" who does things like letting monsters into your safe house, prompting many a player to think this trope.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword deserves some kind of reward for the stupid decision that doesn't just helps this game's villain, but makes about 85% of all misery in Hyrule ever possible. You spend about a third of the game trying to find a way back in time, where you learn nothing that Impa or Fi couldn't have just told you. But the timegate gets hijacked by The Dragon after defeating the Big Bad in the present. Had you never opened the timegate, The Dragon would've been unable to go back (opening the gate required the Master Sword, which he couldn't use since he's evil and which didn't even exist yet), the Big Bad wouldn't have been able to utter his curse, and Ganondorf would never have existed.
Has happened more than a few times in movies that Film Brain has reviewed, leading to his catchphrase, "Why don't they just (insert smarter course of action here)? Oh right, because we wouldn't have a movie!"
The series How It Should Have Ended is pretty much dedicated to pointing these out. Examples are Lord of the Rings (Blindfold the eagles and fly them straight from Rivendell into Mordor), Predator (If the Predator doesn't attack unarmed people because it's not good sport, just ditch all the weapons) and Star Wars (Don't wait until the Death Star has gone all the way around the planet that the rebel base orbits, just blow up the planet and you'll have a clear shot at the base).
Offense to the last one: That Wave Motion Gun has an insane recharge delay. Even the Rot J Death Star, which is bigger than the first one, has to fire it at reduced setting (still enough against a capital ship) to keep the recharge manageable.
In the 1990s The Incredible Hulk animated series, the military would invariably show up and ruin everything at the exact moment Bruce Banner was undergoing a procedure that would eliminate the Hulk once and for all. If they wanted to get rid of the Hulk so badly, they could have left him alone. Or simply put a bullet into Banner's brain from a mile away while he's still human. Sniper Rifles were invented to kill people that it would be too dangerous to approach directly, Banner probably qualifies.
The Avengers, referencing a deleted scene in the Norton film, has Bruce say that he's tried to kill himself and it hasn't worked. Part of the problem in that film is that the military is trying to capture Bruce. Even when hitting him with tank fire in the Ang Lee film, they could barely slow him down. And even without the military's intervention, Bruce often Hulks out anyway.
There is not an episode of The Fairly Odd Parents which couldn't have been solved or averted by creating the standing wish of "always warn me before any wish that might take away my power to make wishes" and then just flat undoing anything left. Of course, both protagonist Timmy and fairy godparent Cosmo are supposed to be idiots. One episode actually commented on this concept. One time Timmy wishes that he loses his emotions and after that, has nothing to do but think. He comes to the conclusion that "the reason they couldn't build a boat on Gilligan's Island is because it would end the series...", which is somewhat similar to his situation. And sort of inverted during the Magic Muffin thing:
Cosmo: I don't get it, why don't you just wish you had the muffin back? Timmy: Good idea, Cosmo! I wish I had the muffin back! Wanda: We can't do it. You know as well as I do that the muffin is more powerful than we are. Cosmo: Yeah, I just wanted to know why he hadn't tried.Explanation
There used to be an age old question on this very page wondering why heroes in Dragon Ball Z couldn't just wish away foes, with a somewhat flimsy reason (but a reason nonetheless In-Universe) being that the Dragon Balls' creator was weaker than the villains.
Wile E Coyote seems to have the ability and resources available to send away for any sort of gizmo he desires, and have it arrive immediately to aid him in his quest to catch the roadrunner. It never occurs to him to simply order some food.
Creator Chuck Jones liked to quote George Santayana's observation, "A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim." Meaning, to Wile E., eating the Road Runner is largely not the point anymore. Indeed, as Cliff Claven pointed out on Cheers, "What he wants is to eat that particular Roadrunner. Very existential."
Lampshaded in Night Court of all places, with Judge Stone presiding over Wile E. Coyote and telling him that next time he's hungry he should just go to a restaurant or supermarket.
In the shorts where Wile E. is pitted against Bugs Bunny, it's made clear that he's in it for the intellectual challenge as much as for a meal. One would assume this is probably the case in the Road Runner shorts as well.
