troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
X
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
View Kickstarter Project
Stupid Crooks
aka: Stupid Criminals
And to think that all he wanted was a free toaster...

"I did not rob a bank; if I had robbed a bank, everything would have been great... I tried to rob a bank is what happened, and they got me... I misspelled a note."

When it comes to committing crime, unfortunately, not everyone is an expert... or even a professional. A good caper usually takes the talent and skill of the likes of a Classy Cat-Burglar or even a Phantom Thief to pull off, and you either have a good knack for it or you don't. Those that don't have a knack for anything on that scale may think smaller, plan a less rewarding crime with fewer risks involved, and some people fail even at that.

This trope is for those who fail even at that.

Criminals in general are never really the brightest of folks in the first place, but there's something about Stupid Crooks that always distinguishes them from the rest of the pack. Naturally, the very fact that they seek to commit acts of crime doesn't win them any favors or admiration from anyone, but the fact that they can't even succeed at it doesn't do them any good, either. Knowing that, the escapades involving this type of criminal usually amount to one of the greatest forms of Comedic Sociopathy one can find anywhere.

When a Jerkass fails at something, it's funny. When a Jerkass is also an idiot, it's still funny... only more so.

Most commonly, Stupid Crooks are low-level burglars and petty thieves; other times, they may be people who don't even have criminal records or have never committed a crime before but are suddenly tempted to commit one for fast cash or some other small reward. No matter what though, these guys always get something wrong. They use Paper Thin Disguises (that don't work), they rob a store that they visit daily where all the employees would recognize them, they use their real names to communicate with each other, they do all three of those things at once and more! Stupidity has no limits, and that has never been truer than in instances involving Stupid Crooks.

On most occasions, Failure Is the Only Option with the crook(s) either bungling a job that has low-risk and is extremely petty (like taking candy from a baby) or one that comes with greater risk in a criminal field that they have no experience with. Stupid Crooks always get caught by the cops (even when Police Are Useless for anything else) or otherwise end up having a price to pay for their idiocy. In either conclusion, Amusing Injuries are very likely to occur.

The few times when a crook manages to get away with anything, the matter usually comes down to a Contrived Coincidence or two and a hefty dose of subversion that allows the crook to slip by when everyone else is preoccupied with a much larger mess that was made, especially true if the character isn't actually after any plot-crucial MacGuffins and the character only serves to advance other circumstances of a story; in the very rare event that a Stupid Crook does get away with a plot-crucial MacGuffin by the end of the story, expect this to feel like a Shocking Swerve.

Often leads to Mugging the Monster and Bullying a Dragon. A Goldfish Poop Gang is often composed of these. Weapon for Intimidation can show up in a subverted fashion, where brandishing an unusable weapon (i.e. an unloaded gun) draws aggro from people who can fight back with greater force. For one reason or another, such characters are usually Too Dumb to Live. If any such character happens to draw sympathy from their failings, that character is also likely to be an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.

See Also: Cut Lex Luthor a Check, when someone with a habit for committing crime could actually achieve fortune and success through more sincere and legal means. The supporting characters in a Terrible Trio can commonly evoke this trope. Often The Family for the Whole Family is similar. Stupid Crooks can also be a type of Harmless Villain.

Is not related to Stupid Evil.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comics 

    Fan Works 
  • The kidnappers in Princess Celestia Gets Mugged. Even if Celestia wasn't a Physical Goddess in disguise and let herself be kidnapped For the Lulz, they're more a threat to themselves than her. They realize too late that, after going through the trouble of coming up with code-names to hide their identities, 'Sunny Skies' has already seen them in full view for quite some time. Then, after being told of their captive's excellent memory, one of them says the exact location of the safe house they're planning to go to after getting their ransom. Then, to deliver the ransom note, one of them walks up to the castle door to hoof deliver it. Needless to say, he's arrested on the spot.

