troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
What An Idiot: Literature

Literature series that have their own pages:


    open/close all folders 

    Literature A-F 

  • "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot": "Hey Watson, look, a hallucinogenic drug that drives people insane and then kills them! ...LET'S TEST IT ON OURSELVES."
  • The Aeneid: Aeneas makes a pitstop on the road to his destiny to fool around with Queen Dido. The gods give him a wake-up call and tell him to the lead out.
    You'd Expect: Aeneas to explain to Dido "It's not you, baby, it's my destiny. If it were up to me, I would stick around, but the gods told me I have to go, so I don't have a choice."
    Instead: He wants to deliver the news when the time is right, so he has his men prepare the ships ahead of time, while he's waiting for the opportune moment. She catches him, and he tells her about what he has to do... and tells her to stop bitching and deal with it. Thereby creating the very Woman Scorned he was trying to avoid. Not only that, but instead of saying "If it were up to me, I'd stick around," he says "If it were up to me, I'd still be in Troy, tending graves!"
  • Alex Rider:
    • In the third book, Alex is given a mission to accompany CIA agents Turner and Troy as they sneak onto the island of Skeleton Key, which happens to belong to Cuba. They plan to go through a heavily-policed airport, and it's very likely that their belongings will be searched.
      You'd Expect: Turner and Troy to have made sure that nothing in their luggage suggests that they're American spies.
      Instead: There's a receipt from the same location as the CIA's main headquarters in one of Turner's shirt pockets. As a result, the disguise is quickly blown.
    • Crocodile Tears has Journalist Harry Bulman planning to do an exposť about MI6's use of a teenage spy. He goes to Alex's house to try and persuade him to co-operate, despite not really caring about what Alex wants in the matter. Alex refuses to take part, not wanting to endure the media attention that would inevitably result.
      You'd Expect: Bulman to assure Alex that he'll respect his wishes, and go ahead and make the story public once he gets the chance. By the time Alex or MI6 realize what's happened, it'll be too late for them to do anything about it.
      Instead: He flat-out tells Alex that he'll run the story anyway, prompting Alex to turn to MI6, who ensure that Bulman's story will never see the light of day.
    • In Russian Roulette, a 14 year old Yassen Gregorovitch arrives at Moscow station. A guy called Dimitri wanders over and starts talking to him, giving him directions and acting really friendly towards him, despite the two boys never meeting before now. Dimitri then decides to go with Yassen to the subway station, and puts his arm around his shoulders.
      You'd Expect: Yassen to realise that with the way Dimitri, a complete stranger, is acting towards him, something's probably up, and politely thank him for his help and leave his company as soon as possible.
      Instead: He lets Dimitri accompany him, and is subsequently pickpocketed.
  • In Angels and Demons, Langdon has figured out where the assassin is going to murder Cardinal Number 4, and actually beats him to the spot.
    You'd Expect: He'd shoot the tires of the van, or wait until the assassin removes the Cardinal, and then shoot him in the leg, incapacitating him.
    Instead: He climbs into the fountain, waits until the Assassin is right up against the fountain, and then says "You, stop." The Assassin mocks him and kicks the Cardinal into the fountain. The end result: The Cardinal drowns, and Langdon only succeeds in shooting the assassin's toe.
  • Animorphs: In one book, Jake is taken over by a Yeerk. The rest of the Five-Man Band figures this out pretty quickly, so they put him under lock and key in a remote cabin for the three days it takes for the Yeerk to starve without its Kandrona rays, and keep him under constant guard.
    You'd Expect: The Yeerk turns Jake into a housefly and escapes. The Yeerk had full access to Jake's memories, and so would know that this is one of the morphs Jake possesses. A fly would have been small enough to avoid attracting attention, and in the two hours before he has to change back, he could have been several miles away, even at a fly's average speed of 3-4 mph.
    Instead: He attempts to escape as a tiger, but gets lost. He tries a wolf morph, but gets stopped by a rival pack. He tries an ant, but gets thwarted by an enemy colony. He threatens to escape as a flea, but the others point out that he couldn't travel very far as a flea before he had to change back. He never even attempts the fly.
    • In a later book the Animorphs take on a new member, David. Unfortunately, his father has just become a Controller and knows his son knows about Yeerks, so David needs a place to stay where his father can't find him.
      You'd Expect: That David would stay with the Chee, who have a big well-furnished home with lots of dogs. Everyone loves dogs. (Note that in a later book where Marco's dad learns the truth, he does move in with the Chee.)
      Instead: He's told to sleep in Cassie's barn, fueling his resentment against the Animorphs for causing the circumstances that orphaned him.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex Ragby, a henchman of the main villain, pushes a button to deliver an electric shock to the dwarf Mulch Diggums, who's in a pod filled with bubbles of passed gas (Dwarfs in this series are Fartillery units).
    You'd Expect: Him to not do that, as he doesn't know what's in the gas. It could be explosive, and the electricity would spark it into blowing up.
    Instead:He presses the button, the gas explodes, Mulch is freed, and the whole thing was a distraction for The Smart Guy, and so now everyone imprisoned is freed.
    Lampshaded beautifully: "Any first-day chemistry student could have told Ragby never to put sparks near a mystery gas. Unfortunately, Ragby had never met any first-day chemistry students, so it came as a complete suprise when the gas passed by Mulch Diggums ignited, in a chain of miniature explosions."
  • The Belgariad:
    • Evil sorcerer and Disciple of Torak Ctuchik has come into possession of the Orb of Aldur, one of the most powerful objects ever created, along with the thief who stole it. He knows that the heroes will have to go looking for it, and that they'll inevitably come to confront him. Because they're following a prophecy, he comes up with quite a good plan: let them confront him, and then kill the weakest member of the party, as she has a very important role to play in the future. With her dead, the entire prophecy fails.
      You'd Expect that he'd make damn sure that his intended target was actually with the party before allowing them anywhere near him.
      Instead he doesn't do any verifying, and the party leaves the weak member at a very safe place before continuing onward.
    • While the weakest member of the party is safe and sound, there are several other candidates: two members of the party who are standing guard outside the tower and have no idea what's going on, and the most recently discovered member of the party, a woman with no defences whatsoever who has been left by herself as she really can't do anything to benefit the party at this point.
      You'd Expect that Ctuchik would keep his head and try to attack one of those people. He has the ability and can certainly pull off such an attack.
      Instead he freaks out and ends up breaking one of the definitive laws of nature, and gets himself obliterated.
  • Captain Underpants: The fourth book has Professor Pippy Poopypants travelling to America to show off two of his new inventions; a Shrink Ray and a Growth Ray. His intentions are altrustic, wanting to use the inventions to reduce waste and pollution and end world hunger, respectively, and the inventions work very well.
    You'd Expect: The scientific community would get over his admittedly very silly name and take notice of his inventions, and how useful they could be.
    Instead: They do nothing but laugh at the guy, ultimately causing him to snap, and as a result, a whole elementary school gets taken hostage, the potential of the inventions is wasted, and everyone on the planet has to temporarily have a silly name.
    But You'd Also Expect: Poopypants to change his name, or else adopt a pseudonym, once he realised that no one would take him seriously because of it.
    Instead: He only changes his name at the end of the book, on the suggestion of George and Harold. By this time he's already in prison, and most likely discredited. Oh, and his new name is just as silly as the old one, and changes nothing.
  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator: Mr. Wonka has a load of pills that can reduce the age of anyone who takes them. He offers them to Charlie Bucket's grandparents, all of whom are around 80, and firmly establishes that each pill will make a person 20 years younger.
    You'd Expect: Them to listen to him, and not take more than three pills each.
    Instead: They don't and they each take four pills. Two of them are reduced to babies, and one of them, a 78 year old woman, actually removes herself from existence, forcing Charlie and Mr Wonka to risk their lives trying to rescue her, and later waste a large amount of the pills (each of which is VERY hard and expensive to produce) getting her back to normal.
