Franz of the H.I.V.E. Series is assumed by everyone to be a total moron because he can't speak English very well. He's also completely lacking in the common sense department and improves his speaking skills only marginally over the course of four years. However, he knows more than his professors about economics and manipulation of people, doubling as well as a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
Everyone in A Series of Unfortunate Events falls into one of two categories: weird and hypercompetent, or weird and incompetent. The Baudelaires just have the misfortune to mostly be in the care of people who fall under the second category.
A very controversial example in the novel The Thirty-Nine Steps is a spy who, while very competent, believes in every anti-Semitic conspiracy theory under the sun. The character ends up assassinated, showing the problems which come from pursuing false conspiracies and overlooking real ones, but he is still treated with respect by his colleagues prior to that.
Violin-playing, drug-addicted, outwardly disorganized, self-aggrandizing master detective Sherlock Holmes makes this Older Than Radio. Holmes regularly conducts very malodorous chemical experiments, decorates his wall with bullet holes, and keeps tobacco in a slipper and correspondence pinned to the mantle with a knife. He's also a Master of Disguise, so much so that even Watson doesn't always know it's him.
His older brother Mycroft would seem to suggest that it's In the Blood. Mycroft lives down the street from his government office, frequents a social club where none of the members are allowed to speak or even take the least notice of each other, has an almost obsessive hatred of going anywhere besides his apartment, his work and his club... and functions as a living database, archive, and computer for the British government. Holmes himself says that Mycroft is even smarter than he is and could be an even better detective. It's just that the man is not willing to do the physical work that comes with being a detective.
"Why do you not solve it yourself, Mycroft? You can see as far as I." "Possibly, Sherlock. But it is a question of getting details. Give me your details, and from an armchair I will return you an excellent expert opinion. But to run here and run there, to cross-question railway guards, and lie on my face with a lens to my eye — it is not my metier."
Robots and some staff of Institute in Feliks, Net & Nika. Special mention should go to robot Roznakin, who does his job even too well and is constantly arguing with his own printer (printer is another instance of Roznakin. It's complicated), as well as rocket scientists who are a real crazy bunch, but invented rocket-shooting rocket and shot it in the sky. It succeeded.
Butters is the best pathologist in the city... but he loves polka music more than is healthy and wears bunny slippers.
Harry himself from many view points:
From the point of view of the muggles, Harry is a weirdo with Ambiguous Disorder, a sense of humour as dodgy as his sense of personal hygiene, and a tendency to mouth off at authority figures without provocation. The cops at Special Investigations put up with his proclamations that he's a wizard because he gets resultsnote since he really is a wizard.
Also, the Wardens recruit Harry despite his severe authority issues (especially regarding the White Council) and history of dark magic because he's one of the only really powerful wizards left and is famous for rebelling against the Council, so if someone so anti-council is on their side, they must be doing the right thing.
We also get to see Harry's bunny-ears from Murphy's perspective. Harry is a guy who walks into a scene with an outfit that looks like it belongs on the set ofEl Dorado, asks a few questions that make absolutely no sense, occasionally does something strange like take a strand of hair from a brush, vanishes for two days and somehow makes an envelope with the exact information necessary to crack the case wide open and an invoice for twenty billable hours appear on her desk next Monday morning. Knowing he's a bona fide wizard doesn't help, especially since he loves to play up the mysterious and all-knowing aspects of wizardry.
Bob the Skull is an extremely powerful spirit of intellect that has worked for wizards for centuries and has such a wide span of magical knowledge that the White Council considers him a serious threat and they'd be seriously pissed if they knew Harry has him. And he reallylikes porn and trashy airport romance novels.
The Princess Bride: Miracle Max has clearly got a few screws loose (and honestly, who ever heard of a miracle worker named "Max"?) but he did get the job done.
Discworld: Everyone, or at least the main recurring characters, falls into this trope.