    Film 
  • Guy Ritchie was a fan of this trope in his two earliest movies.
    • Just about every character in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels qualifies one way or another. The film's tagline is even "A Disgrace to Criminals Everywhere." However, special note has got to be given to Dean and Gary, who are instructed by Barry the Baptist to retrieve antique shotguns from an estate home and keep anything else they can carry for themselves. Even in a mansion decorated with numerous expensive antiques, they rationalize that "old" must mean "worthless". And that's to say nothing about how they sold the guns Barry wanted them to get for quick cash, thinking they were too old for him to want anything to do with. The rest of their adventure follows them attempting to get the guns back, which do end up in the hands of the man who wants them without their help, but Dean and Gary don't know that...
      • Even the way they are introduced lets you know they are stupid. Harry claims he doesn't care who John hires to steal the guns, "as long as they're not complete fucking muppets." Cue Gilligan Cut.
    • Sol, Vinny, and Tyrone from Snatch. Apparently, everything they do was inspired by stories of stupid criminals shared on late night talk show monologues.
      • While Avi isn't a criminal by profession, he qualifies as well, since he's trying to get his hands on the diamond, and he ends up mucking everything he gets involved with up as well.
  • Of the two burglars in Home Alone, Marv is much more dense than his partner Harry. It was his idea to flood every house they rob as his way of leaving a Calling Card, and when Marv wants to make it clear to cops that he and his partner are the "Wet Bandits", one of his arresting officers makes an observation:
    Police Officer: Hey, you know we've been looking for you two guys for a long time. Thanks for leaving the water running; now we know each and every house you guys have hit.
    • Every crook in a Home Alone film counts, really.
  • At the beginning of RoboCop 3, a would-be hoodlum pulls out a gun and tries to pull a late night hold up... at a local Doughnut Shop. Cue the dozen or more cops/customers whipping out their guns.
    Clerk: How does it feel to be a rocket scientist?
  • Woody Allen's character Virgil Starkwell from his Mockumentary film Take the Money and Run is shown to be pretty incompetent. His idea of sneaking a hidden camera into a bank to scout out a potential place to rob involved hiding the camera in a loaf of bread that he has to hold up to his face to take pictures, just as if it were an ordinary film camera.
  • Allen's later film Small Time Crooks explores this again. Ray (Allen's character) and his wife Frenchy horribly botch their attempt to rob a bank by tunneling into it, but the bakery they open as a front for their criminal activities becomes legitimately successful. Even after the characters decide to pursue the more legal activity instead, Ray still looks to commit thefts, and he's still totally unsuccessful. However, Frenchy, is a bit more successful.
  • The Coward, the Goon and the Seasoned Man, a popular Soviet comedic trio, are cast as these crooks in Operation Y.
  • The Coen Brothers tend to include criminal characters in a lot of their stories, including a few bumbling crooks who usually, but not always, appear in their comedies.
    • In Raising Arizona, H.I.'s attempt to steal baby diapers with an unloaded gun becomes a lot more complicated when all the store clerks and police officers he runs into are packing heat and aren't afraid to use it. Lucky for his sake, they all seem to be graduates from The Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.
      • Evelle and Gale are even worse. They leave Nathan, Jr. behind at not one but two of their own crime scenes, among other stupid mistakes.
    • Fargo sees Jerry's scheme to stage his wife's kidnapping in order to swindle money from his wealthy father-in-law go horribly awry once the two criminals he hired for the job are pulled over by a state trooper shortly after the kidnapping, who ends up getting killed along with two witnesses, which only complicates things and calls more attention to their actions. Then more things happen that don't go according to plan, and more people die as a consequence to this, including Jerry's wife.
    • The Big Lebowski begins with two thugs breaking into The Dude's apartment and pissing on his rug after they manage to mistake him for a multi-millionaire.
      • The nihilists also try to get ransom money without actually having the person they're trying to get the ransom for.
    • The Ladykillers were certainly not the best of crooks, either. Even in the original, for that matter.
