What An Idiot: SpongeBob SquarePants

French Narrator (At the end of "Nasty Patty"): Well, that's our story. Yes, they are all idiots, aren't they?

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  • A basic staple: Spongebob going to Patrick for advice, or vice versa.
    You'd Expect: That Spongebob would realize that Patrick is Too Dumb to Live and not take his advice.
    Instead: The situation goes From Bad to Worse.

    Pre-Movie Seasons 
  • In "Tea at the Treedome", Sandy invites SpongeBob over for tea and cookies but the air inside the treedome starts drying him up. After SpongeBob gives her flowers, Sandy asks him if he needs anything. SpongeBob says, "Water would be nice."
    You'd Expect: Sandy to get SpongeBob some water.
    Instead: She assumes SpongeBob wants water for the flowers and fills a vase with it. When she sees SpongeBob has nearly dried up completely, she has the nerve to tell him "If y'all wanted water, you should have asked." Yeah, he totally didn't, Sandy.
  • "Pizza Delivery": Squidward tells Spongebob to drive but Spongebob says he can't. he's still in boating school and doesn't have a license.
    You'd Expect Squidward to just drive instead.
    Instead Squidward not only makes Spongebob do it anyway, but starts yelling and pressuring him when he's clearly nervous, causing him to panic and lose control of the vehicle until it runs out of gas.
  • In "Squidville", Squidward decides to move to a place called Tentacle Acres, where everyone is like him and have all his favorite things, like bikes, clarinets, and even canned bread. Squidward does a routine of all his favorite stuff each day, but because there's nothing new about it, it loses its appeal and Squidward grows horribly bored.
    You'd expect: Squidward would simply find other things to do that he enjoys each day, besides his favorite stuff, so it won't be quite as boring.
    Instead: He eventually decides to move back to Bikini bottom, and back to Spongebob and Patrick.
  • In "No Free Rides", Mrs. Puff gives extra credit and passes SpongeBob so she doesn't have to deal with him for another year. SpongeBob ends up getting a boatmobile from his parents.
    You'd Expect: Mrs. Puff to explain to SpongeBob about what she did in order to guarantee that he won't wreak havoc with his bad driving.
    Instead: She attempts, and fails, to steal his boatmobile and ends up landing herself in jail.
  • In "Nasty Patty", Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob catch wind of a fake health inspector being on the loose while they have a health inspector of their own inside the building.
    You'd Expect: Either Mr. Krabs or SpongeBob to ask the inspector for legal documentation.
    Instead: They make the Nasty Patty.
    So: SpongeBob gives the Nasty Patty to the health inspector. Just as he is about to take a bite, he chokes on a fly (underwater?) and passes out. Krabs later learns that the fake health inspector was captured.
    You'd Then Expect: SpongeBob, Krabs or someone else to go see if he's all right. He should still have a working pulse, and they could give him a real Krabby Patty and pass the inspection.
    Instead: They think they've killed him, starting a long charade of burying him and hiding him from the cops, unintentionally torturing him in the process, even when he turned out OK.
  • In "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler", the Tattle Tale Strangler puts on a mustache gag to get closer to strangling SpongeBob.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to see through the Paper-Thin Disguise
    Instead: He falls for the oldest trick in the book.
    What's worse: When SpongeBob's friends were around for his parties, they don't see through the disguise either. It's especially egregious when you see Mr. Krabs and Larry there and remember that the Strangler was established to be The Dreaded even to them.
    Then again: SpongeBob's idiocy throughout that point gives us hilarious moments that unintentionally but rightfully give the Strangler punishment.

    Post-Movie Seasons 
  • In "Atlantis Squarepantis", Spongebob and Patrick accidentally destroy the World's Oldest Living Bubble and confess to the Lord Royal Highness. Luckily, it was a prop and the real bubble in a secure place.
    You'd Expect: For the Lord Royal Highness not to show the real bubble to Spongebob and Patrick, knowing that they destroyed the fake bubble.