The Librarian of Unseen University is an orangutan. He didn't start out that way, he got accidentally transformed and decided he prefers it. He hasn't been replaced or transformed back against his wishes because a) he's still very good at his job (in fact, he's probably better at it than he was beforenote He can shelve books with his feet and fearlessly read books that Man (note the specification) was not meant to know) and b) an adult male orangutan is considerably stronger than an adult male human, and the Librarian is not necessarily averse to expressing his displeasure physically. It also helps that bananas are cheaper than an actual salary. These days, if someone told the wizards that there was an orangutan in the library, they would probably ask the Librarian if he'd seen it.
The Bursar of the university is literally insane. It's downplayed in that he has to take dried frog pills in order to perform his job, but they don't actually make him sane, they just make him hallucinate that he's sane, that he's a bursar, and, incidentally, that he can fly.note When a wizard hallucinates that he can fly, it's a bit... different from anyone else hallucinating they can fly. He's not allowed above the second floor. Archchancellor's orders.
Continuing with the Unseen University staff, there's Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully. By most people's standards he's no stranger than other wizards, but to other wizards he's completely mad. He not only enjoys but actively encourages healthy exercise, puts a homemade and highly volatile condiment on everything he eats, and is about as subtle as a sledgehammer. He handles most matters through Obfuscating Stupidity, on the assumption that if someone is still trying to explain something to him after several minutes, it must be important. At the same time, he brought stability to UU, ending the tradition of Klingon Promotion by being unkillable himself.
City Watch Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson, a 6'6" dwarf (biologically he is technically human thanks to an odd birth defect commonly known as "both his birth parents are human") who is also (probably) the long lost heir to Ankh-Morpork's throne. Having been raised by dwarves, he has no concept of irony and has become either a Genius Ditz or a master of Obfuscating Stupidity. He also has the stones to arrest anything, up to and including a dragon and all the soldiers in two opposing armies who are about to fight a battle, for "Behavior likely to cause a breach of the peace."
This is common amongst reformed vampires: channel the obsession away from blood and onto a subject which is less likely to get you staked. The one with a coffee obsession was particularly memorable. There's also Otto Chriek, who is a damn good photographer and a pretty nice guy, helpful to anyone who needs it... and a vampire who obsesses over photography like most vampires obsess over blood. He's regularly harmed or reduced to ashes (he gets better) by the flash, much to bystanders' consternation.
Jeremy Clockson, a clockmaker with no sense of fun who is, in fact, too sane.
Leonard of Quirm, a parody of Leonardo da Vinci. Despite a habit of stopping in mid-sentence to play with folded-paper gliders and doodle schematics for working instruments of destruction in the margins, Lord Vetinari still employs him, and finds uses for all his ideas. Though "employs" is, perhaps, not quite the right word: the Patrician keeps him imprisoned in a tower and well supplied with parchment. Leonard genuinely appreciates both these things, since it keeps him from being distracted from his thoughts and sketches.
Also, after talking to Nobby in Jingo Leonard is even happier with Lord Vetinari's 'imprisonment': not only does he get all the materials he wants, but he is also well away from everyone who'd seek to turn his genuinely well-conceived ideas (such as guns, nuclear explosives, etc.) into weapons.
Marco Soto - one of the best field agents the Monks of Time have - refuses to cut his hair, as he believes it to be a separate entity that simply happens to live on his head.
Maladict, a vampiric Borogravian soldier, is a coffee addict who suffers deprivation hallucinations others can see about wars that didn't even take place on the Disc, carries a rapier he can't use properly to deter attackers because the only other option is to tear them apart with his fists, and is actually a woman.
Rincewind the "Wizzard" is the Disc's biggest coward, actively craves boredom, and is as competent at magic as a fish is at mountaineering, but when Ridcully is faced with the task of sending him on a very dangerous mission, he doesn't hesitate. Because no matter what the danger, Rincewind always survives. He spends the entire adventure running away screaming, but he makes it back, even from another dimension, the beginning of time, outer space, or hell itself.