    • Turned on its head in their adaptation of No Country for Old Men, where the protagonists make many stupid and rash decisions, or are simply unable to cope in the face of a terrifyingly competent and relentless assassin.
  • The Producers. In the original, after Max and Leo pull their Springtime for Hitler, they decide to blow up the theater with a little help from Franz. However, they're not sure if they used the short fuse or the long fuse for their bomb detonator, and their way of testing to find out which one they used is to light the fuse they already primed for the bomb. And then they discuss how the fuse they lit is behaving like the short fuse, which wouldn't have given them enough time to leave the building...
  • Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction has a large number of personal What an Idiot moments, two of which are directly in relation to his job as a hitman and enforcer for Marcellus Wallace's criminal empire. Not only is he the Trope Namer for I Just Shot Marvin in the Face, but Vincent also leaves his sub-machine gun sitting out in the open while he goes to the bathroom at Butch's apartment when he's supposed to be waiting to kill Butch if he shows up. Butch does show up, and, upon noticing the gun, picks it up and shoots Vincent dead after he steps out of the bathroom. It's quite likely this is a result of his heroin addiction taking its toll and being out of practise from the four years he spent in Amsterdam (Word of God says he ran a club for Marcellus), where he evidentally indulged in heavy drug use.
  • The three bumbling idiots in Baby's Day Out who try to kidnap a baby and hold him for ransom just can't seem to keep the baby from wandering off and getting into situations that get themselves hurt.
  • Four Lions centers around a group of five moronic Islamic Terrorists with less than five brain cells to share between themselves.
  • In the Italian movie Fantozzi in Paradiso, the eponymous protagonist and his friend Filini try to rob the internal bank of the 'Mega-Company' they used to work for before retiring. Not only they need the help of the bank's director to pull it off in spite of their own imbecility, but they're later robbed of the loot by the Mega-Director of the Mega-Company, who noticed them prepare and ordered to let them pull it off to take the money himself (with the bank being refunded by the insurance).
  • Any time The Three Stooges played a role where they were crooks, they fit the bill.
  • The robbers who kick off the plot of Killing Them Softly, pissing off the mob into the bargain and getting a hit put out on them.
  • Disney's film of The Apple Dumpling Gang (also mentioned under Literature) makes things even stupider by casting Don Knotts and Tim Conway as the hapless crooks. How dumb are they? They get captured by a lawman who took pity on them and told them he couldn't hang them because he didn't have any rope, but if they came back tomorrow with some rope he'd take care of it. After they leave, the sheriff tells his deputy that if they're dumb enough to come back with a rope, he'll hang them for being Too Dumb to Live. The only reason they didn't come back to be hanged was because they couldn't find any rope.
  • Daniel, Adrian, and Paul in Pain and Gain. The entire film's plot hinges on the main characters being complete idiots who make mistake after mistake in their gruesome kidnapping and extortion plan. Ed Du Bois pretty much alludes to it by name by noting that they were convicted of all the crimes they committed except the biggest one: being deeply stupid.
  • In The 51st State, a mob thug kills a crooked chemist after misinterpreting his partner's request to "take care of him" and a Dirty Cop accidentally kills the dude he's shaking down for a bribe. Additionally, it can be argued that since Elmo's super-powerful designer drug is an elaborate placebo, the entire criminal organization that bought it was backwards enough to fall for it.
  • Sonny in Dog Day Afternoon. He robs a bank in broad daylight and waits until after the money shipment has left the bank, doesn't wear a mask or gloves, only thinks to paint over the cameras part-way through (and is too short to reach most of them, anyway), announces to his hostages that he served in Vietnam and was a bank teller at one point in his life and uses his and his partners' their real names (so even if it had gone as planned they would have been caught immediately), burns the traveler's cheque registry which alerts the bank's neighbours to something happening inside, doesn't take into account one of his partner's mental stability or the possibility of his other partner getting cold feet and leaving short-handed, doesn't look into the bank's floorplan and doesn't consider the possibility of a hostage situation or a stand-off with police. In fact, if he had arrived before the shipment left, he likely would have been shot be the armoured car guards.