  • In The Chronicles of Amber Fiona is shown a photo of Merlin's friend Luke while Merlin is trying to make sense of the strange (and deadly) happenings. She realizes from the photo that Luke is the son of Brand who once nearly shattered reality and managed to kill her sister Deirdre. From this she realizes that Luke is probably Cain's murderer and is looking for revenge, especially against the people who betrayed his father.
    You'd Expect: Her to instantly tell all this to Merlin and then rush back to Amber to warn everyone else. By this point everyone's getting along fairly well and they all consider Brand to have been a nutjob who's better off dead.
    Instead: She pretends not to recognize him and even threatens Merlin when he calls her bluff. After that she runs to Bleys and the two of them dash off to parts unknown (making this entry equally applicable to Bleys as well) leaving everyone else in the dark. Unsurprisingly Luke causes a good deal of trouble before they can get the situation resolved.
  • In City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, the main character, Clary, witnesses a boy her own age tied up (with piano wire) and questioned by people talking about demons and accusing the boy of being one, going so far as to threaten to kill him with a knife.
    You'd Expect: Her to leave immediately and look for a bouncer.
    Instead: She stands and watches, and then steps in when one of these obviously deranged people brings out a knife.
    • Soon after, the tied up boy attacks one of his captors, who kills him, and the boy's body basically implodes into nothing. His kidnappers and murderers continue to say he was a demon, and when her friend and a bouncer arrive she is apparently the only one who can see them.
      You'd Expect: Clary to seriously question whether or not she was sober at this point, considering she was in a club, and these people keep talking about magic and demons, and you know, she's the only one who can see them.
      Instead: She seems to accept what these murderers are telling her, and seems to think her doubts are wishful thinking.
    • After leaving the club, Clary's Childhood Friend Simon asks her if she's alright. He obviously knows something is wrong with her, and keeps asking her if she has something she wants to tell him.
      You'd Expect: Clary to confide in Simon, whom she's known for ten years, since what just happened was so traumatic.
      Instead: She doesn't tell him anything at all, her reasoning seeming to stem from how the MURDERER Jace talked to her.
    • The next evening, when talking to Simon in a resturaunt, Clary spots Jace again when he interrupts her conversation with a snort. He's armed, she's already seen him kill someone, and Simon is obviously trying to tell her something important. Jace, after interrupting her conversation, gets up and leaves.
      You'd Think: Clary would stay with Simon, perhaps very disturbed that her hallucination is appearing again, and maybe tell Simon what she just saw.
      Instead: She 'runs out after Jace.' Jace, the who she saw kill someone. Jace, who has a knife very like the one he killed someone on him at this very moment. Jace, who apparently only she can see. She runs after him outside. At night. "Terrified that he would disappear like a ghost." And she doesn't say a single word to Simon. She just up and leaves.
  • The six people trapped together one cold and stormy night in the poem The Cold Within.
    You'd expect: However they felt about present company, they would at least try to keep the fire going.
    Instead: Each is hell-bent on spiting someone else of a demographic they have ill will towards, to the extent that they forget about self preservation entirely and let themselves freeze to death. This is particularly stupid in the case of the guy whose supposed excuse for letting the fire die is that he's completely selfish.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Damia's Children, eldest son Isthian is ambushed and nearly killed by an unknown member of his expedition to explore an abandoned Hiver ship, after he's used all his personal energy to send a distress call to his Grandfather - also his boss - about what they found.
    You'd Think: Once Thian's mother, Damia, arrives on the scene, they'd mentally probe the team to find the real culprit.
    Instead: They don't. The assailant goes unknown for days while Thian recuperates, while they catch the occasional untraceable flash of hatred towards them. Finally, they catch the guy by mentally-attacking him with one big Mental Shout.
  • Discworld:
    • Though her Crowning Moment Of Awesome comes later in the book, Magrat has such a moment in Lords and Ladies. One of the young wannabe witches has been wounded by an elf's arrow, and while recovering Granny Weatherwax has her placed in the castle surrounded by iron to protect her from the elves.
      You'd Expect: Magrat to just listen to Granny and leave things be, considering the older woman has spent the entire last three books being right about damn near everything, and there's already an unmistakably elven arrow sticking out of the younger witch.
      Instead: Magrat spontaneously declares she knows better, because she's about to be queen and "everyone knows Elves are nice," and has the iron barriers removed from the room, which of course ends up attracting the psychotic elves to the castle.
    • Equal Rites has the opening scene in which a dying wizard travels to a village where an eighth son of an eighth son is being born, intending to pass his magic power on to them.
      You'd Expect: That he and the blacksmith (the eighth son about to have an eighth son) would first make sure that the newborn is in fact male.
      Instead: They just go ahead with the transfer, learning soon afterwards that the child is in fact a girl. Said girl is ultimately faced with the hardships of being the first female wizard and having to try and get into the boys-only Unseen University, lest she lose control of the wizard power within her.
  • In Dracula, the eponymous Count preys upon innocent Lucy, until the all-knowing Dr Van Helsing arrives. After Lucy dies, returns as a vampire, and is bloodily dispatched by the shaken heroes, Van Helsing and Mina Harker put together the scattered diary records and other clues to discern the villain behind it, and the group bands together to hunt down Dracula.
    You'd expect - With Genre Savvy Van Helsing as their Obi Wan, they'd fully investigate anything and everything going on in and around their group that might be evidence of Dracula messing with them, and keep a close guard with full precautions on every member of their group.
    Instead - They get so focused on gallantly tracking down and destroying Dracula's earth-boxes that they ignore the pleas and warnings of Renfield, despite knowing his connection to the Count, and being chivalrous Victorian chauvinists, leave Mina behind...alone...unprotected...while they do so. When she's suddenly pale, exhausted and shaken by recurring nightmares identical to Lucy's, they conclude that she's just tired from her 'unwomanly' exertions as part of their group. Several times they see a big black bat flapping about and don't realize who it is. Dumbasses.
    • Dracula's not exactly a genius in the story either.
      You'd Expect - After the heroes catch onto what Dracula is and try to ward him off. He'd have the common sense kidnap Lucy away from the bedroom. Finish vamping her then use her to lure Mina away and make her his as well or even better as a distraction to the heroes while he move in on Mina.
      Instead - He leaves Lucy there, giving the heroes a perfect example what vampirism is and how to kill it. And thus how to kill him.
      Furthermore - Why didn't he bother to take his brides along with him as well? It obvious the main characters outnumbered him even with his power. More backup would've benefited him greatly during his blood drinking spree.
    • Johnathan Harker learns on June 30 the brides will eat him
      You'd expect-He would get out of there right away.
      Instead-He waits until the day the brides will eat him.
  • In the Dragonlance novel "Dragons of Spring Dawning", the Golden General Laurana, the commanding general of the Whitestone Army during the War of the Lance, receives a message from the enemy general (who also happens to be her romantic rival), Kitiara Uth Matar, claiming that their mutual love interest, Tanis Half-Elven, is dying and wants to see her, which Kitiara will only allow if Laurana comes in person in the middle of the night to a secret meeting site without bringing any guards or telling anyone. The message provides no proof that Tanis is even with Kitiara much less that he has been mortally wounded. Laurana's leadership is vital to the success of the Whitestone Army, and it will cripple them if she is killed or captured.
    You'd Think: Laurana would immediately realize that a message from her Arch-Enemy, that offers up Schmuck Bait to try and lure her to a vulnerable location without any protection is obviously a trap.
    Or: That even if Laurana believes the message, she would decide that her responsibilty to her army and the people it is protecting must take precedence over her own desires.
    Or at least: That even if Laurana believes the message and decides to go to the meeting site, she would at least take some precautions just in case it turns out to be an ambush.
    Instead: Laurana completely believes the message, gives no thought at all to the potential danger to herself or her army, and goes to the meeting site without taking any precautions at all. Not surprisingly it turns out to be a trap, and Laurana is taken prisoner, greatly weakening the Whitestone Army.