Vetinari is a very subtle example, but he definitely has a quirky side. Like showing some Mundane Object Amazement with a spoon in Unseen Academicals (and with an inkwell in The Truth—and that while the city's head religious official was waiting to see him!) Or preferring to read music because it always sounds better in his head than it does played with real instruments. He also seems to know really random facts that couldn't possibly help him run the city, like the stats of one of the football teams or that "pysdxes" are ancient Ephebian needle holders.
In Cryptonomicon, Lawrence Waterhouse is a man who does something socially ept "once every two or three years" and enjoys three things in the world: cryptology, playing the pipe organ, and sex. (The third clears his mind, enabling the first, and the second can sometimes be used as a substitute for the third.) Very few people understand much of what he says, and he's never very sure of what's going on around him, but since it's World War II, the whole cryptology thing works out well for him.
Also, his grandson, Randy Waterhouse, who has a strange obsession with Capt. Crunch cereal, and tends to use computer, DnD or Tolkien analogies to explain things. He's also one of, if not the, best network engineers in the world. And later on, he finds his grandfather's cryptology notes...
The Shaftoes have a tendency toward violence and a gift at ass-kicking. The extraordinary crazy that runs in the family is not something you want to bring up, because you really want them on your side. Unless you outrank them, in which case, feel free to keep telling Bobby Shaftoe to stop mentioning the giant lizard. (It won't do any good.) The same goes for his son and granddaughter,
And in Quicksilver, we meet the Esphahnians, who apparently have no middle setting between declaring a blood feud against someone and adopting them into the family, and are so insane that even Jack Shaftoe (who, at this point, is being literally driven insane by syphilis) comments on it. They're also scarily competent business owners.
Stephenson's version of William of Orange is smart enough to recognize that the best people have the weirdest quirks, so he only employs Bunny Ears Lawyers, and he distrusts competent people who have no quirks.
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash gives us Hiro Protagonist, who lives in a storage container and is neurotically insecure when it comes to women, but is at the same time, one of the best hackers in the world and is globally accepted as the world's best swordsman to boot. Although that one is mostly because he wrote the sword-fighting code for the Metaverse. In reality, he seems to be competent, but the book doesn't make an enormous deal about how good he is with an actual sword.
The Silence of the Lambs: Dr. Hannibal Lecter is one of the most brilliant psychiatrists in the world and also a cannibalistic serial killer. It's averted in that they actually do put him in prison as soon as his "quirk" is discovered, although he continues to write articles for psychiatric publications on a regular basis. The "About the Author" blurb must be a scream.
Never mind being the best sniper in the regiment, he may be the best sniper in the Galaxy, beating even bionically augmented super-snipers who have been blessed by the Chaos Gods...
Also, technically, no-one knows about the hallucinations except him, since he always has the good graces to have them in private. He's still a bit 'off' at the best of times though.
Kurt Kusenberg's Eine Schulstunde is about a school seemingly full of Bunny Ears Lawyers. The teacher brought a living bear to class, the principal would teach William Shakespeare only while disguised as The Bard, and one of the students would speak every A as an I for one month because he lost a bet.
The Artificial Intelligence Personalities in Donna Andrews' Turing Hopper mysteries tend towards this as they develop more self-awareness.
Ford's semi-cousin, Zaphod Beeblebrox, with whom he shared three of the same mothers, is also this to unknown extents. He is the inventor of the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster and, due to an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine, his direct ancestors from his father are also his direct descendants. He also employs Obfuscating Stupidity, mixed with unknown quantities of actual stupidity, to get away with being Brilliant, but Lazy. He also came up with a plan that would allow him to confront the ruler of the universe, a plan that involved lobotomizing himself so that he wouldn't remember the plan and thus couldn't sabotage it for himself... Unfortunately, the lobotomized Zaphod hates being a pawn of his past self, so he actively tries to sabotage his own plans. Which is, of course, easier said than done since he anticipated this and lobotomized himself in order to prevent himself from succeeding with doing exactly that. Zaphod's just zat kinda guy, you know?