    Instead: He shows them the real bubble. Patrick takes a picture of it and it pops, making the Lord Royal Highness furious.
  • At the end of "Penny Foolish", the penny SpongeBob found that Mr. Krabs was obsessed with getting turns out to be gum for his gum collection. The "gum" in question turns out to be a $500-bill.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to keep the dollar.
    Instead: He throws it away, not knowing how rich he could be had he simply kept it.
  • In "The Slumber Party", SpongeBob uses a pizza man disguise to get inside Pearl's party for surveillance, forced to do so by Mr. Krabs. His mustache flies away and Pearl and her friends confront SpongeBob. SpongeBob runs to Mr. Krabs and tells him to "STEP ON IT!!!" so that he doesn't get maimed.
    You'd Expect: Mr. Krabs to wait for SpongeBob to get in the car so he can drive him home.
    Instead: He takes the "STEP ON IT!!!" term too seriously and drives off without him.
    The Result: SpongeBob gets impounded into a pizza, and he ships himself to Mr. Krabs.
    You'd Then Expect: Wait, it's been shown that SpongeBob can change into different shapes, so couldn't Mr. Krabs do something to revert him back to normal?
    Instead: He takes a piece of SpongeBob, eats it, complains that he's cold and tells him that he should've been here earlier. (This is coming from the guy that drove away from him and left him in danger), and he then takes another slice of SpongeBob!
  • In "Stuck in the Wringer", SpongeBob is...well, yeah. Patrick happens to come along and SpongeBob asks him to help.
    You'd Expect: Patrick to go to SpongeBob's aid, turn the crank, and be a good friend to a friend in need.
    Instead: Patrick SOMEHOW thinks it's a good idea to use Forever Glue on the wringer, thus trapping SpongeBob forever...at least it would were it not for the unforgivable ending.
    Thus: Citizens of Bikini Bottom, StrawBob SquareMan was completely in the right to do what he did to Patrick.
  • In "Someone's in the Kitchen with Sandy", Plankton sneaks into Sandy's treedome and steals her fur while she takes a shower.
    You'd Expect: Sandy to put on her suit or at least throw on some clothes before running out to catch Plankton.
    Instead: She goes outside in her underwear and gets arrested for public nudity.
  • In "Toy Store of Doom", Spongebob and Patrick successfully defeat a monster that was scaring them—the monster, however, is actually just a harmless, miniscule wind-up toy robot.
    You'd Expect: Spongebob and Patrick to either destroy the toy or just put it back in the shelf.
    Instead: Patrick walks over to the toy, picks it up, and WINDS IT BACK UP, thus causing more trauma for the cowardly two.
    Fridge Logic: If Patrick is scared of the toy robot, then how come he was able to walk over to the toy and wind it back up without freaking out?
  • "A Pal for Gary" is pretty much the definition of this trope.
    • The whole episode involves Spongebob getting a new toy-like thing named Puffy Fluffy, for Gary to play with, completely unaware that it hates being around other pets (even when the pet seller told him that). He showers Puffy Fluffy with respect and tries to force Gary to accept him. That night, he thinks Gary and Puffy Fluffy will get along perfectly, but Puffy Fluffy transforms into a monster and terrorizes Gary throughout the house. It causes damage to Spongebob's house, and the next morning when Spongebob wakes up, he thinks Gary is responsible! He enters the living room and sees Gary in Puffy Fluffy's mouth!
      You'd Expect: Spongebob to try to save Gary.
      Instead: He angrily tells Gary to put Puffy Fluffy down. Uh, yeah, he can't do that right now, because Puffy Fluffy has him IN HIS MOUTH! As he continues to rant, he is then taken by Puffy Fluffy's fangs.
      Then: Gary saves Spongebob by using a lasso and acting like a cowboy, and knocks Spongebob out of Puffy Fluffy's mouth. Puffy Fluffy then breaks out of the pineapple house and flees.