    You'd Also Think: That in the same scene, Laurana's "friends", Flint Fireforge and Tasslehoff Burrfoot, who both believe the message to be a trap, would, after seeing how Laurana is acting irrational and about to do something suicidally foolish, do whatever it takes to keep her from going to the meeting site, even if they have to physically restrain her to keep her from going.
    Instead: Not only do Flint and Tas not do anything to stop Laurana, but they end up showing her how to get to the meeting site without being detected by her own guards. It's enough to make you wonder if Flint and Tas were actually working for Kitiara since her whole scheme would have failed without their help.
  • In Stephen King's Firestarter, the sadistic John Rainbird is in the loft of a barn, holding Charlie hostage, threatening to kill her if Andy tries to use his mental domination abilities on him. Andy risks it and gives Rainbird a command he is forced to obey.
    You'd Expect: Andy would say "sleep" or something similar. (He once did that with a Mook, sending him to a coma that lasted for six months). Also, there is no reason to believe that "die" isn't a valid command.
    Instead: Andy commands Rainbird to jump out of the loft, which, while severely injuring him, isn't fatal. And while it does save Charlie, it gives Rainbird the opportunity to mortally wound Andy and almost kill Charlie with his gun.
  • Forbidden Fruit: An insane woman is part of a religious cult which she is zealously devoted to. One of the cult's leaders prophecies that a child will be born, a boy who will be the chosen one, etc, etc. The woman ends up impregnating her daughter with the prophet's sperm, and her daughter becomes pregnant (and doesn't know how it could have happened), but ends up running away because she hates her mother and doesn't want her to get her hands on the baby when it's born. After successfully evading her mother, the young woman has to go to hospital to give birth. After she does, her crazy mother does her best to get her hands on the newborn baby so she can take him to the religious leader.
    You'd Expect that she'd actually try to make sure that the baby fits the criteria- specifically, she should make sure that it's a boy first, given that the cult is very misogynistic, so it's not like it won't matter if the baby isn't male.
    Instead she doesn't, and the baby is a girl.
  • Frankenstein. A young man discovers how to bring something life, and makes a man out of parts from a graveyard. But after he brings it to life, he finds it is very ugly.
    You'd Expect: That Frankenstein would realize that ugliness is not a very important thing, especially when it is a man made of corpses who had been brought to life.
    Instead: Frankenstein immaturely runs from his creation and lets it loose into the world.
    • The young scientist, after abandoning his Creature in a panic, goes back to his normal life and stubbornly pretends it never happened, even after mysterious murders begin to crop up all around him. When the monster confronts him and demands he build a mate in exchange for stopping his rampage, Frankenstein later realizes the implications and destroys the mate, prompting the enraged Creature to swear to "rob him of his wedding night."
      You'd expect - Frankenstein to realize, after the monster has systematically targeted his family and friends, that it's going to murder his beloved Elizabeth in revenge and either not marry the girl and send her somewhere as safe and as far from him as possible, or keep her under constant guard until the Creature was brought down.
      Instead - Frankenstein instantly assumes it's after him, calls in friends with guns to guard his house on said wedding night, and when he's startled out of the marital bed by a noise, arms up and rushes out into the night to confront the Creature, leaving Elizabeth alone and unguarded, with incredibly predictable results.
    • Also: Having almost finished building a companion for the monster, Frankenstein gets cold feet at the prospect that his two creations could breed and one day their progeny could TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!
      You'd Expect: that if Frankenstein's skilled enough to put together an entire living human being out of parts of dead people, he'd just leave the ovaries out.
      Instead he tears apart his new creation right in front of the monster, provoking it into the acts listed above.
    • In a general sense, with the monster on the loose killing his loved ones,
      You'd Expect: Frankenstein to realize the situation is too much for him to handle on his own, and tell his family and the authoritiesabout what happened.
      Instead: He still tries to handle things on his own, with disastrous results.

    Literature G-L 
  • Gone with the Wind: Rhett and Scarlett's daughter, Bonnie, is showing to be a very promising horse rider. Rhett has brought her a Shetland pony, and soon girl and pony are learning how to ride sidedaddle and jump over bars... but now Bonnie wants to take more risks.
    You'd expect: That Rhett would put his foot down and refuse to raise the bar to one and a half feet when she asks him to. Bonnie is no older than five and, despite her talent, she's still unexperienced; besides she's riding a pony, which has fat and short legs and is likely to trip.
    Instead:: Rhett gives in and only warns Bonnie to not come crying if she falls. The deal finishes ends with the pony tripping over the bars... and Bonnie not only falling, but breaking her neck and dying.
  • The Hunger Games: In the first book, Katniss Everdeen is trying to get her hands on something to help her injured partner tribute Peeta. So she goes to a feastnote , but on her way is attacked by a rival tribute, Clove. She fires one arrow at Clove, and it succeeds in injuring her, but she's still capable of throwing knives, and is VERY accurate. No other tributes have appeared yet.
    You'd Expect: Katniss to realise that killing Clove is of greater importance right now, and fire another arrow at her.
    Instead: Katniss tries to take her item and then fire at Clove, but by the time she's got an arrow ready, Clove's recovered, and cuts her across the forehead with another knife, before taking her down. Katniss subsequently has to be rescued by the Scary Black Tribute.
  • Inheritance Cycle:
    • In the back story, the rebellious Varden and their allies, the elves, posses one of the few remaining dragon eggs, the other ones being held by the evil King Galbatorix. A dragon only hatches when in the presence of the one person who is destined to be its Rider. Naturally, everyone wants a turn hatching the dragon. It should be noted that the elves are essentially all ultra-powerful magic users. Also, the forest of the elves and the stronghold of the rebels are on opposite sides of the map, separated by a vast desert.
      You'd Expect: The Varden use magic to teleport the egg back and forth between hideouts. While the magic of the elfy forest prevents direct teleportation into its borders, dropping it off a few feet away from the border would work just as well.
      Instead: The elves select their princess Arya to act as egg-courier. Once a year, she crosses all the distance between the two bases, on horseback, with two bodyguard Red Shirts for company and brings the egg to whoever's turn it is to have it. The plot of the trilogy kicks off when she's ambushed by the Dragon, and forced to... teleport the egg away. (Right into the reach of Eragon.)
    • And then, there is the rather questionable fact that the Varden decide to start their rebellion at the worst time point possible. Most of the rebellion's problems in the first place, as revealed in the second and third book, stem from the fact that they decide to become official right when most of their most honorable leaders bit the dust.
      You'd expect: For several years before the series' start, the Varden, and their allies, Dwarves and Elves alike, are actually pretty well-organized, with respected leaders (Ajihad, Hrothgar and Islanzadi). The Elves themselves show in the third book they are all by themselves strong enough to storm some of the empire's largest and best-deffended cities (let alone that they actually still had a Dragon rider among their ranks). With the Varden and Dwarves' help, it should've been ridiculously easy. It'd be a bit of a mess, but that's inevitable for war.
      Instead: They decide to wait for some decades, and in the meantime, a) Galbatorix empowers himself to a ridiculous degree, a) the same guy gets plenty of time to work on an Ancient Conspiracy, c) Murtagh is found and becomes Galbatorix' The Dragon, d) both Ajihad and Hrothgar die quite quickly, and the succession crisis to the latter is particularly egregious. The Varden decide to become right then active when Galbatorix has reached the peak of his power, and Eragon is still not ready. Instead of riding straight to the forest to undergo Training from Hell, he goes there outright relaxed by foot and spends most of his time there chasing after Arya.
    • Hell, the story itself is arguably the result of the old Dragon Riders being Too Dumb to Live. Let's look at why Galbatorix turned "evil" in the first place. Galbatorix returns as the lone survivor, with his friends and dragon all killed horribly, from a failed raid on an Urgal settlement. He asks the ruling council of the Riders for a new dragon.
      You'd Expect: The Council to just give him a new egg, or at least give the traumatized kid (whom they have already recognized as a highly-talented, intelligent prodigy) some much-needed mental therapy and help getting past his grief.
