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11:32:22 PM Oct 28th 2012
edited by Candi
Issue #36 of X-Men. To summarize: Professor X and Banshee have been kidnapped in the Alps, and the X-Men need to get to Europe to rescue them before someone uses their powers to conquer the world. The problem? Their plane is out of gas, Warren's parents are out at sea, and the X-Men don't have access to Professor X's bank accounts. They apply for a loan, but get rejected and as they drive away the bank manager notes that they were driving in a Rolls Royce (easily valuable enough to serve as collateral for said loan). The rest of the issue is the X-Men trying to get part time jobs to raise cash. The question is, why don't they just sell the damn car? Surely it would get them enough cash to get to Europe, and hanging onto it can't be as important as rescuing their mentor and saving the world. Sheesh. Was the car in Xavier's name? Can't sell cars you don't own.

They also couldn't have gotten a loan on it if it was in Xavier's name.

It's still a really stupid plot, though. The plane should have been kept gassed up (since they're frequently flying off at a moment's notice). Why didn't they have fuel reserves on site? (Technically illegal, but so is a lot of what they do.) And Xavier's described as a really smart guy and planner many many times; so why isn't there an emergency fund with several thousand or so in it, that at least two or three of the present X-Men can access when there's such a situation as described?

Not sure if actions taken/not taken before the plot in question qualify as an idiot plot, or if this example belongs elsewhere, but it's still really really stupid.

Face/Off subentry:

This is not even to mention that the entire plot of the movie relies on nobody **noticing that Nicolas Cage and John Travolta have switched faces in a process that apparently leaves zero scarring. Just their faces. There is a scene wherein Evil Cage-As-Travolta sleeps with Good Travolta-As-Cage's wife of about, let's say fifteen or twenty years, and she flat-out does not notice that her husband's body is completely different. Tattoos, body hair, scars, moles, musculature, weight, his freaking penis, she does NOT notice. She's been with him for as many as twenty years, she has NO IDEA A SWITCHEROO HAS BEEN MADE, having apparently only paid attention to her husband's face, and absolutely zero to the fact that Nick Cage and John Travolta are built completely and utterly differently.

This is partially wrong. In the movie, the 'experts' mention changing scars around (including the good guy having a scar removed where he came thisclose to being shot in the heart), lengthening limbs, and the like. This is also partially right, since changing the insane number of details mentioned in the subentry would have taken a ridiculous amount of time (which, thanks to the bomb, they didn't have). And either way, the wife had to do a blood-typing test to cotton on that something really was up with her husband, not notice a variety of behavioral changes like you get with two different people.
09:55:37 AM Sep 2nd 2012
edited by halfstep
Deleted the following, due to said entry not taking into consideration the nature of telekinesis in most fictional works or how it's usually presented in the DC universe:

  • The Death of Superman introduced Doomsday, a threat played up as so dangerous that he effortlessly killed anything within arm's reach, or throwing distance, with literally one arm tied behind his back, and handily defeated the assembled Justice League. This led Superman to ponder whether Doomsday's bony growths might, in fact, be part of his skeleton, and dying from wounds inflicted while crushing Doomsday with his own bones. This is not the true portion of the Idiot Plot, however: of all the members of the Justice League, Superman was the one present actually least capable of fighting Doomsday effectively, with each of the others perfectly capable of simply lifting Doomsday off the ground and keeping him out of arm's reach of anything, be it by telekinesis, force fields, a Green Lantern Ring, or even the winch aboard their transport.
    • This is actually lampshaded by Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman, when he fully debuts. As he's wrangling the supposedly-lifeless Doosmday, he notes that people like Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter could have stopped him easily. A few years later, it's noted that Green Lanterns did try to stop Doomsday, but couldn't. Didn't help that he unwittedly stole a Power Ring and went rampaging through the cosmos with it.
      • However, one should point out that Guy Gardner, a former Green Lantern, and having a yellow power ring, failed to stop Doomsday. In addition to that, the Martian Manhunter, at the time disguised as Bloodwynd, also failed.

The problem with the whole "telekinesis as a handy measure to keep away Doomsday" theory is that telekinesis isn't a free action, and it isn't entirely exempt from the 3rd law of physics. Ask yourself: why doesn't Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, or any other TK being regularly throw villains out into space with TK? Plot induced stupidity aside, it's because there's an upper limit to the force they can exert with their telekinesis, anything beyond that force they cannot affect. A great example of this is brought up in an episode of Johnny Quest, where Hadji, a telekinetic, points out that telekinetic or not, he can't lift anything much greater than his weight with his mind. Were Mike Tyson to start throwing punches at him, he couldn't simply put up a psychic force field to block the punches: Mike Tyson's punches carry more force than the gravitational force exerted by Hadji's body. If you can't lift over 100 lbs directed at the ground, you can't block over 100 lbs directed at your face. Same principle applies with the TK heroes: if the most a given TK hero can lift is the Empire State Building, and Doomsday can punch the moon out of orbit, then there is nothing our hero can to to stop Doomsday force wise. The fact that said hero isn't directly touching Doomsday doesn't mean that through some method, they aren't exerting force that winds up being essentially physical on Doomsday, force that can be counter acted.