      You'd Then Expect: Spongebob to finally realize what Fluffy really was, and apologize to Gary for treating him so terribly, considering he, oh you know, JUST SAVED HIS LIFE.
      Instead: He tries to get Puffy Fluffy back, but after that fails, he scolds Gary AGAIN. WHAT?! He neglected his own pet horribly in favor of a monster and NEVER apologized! And despite that, they make up in the very next scene with little trouble, in which Spongebob decides to take Gary to work everyday so he won't neglect him.
      Extra Idiot Points: Considering that at the beginning of the episode, Spongebob felt bad and that he was neglecting Gary, he should have thought of THAT while Puffy Fluffy was there, but NOOOOOOO.
      Let's Just Face It: Spongebob was more of a jerk than usual in this episode. He was also more of an idiot as well.
  • In "Kracked Krabs", Mr. Krabs enters a video of him being cheap to win the "Cheapest Crab Alive" award. In the video, Mr. Krabs puts a sign for free Krabby Patties attracting a crowd of customers and then charges $1 per footstep.
    You'd Expect: The crowd to do the smart thing and, upon seeing the sign, would get all their Krabby Patties to go and take large footsteps to make sure they can pay as little as possible, or go to a different resturant.
    Instead: Upon seeing the sign, the customers start bouncing around and taking tons of footsteps in panic. Later, they lose like 50 Krabby Patties, throwing them off balance and making them take more footsteps, which ends up costing them more than what the Krabby Patties would have cost. It's incidents like this that make you wonder if the Bikini Bottom except Squidward, Sandy, and Mr. Krabs know the value of a dollar. At least it was kind of funny.
  • In "One Coarse Meal", Spongegbob has witnessed Plankton wishing to get run over due to being scared to death by Krabs in a whale's disguise, when he told it to Krabs, he laughs at Plankton's misery. Spongebob then returns to Plankton who gets told a secret by Spongebob.
    You'd Expect: For Spongebob to either mouth off to Krabs about what he had done to Plankton just like previous seasons or attempt to help Plankton get out of his suicide mode in any way, even if he has to tell his boss Krabs his true fear of losing money.
    Instead: Spongegbob tells Plankton Krab's false fear of mimes that didn't even budge Krabs one bit and just as Plankton gets his deserved revenge Spongebob drives him back home with the (holographic) whales nearby essentially returning Plankton to his suicidal state again. And Krabs congratulates him for it.
    Thus: Thanks to Spongegbob's obliviousness of Krab's Moral Event Horizon, Krabs becomes a Karma Houdini essentially becoming the epitome of Designated Hero.
  • "Gramma's Secret Recipe" is about Plankton masquerading as his grandmother in order to steal the Krabby Patty recipe. At the beginning of the episode, Plankton has an Imagine Spot where he, in disguise, goes into the Krusty Krab and is able to get the recipe from Krabs pretty much just by asking.
    You'd Expect: Plankton to simply perform the plan he just came up with in his head.
    Instead: He goes to SpongeBob's house and claims to be SpongeBob's grandmother (of course, SpongeBob falls for it, but that's not the point).
    The Result: Plankton, as SpongeBob's "Great Grammy-Maw," is dragged around by SpongeBob to do boring activities, and when he actually does get to the formula, he (Plankton) ends up getting busted by his real grandmother.
  • In "Shellback Shenanigans", Plankton disguises himself as Gary, SpongeBob's pet snail, to get the Krabby Patty formula.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to realize that so-called Gary that's "turning green and talking" is really Plankton.
    Instead: He actually believes that Plankton is Gary. Not only that, the doctors (who are PROFESSIONALS) thought he was Gary, too!
  • Plankton's plan in "Frozen Face-Off". He builds a robotic duplicate of himself to distract everyone else at a sled race while he is back at the Krusty Krab. But Karen is left out of it.
