Stupid Future People

"Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence. With no natural predators to thin the herd it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most and left the intelligent to become an endangered species."

Many Sci-Fi futures portray humanity as getting smarter. This is the inverse of that, a future where instead of becoming more intelligent, the average person is much, much stupider than they are today. Sometimes, this is portrayed as the result of a Dystopia deliberately repressing intellectuals, while other times it is a result of corporatism run amok, over-reliance on technology, evolutionary pressures that cause the stupid to outbreed/outcompete the intelligent, or any combination of these.

Expect there to be one or two exceptions, possibly from a different time or place, or just rebelling against the Crapsack World (which this trope invariably overlaps with) in which they live. If there are exceptions, they will invariably be the heroes of the story.

Sub-Trope of Humans Are Morons. May overlap with Big, Fat Future and Advert-Overloaded Future.


Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: Most citizens of Mega-City One are right morons. For example, when there was a vote on whether to return the city to democracy or continue the rule of the Judges, many couldn't even figure out what the issue was or how to vote.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: Series creator Scott Adams speculated the future would involve people doing less and less - as machines do more of the physical labour - and eating more and more readily accessible junk food, and not seeing a correlation between the two things. A series of cartoons shows the Dilbert characters rolling around on the floor of a futuristic house, huge fat blobs with vestigial arms and legs, perfectly happy with this state and not caring about it so long as the Internet provides entertainment and the food supply is uninterrupted.

    Films — Animated 
  • While not exactly stupid, the humans in WALL•E are ignorant and lazy after generations of only being fed information the computer decided they needed to know.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Idiocracy: The whole premise - evolutionary and corporatism variety, the less intelligent have outcompeted and outbred the more intelligent and as a result, we have devolved into a pop-culture obsessed Big, Fat Future where no one has a desire to learn.
  • Ripley mockingly suggests this in Aliens to explain why no one is listening to her story about the alien after she woke from a 57 year hypersleep.
    "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"

    Literature 
  • Fahrenheit 451 - dystopia variety reading is deliberately suppressed in favor of TV watching.
  • C. M. Kornbluth's The Marching Morons. A combination of smart people not having children and enthusiastic breeding by low intelligence people leads to a world population of idiots, except for a minority of intelligent people who work hard to keep things running.
  • The Time Machine - evolution again, combined with over-reliance on technology. The lower class have evolved into brutal savages, while the upper class have evolved into flimsy dimwits with the physical and mental capabilities of small children.
  • Harrison Bergeron is another deliberate dystopia example. Intellectuals are repressed for the simple reason that having some people smarter makes everyone else feel inferior.
  • Downplayed in Brave New World, while the masses (Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons) are deliberately made stupid, Alphas and Betas are quite intelligent. However, the intelligent elite are just as shallow and superficial in their philosophical worldview as the stupid people.
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the government removes Proles who get too smart. However, this trope is not in place with regards to Party members, who are left alive to do tasks of intermediate difficulty, but experience even more surveillance because they're much more of a threat.
  • Incompetence shows that Europe is going this way thanks to Political Correctness Gone Mad dictating laws. People can't be fired for being bad at their jobs, so there's no incentive to be any good. One character suffers from a condition called "Non-Specific Stupidity", which is just general idiocy recognised as a medical condition. The protagonist finds that dealing with many of the idiots in society tends to hamper his job a bit.

    Tabletop Game 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Vast Bureaucracy combined with the Ecclesiarchy of the Imperium relies on keeping its people as ignorant as possible of the existence of Chaos. How easy this is depends on the world, there are some that haven't seen change in millenia, others where Chaos is a daily occurrence (here they're not as strict about it), and still others where they're prevented from executing countless amounts of Guardsmen who'd been exposed to Chaos by the Space Wolves who'd fought alongside them. This results in Witch Hunts and mass frenzies that tend to kill more innocents than guilty.
    • The Tau are implied to use mass mind-control to keep their population happy and unwilling to change their caste system. Whether or not they're kept deliberately ignorant is unknown, though they have been known to purge their kroot allies to make sure Chaos corruption (to which the Tau are immune) wouldn't spread.

    Western Animation 
  • The Jetsons tried to show this by having the worst problems in society being getting tired of pushing buttons all the time, portraying it as being joint-breaking labor that the characters did nothing but complain about. Ha ha, ignorant future people don't know what work is.
  • The 3000's setting of Futurama is filled with less than smart people, although it is mostly for comedy's sake, and 20th century's folks were not the brightest either. At worst, they stagnated, which could explain why Fry feels so at ease in the future.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StupidFuturePeople