Note: this doesn't apply to the question, "why don't the heroes just lobotomize/internally dismantle Doomsday?" It it easier to crush blood vessels than to lift up a whole body, so while physically beating Doomsday into submission may have been impossible with TK, simply disconnecting the proper nerves/blood vessels/etc may have been more feasible, in the absence of any real reason why they couldn't. However most comic writers (even the "good ones") aren't that clever, and/or stuff like that is forbidden due to the Anthropic Principle - IE we need a story. Also doesn't explain why people with magic based TK and matter command (IE people who can just order matter to do what they want regardless of how heavy it is or how much of it there is) couldn't have done something about Doomsday. Finally, the winch thing wouldn't work because Doomsday could just rip the winch off, yank the vehicle down, or climb up the rope to beat superheroes to death.

11:25:24 AM Dec 14th 2011
Okay, this trope needs serious cleanup, and I'm thinking it may even need Trope Repair Shop. A lot of the examples don't fit the trope at all, just being examples of one person being stupid rather than everyone in the plot as this trope requires. Others blame people for not knowing events ahead of time, or seem to conflate being unpleasant with being stupid. A lot of it is just complaining rather than actually meeting this trope.
04:22:26 PM Feb 27th 2011
edited by
I'm surprised Spooks gets a mention for events in its ninth series. I switched off from the idiocy in the first.

An MI-5 agent accepts a laptop from a man with known terrorist affiliations, and rather than checking to see if any of its hard-drive bays had been replaced with explosive devices or the like, he instead keeps it at his home with his wife and daughter - A home, I hasten to add, that had just been made impossible to get into *or out of* unless you happen to have the swipe-card at hand.
02:04:25 AM Feb 10th 2011
Removed this from the page:

  • J.K. Rowling's explanation of how James and Lily Potter got killed by Voldemort is a prime example of this. Here's the set-up: the Potters are in hiding with their fifteen-month-old son, in an ancestral cottage of the pure-blood Potter family. One person, and only one, (the secret keeper) is able to tell others where they are. To those who have not been told, the building is invisible. Voldemort, who they are hiding from, is able to see the building, with them in it, and walks boldly into their house by using a simple unlocking charm (Alohomora) on their front door.
    • No explanation is given for why the couple, with one week's warning to go into hiding, have chosen to be in a home without protective wards (the fidelius charm is not a ward, it is a memory charm), which is unexpected for an ancestral wizarding cottage. No explanation is given for why they are not in their manor house or out of the country entirely (it can be inferred that they do have plenty of money). No explanation is given for why they are relying on a simplistic locking charm or mere physical lock for the front door, making it vulnerable to Alohomora. No explanation is given why they have not hired private security guards, or at least called in some volunteers with them.
    • Now, logically, upon hearing the front door open unexpectedly, James and Lily should have cast Shield charms on themselves and either a) double-teamed Voldemort with the Full-Body Bind and the Entrail-Expelling Curse, or b) grabbed their son and Apparated anywhere else in the world, or c) Portkeyed away, or d) run out the back door, or e) blocked the doorway to the sitting room they were in by transfiguring the hall rug into a 20-ton block of marble, or f) James could have turned into his animagus form (a stag) and run him through with his antlers. Instead, James rushes at Voldemort yelling "I'll hold him off!", (yeah sure; without picking up his wand) and Lily takes Baby Harry from James, runs upstairs, (She had no wand upon her either) and locks the door after her—ignoring the fact that all Voldemort has to do to open the door and get to her and the baby is cast the Alohomora spell—He already used it once tonight!
    • Surprise and panic can explain a minute of two of stupidity, but not why they were so unprepared after having had a week's warning that they were targets. For that length of time, they had to be braindead on purpose, so the only question is who cast the confundus charm on them, the author or somebody else?
    • Voldemort could have set wards in place to prevent Portkeys and Apparitions and placed Death Eater guards at the back door, but he never had to. Lily runs UPSTAIRS with the baby in her arms, which makes escape out the back door difficult. Both James and Lily lose track of their wands in their panic, despite the fact that James was playing with his before the attack and had to deliberately set it down on the sofa and ignore it. Emergency Portkey? Whazzat?
    • To make James even more braindead, he owns a one-of-a-kind invisibility cloak, a priceless relic of his family's heritage which would be very handy to hide from a Dark Lord out to kill his baby. Stupidly, he lent it to Albus Dumbledore for the occasion!
    • Of course, Voldemort is braindead too. If he had only wanted to corrupt 1/4 of the wizarding youth and harass the other 3/4, and cripple the nation's potion brewing industry, healing industry, and law enforcement industry, he would have had no opposition: Albus Dumbledore would have trusted him with his life! But no, Voldemort wanted to kill 6 billion people, give or take a few hundred thousand, and torture the rest as he ruled for all eternity. Bwahaha!
    • It's much more capital and profound then that. The whole plan of the good guys would've collapsed on spot if only Big V had dropped his "nobody will ever find out about me horcruxes, let alone find them, let alone be able to steal them" self-delusion sessions and just checked on the damned things from time to time.
      • Or, as the What an Idiot page notes, dropped the Horcruxes in the Pacific Ocean, used a grain of sand in the Sahara or a leaf in the Amazon as a Horcrux, or used an unfeasible-to-destroy object, like a building, a work of art, or a landmark as a Horcrux. Instead, he chose to put them in places notable to his personal history or gave them to subordinates, and made them either artifacts or objects with his name on them.
        • But one of Voldemort's largest flaws was his arrogance. It's completely plausible for Voldemort to believe he's way smarter than everyone else and no one will ever discover his brilliant plan, therefore he probably didn't feel the need to check on the Horcruxes, much less make them artifacts that didn't have personal meaning.
        • The reason that important objects were used was explained in the sixth book - even as a child, Voldemort liked to collect trophies of his conquests. All of the horcruxes were made from things that connected to the founders of Hogwarts, the one place he felt at home. The diary showed he was the heir of Slytherin, and the snake showed his power as a Parseltongue. Dumbledore even says that while using random objects would have been bad news for them, there is no way Voldemort would stick a bit of his soul into something he considered common and unworthy.
        • Still feels like there should have been some middle ground, though, right?
        • It's Voldemort. He would be nearly incapable of making Horcruxes without importance. Also, no one, ever, had been mad enough to make that many Horcruxes.