Lampshaded in one of his shorts. Wile E. explains that the reason he compulsively chases the roadrunner is because roadrunners are the most friggin delicious things on Earth, including a meat chart with all the flavors of a roadrunner's various cuts laid out.
A Looney Tunes comic book does actually establish that Wile E. gets his food via mail order, and that catching Roadrunner is just his hobby.
There's at least one other short where he catches the Roadrunner, in a bit of a Take That to people who over-think cartoons. Two chubby bespectacled kids speaking in big words watching the cartoon note that with his greater intellect, the Coyote should succeed, and explain exactly how in a very simple plan — and the Coyote is listening, and then catches the Roadrunner! He's then informed by the director that he's now fired, as there can't be any more show. He surreptitiously lets the Roadrunner go, and says, "Oh, no, he's escaped!", and is hired again on the spot. The kids are then seen again, saying, "Oh, THAT'S why he never catches the Roadrunner."
The heights of Wile E.'s obsession is underscored by the large number of his plans that, had they succeeded, would have destroyed the Road Runner, or at least rendered its carcass inedible.
Really one of his main problems is that he keeps buying shoddy products from Acme. Which one episode reveals as being owned and operated by the Road Runner!
Over the course of ThunderCats Mumm-Ra was revealed to have an incredible array of powers and resources at his disposal. If he had used several of these at once instead of one per episode, he could have won. Possibly justified by the risk of over-using powers and rendering himself weakened and easily defeated in the next episode. Also, he's ever-living. If he had been willing to just wait the Thunder Cats out, they would have gone extinct in a generation (there's nowhere near enough for a breeding population). Any progress they could have made in freeing the world from his tyranny could easily be undone afterward.
Why doesn't Bluto just eat spinach to beat Popeye? There was one cartoon in which they were trying to be hospitalized, and Bluto did indeed eat spinach and beat up Popeye. However, Bluto didn't so much "eat" the spinach as have it forced down his throat by Popeye. At a guess, Bluto hates spinach even more than he hates Popeye, underscored by one cartoon where Bluto invents a powerful herbicide to destroy all of the world's spinach to incapacitate Popeye. Popeye pleads to the audience, and some kid with a grocery bag throws it into the screen. Popeye beats Bluto, and cures all the spinach. The movie at least Hand Waves this by implying that it was not that spinach itself had magical power-up properties, but that Popeye's family had long drawn strength from a diet of spinach.
Entire episodes of Tale Spin are often driven by Baloo's incompetence, laziness or audacity, or Rebecca's hardheadedness, blind ambition or naivete.
What could be solved simply with some logical thinking often snowballs into a very big problem. Sometimes Kit or Molly's recklessness or need for adventure complicates matters, too, though not as often as Baloo and Rebecca's character flaws do.
Played with in one episode, where Rebecca wins a contest and needs to get her winning entry to a radio station on time to get a large sum, but she's too busy to get it mailed herself. She knows that Baloo is lazy except when something doesn't matter, so she tries to use Reverse Psychology, telling him that she'd appreciate it if he could take care of mailing it out for her, but that it wasn't important. Unfortunately for her, Baloo, already experienced with how much trouble arises from her hardheadedness and blind ambition, figures that her laissez-faire attitude means it really isn't important, so he spends the fare for the letter on himself (after Rebecca said he could keep the change) and sends it via the cheapest possible postage. Cue scramble when both parties realize what they had done.
Ulysses Feral from SWAT Kats invokes this for the title heroes' origin; despite clearly being told they had a target lock, his stubborn obsession to be the only one allowed to bring Dark Kat down not only caused the Enforcers to lose the villain (which the aforementioned target lock would've likely prevented), but also forced Jake and Chance into the crash that ended their Enforcer career and began their career as the titular gang. True, there would be no cartoon, but at least they would've been able to bring a dangerous criminal to justice. Even after the incident, Feral insists on fighting against the SWAT Kats and bringing them to "justice", even though it's been shown time and time again the supervillains they deal with are more than the Enforcers can handle, on their own, and other, more reasonable members of his force (like his niece Felina) can see the benefit of allying themselves with them.