      Instead: They deny him help of any kind, and instead leave Galbatorix to his own devices, as he slides into madness and decides to take his revenge on the Riders.
  • Journey to the West: The Divine Emperor has three in rapid succession, just in the introduction. First, when Sun Wukong is born of a stone, his body shines with power so brightly it can be seen throughout all creation and outshines even the sun itself.
    You'd Expect: The Emperor dispatches some servants to check out whatever could be giving off that kind of power.
    Instead: The Emperor decides it's nothing. For bonus points, the book manages to describe this as "infinite wisdom" with a straight face. To give you some idea how ludicrous that is: They made an anime of Journey to the West in which they tremendously dialed down Sun Wukong's power level and removed his massive stack of secondary abilities. Sun Wukong was renamed Son Goku and the show is called Dragon Ball Z.
    • Later, Sun Wukong has proven troublesome and upsets several gods with his awesome combat skills, including crossing out his name (and those of his friends) from the book of death after beating up all the death gods so that he and his friends can never die. Notably, these events have proven that Sun Wukong is extremely loyal to his friends as he was already fairly immortal and went into hell just to save his friends. The Emperor decides to deal with this irritant.
      You'd Expect: The Emperor makes the immortal invincible fighting machine his personal enforcer or bodyguard, thereby ensuring that nothing can touch him and his rule will last forever.
      Instead: He has Sun Wukong take care of his horse. Surprisingly, Sun Wukong does a good job at it until some lesser gods make fun of him for being a servant and he leaves in a huff over the insult. Compounding his mistake, the Emperor sends the army to punish Sun Wukong for leaving, and nearly loses the entire thing.
    • Later Still, Sun Wukong has defeated the entire army of heaven and proven himself almost completely unstoppable. In exchange for a meaningless title, Sun Wukong settles down and throws endless parties to amuse himself and no longer troubles heaven.
      You'd Expect: The Emperor decides to leave well enough alone after almost losing his army to a single monkey.
      Instead: The Emperor is offended that the Monkey is having too much fun, so he sets the Monkey King to managing his peach orchard. Even knowing that the Monkey eats only fruit and has relatively little impulse control. The inevitable swiftly follows.
      Even Worse: The Emperor throws a peach celebration and makes sure not to invite Sun Wukong in order to put him in his place. The same Sun Wukong who has been perfectly willing to work for nothing but parties. Unsurprisingly, this nearly leads to Sun Wukong overthrowing the entire celestial hierarchy and killing all the gods. It's no wonder many researchers think the entire book is a Stealth Parody mocking the emperor.
  • In The Lake House, Ethan Kane's attempt at killing Max is... odd, to say the least.
    You'd expect: He'd just suffocate her, considering that he has just demonstrated that he is strong enough to do this.
    Instead: He pushes her out of a window, and is dragged out with her. She flies to safety, while he falls to his demise.
  • Atticus from the Iron Druid Chronicles is warned repeatedly by reliable sources including Jesus that taking part in a revenge crew against the Norse God Thor is a very bad idea and will have dire consequences. Atticus has spent most of his life avoiding fights whenever he can and is given an "out" that allows him to preserve his honor while avoding said situation. He also knows that prophecies can be true and how dangerous some of these magical beings cnan be.
    You'd expect: Atticus to keep the letter of his word or at least give some thought as to why everyone is saying this is a bad idea besides the risk of his own life.
    Instead: He joins the battle and thanks to his aid many of the major Aesir including Thor are killed, Loki escapes and now is free of the prophecies allowing him to team up with his daughter and legions of undead and fire giants to start Ragnarok and destroy the world.

    Literature M-R 

  • Seen in-universe in Malevil. Armand attempts to blackmail Emmanuel over their bartering. Emmanuel insists that his new horses come with their saddles, Armand knows his boss Fulbert would never recognize the true value of the saddles, and demands a bribe to keep quiet.
    You'd expect - He'd demand something useful to increase his personal power or odds of survival After the End. Most tools, weapons, and other commodities are gone and can't be replaced with the supplies on hand. Even food hasn't been proven to be a renewable resource at this point, scant months after nuclear war.
    Instead - He demands Emmanuel's gold signet ring. Emmanuel complies and later has a chuckle at his idiocy; in a survivalist society were food and basic supplies are a matter of life and death, jewelry is completely worthless.
  • Malory Towers: In the last book, a new girl arrives from a school renowned for sports, which has unfortunately burned down. This new girl, Amanda, is likely to go to the Olympic Games, competing in swimming. Malory Towers, while good, doesn't have amazing facilities for sports the way Amanda's old school did, and Amanda decides that maybe swimming in the sea would be a better idea. However, she's repeatedly warned that it isn't a good idea, because not only is there a current, there's also some nasty rocks.
    You'd Expect that Amanda does the smart thing and stays away from the sea.
    Instead she decides to go swimming, and gets caught in the current. June has to get the boat to rescue her, and Amanda gets injured so badly that it's likely that her career is over.
  • Marcus Didius Falco: Petro, a vigilis (policeman), is also a serial philanderer who always ends up returning to his wife and children. However, he starts an affair with Balbina Milvia, a married woman who is also the daughter of a (dead) crime lord. His wife gets very angry, and Milvia's husband (who is also an aspiring criminal), starts to take a rather keen interest in Petro. Falco (his best friend), Rubella (his boss), and several of his colleagues tell Petro that backing off is probably the best thing to do here.
    You'd Expect that Petro does the rational thing- leaving Milvia alone, and trying to be a better husband.
    Instead he decides that because everyone is telling him to do it, he won't. End result: Milvia's husband sends goons who nearly kill him, and his wife leaves him and takes the children.
  • Memories of Ice: The heroes have joined an army which includes Kallor, an immortal mass-murderer with an infamous track record. None of them like him, for obvious reasons.
    'You'd Expect: The heroes to either try and get rid of Kallor or put up with his presence.
    Instead: They leave him where he is, but belittle and mock him constantly, ignoring any advice he offers, and treating him like garbage.
    Result: Kallor executes a vicious backstab that leaves multiple people—including The Hero—dead, then signs on with the series' Big Bad.
  • Metro 2033 (the novel): Artyom and Daniel are navigating the extremely creepy, extremely ruined, and extremely monster-infested library when the latter notices his shoelaces are untied. Quite understandably, he decides this poses a danger to his mobility and stops to rectify the problem.
    You'd Expect: Artyom would cover his partner and watch for impending danger.
    Instead: Artyom leaves Daniel to his shoelaces and wanders off alone amidst the bookcases.
    Result: One of them gets killed by a monster. (Hint: It's not the protagonist.)
  • In Mistress of the Catacombs, the main characters have an enemy army landing on the island they are on.
    You'd expect: They would use their massive advantage in warships to crush the enemy fleet as it lands troops.
    Instead: They come up with a plan of confronting the larger force in a field battle, although they wind up negotiating a surrender.
  • A Hungarian novel, 'The nameless castle': A french count sneaks the princess out of the country, because in the outbreak of The French Revolution, she is in danger of being assassinated. They go to live in incognito in a faraway country.
    You'd expect: They blend in with the locals with her already made up, harmless commoner identity, and live in peace Hidden in Plain Sight.
    Instead: The count takes the mission seriously, so she can't even leave their castle, if not at night and under thick veils. They get eerily and conspicuously mysterious, driving the local folk into wild guessing and inspiring gossips and legends, which end up attracting the interest of a spy, entrusted to find her and give her in to execution.
  • One Thousand Arabian Nights features the seven voyages of Sinbad the Sailor. Each voyage he goes on is more dangerous than the last.
    You'd Expect: After the first couple voyages, Sinbad believes that the bad luck he gets is more than just coincidence, and stays at home.
    Instead: They didn't call it Seven Voyages for nothing!