Can someone please sum up all this natter in a nutshell before putting it back on the page?
10:59:37 PM Feb 4th 2011
Should this be a subjective trope? I mean, what one people consider to be stupid, others would see why somebody would actually do this and may actually seem reasonable given the circumstances and lack of hindsight.
11:24:11 PM Feb 4th 2011
This is not stupid plot, it is a plot run by characters being stupid.
08:24:19 PM Jan 16th 2011
Should we add a Troper Tales page? I'm sure that there are a lot of plots in the real world that could've been solved easily if the people weren't such bumbling incompetents. This would be a good idea.
11:12:33 AM Dec 31st 2010
I'm throwing this...

  • Persona 4- Idiot plot all around mixed with police are useless and plot stupidity.
The only reason this game went on for so long was because everyone had to be completely incapable and idiotic. Later on the writers realized what kind of hole they threw themselves into and had to introduce a plot device character so the main characters could even have a chance of catching the killer.

out, not just because I disagree, but also because it utterly fails to give a decent explanation. Why are they idiots? What "obvious" things are they failing to put together and/or do? You can't just say everyone's an idiot, you have to explain what they should be doing.
11:37:25 PM Dec 20th 2010
The criticism of X-Men 3 strikes me as a little glib.

"Magneto could have literally dropped the bridge on the mutant." Seriously, you don't use the thing that your army is standing on as a projectile weapon. He could pull this off if he went to battle all by himself, and even then I'm not confident that even a falling section of bridge is going to smash through the prison with any ease.

"Magneto is surprised to realize that the guns are plastic, partway into the fight, but it's not as if he had some kind of ability to sense metal at a distance that had been highlighted in the plot about fifteen minutes ago." A cursory look at the scene shows that there was a lot of metal around anyway; methinks you're presuming too much from the vaguely established sense you allude to.

"The "pawns" are mutants, the very people who Magneto has made perfectly clear are the superior form of humanoid life. Yet he sends them off to be killed and stands around watching it happen. Some mutants must be more superior than others." I think this idea is made pretty clear; they set up that whole hierarchy of ranking mutants from one to five, and Magneto explicitly places the more mutated mutants over the lesser ones.
05:04:03 PM Jul 29th 2010
Now, was this page meant for religious commentary? See Literature folder. The Bible, not Left Behind
02:19:34 PM Jul 15th 2010
There's lots of discussion about the Harry Potter example and I can't rewrite it all out, but this one part I have a clear answer to, so I removed it:

  • The real problem is why didn't they just make James or Lily the secret keeper. After all, they weren't going to tell anybody, were they?

The answer: It almost certainly doesn't work that way. The rules of magic in the world have enough respect for what makes a good story that you can't exploit loopholes like that. If you could make a person their own secret keeper, everyone would do that and everyone could use that magic to stay completely undetectable by anyone.
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