Life, the Universe and Everything has His High Judgmental Supremacy, Judiciary Pag, L.I.V.R. (the Learned, Impartial, and Very Relaxed). "He was clearly a bounder and a cad. He seemed to think because he was the possessor of the finest legal mind ever discovered that gave him the right to behave exactly as he liked, and unfortunately he appeared to be right." Judging by his personal name, Zipo Bibrok 5*10^8, being a Bunny-Ears Lawyer may well be genetic in this universe.... (See aforementioned mishap by Zaphod Beeblebrox.)
Dumbledore: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Harry: Is he — a bit mad? Percy: Mad? He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes.
Just look at his clothing. Every time it's described, it is more bizarre and clashing.
Half of Hogwarts' other staff is strange. The History teacher is a ghost who doesn't recognize his own students and may not even be aware that he's dead (the only evidence to the contrary being the one time he entered the classroom through the blackboard) and the Divination teacher doesn't really count as a teacher because most of the time she's talking out of her behind, when she's not getting drunk on cooking sherry. Hagrid's love of terrifying creatures makes him quite suited for the Care of Magical Creatures class. Although most of them (with the exception of Hagrid) aren't particularly odd within wizard society.
Where it regards the Divination teacher, Sybill Trelawney, she certainly does appear to be talking out of her ass, and will frequently use her connection to the "Inner Eye" to excuse any of her eccentric behavior, or to make herself more impressive to easily-impressed students. That said, Dumbeldore keeps her around because she is a legitimate seer (albeit one who makes prophecies she never remembers). And that may not be the full extent of her abilities, either, as she ended up making several predictions throughout the series which ended up coming to pass, usually centered around key events in the series like the death of Albus Dumbeldore.
Severus Snape is wildly condescending, overly dramatic, openly disparaging of students he doesn't like, displays undisguised favoritism for Slytherin students and makes no secret that he utterly loathes Harry Potter...but he's also one of, if not the, greatest Potions master in the world and is a damn good teacher when he wants to be.
Before the series proper James Potter was seen as one of these, from what we see he is described as a delinquent, an adrenaline junkie, and a snarker not adverse to outright bullying some of his peers.............But he was also one of the most brilliant students who consistently got top scores and managed to do spells most of his peers could not replicate.
In the X-Wing Series it seems that Nawara Venn was a Bunny Ears Lawyer who wasn't taken seriously. He's another obvious alien, one who served as a defense attorney in Imperial courts. Of course, being a nonhuman defending people who tended to have perceived or actual Rebel connections meant that he rarely won, so at some point he left to join the Rebellion as a fighter pilot. By the time he took up lawyering again, it was in a New Republic court, where he wasn't seen as strange because New Republic policies aren't blatantly xenophobic.
Azdak the judge, in Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle, is a maverick pursuer of poetic justice and a hero to poor underdogs, in whose favour he usually rules. He is an analogue for King Solomon. He is also drunken, horny, rude, violent and so completely in contempt of his own court that he is nearly hanged at one point.
Porfiry Petrovich from Crime and Punishment; while he may act like a buffoon, could run intellectual rings around most of the people on this page. One of the book's longest chapters is dedicated solely to showing us how he nearly manages to get Raskolnikov to confess merely by talking him (and the reader) to death; it's easily one of the most amusing and gripping parts of the story.
Mark McHenry, the pilot from the Star Trek: New Frontier novels. He actively sleeps at his post, for one. But the best pilot there is. Backed up with alien super-powers of course.
In The Hunt for Red October, the Dallas's sonarman Jones is described as eccentric even by navy standards, but is nevertheless very competent. To the point where, in Debt of Honor, years after retiring from the Navy, Jones was able to use the SOSUS network to track the entire Japanese Navy, which was deployed in the Phillipines, from Honolulu, with enough detail that his former CO (Now an admiral) was able to use the data to plot out operations.
The Avatar from The Religion War found the technical genius behind the Global Information Corporation by seeking out the angriest, loudest, rudest employee. His reasoning was simply that "anyone with lesser value would have been fired for that sort of behavior."