  • A large part of Pegasus in Flight revolves around children- specifically, the problem of overpopulation, and the disturbing result that many illegal children (i.e. children who are not legally registered) are being sold for prostitution, trafficked, and murdered. One of the main characters, a teenager who looks much younger, grew up in a slum and knew of just about everyone involved in the business there, and also managed to free some children who were being held prisoner. Her friend is one of the world's most powerful psychics, but he's also a teenager who is almost totally disabled (as in, he can only move by using his psychic powers) and has no street smarts at all. In addition, not only are kids going missing from slums, they're also going missing from inside the cities of the rich and powerful. The guardians of the two kids are trying to stop the trafficking, and are investigating the murders.
    You'd Expect that their caretakers would put every tracking device known to man on the pair, refuse to let them leave their home without an adult accompanying them and make damn sure that someone knew where they were at all times.
    Instead the pair go out for ice-cream and promptly get abducted. Their trackable bracelets are cut off, and because they're knocked unconscious, nobody can find them for a long while. While their guardians realised how badly they'd screwed up, the fact still remains that someone should have known better.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians
    • In The Last Olympian, Kronos is going to invade Manhattan to get at Mount Olympus. Percy has made a deal with the East and Hudson river gods, so Kronos ain't ever gonna be getting to Manhattan by boat.
      You'd Expect: The forces defending Olympus would destroy the bridges and tunnels so that Kronos' forces can't get in.
      Instead: They twiddle their thumbs and let Kronos attack.
    • In the follow up series of The Heroes of Olympus Zeus knows Gaea is awakening and the giants are returning to life. Said giants were defeated by the Olympians thousands of years ago and can only be killed by a god and demigod working together. He also nearly lost the second Titan war by refusing to take action until it was too late.
      You'd Expect: Zeus to rally the gods and demigods together do slay the giants and return Gaia to sleep.
      Instead: Due to wounded pride, Zeus closes Olympus, forbids the gods to contact the demigods, and thinks the Olympians can defeat the giants on their own despite knowing that is impossible.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Cinderella retelling Phoenix and Ashes evil sorceress Alison (the wicked stepmother character) uses her magic to bewitch wealthy industrialist Charles Robinson into marrying her.
    You'd Expect: For her next trick, evil sorceress Alison would bewitch wealthy industrialist Charles Robinson into changing his will in order to benefit her.
    Instead: Alison bewitches Charles into volunteering for WWI, where he dies in the trenches. His previous will left everything to his daughter, forcing Alison to come up with increasingly convoluted schemes in order to keep control of his fortune. This is made even more inexcusable by the fact that Alison is implied to be an experienced Black Widow, so you would think she would have had enough experience to recognize that you need to make sure you're the one mentioned in your husband's will before you kill him.
  • In the Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword," Dion, one of the nobles who is a part of Ascalante's conspiracy to overthrow Conan, is meeting with Ascalante's slave, a Stygian by the name of Thoth-Amon. During their conversation, Thoth-Amon tells him about his past as a sorcerer of Stygia whose Ring of Power was stolen from him by a thief and tells him that he wants to make an alliance with him against Ascalante.
    You'd expect: Dion to keep his mouth shut about the "ring of good fortune" that he picked up from a Shemitish thief who stole it from a sorcerer of Stygia, make the alliance with Thoth-Amon, and send him on his way.
    Instead: Dion not only tells him about the ring, but actually shows it to him, prompting Thoth-Amon to recognize it as his lost ring and reclaim it by stabbing Dion to death. To be fair, Dion was never very bright.
  • Pride and Prejudice: After spending much of the book believing that Mr. Darcy had wronged Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth Bennet receives a letter from the former which exposes the latter as a Manipulative Bastard who tried to swindle Darcy's sister out of her inheritance. She tells only her sister, Jane, of this new information.
    You'd Expect: The sisters, and/or Darcy to expose Wickham's evil ways to the world. Given that he, contrary to the promise he made Elizabeth, had been slandering Darcy whenever he could, this action seems imperative.
    Instead: They don't. Thus, Wickham is free to elope with the youngest Bennet, Lydia. Mr. Darcy has to bribe Wickham to get the two married, lest Lydia's reputation be ruined. (Elizabeth spends a good while berating herself for her previous decision to keep quiet.)
  • The Princess Diaries: Lilly- a teenage girl who is talked up as being very intelligent- wants to become class president. The problem is that no one will vote for her. So she hatches a plan which involves her flighty, anxious-yet-charismatic best friend, Mia, running for the position, with Lilly helping her to win the election behind the scenes. If Mia wins, then she will almost immediately step down and cede the position to Lilly. It's a foolproof plan!
    You'd Expect: Lilly, having created this plan in which Mia plays a pivotal, very exact role, would tell her about said plan. Bear in mind that the two are best friends. They converse by email nearly every night. They constantly see each other at school and outside it. And Lilly knows how worrisome and angsty Mia gets when she's forced into things like this. Yet she does not at any point say to Mia, 'Hey, the reason I nominated you was so I could become president. Don't worry, you won't have to actually take the position.'
    Instead: Poor Communication Kills. Lilly doesn't tell Mia her plan for weeks, long after she's put it in action- explicitly refusing to do so- and Mia snaps from the stress of not knowing what the hell is going on. (There's also the fact that she, as a Shrinking Violet, openly detests the idea of being class president.) Cue Mia's Heroic BSOD and Lilly being given a well-deserved What the Hell, Hero?.
  • Prisoners of Power features a backwater planet Saraksh where people live in a dystopian postapocalyptic society. An undercover agent from the Galactic Security infiltrated one of the governments and is meticulously implementing a decades-long plan of planetary reformation. There must be flat out no interference from the outside.
    You'd Expect: The Galactic Security to explicitly declare this planet under quarantine so that no slapdash space explorer will crash in and mess with the operation. Or that they put some satellite on the planet's orbit that would warn those approaching to turn back.
    Instead: They do absolutely nothing and, naturally, a slapdash space explorer crashes in and messes with the operation.
  • In Red on Red, Cazare of Kagheta Adgemar the White Fox is determined to engage his militia cavalery in battle with army of Taligue under Duke Alva's command - only to get rid of ill-disciplined and rebellious cazarons. After that, he planned his elite troops, the Scarlet Guard, to engage in battle and wipe remains of Alva's troops out. Mind that Scarlet Guard alone outnumbered Alva's army THRICE. Cazarones, no matter how ill-disciplined they were, outnumbered Taligoians 15 times!
    You'd Think: Having three times more firepower and Alva's infantry already weary, Scarlet Guard would just have a shooting practice.
    Instead: They've started hand-to-hand combat. And lost.
    More stupidity: Having 100 units of heavy artillery (do not ask how) Adgemar's ordnance commander could not manage to cover bombardment sector with grapeshot fire. They charged guns with cannonballs and aimed in every single unit of Alva's mobile 3-pounders. No wonder they've lost the artillery duel.
    And even more: Adgemar could just NOT engage in a battle AT ALL. If he, after seeing cazarones smashed, retreated to his capital, Raviata, and commanded his Scarlet Guard to block Alva the way of retreat and raid enemy's camp at night, Alva's army would be doomed and his cruel-but-genious plan of drowning Birissian villages vasted.
    Result: Scarlet guard was defeated, remains of it were drowned in their villages with Alva-provoked-artificial-flood, and few commanders who were smart enough to run away from flood were beheaded by Adgemar in excuse for invason to Taligue. Well, Cazar himelf was killed by Alva pretty soon after that.
  • The world of Kertiana is specially designed by Abvenies (it's creators ) as a nasty place for cheaters and oathbreakers. Well, at least if they are descendants of Abvenies. Breaching of Bload Oath by Abveniy's offspring carries a death penalty, though not on oathbreaker himself, but on his kins and anyone who happened to be near. And very place of their dwelling is to be destroyed beyond any possibility to live.
    What is the sense of such a very-special-justice? Let's just leave the question beside. Abvenies are gone and supposed to be dead, so no one will answer anyway. However...
    You'd Expect: Abvenies, before their departing, had carved in a stone, in a thousand copies, extremely short and strict explanation of what happens if somebody dares to break the Blood Oath.
