Playing With / Seemingly Profound Fool

Basic Trope: A character who is thought of as an intellectual giant...when he's really not.
  • Straight: Bob is a simpleton who barely understands the world around him. However, everyone else is convinced that he's a genius and try to find the hidden meaning in his random babblings.
  • Exaggerated: Bob is a ranting, raving crazy man who shouts obscenities at the top of his lungs and he can't understand a word he says. However, people travel from great far-off lands to hear his alleged wisdom.
  • Downplayed: Bob is of average intelligence, but people think he's a little smarter than that.
  • Justified:
    • Due to some twisted version of Cold Reading, everyone hears from Bob exactly what they want to hear.
    • Bob is an expert at quoting credible sources, misleading audiences, spotting their weak spots and throwing up smoke-screens.
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted: It seems Bob really is that intelligent, he's just playing the fool with utmost skill.
  • Double Subverted: Except he really is that dumb. "Playing the fool" is just another suggestion that someone came up with.
  • Parodied: "Are you sure he's so smart? He seems mentally ill". "Listen, he told me that cats will eat me and I have to live by that!"
  • Zig Zagged:
    • Wait, he really is smart! Or is he? Well, maybe not a genius, but he's not as dumb as first thought...
    • Bob was once a genius who gave out excellent wisdom but either a disease or a curse has reduced either his intelligence or his ability to communicate with others. People listen to his ramblings out of respect for him or because he occasionally gives good advice. Eventually he may regain his previous skill but feign foolishness to see how people react.
  • Averted:
    • Bob is of normal intelligence.
    • Bob is smart and respected.
    • Or Bob is neither smart nor respected.
  • Enforced: "We need to hold a mirror up to society and tell them how dumb they are. Let's make a character who's really dumb but everyone thinks is a genius!"
  • Lampshaded: "I don't know where I am". "So what you're saying is, no one truly knows where they are! You're a genius!"
  • Invoked: A politician who needs a running mate finds Bob and gets to thinking...
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied: People take Bob's words at face value and don't see him as a messiah type.
  • Discussed: "Hey, Bob, are you sure you're brilliant and not insane?" "We're all insane".
  • Conversed: "Are you sure that Bob guy is sane?
  • Deconstructed: Bob is genuinely mentally disturbed. However, since people won't let up on the admiration, he never truly gets the help he needs.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Bob becomes genuinely respected by society, which is good in and of itself.
    • He decides to get a job as a philosopher. He has people write down their interpretations of what he says.

Back to Seemingly Profound Fool
"So what you are saying is that you want to go back to the person you once were! Brilliant!"