In The Time Traveler's Wife, despite going missing for days at a time and often being caught naked among the stacks, Henry is allowed to keep his job at the library because he is great at giving talks about obscure literary things. His co-workers are also hanging out to find out the real reason behind his odd behaviour.
Rhino A. Ross (yes, that's his actual legal name) from the John Birmingham books Without Warning and After America who at times refers to himself as if he were actually a rhino, has an unnatural fixation on his biceps (which "You don't get by patting kitty cats"), and in the second book acquires and insists on wearing a Viking helmet. However he managed to achieve the rank of CPO in the U.S. Coast Guard, is a skilled radar and sonar operator, and is every bit as dangerous in a fight as his namesake.
Felix Hoenikker in Cat's Cradle was considered an uncontrollable man by his colleagues. He ground the Manhattan Project to a halt because he decided to stop working on it and instead discover if turtles' spines buckle or contract when they draw their heads into their shells. However, he is an absolute genius, responsible (fictionally) for the creation of the atom bomb, and later Ice-9, a substance that causes the end of the world.
Miles Vorkosigan is hyperactive, manic-depressive, has a stunted body, and shows a fascination with a secret identity that can be seen as bordering on multiple-personality disorder. His own mother acknowledges that he's acted crazy. He once had three consecutive commanding officers thrown into the brig in adjacent cells. He spent ten years as the best covert operative ImpSec had, with a career that included stopping a Cetagandan invasion and enabling another nation to repel its Cetagandan occupiers after they had been invaded (a feat which involved once of the biggest POW breakouts in history). Then he became one of the Emperor's personal trouble-shooters.
His mother is herself a Noble Bigot, and one of the most powerful women in the Empire.
Her best friend is an interfering busybody of a mother who also happens to be the Emperor's Protocol Officer, and pretty darn politically influential herself.
Buddenbrooks. Many of the teachers, who have peculiar ways of talking and such. Also, some other characters.
Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities. Even though he's an alcoholic, he's actually a very clever and observant lawyer, even when he's drunk. (During the court case in England, Carton notices that he looks a lot like the accused Darnay, rendering one of the witnesses' testimonies void, since it was primarily based on "I saw him here." He also notices that Lucie Manette is about to faint, even when he's staring at the ceiling. He does all this... while he "smelt of port wine, and did not appear to be quite sober.")
In the early Dr. Seuss narrative The King's Stilts, the eponymous king is up every morning at five, multitasks handling important documents of state with bathing and breakfast, spends the actual working day personally supervising and inspecting every aspect of the kingdom's implausible flood protection systemnote which involves using specially trained cats to chase away birds that would otherwise eat the tree roots which are being substituted for actual levees. Seriously., and at five in the evening every day spends a good hour or so racing around the kingdom on bright red stilts. This is accepted with detached amusement by everyone except his Treacherous Advisor.
In the Honor Harrington series of books, many of the emperors of the Andermani Empire count. Gustav Anderman I was a brilliant strategist and mercenary who believed he was the reincarnation of Frederick the Great and insisted on language, dress code and court protocol to match. Gustav VI was quietly deposed after trying to make his prized rose bush chancellor, and was succeeded by Gustav VII, one of his sisters who had herself legally declared a man to stave off a nasty dynastic war between their male cousins. However, the family has a history of being fair and just monarchs who have slowly expanded their empire by rescuing planets in trouble.
Shannon Foraker. Few other officers could forget to use "proper revolutionary titles" as much as she does and expect not to get shot, but her reputation as a "tac witch" and plucky spirit keeps her own Political Officers looking the other way.
narration: Chef Vlad might be loony, but it would be a sad day if he ever left the ship. Or was dragged off kicking and screaming in a straitjacket, as Baz said was more likely.
M. Paul from Villette is a manic teacher who has an awful temper and can be down right abusive at times, but at the notion that he is leaving the school, students and staff line up to say their farewells to him.
Lord Peter Wimsey is a motor mouthed British nobleman who quotes poetry almost continuously, plays word games with everyone he meets, and has a hobby as an amateur detective. He's a very good amateur detective.