    Literature 
  • The two robbers in The Apple Dumpling Gang who are after the gold the children found certainly count, later turned into a movie, starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway as the robbers.
  • The kidnappers in O. Henry's short story "The Ransom of Red Chief". They're dumb enough to kidnap an obviously evil child, and he's such a terror that they end up having to pay his father to take him back.
  • Discworld has a number of examples, like Done-It-Duncan from Men at Arms, an incompetent cut-purse who will confess to anything (including stealing fire from the gods) if it means he can spend a night in the cells instead of out on the streets. Which due to Suspiciously Specific Denial of how he did it and not someone else leads to him being a decent informant that gets paid in spending the night in a cell. The unlicensed crooks from Feet of Clay are an even better example; at one point they try to rob a bar full of watchmen, and then they try to take one of the officers (Sergeant Angua) hostage.
    • Played with in Interesting Times, when Rincewind becomes the object of a Thieves' Guild instructor's lecture on mugging techniques. The bumbling students can't even bop Rincewind on the head to their teacher's satisfaction, despite several tries and repeated demonstrations of the proper technique.
  • Snake and Eddie in Big Trouble, though they do get pretty far on blind determination, aren't bright enough to believe they've robbed a Suitcase Nuke, even when told that it's a bomb.
  • In the Wayside School series, two robbers try to hold up Mrs. Jewls' class thinking they were holding up a bank. When it's pointed out to them that they're in a school, it's quickly revealed that they're illiterate. Todd ends up saving the day by giving them a spelling book and encouraging them to learn to read and write.
  • The thieves in "Stop Thief!" from book 27 of The Railway Series. They drive a care they stole from the Ffarquhar station master, in the area it was stolen from, the day after they stole it. Thomas easily recognizes the car and alerts his crew, who throw a message to the signalman, who calls the police and arranges a roadblock to catch the idiots (which he helps by shutting the gate of the level crossing).
  • The Buffalo Brothers in Relativity. In their first appearance, they leave behind enough clues that the heroes immediately deduce that this trope is in play.
    Sara: Let’s assume they are stupid. Who do we know who’s an idiot?