    You'd Expect: Plankton to have built a duplicate for Karen or a robotic worm. With Karen around, Plankton could have stolen the formula much quicker than in the episode.
    Instead: He has Karen freeze her circuits in the sled race so he could get the formula himself. Ultimately, Karen joins SpongeBob and friends to thwart his plan.
  • In "Little Yellow Book", where Squidward catches SpongeBob writing in his diary and when Squidward has it in his hands, wondering what it is, SpongeBob defensively takes it away from him.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to keep it with him or hide it when Squidward's not around.
    Instead: He leaves it out in the open and Squidward reads it after luring him away.
    Thus: SpongeBob is humiliated.
    But Then: He publishes the diary because it made people laugh, completely forgetting that it was that thing that humiliated him.
    Extra Idiot Points: He tells Squidward that he has an even more embarrassing diary and even shows it to him.
    And That Ultimately Causes: Squidward takes and reads that diary while his back is turned, humiliating him once again. Just, wow.
    So Basically: SpongeBob is clearly unfit to keep a diary if he can't protect it from nosy intruders.
    Why Do We Even Bother: Spongebob doesn't even think about the way Squidward treats him in this episode, and acts nice to him. But, of course this is Spongebob we're talking about, so why should we even be surprised?
  • In the episode "House Sittin' for Sandy", SpongeBob accidentally knocks a science beaker off a table and it rolls off.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to run and pick it up.
    Instead: he STAYS THERE, WATCHES it roll and DOESN'T DO ANYTHING.
    Extra Idiot Points: Had this been real life, SpongeBob could've easily picked up the beaker because it'd stop rolling midway through due to friction. Did the writers even take science class?
    Then:, it rolls into the shed where Sandy keeps her robots and taps one of the robots, causing him to fall onto another one, activating it. The robots then fight each other, blast out of the shed, and then wreak havoc in Sandy's treedome.
    You'd Then Expect: SpongeBob and Patrick to take evasive action like try and find the switch that can turn off all the robots, or just fight them.
    Instead: They CONTINUE TO JUST STAND THERE, and they do NOTHING to stop the robots.
    After All Of This: Sandy comes over and uses a ray gun that looks like she's going to shoot them at first, but actually shoots everything damaged. She then reveals all of this was an experiment so she could test the gun. They all say "YAY!", then SpongeBob drops the beaker AGAIN!
    You'd Then Expect: For all of them to run and pick it up again.
    Instead: They don't do anything YET AGAIN and it rolls into the shed and the robots blast it again.
    You'd THEN Expect: That they'd fight the robots, turn off their switches or for Sandy to blast them with the ray gun.
    Instead: They WATCH the robots destroy the treedome AGAIN. Luckily for Sandy, she plans to fix everything with the ray gun...but then one of the robots takes it and destroys it. SpongeBob and Patrick then nervously exit the treedome to prevent themselves from getting into more trouble with Sandy.
  • In "The Krabby Patty that Ate Bikini Bottom", Mr. Krabs learns that Sandy has invented a serum that makes food grow to giant size. He manages to get SpongeBob over with a Krabby Patty, and Sandy tests her serum by putting one drop on the patty. Nothing happens. Sandy then announces that she needs to use the ladies' room.
    You'd Expect: Sandy to give the serum to SpongeBob, since he's better friends with her and he knows not to go against what she says.
    Instead: She gives the serum to Mr. Krabs, who clearly wants to use the serum for his own gain, and runs off. Krabs promptly dumps the whole bottle of serum on the Krabby Patty, despite SpongeBob's protests. The two then leave.
    It Gets Worse: Later, not only has the patty grown to gigantic size, it's become sentient and starts consuming everything in the Krusty Krab. The customers, Squidward, and SpongeBob begin to flee the restaurant.
    You'd Expect: Mr. Krabs to join the crowd and get away from the monstrous patty.
    Instead: He blocks Squidward and SpongeBob in, claiming the giant patty is "a dream come true," and that they should "stay and work."