The reason James puts up with Colin despite Colin being a smarmy buttkisser who sells out anyone that doesn't outrank him at the drop of a hat. Colin is an extremely competent and very loyal assistant who has a knack for making sense of the vampire nation's labyrinthine records.
Bill himself is this. His (frequently) noted tendency to screw things up is tolerated because he gets the job done, and he is the Freewill after all.
Dan Onanian, of the comic neo-noir Get Blank is an interesting subversion of the trope. On the surface, he plays it straight to the letter: skilled criminal lawyer who is obsessed with his belief in the Reptilians, a lizardlike alien race that wears human masks. Yet in the Blankverse, the Reptilians are not only real, Our Hero has worked for them. Dan has managed to successfully identify several people as Reptilians, but has no actual proof in the matter.
Bridget Daly from The Infernal Devices sings annoyingly depressing songs everytime she cleans, which always get on everyone's nerves... and as mentioned above, she's more competent in battle than most Shadowhunters. Will actually comments that she makes more difference in battle than both Lightwood siblings.
Elizabeth Moon's Familias Regnant universe is chock full of these... including one very competent politician with a passion for things Victorian; he is, naturally, "Bunny" to his friends.
I Am Not a Serial Killer has the Sociopathic Hero, John, particularly when collaborating with an FBI strike team in book four. He's a skinny, snarky teenager who often holes up alone and insomniatic, reacts to corpses like a little girl would to ponies, and generally acts like he doesn't have a care in the world. He's also a dedicated investigator and a prodigy in criminal psych and strategy.
Derek Hawthorne combines this and Cowboy Cop in the Red Room series. He acts exactly the opposite of how a Red Room agent is supposed to act and, somehow, manages to survive countless horrible situations which should otherwise kill him.
Magister Elodin from The Kingkiller Chronicle. That man makes Dumbledore look sane by comparison, openly despises most of his students and sends them off when they try to ask him anything, and when he decides to gives actual lessons to very few students he never takes part to them for more than fifteen minutes, if he shows up at all. He keeps his job because, before going completely mad, he was a real genius (first the youngest magister and then the youngest chancellor ever appointed), and because Kvothe himself admits that there actually is a method in his lessons, also, since the subject he teaches often causes to Go Mad from the Revelation he acts as a walking reminder of that. Oh, there's also the fact they are actually incapable of confining him in any way (and they tried), so they just let him wander around and do whatever he likes.
It should also be noted that the books are told from the point of view of an Unreliable Narrator who's rather arrogant: Fridge Brilliance sets in once one realizes that every single one of his classes that we see actually contains useful messages-you just have to be willing and able to look beneath the surface and understand what he's actually teaching.
Discussed in Andrew Vachss's Burke book Another Life. Burke (and maybe Vachss himself) disdain these sorts, being of the opinion that commanders giving leeway to high-performing hotshots can all too easily extend to forgiving some pretty heinous trespasses. See the quotes page.
's The Camp Half-Blood Series: This is a pretty common among Demigods. Percy is perhaps the most obvious example. He's a bit ditzy even by Demigod standards (they basically all have ADHD to some degree) and has a tendency to not really think things through. That being said he is one of the most powerful Demigods at either camp, and can actually be surprisingly clever. In The Son of Neptune, Hazel explicitly does a mental double-take when he pieces together a history of Camp Jupiter based on information scattered through Frank's dinner conversation despite his Laser-Guided Amnesia.
The Hunger Games: Despite her ditziness, Effie Trinket is extremely good at organising Katniss and getting her the sponsors she needs. Hamitch Abernathy who is able to mentor Katniss and Peeta enouogh to enable them to win the games despite being an extreme alcoholic is also an excellent example.
Journey to Chaos: Ponix Enaz is Dnnac Ledo's ambassador-to-everywhere and also a strange, puzzle game-obsessed, ditz. Despite these quirks, he's helped maintain peace between elves and mortal races for centuries on a planet where both sides are so scared of each other that they'd jump on any chance to go to war again. In the words of his daughter, "Yes, he is (a flake) but he's a good ambassador".