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stupid Crooks are a very popular topic among late night talk show hosts, especially Jay Leno. Whenever Jay does his "Headlines" segment, you can always expect at least one story about a dumb criminal to crop up.
  • The "Non-Illegal Robbery" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus is about a group of criminals who aren't even plotting anything that's criminal.
    Michael Palin: We don't seem to be doing anyfink illegal.
    Jerry Jones: What do you mean?
    Michael Palin: Well, we're paying for the watch.
    Terry Jones: They wouldn't give it to us if we didn't pay for it!
    • Also: the Vercotti Brothers, and their brilliant idea of trying to sell protection to the British Army.
    • The bank robber who held up a lingerie shop by mistake and ultimately made off with a pair of panties.
  • The whole gimmick of Chespirito's characters El Chompiras Y El Peterete.
  • World's Dumbest Criminals, later The Smoking Gun Presents: World's Dumbest, is a TruTV documentary show about... well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • In the pilot episode of Dead Like Me, one of George's first experiences with the reapers is with Mason at a bank, where we meet Bret, the hapless bank robber. Bret stumbles through a prepared announcement he wrote up before entering the bank and gets upstaged by one jealous wife of the bankers. However, he miraculously manages to get away with the bank's money.
    • Meanwhile, Mason is oftentimes the dumbest of the team of reapers and is the only one who looks to earn his money through theft and criminal misdeeds, while the others hold down jobs on the side. Usually, his stupidity and crimes are unrelated to the other, but one occasion stands out where, after previously giving away all of his possessions when he incorrectly assumed he was finally going to the afterlife, he was caught stealing tips left on tables at Der Waffle House, where the gang always meets and hangs out, and is immediately kicked out and barred from coming back to the diner by the group's usual waitress Kiffany.
    • Mason actually has a fairly high success rate with his stupid crimes because of the fact that he is undead. So while a normal stupid crook would end up dead or massively hurt, Mason merely ends up in a lot of pain until his undead body recovers. When his schemes get the other reapers angry at him they treat him to a lot of pain so he learns his lesson.
  • The Whitest Kids U Know once did a skit about a group of would-be bank robbers who repeatedly fail the same criminal plot over and over for many different reasons, ranging from not being able to read the bank's blueprints, bringing friends from out of town along to the robbery, and posting plans to rob the bank on a blog (along with a hyperlink to the bank's website wherever the word "bank" is used).
  • This sketch from Jam features a man holding up a convenience store in order to buy a pack of cigarettes. Apparently, the gun he points at the store clerk was to make sure that he got back change. The clerk tells the man with the gun that he doesn't need to pay for the cigarettes, and the man thinks of this as some sort of unexpected thrill.
    • Not to mention the guy who tries to hold up an off license with a gun hidden in his stomach which he fires... out through his own spine, killing himself and the man behind him in the queue.
    • Or another bungled convenience store hold up where the would-be robber forgets to bring the axe he was meant to be threatening people with.
  • An episode of Knight Rider dealing with car theft has a "false alarm" as two crooks attempt to steal the pimped-out K.I.T.T., and quickly prove not to be the professionals Michael is looking for: They're trying to break in using a Philips-head screwdriver instead of a flat one, and this kind of coat hanger.
    • In many other episodes as well, KITT confused and scared the crap out of random bumbling petty criminals who tried to steal/sabotage/damage him, more for the entertainment value than for anything related to the plot.
  • 'Liability' Finch from the Hustle episode "The Thieving Mistake".
  • The pilot episode of Turks opened with two crooks attempting to rob a cop bar. Leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny when, as they are about to leave, someone calls out to them. They turn around and discover everyone in the bar, except for the bartender and the waitress, is holding a badge and a gun.
  • A scene on The Sketch Show has a group of counterfeiters who realize it's costing them more than 12 pounds to produce a usable 10 pound note. After a few suggestions for rectifying this, they decide to just start circulating actual 10 pound notes.
  • The Eerie Indiana episode "The Hole in the Head Gang" focuses on the ghost of Grungy Bill, "The Worst Bank Robber East of the Mississippi" ("worst" as in "no good, incompetent"). According to Eerie legend, Bill was arrested twelve times (all for failed attempts to rob the Eerie Bank). When robbing the bank for the 13th time, he forgot to bring his gun, and ended up getting killed by the sheriff's posse at the Eerie Mill, where, rumor has it, Grungy Bill's ghost can be spotted trying to look for his gun. The rumor proves to be true when Marshall and Simon uncover Grungy Bill's gun and his ghost returns to attempt to rob the Eerie Bank for a 14th time. This time, he's able to get away with stealing one of the complimentary toasters the bank was giving away to anyone who opens a new bank account. Grungy Bill determines this to be a successful bank robbery and can finally rest in peace.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? gave us this gem, "This is a stick up! Does anyone have a gun that I could use?"
    • Ryan once was a series of dumb criminals on Party Quirks segment, with actions ranging from trying to rob a place by holding a gun to his own head, getting a tie stuck in a safe door, and handing a demand note on a personalized check (also handing in his license if there was "a problem").
  • On The West Wing, when after a several day manhunt, the criminals are actually caught when pulled over for a random traffic stop after a highway patrolman noticed a busted tail light:
    FBI Agent Mike Casper: In thirteen years with the Bureau, I've discovered that there's no amount of money, manpower or knowledge that can equal the person you're looking for being stupid.
    President Bartlett: We've always had some of the of stupidest criminals in the world in America. I've always been very proud of that.
  • An episode of Grimm featured two kidnappers who left the following in the van they used to kidnap a woman: 1. her hair 2. chloroform and a rag with chloroform on it 3. the victim's purse, containing her wallet which had her driver's license in it. A bit of a subversion however, as all of this evidence was discovered after one of the kidnappers had already been tortured by a vigilante into confessing and who was then killed, while the other one was released from police custody by the vigilante while Hank and Nick were busy being shown the evidence, and was then himself killed by the vigilante.
  • Bob Odenkirk plays a kidnapper on a Mr. Show sketch, who tries sending a Finger in the Mail when demanding a ransom... AFTER he sends the parents back their son. And it wasn't the son's toe, it was his own. And the police manage to trace his location during his phone call when demanding the ransom.
  • A double example occurs in the first episode of The Wire, in which a pair of junkies attempt to pay for their hit with unconvincingly monochrome-photocopied money — which the dealer obliviously accepts.
  • Horrible Histories portrays Guy Fawkes and his band of conspirators as this.
  • Air Crash Investigation: The hijackers in "Ocean Landing," who think that their plane can make the trip to Australia since they read it in the in-flight magazines, and refuse to believe the captain when he says that the plane's tanks weren't filled to capacity for the much shorter scheduled flight.
  • The Dutch comedy show Koefnoen had a series of sketches titled Poorly Organized Crime. It featured a gang engaged in all manner of criminal enterprises, and screwing them up every time. Examples include a diamond heist where they mix up the diamond and the fake they planned to leave in its place, making a randsom demand while having no plan on where and how the ransom should be delivered, or being tasked to steal a modern art piece titled "No title" and realizing there are several paintings without a title and not knowing which to steal. Once per Episode, one of their members would get killed by accident.
    "Oops."
  • Adam-12 has a few.
    • In one episode, a pair of drug dealers, knowing the narco detectives are close to finding them, try hiding their bags of high-grade heroin in the gas tank. One of the bags ruptures, turning their new automobile into The Alleged Car in time for Reed and Malloy to happen by.
    • In another episode, a thief breaks into a synagogue and steals a typewriter—not realizing that it's only designed for typing in Hebrew.