Good thing the Decepticons never thought of getting rid of Starscream. He's the only reason the Autobots kept surviving, or even woke up in the first place. One time he even saved the cornered Autobots just for the sake of ruining Megatron's plans. Right in front of him, complete with a smug one-liner. However, one could argue Starscream had the right idea. If they just blew up the Ark (or at least slagged the Autobots in their stasis lock), they could have conquered Earth without Autobot interference. In fact, he wanted to blow them up before they even crashed, but Megatron insisted on following them instead, giving the Autobots a chance to mount a defense.
There are also several times where Starscream points out glaring flaws in Megatron's plans (ie the dangerous instability of their latest energy source). Megatron will invariably respond by mocking and insulting him and ignoring his advice, only to be surprised when the plan blows up in his face in exactly the way Starscream predicted. The real solution would be for them to just work together rather than constantly try to one-up eachother, then worry about fighting for control after the Autobots are out of the way.
Anyone who grew up withJem will most likely be astounded on revisiting the show and realizing that the rival band of Jem and the Holograms (The Misfits) would often indulge in felonies such as kidnapping, blackmail, sabotage and slander in order to boost their own sales and discredit their opponents. A simple phone call to the police would have seen them locked up for a very long time. Made worse by the fact that Jerrica owns Starlight Music and could probably do a lot more to ensure that Eric Raymond would stop causing trouble as a record executive than a pop idol.
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987, almost every time Shredder and Krang fail it is because of Bebop and Rocksteady's bumbling. Simply getting rid of the two or at least locking them up would result in far less humilation for Shredd-Head and Krang.
Partially Justified in one episode, in which Krang points out that Shredder firing them is a bad idea, as they don't have a lot of options in the help department for their schemes. Their attempt to solve this problem blows up in their faces.
This gets taken to the logical conclusion in the series finale of both the original and 2003 cartoons, in which Utrom Shredder, AKA a villain that was besting three separate generations of Turtles as well as fairly powerful allies, has already destroyed entire universes, and is scarily competent... is defeated by their screwing up.
Building the universe-conquering superweapon with a working power source would have done it. Given some of the stuff they used to get it temporarily working, it probably could have run at full power on a diesel engine.
Nicely subverted in the Squidbillies episode "A Sober Sunday." Early Cuyler spend the episode trying to lift the banning of liquor sales on Sunday, but is unable to do so. At the end of the episode Granny asks why he doesn't just buy his Sunday liquor on Saturday. He throws her in a fire and claims that it's too inconvenient.
It would seem so - but in "That Smarts," Pinky becomes as intelligent as the Brain, to the delight of the latter... until a) Pinky starts indicating flaws in every single planet-conquering scheme and b) the Brain realises that the only way any of his plans will succeed is if one of them is an idiot. So he makes himself as "smart" (i.e. as stupid) as Pinky normally is... unfortunately, Pinky's seen how miserable the Brain is now that the balance of power has shifted, and he makes himself as stupid as he was before! Needless to say, this doesn't stick for the rest of the series.
Maybe so, or maybe that's merely a case of Brain wanting his idiot friend back, since if Brain's plots are really as flawed as Pinky indicates in this episode, Brain would be better off if Pinky stayed smart and helped him.
It's possible that Brain is simply too arrogant and self-centered to cope with a smart Pinky. He needs Pinky to be stupid so Brain can look at himself as brilliant by comparison.
It's been established in several episodes that Brain's plans are precisely what keeps them from succeeding. Pinky has come extremely close several times just by doing all the random things that come naturally to him, only for Brain to ruin it when he tries to use their position of power to his advantage for one of his schemes. Then there's the time they took a night off, and unknowingly ended up with a large group of people who wanted to find Brain and put him in charge. Basically, they'd rule the world already if they didn't keep trying to force it.
The subplot in one Kim Possible episode involved the characters being assigned lab partners for a school science project. Kim is paired with a genius scientist who neither needs nor wants her help, and as a result Kim is left bored and unsatisfied that she has nothing to do. Kim's friend Monique is paired with Ron, and she is over-stressed because Ron just doesn't care and leaves her to do all the work herself. Kim and Monique could have simply worked together on Monique's project and that way all four parties would have got a decent grade and a workload that suited them.