How to Avoid Death on a Daily Basis: Colin, the protagonist of the series, is a sullen young man who hates everyone, trusts no one, and spends literally every waking moment trying to get his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits to either hate him so much they abandon him or become competent enough that they can survive without him (which they can't, despite his having absolutely no useful skills at first.) He sasses off to kings, an Evil Chancellor, and a demon who is literally going to end the world not because he's brave, but because he can't help himself. Despite this, he comes out on top in every confrontation to the point where said band literally will barely leave his side despite how much they hate him.
The Traitor Son Cycle: Morgon Mortimir is a brilliant sorcerer, but his mind is quick to venture on tangents and he has a habit of pondering purely theoretical problems when a practical one is staring him right in the face - such as when he becomes fascinated with an idea of an anticonception amulet and starts considering theoretical problems with making one while there's a swarm of sea monsters circling his very rickety ship.
A whole lot of warship Minds in The Culture, especially ones tied to Special Circumstances, are a trifle eccentric - for example, Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints loves to screw with random mortals, while Me, I'm Counting runs around the galaxy collecting very detailed scans of all kinds of fascinating things. At the same time, however, each one has enough firepower to scrape most of the crust off a planet.
Shadowthrone, the feared emperor, chessmaster usurper of High House Shadow, all around Manipulative Bastard... is deathly afraid of his mother (and all females), apparently. He has some shades of Cloud Cuckoo Lander as well, what with his undeniable cunning paired with questionable sanity and odd choices of personnel.
Iskaral Pust's very first scene has him interrupting his own 'epic' monologue by falling off of his mule, then proceed to almost fail to climb the rope to his own frontdoor. Then it turns out that he's a High Priest of Shadow, serving one of the more magnificent scheemers of the pantheon. By the end of Deadhouse Gates it is revealed that he successfully managed to cheat all shapeshifters on the continent out of their chance at godhood by creating a fake Path of Hands to steer them around his monastery, wich hides the gate they were looking for, making him exceedingly good at his job.
In The Irregular at Magic High School, the student council president Mayumi is a gadfly who deliberately irritates her subordinates and occasionally slacks off on paperwork. However, she is so good at the diplomatic side of things- especially persuading otherwise fractious students to work together for the school's betterment- that everyone respects her authority anyway.
Discussed in You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger by Roger Hall. An OSS agent roughs up a supply officer who's blabbing about an upcoming mission in a pub. He than advises Hall (who already has a reputation as a Military Maverick) against doing something like that himself. Anyone working in a cushy job like the supply officer would have connections, and while the OSS agent can get away with such stunts because of his extensive behind-the-lines experience which the OSS needs, a new officer like Hall would get in a lot of trouble.
Subverted in the autobiography About Face by David Hackworth. During the Vietnam War a Military Maverick who's notoriously ill-disciplined but an excellent soldier is given a promotion. Hackworth rings the man up to inform him of the good news, but his response is say You Have Got to Be Kidding Me! and resign his commission. If the US Army is screwed up enough to promote someone with his record, he doesn't want any further part of it.
In A New Kind of War by Anthony Price, the head of the counterintelligence unit, Colonel Augustus Colbourne, is first seen conducting a debrief while having a bath, has a bee in his bonnet about Ancient Rome and is reputed to believe himself to be the reincarnation of the emperor Augustus. He is also a highly respected barrister and not in the least stupid.
Julia Larwood of the Hilary Tamar books is an Oxford-educated tax barrister with a successful Lincoln's Inn practice. She also routinely gets lost everywhere, even in London, tends to fall over a lot, gravely misunderstands social situations, and forgets that she has to pay her own taxes. At one point she's accused of murder, and one of the arguments mounted in her defense is that even if she wanted to kill someone, anyone who's seen her try to slice a peach knows she couldn't possibly muster the coordination to stab a man to death.