    Instead: Nothing like that. Laws of ancient Abvenian magic had faded to semi-forgotten, semi-misunderstood legends long before the very religion of Abveii was banished by Esperatian Church.
    More stupidity: Long chain of adulteries and side-begotten children had lessened the very possibility of stating who is the true descendant of Ancient God practically to zero. There are 21 men, whose only careless word can turn their native land to Sodom and Homorra. And only one of them is aware of it.
    Result Nador province is ruined to dust.
    • Duke Roque Alva is the one who knows what Blood Oath matters and is aware that he and his province Canalloa will be in heavy danger if he breaks First Marshal oath of allegiance (which includes Blood Oath formula).
      He knows for sure that his lancer Richard Oakdell is a descendant of Abvenii, like himself, and, er, not very smart boy in the same time. And tended to make hasty promises.
      You'd Expect: Alva explained to young fool that he should abstain from ANY oath including the word BLOOD, in ANY form. For the sake of his mother, sisters and cousin's life, at least.
      And if he'd be foolish enough to make such an oath, he should keep it BY ALL MEANS or DIE TRYING TO KEEP IT.
      And if he'd break it, he should kill himself in 16 days. And his kins must reject him.
      Instead: Alva said to Richard nothing but slight hints.
      More stupidity: When Alva was imprisoned by Aldo Rakan who is actually not Rakan but Pridd, see the reason above and brought to court and was to be sentenced to death by Richard Oakdell, Valentine Pridd and Robert Epine, he had known for sure that Aldo is not Rakan. And he had figured (correctly) that Aldo, having been obsessed with idea of Abvenian Renaissanse (but totally ignorant of the Blood matter) might have made them to make the Blood Oath. Which they can accidentally break any minute, because they don't know, who is the TRUE object of their oath ( Alva himself). And three provinces of Taligue will face the terrible doom.
      You'd Expect: having nothing to lose anymore, he should just declare Aldo's true identity, and reveal all the Blood matter.
      Instead: He remained silent. Oh, no! He made a lot of jests about Aldo's white trousers.
      Result Nador province is ruined to dust. And it was just a happy occasion that Epine remained, for Robert was about to proclaim a death sentence to his TRUE King!
  • Redwall: In The Bellmaker, a small team of Redwallers have joined an army of the natives of Southsward in the hope of overthrowing a pair of tyrants who have ruled their land with a cruel paw. One of them is Rufe Brush, a naive squirrel who doesn't have much experience of the world beyond Redwall. During the final battle, Rufe and his friends go up against one of the tyrants, who Rufe hits with a stone- but doesn't kill.
    You'd Expect that someone would keep an eye on Rufe so he couldn't do anything stupid.
    Instead Rufe decides that having knocked her down, she's out of the fight. She, in turn, waits for him to let his guard down and nearly kills him, were it not for one of his friends who jumps in and gets killed himself.
  • Reflections of Eterna, a Russian epic fantasy, is a mine of brilliant examples. Leave alone Richard Oakdell who is Incarnated Stupidity Itself. Take a look on any character who is stated as smart or, at least, sly.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: He Jin is involved in a plot to eliminate the corrupt eunuchs who are essentially running the country. The eunuchs catch wind of the plan and coerce his sister, the Dowager Empress, to summon him to the Forbidden City for a chat. His allies see through the trap and tell him not to go.
    You'd Expect: He Jin to decline the invitation. He's survived numerous attempts on his life from the eunuchs. He also knows that they have spies everywhere; even if it's really for a chat, there's a good chance the secret plan might get compromised.
    Instead: He goes to the Forbidden City anyway, but allows his allies to give him an armed escort. A guard tells him to leave his escort outside the city. He proudly marches in rather than insisting on them following him. He's promptly hacked to pieces by the eunuchs.
    • Then there's Zhang Fei, youngest of the Peach Garden Oath Brothers and a constantly violent drunk. He volunteers to guard the city of Xiapi while his brothers go off on business. Liu Bei agrees on the conditions that Zhang Fei stay sober and not abuse his own men.
      You'd Expect: Zhang Fei would obey the request immediately.
      Instead: Zhang Fei holds a feast that night and gets mighty drunk. During the feast, he gets into an argument with one of his soldiers, Cao Bao, and has him flogged. Cao Bao sulks back to his son-in-law, Lu Bu, who unleashes holy hell on the city. Zhang Fei is too drunk to stop the attack and can only retreat.

    Literature S-Z 

  • Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta: Francesca has spent a year in a constant state of BSOD and has been slowly coming to terms with the fact that her old friends are bitches and her new friends are much better. She celebrates her birthday with her new friends and has a great time. However, when she sees her old friends, they ask her what she did for her birthday and Francesca, not wanting them to mock her new friends, says 'Nothing'. One of her new friends overhears this.
    You'd Expect that as hurt as she was, they'd give Francesca a chance to explain why she said that.
    Instead they immediately call her a bitch and turn against her, and poor Francesca ends up running off to Woy Woy because she can't handle the stress.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The book Deja Vu reveals that Henry "Hank" Jellicoe's wife had recorded his misdeeds in a diary, and she told the "proper" authorities about this.
    You'd expect that the CIA, upon hearing this, would have Jellicoe shut down, arrested and be more than happy to use the diary to bring him down.
    Instead they took the diary, swept it all under the rug, and had her swear on a Bible that this was the only copy of the diary she had. She lied, of course, and had another copy in her possession. The CIA actually believed her, put her in Witness Protection Program, and apparently decided to use the diary in a bizarre attempt to keep Jellicoe in line. Take a wild guess on how well that attempt worked out!
  • A Song of Ice and Fire,
    • In the third book, A Storm of Swords, Robb Stark hears of his home's fall and the (faked) deaths of his younger brothers. In his grief, he sleeps with the young lady of the castle he'd just captured, and falls in love with her.
      You'd Expect: Honor Before Reason is the Starks' unofficial motto and Fatal Flaw in this series; Robb's honour as a king demands that he stick to his promises and forsake the girl he loves to do his duty and uphold his promise to marry a Frey girl.
      Instead: Robb decides that Jeyne's honor as a maiden is more important than his honor as a king and immediately marries her, earning less than fifty knights (none of whom are actually loyal to him) and alienating the thousands of Frey knights and soldiers he won with his original marriage alliance. The Freys promptly turn on him and murder him soon afterwards for dishonoring them, and later books reveal Jeyne's family, with urging by Lord Tywin Lannister, used her to try and drive a wedge between Robb and the notoriously opportunistic Freys.
    • In the second book, Theon Greyjoy is sent as an envoy to his father, Balon Greyjoy, who makes it abundantly clear that he's not going to help them out of disrespect.
      You'd Expect: Theon would accept that his father, who he hasn't seen in ten years, doesn't care about him and isn't worth impressing.
      Instead: Theon immediately defects to Balon's side, earning the wrath of Robb Stark and his large army after he pretends to kill Robb's brothers.
      Also: He is brought a prisoner, Reek, who works for Ramsay Snow, and is said to be a necrophiliac serial killer.
      You'd expect: Theon would have him locked up and disregard anything he says.
      Instead: Theon takes him on as an adviser, digging himself deeper into trouble. Reek then turns out to be Ramsay himself in disguise, who captures Theon and takes him home to the Dreadfort.
    • In the first book, Ned Stark has just discovered that Cersei is in an incestuous relationship with her brother, and that none of her children are Robert's, thus meaning none of them are eligible heirs to the throne. He also has strong reason to believe the Cersei had his foster father killed because said foster father had also discovered said relationship.
      You'd Expect: He'd either keep the matter under wraps until he gets a chance to tell Robert, and gather more evidence of his findings in the meantime. Or at the very least, make the matter known to additional members of his inner circle, so even if Cersei comes after him, the information is still available.
      Instead: He confronts Cersei with the accusation before informing anyone else or making any records of what he'd discovered, giving her ample chance to plot against him before the information comes to light.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe,
    • In Kevin J. Anderson's Darksaber, galactic crime boss Durga the Hutt, leader of the largest and most powerful of the famously ruthless Hutt crime syndicates, decides to construct the Darksaber, a scaled-down version of the Death Star, which he will use to hold the galaxy to ransom.