    New Media 

    Radio 
  • Punt and Dennis's "It's Been A Bad Week" often has 'dumb criminal' examples, usually stories either from Florida or Germany.
  • The John Boy and Billy Big Show has a recurring segment called "Dumb Crook News".

    Video Games 
  • Fallout 3 has Mel, an ineffective would-be mugger that the player character can find in a random encounter. He demands that the player give all his/her money to him in a very unassertive tone, stammers, and otherwise shows himself to be nothing short of pathetic. If the player has a high enough Perception skill, he can notice that Mel's gun isn't even loaded, otherwise it is quite easy to intimidate Mel into running away. If engaged in combat, Mel is a totally unarmed pushover.
  • Fallout: New Vegas gives us the Freeside Thugs, they seemingly do not understand the stupidity of luring someone in Power Armor and carrying a Machine Gun/Rocket Launcher/Orbital Death Ray into a "trap" they set, when all they have are pool cues and meat cleavers.
    • There are also Vicky and Vance, a pre-war petty-crime duo styling themselves as Bonny and Clyde-like duo, except not nearly as competent or famous (at least before their deaths, when they drove through a completely unrelated shootout). And then there are Pauline and Sammy, two extremely small-time crooks styling themselves after Vicky and Vance (thus copying two copies) who want to gain infamy by robbing all the casinos on The Strip. With Vance's never-fired gun. Against all of The Strip's combined security.
  • Very early in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, CJ's friend Ryder tries to rob a Pizza House where he is a regular customer. He wears a Paper-Thin Disguise that consists of taking his hat off and putting on a nearly-transparent mask. The results are as expected.
    Clerk: Ryder? Not this again!
    Ryder: It ain't me, foo'!
    Clerk: No one else is that small. I feel sorry for your dad!
  • Grand Theft Auto V carries on the tradition with Lamar, who's fittingly an Expy of Ryder. Most notable is when he kidnaps a Ballas gangster (who's known him since childhood) while wearing a Paper-Thin Disguise (which is seen through immediately), and then calls the Ballas to demand a ransom on his cell phone (which gives his position away to the police). This renders the whole caper moot, as he then has to get rid of the phone and let the victim go. And then in the next mission, Lamar goes to do a drug deal with that same gangster he previously kidnapped (who was of course setting up an ambush to kill him).
    • The player can do this as well. If you hold up a store with an empty gun, and pull the trigger, the clerk will hear the clicking, call you a wise guy, and gun you down.
    • On the way to the Paleto Bay heist, the protagonists (and their hired backup) reminisce over their first heists, and it turns out that Michael was the only one of the three who wasn't one of these at some point. Franklin's first job, planned out by Lamar, would have netted them a combined take of $2K, but a dye-packet went off and ruined both stacks. Even worse was Trevor's first job, which went very similar to Ryder's robbery of the Pizza House above, except he didn't get away with it and spent six months in jail because of it.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: One random encounter has you meet a group of bandits along the road dressed in obviously stolen Imperial gear, trying to squeeze "taxes" from you. The stupidity of this (besides the obvious fact that you're practically a Physical God, of course) is that chances are you're either a Stormcloak, or better yet, an actual Imperial officer.
    "I am in the legion and I am damn sure you are not!"
    • There's also a similar encounter with Thieves. Especially egregious if you are both a member of the Thieves' Guild and wearing the standard issue armour. You can point out this little oversight to them, or even better, if you're the Guildmaster, you can shake them down for having the gall to try and rob their own boss!

    Web Comics 
  • The Good Crook: Jackie always had aspirations of being a gangster. His first (and only) attempted robbery involves him threatening a diner with a gun, then changing his mind mere seconds later. He proceeds to apologize and try to explain himself, at which point an over-eager police officer tackles and arrests him.