    Then: Krabs runs straight into the Monster Patty, because "Cashie" is getting eaten; Krabs gets eaten, too.
    In Short, if Sandy had just given the serum to SpongeBob, or had just kept it herself, it would have saved everyone a lot of trouble.
  • In "Face Freeze!", Spongebob and Patrick are told that if they keep on making "funny" faces, then their faces will freeze and stay like that. They try so hard to not make faces, but it's obvious that they are going to snap.
    You'd Expect: Since they can't resist for them to make only three or two faces and keep them on for, say, a microsecond.
    Instead: They make several funny faces and keep one on to debunk the "freezing" claim. Surprise, surprise, their faces freeze and they fear they can't go to work that way.
    So: They go to Sandy's to fix their faces.
    You'd Expect: That Sandy, since she's been Flanderized to have an obsession with science than usual, would use some serum experiment to fix their faces.
    Instead: She tries to fix their faces with her hands.
    The Result: Their faces become even uglier than the frozen ones. Mr. Krabs discovers Spongebob made faces, and he makes a face and it freezes. Then Patrick comes over, and Squidward's face freezes as well, and everybody laughs.
  • In "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!", Plankton decides that in order to get the Krabby Patty, he needs to sell fruitcakes with the element "Jerktonium" in them. He goes to sell it and finds SpongeBob, who eats all of the fruitcake without turning into a jerk. When Plankton walks off, SpongeBob sells the food to nearby Christmas carolers, who turn into jerks upon eating them.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to realize that the fruitcake has Jerktonium and to try to get rid of it.
    Instead: Since he's immune to Jerktonium, he goes around selling the fruitcake—and promptly turns everyone into jerks!
    Compounding It There's Plankton's plot with the Jerktonium. The first song in the special claims that Santa 'has his Jolly Little Eyes' on everyone in Bikini Bottom.
    You'd Expect: That Santa, being the personification of all that is good, would realize that the citizens of Bikini Bottom have artificially been turned into jerks, give Plankton another lump of coal for the year and find a way to reverse the element. Like song.
    Instead: He never suspects Plankton was behind the plot the whole time.
    To Make Matters Worse: When Plankton builds a Robotic SpongeBob due to the real one's immunity to the element, it starts to wreck havoc. Keep in mind it looks nothing like him.
    You'd Expect: See above, but replace 'artificially been turned into jerks' with 'The robot framed him.'
    Instead: Again, Plankton isn't suspected and Spongebob gets the blame.
  • At the end of "Eek, an Urchin!", SpongeBob has gathered all the urchins in a trash can and is going to several places in order to release them, but no matter how far away he is, Mr. Krabs still thinks that the places he's in are still too close to the Krusty Krab.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to release the urchins somewhere far away, no matter how close it may seem to Mr. Krabs.
    Instead: He releases them right in front of the Krusty Krab!
    Extra Idiot Points: It was right back where he started.

    Other Media 
  • In The Movie, when Squidward confronts Plankton at the Chum Bucket.
    You'd Expect: For Squidward to keep his mouth closed and not reveal to Plankton that he knows his plan. He could then leave the Chum Bucket to notify the authorities.
    Instead: He explicitly tells Plankton about his plan and says that he will report him, thus allowing Plankton to activate the Chum Bucket helmets and have the mind-controlled citizens kidnap him. Lampshaded when Plankton called Squidward "Inspector Loose Lips."
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, Plankton has built a machine that will mass-produce him a robot army to help him steal the Krabby Patty formula and possibly destroy Bikini Bottom in the process. However, he included an "Obey"/"Don't Obey" switch, and left it on "Don't Obey".
    You'd Expect: Plankton to notice this and set the switch on "Obey" before turning on the machine.
    Instead: He leaves the "Obey"/"Don't Obey" switch alone, turns on the machine and creates the robots. They immediately turn against him, kicking off the plot of the game.