      You'd Think: A being as wealthy, powerful, and devious as Durga would spare no expense to hire the very best to undertake such a monumentally important project.
      Instead: Durga's pick to run the project is General Sulamar, a rogue Imperial hired for his connections in the Imperial military, which he will use to supply the project with top-of-the-line materiel. Sulamar turns out to actually be a former technician with no command experience, and his much-vaunted connections turn up only a handful of computer cores so antiquated they are barely functional.
      Furthermore: Durga gives the job of constructing the Darksaber to the Taurill, a Hive Mind with the attention span of a kindergarten on crack. They do such a shoddy job of it that the whole thing needs to be disassembled and rebuilt twice before it is completed.
      Also: To save money, Durga had his engineer remove all weaponry from the Darksaber save the superlaser itself, ensuring that it will have no means to defend itself against multiple enemy ships.
      Resulting In: When the New Republic's fleet shows up to attack, Durga orders the Darksaber to retreat into the Hoth Asteroid Belt. When a pair of large asteroids block their way, Durga orders them disintegrated with the superlaser. The superlaser fails to fire, and the ship is crushed between the two asteroids, killing all aboard. The New Republic doesn't even really have to do anything.
    • In Karen Traviss's Order 66, Order 66 is sent out, giving clones orders to kill all Jedi. A fleeing Jedi is almost in safety when she sees several Padawans drop their lightsabers, exposing themselves to a large number of clones. The Padawans retrieve their lightsabers, getting ready to hopelessly defend themselves.
      You'd expect - the fleeing Jedi to grit her teeth and let the Padawans die, or use the Force to create a distraction, or do something to not get herself involved.
      Instead - she has had a clone husband for the past few books, causing her to view clones as people to, so she activates her lightsaber to defend the people with orders to kill her on sight. Predictably, she dies.
    • Some might consider it blasphemy to put something that Grand Admiral Thrawn did on this page. While he is pretty brilliant, one of his decisions is pretty inexplicable. In The Last Command, Pellaeon asks Thrawn why he isn't sending a team of Noghri on an important mission as he has done in the past. Thrawn responds by saying ""There's something wrong with the Noghri, Captain. I don't yet know what it is, but I know it's there." Thrawn goes on to say that until he figures out what it is, the Noghri will remain under suspicion. And as the readers know, Thrawn is right; the Noghri are no longer loyal to him, and while they can't openly oppose him they would like to see him taken down.
      You'd Think: That Thrawn would also wonder if his Noghri bodyguard, Rukh, could be trusted, and would send Rukh back to his homeworld.
      Instead: He decides that even though he can't trust any other Noghri, he can still trust Rukh. So he keeps Rukh at his side constantly. This turns out to be a bad idea.
    • For the Star Wars franchise in general. The Sith Order try to become all powerful and destroy the Jedi through traditions heavily emphasizing Klingon Promotion and Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. This directly leads to their defeats on countless occasions for thousands of years.
      You'd Expect: The Sith to recognize that this way of doing things just isn't working and change how they do things to compensate.
      Instead: They continue doing things as per usual, continuing their cycle of defeat, recovery, attack, and defeat over and over again. It isn't until over 20,000 years of this that one Sith Lord finally figures this out and develops the One Sith model, finally leading to the successful destruction of the Jedi.
      However: While ultimately more effective, The One Sith model still includes Klingon Promotion and Chronic Backstabbing Disorder as a matter of course, as a result it slows down things to the point still takes over a millennium after this to succeed in destroying the Jedi, when it was only supposed to take around a century.
    • In Revan: Revan is plagued with returning memories and visions of the Sith Emperor, a distant foe who has been stockpiling for war.
      You'd Expect: the "greatest strategist" of his generation to have a plan to lure the Sith out, or to at least gather intelligence about those enemies to ship back to the Republic.
      You'd Also Expect: Meeta Surik, who was one of his top generals before he deliberately sent her to die at Malachor, which made her Force-deaf, got her a sentence of Exile, and generally ruined her life to say "Get lost, I have apprentices to train!"
      You Might Also Expect: Surik to tell her apprentices of the lurking danger, and Revan to send something back to his friends and family, even if it's a holocron smuggled out of Sith space.
      Instead: Those Two Idiots run off in the dead of night without telling anyone, leaving their friends, family, half-trained apprentices, and galaxy to Force Knows what, put their trust in a literal backstabber (Lord Scourge), get their only companion (T3-M4) vaporized, Exile is killed, and Revan becomes the Emperor's favorite toy for the next three centuries - driven insane in the process. Oh, and because Those Two Idiots didn't even make a plan to warn the Republic that the Emperor and the Sith still existed, the Sith get 300 years to stockpile, invade, and lay waste to half the Republic anyway!
  • "The Stupids": The children's series of books by Harry Allard and James Marshall were about a family — the Stupids — who are so, well, stupid, that they are unable to complete or understand the most simple concepts and tasks. The books, all containing numerous "What an Idiot" situations, included "The Stupids Step Out" (1974), "The Stupids Have a Ball" (1978), "The Stupids Die" (1981) and "The Stupids Take Off" (1989). In 1996, a movie called "The Stupids," starring Tom Arnold, was based on the books.
  • The Sword of Truth: In the first book, Richard must keep the Big Bad from acquiring and activating an ancient artifact with the potential to destroy--or allow its user to enslave--any or all living beings, at his whim. Fortunately, Richard is the only person alive who knows how the artifact works, and he tricks the Big Bad into using it wrong and getting killed. The artifact falls into Richard's hands, and it's revealed that he's a natural-born wizard of unimaginable power, the secret heir to an ancient empire, the only person immune to the soul-destroying magic that prevents his love interest from ever experiencing true love, and the man destined to save the world from the true BigBad, who appears a few books later. The real Big Bad, Emperor Jagang, has an immense evil army capable of effortlessly crushing all resistance from the free world.
    You'd Expect: Richard would use the artifact to wipe them all out, in the name of his friends, and such objectionist principles as life, freedom and liberty. End of story.
    Instead: He forgets all about it until the very end of the series, when it's handwaved away by the sudden discovery that the knowledge Richard had about the artifact was incorrect and would have killed him if he'd used it. But that doesn't explain why he didn't try to find this out sooner.
    • In another example, the Chimes, beings that will drain the world of Additive Magic and only someone who can command Subtractive Magic can do anything to them. Zedd has some knowledge of them and he is right next to Richard. Richard is also the Chosen One and is a War Wizard, has both Additive and Subtractive magic, his Gift acts through emotion and need, and is the Seeker of Truth.
      You'd Expect: Zedd would inform Richard of everything he knew about the Chimes and work out ways to defeat them.
      Instead: Zedd lies to Richard and tells him that it's a different creature and sends him on a wild goose chase for a fake solution and heaps on emotional baggage to drive him while Zedd goes by himself in a weakened condition to try to dupe the Chimes with his soul in a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • In Trickster's Queen, a group of rebels are trying to overthrow the government of the Copper Isles and put a queen of their own blood on the throne. They are following a very specific prophecy, and eventually as it becomes clear that the time for revolution is close, they find that they have two candidates, a pair of sisters: Sarai, the older sister, a passionate, beautiful and headstrong girl who gets along very well with people and who is widely loved; and her younger sister Dove, a quiet, calm, incredibly intelligent girl who isn't much of an extrovert, but who can befriend anyone and hold her own in any conversation. With the time at hand, they need to pick their candidate and start altering their campaigns to fit her.
    You'd Expect that the rebels would look at both sisters, examine their prophecy, realise that 'wise and beloved' doesn't entirely apply to Sarai, and instead redirect their focus to Dove, who everyone agrees is smart and logical and makes a much better candidate.
    You'd Also Expect that somebody would realise that if you plan to put someone on a throne, but you don't trust them enough to tell them your plans for their future, then maybe it's not a good idea to try putting them on the throne.