    Web Original 
  • In one Jade story of the Whateley Universe, two incompetent crooks attempt to commit a robbery in Dunwich, despite the fact that about six hundred superpowered teens are going to Superhero School within walking distance from the town.
  • In Counter Monkey episode "Shadowrun: The Code," the player characters of a Shadowrun game go about a museum burglary the completely wrong way. Among other errors, when the alarm is triggered, they don't simply grab the artifact and run; instead, they turn it into a hostage situation where all hostages end up executed purely on account of "They saw our faces." It ended with the horrified DM importing the Cyber Psycho Squad from Cyberpunk as a Rock Falls Everyone Dies.

    Western Animation 
  • Observed in, of all places, a Rugrats cartoon where two bumbling criminals kidnap Tommy and hold him for ransom after they get their real target's house address wrong. Even then, the one-year-old baby becomes too much for the two idiots to handle so fast that they end up returning Tommy back to his parents before they even realized Tommy had been missing.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Dumbbell Indemnity", Moe spends so much money on things for his new girlfriend that he decides to come up with a plan with Homer to steal his car, have it destroyed, and collect the insurance money. Homer steals Moe's car and is supposed to leave it on the train tracks, but he gets sidetracked by a showing at a drive-in theater for a movie about a monkey who is president. Having missed the train, Homer decides to drive the car off a cliff in plain view of everyone, including the police, which gets himself arrested.
    Moe: Homer, you moron.
    Homer: Homer, you genius!
    • It's even better than that. When Homer first goes to steal the car, he finds that Snake is already on the job. So Homer pulls Snake from the car, throws him to the ground, and steals the car himself.
  • The Powerpuff Girls has the Amoeba Boys. You can tell that these single-celled organisms aren't neurons.
    • There was one crook that tried to steal a cereal box with a diamond in it from the girls. All of his attempts to steal from them were complete failures.
    • Then there was that criminal that tried to steal from the Powerpuff Girls home. It went about as well as you would expect. At the end of the episode, he's intending to rob Mojo Jojo's house.
  • The Mooninites from Aqua Teen Hunger Force once stole their uncle's "check from the government for being crazy" so they can cash it on Earth and go on a shopping spree... except the "check" was actually a payment bill for home care which emits radiation when it's overdue, and it's two months overdue. When this is revealed, Err claims that kept telling Ignignokt that the check was actually a bill on the way down to Earth, Err thought Ignignokt knew something about the bill he didn't.
    • That same episode begins with Igignokt spray-painting graffiti on a school, which Err quickly points out is just a rock.
    • Their first appearance saw them stealing whole assortments of electronics equipment. They also encouraged Meatwad to swallow an entire rack of DVDs, believing he could then walk out of the store with it; Meatwad couldn't do this and tried to carry it instead, which sees him immediately trip the store's alarms while the Mooninites take the opportunity to escape.
  • In a Spongebob Squarepants cartoon, Spongebob and Patrick deliberately attempt to rob a bank in order to try and break Mrs. Puff out of jail from the inside. For masks, both characters wore socks over their heads, which covered their eyes and didn't allow them to see where they were going, and the bank teller treats the entire ordeal as a normal exchange, asking Spongebob for his name and ID (which he gladly hands over), pulling up his checking and savings accounts, and bluntly informing Spongebob that he has no money in either account.
  • Jake and Butch from Mr. Bogus fit this trope to a T, as their attempts to pull off a crime job wind up getting foiled thanks to the efforts of Bogus.
  • Ed Wuncler and Gin Rummy from The Boondocks. They'll rob a bank and forget to ask for money, they try to get past a heavily secured area by going through the back dooor (without checking to see if there's security there too) and generally just run around guns ablazing without any sense of purpose. They're just lucky that Ed's grandfather owns the cops.
  • The title characters of Victor And Hugo, in which the premise of the show revolves around the pair's botched crimes; the series is even subtitled Bunglers in Crime. A typical exchange:
    Victor: Did you remember to switch off the alarm, Hugo?
    Hugo: Yes, my Victor. (Victor opens the safe) And no. (The alam bells ring) Mainly no.


Stripping The ScarecrowSteal This IndexTaking Over the Town
Stealing from the TillCriminalsSubmarine Pirates
Stranger SafetyStupidity TropesStupid Sacrifice
Starfish LanguageAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Suicide Dare
Stuff Blowing UpImageSource/PhotographySwans A Swimming
Stuck on a Ski LiftComedy TropesStupid Sexy Flanders

alternative title(s): Dumb Criminals; Stupid Criminals; Dumb Crooks
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
77035
7