    Instead, the rebels decide that Sarai is obviously who the prophecy means, because she's incredibly beautiful and everyone loves her. They hold this opinion despite the fact that Sarai is continually headstrong and refuses to use her brain in even the smallest situations (such as not telling everyone in earshot that her house is exceptionally well-guarded, so nobody suspects that the residents are planning something), and in the end, Sarai elopes, believing that the rebels cannot win. Thankfully, Dove is ready to take up the mantle.
  • In the sixth Apprentice Adept book, Unicorn Point, wayward Tyke Bombs Flach and Nepe had just been located, after four years in hiding, meaning the parallel deals with the Contrary Citizens and Adverse Adepts for access to the all-powerful Oracle and Book of Magic were back in force.
    You'd Expect: The bad guys, who were only weeks away from irrevocably seizing power from Stile/Blue and their allies when the kids disappeared, would simply slap some sort of tracker on the kids to keep them from disappearing again, and simply count on their opponent's Lawful Stupid nature to deliver them the win.
    Instead: The bad guys threaten to harm Flach and Nepe's mothers if they didn't follow their instructions. This threat negates the deal with their fathers, Mach and Bane, who tracked the kids down by listening in on their mental connection. Flach gets the word out about the threat; And with Mach and Bane freed from their word, they quickly revolted against the Contrary Citizens and Adverse Adepts, and the good guys finally turn the tide.
  • War and Democide Never Again: John Banks is selected to be one of two people sent back in time to change history to his liking.
    You'd Expect: Him not to tell a soul.
    Instead: After being sent back, he writes down everything that he and his partner change about the past in a diary. So is it really that surprising that the villains from a Bad Future get hold of it, and so are one step ahead of his plans?
  • In Water Margin, two of the Liangshan heroes, Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo, are assigned to help Lu Junyi capture an enemy city. They see that the city gates are open and not a soldier in sight...
    You'd Expect: Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo would smell the obvious Shmuck Bait.
    Instead: The two charge in full steam ahead. They fall for the enemy's Pit Trap within the gate and are killed by waiting Mooks.
    • Earlier, Lei Heng, a constable and future Liangshan hero, attends a performance of a travelling singer named Bai Xiuying. He realizes that he left his money at home, so he's unable to tip her. Xiuying and her father, Bai Yuqiao, start insulting him. Eventually, someone in the audience stands up for Lei Heng and vouches for his good character.
      You'd Expect: The two would be more understanding and allow him to get his money; with an escort if need be.
      Instead: Bai Yuqiao lets loose one final insult. Lei Heng promptly beats him up.
  • Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series has quite a few of these, but the thirteenth book, Towers of Midnight, contains a particularly moronic one. Aes Sedai are turning up dead within the White Tower, and the newly appointed Amyrlin, Egwene, is convinced it's the work of Messana and the Black Ajah. Her love interest Gawyn, however, isn't so sure and investigates on his own, gathering a lot of evidence that suggests the murders did not involve the One Power and were therefore the work of a non-channeler.
    You'd Think: Egwene would listen to his findings and at the very least consider that the murders were not the work of the Black.
    Instead: She completely dismisses everything he says, and even rebukes Gawyn for supposedly getting in her way.
    More Stupidity: This is despite the fact that Gawyn was actually attacked by one of the assassins and could therefore confirm they didn't use the Power.
    Even More Stupidity: Egwene eventually pisses Gawyn off so much he leaves the White Tower and only barely returns in time to stop three of the aforementioned assassins from murdering Egwene in her sleep.
  • "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been": The main conflict takes place between Connie, a 15-year-old girl, and a young man named Arnold Friend, in her yard.
    You'd expect: The instant that a stranger — the unwelcome visitor, Arnold — beckoned Connie outside, for Connie to immediately call the police and have the man ordered to leave or be arrested.
    Instead: That never happens (otherwise, we'd have no story). Connie spends the next half hour or so arguing with Arnold, with Arnold trying nicely ... then not so nicely ... to make her come with him. When Connie finally recognizes Arnold for who he is — a predatory creep who is probably in his mid-30s — and tries to call the police, Arnold has gotten into the house and taken the phone away from her. He also does other things to her, with the strong implication that she is raped. In the end, Connie is forced to leave with Arnold, her fate left unknown.
  • In H.P. Lovecraft's novella "The Whisperer in Darkness", the main character has been communicating with a scientist living in remote Vermont who has found significant evidence of an invading, hostile alien species. His friend has constantly urged him not to visit, in case the aliens, or their human contacts, decide to deal with him too. Throughout the story, he receives increasingly frantic letters from his pen pal reporting that his house was getting attacked at night. Then, one day, he gets a letter from his friend reversing his position about the Aliens. His friend asks him to come to Vermont, on a train that would arrive at 10 at night, and to bring every bit of their correspondence.
    You'd Expect: That he'd be a little suspicious about the whole "sudden total reversal of attitude" thing, and maybe about the "bring all the proof to the heart of their territory" bit too, and not go. The fact that the last telegram has the "pen pal" misspell his own name should clue him in. Or at least make copies of everything he possibly could, and then some.
    Instead: He gets on a train that gets in during daytime, with all the evidence, and meets a fellow on the train. This fellow just happens to sound like a fellow in a recording of an evil ceremony with the aliens. Then, our hero ignores every bit of common sense he has, and the predictable occurs.
  • Leslie from Wicked Lovely decides to get a tattoo. She starts to feel uncomfortable around the owner of the shop and the two kids running around are reacting like her getting the tattoo is the return of their savior. Even the owner tries to talk her out of it. When the owner starts with the process, she hears an evil laugh in her head. You would think she would opt out of it, pick a different tattoo or go to another shop. But no, she goes along with it and becomes bound to Irial.
  • In "Winds of Fate", Princess Elspeth has gone on a mission to recruit a mage willing, able, and suited to teach any potential mages of her land - including herself. She finds out on the way that the Companions have bent all of their formidable abilities toward getting her to just such a mage, and have been doing so for quite some time.
    You'd Expect that, being a princess and Herald, trained in diplomacy and statecraft and the exigencies thereof, she'd go along. With substantial grumbling, most likely, and most certainly after giving Gwena a well-deserved and truly epic dressing-down but she does understand these things.
    Instead, upon discovering she's been (in her words) "led about like some stupid sheep," she immediately decides to head for another city entirely, where she knows nobody, to search among a people she knows nothing about, for representatives of another people that she knows almost nothing about, expect that centuries before they trained one Valdemaran mage, without even knowing the language of either group. Granted, she realizes later that this is an incredibly stupid idea, but she sticks with her moronic plan.
  • In the Worldwar saga by Harry Turtledove, nuclear physicist Jen Larssen has just overcome a broken down car, abduction by invading aliens, and George Patton to finish a half-a-year long journey to Chicago. He's kept on going by the thought of reuniting with his wife, who left with the University of Chicago Metlab caravan transporting the American Nuclear Program to Denver; she thinks he's dead, and has now begun a relationship with a ballplayer/scifi fan turned soldier. He asks an Colonel, Hexam, for permission to follow the caravan or to at least send his wife a message telling her that he's still alive.
    You'd Expect: At the very least, the Colonel will let him send a brief telegram. Even if the Alien invaders, The Race, intercepts it, they have proven themselves to be incompetent at the art of deception. Thus, Jens, and the American Nuclear Program, would be safe.
    Instead: The colonel refuses to comply; Hexam tells him that if he did, then The Race would learn, one way or another, the Nuclear Program's location from him. Jens has to go on strike to convince Hexam to let him take a train to Denver, by which point, his wife is remarried and pregnant. When Hexam meets him again, he continues to treat Jens like shit. Unsurprisingly, Jens turns on Hexam, and kills him, a guard, and three members of an army group sent after him, AND tells The Race where the Nuclear Program is. Thus, Hexam's paranoia nearly results in The Race almost nuking Denver. Nice going, moron!


FilmWhat an IdiotLive-Action TV

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
114691
4