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Idiot Ball / Comic Books

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Examples of Idiot Ball in Comic Books.


  • The One More Day storyline in Spider-Man. He makes a deal with the closest analogue to a devil Marvel possesses to save the life of his already elderly aunt, at the expense of not only his current marriage, but the entire history of that marriage? Parker supposedly went to all of his contacts that might have been able to help, but Aunt May was already brain dead, so they couldn't help, which still doesn't explain why no one stepped up beforehand.
  • The biggest fan complaint regarding Superior Spider-Man was how no one could figure out the massive change in Spider-Man was Doctor Octopus taking over his body. Overnight, Spider-Man turns into an arrogant man who speaks in a scholarly manner without his usual wisecracks, relies on technology to a huge degree, fails to remember close allies (he punches the Black Cat without a second thought) and is brutal in fights to the point of killing someone. Yet the Avengers (who have handled countless examples of shapeshifters and mind control) just brush it off as him being stressed.
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    • Wolverine and Daredevil have fought with Spidey numerous times and have enhanced senses. Yet neither finds it that odd that Spider-Man suddenly has a totally different body language and is an indifferent jerk. And Captain America doesn't find it odd a man as famously moral as Spider-Man is suddenly so cold in a fight.
    • Worse is how Aunt May and Mary Jane are totally taken in. It was shown that Aunt May once deduced the Chameleon was posing as Peter within seconds of meeting him as "what mother doesn't know her child? Because that's what I am to Peter." MJ knows about his secret identity and likewise has seen through imposters. Yet they too are fooled while Charlie Cooper is the only person who figures it out.
    • It was even lampshaded when Peter got his body back and briefly acted like he was still Ock to the Black Cat. Peter then remarked "wow, I spent months talking like that and no one noticed?"
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  • There was a villain who blamed Max Mercury for the death of his family, gained access to a time machine, and used it to try and destroy Max Mercury. He was temporarily incapacitated with horror when asked why he hadn't used it to save his family.
  • Comics blog Polite Dissent refers to this phenomenon as ONISGS ("Oh No, I Suddenly Got Stupid!")
  • Teen Titans: Raven makes constant dives for the Idiot Ball. The first time, chronologically, was when she saved Kid Flash from committing suicide via freezing to death in the Himalayas (points for creativity, Wally). She thought the best way to save his life was to make him fall in love with her using magic and then using the same magic to make him forget she did it. He went on with his life thinking she made him fall in love with her to get him on the team, not to save his life. Smooth move, Raven.
    • Not only that, after realizing what a mistake it was to hide Trigon's existence from the Titans, what did Raven do when she sensed Trigon would attack a second time? Confided the information with no one, not even her best friend. Needless to say, that didn't work out.
  • The entire United States Armed Forces when it comes to The Hulk, and General Ross in particular. Despite decades spent throwing billions of dollars in state-of-the-art military hardware at The Hulk and getting trashed every time, they kept on doing it. Ross never learned. His superiors never relieved him. The Senate, Congress, and the President never once asked where was all the return on these massive expenditures of hardware, manpower, and money. Even after it was pointed out to them many times that if they just left The Hulk alone, he'd likely wander into a isolated wilderness area and simply stay there, they kept attacking him. And got trashed. Doc Samson even rubbed it in their faces, hoping they'd get the message.
    Doc Samson: The Hulk keeps telling you to leave him alone. Maybe you should do that.
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  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Uncle Scrooge is usually portrayed as one of the smartest people in Duckburg, but there are two recurring situations where he tend to behave incredibly stupid: He is usually unable to see through the Beagle Boys' Paper Thin Disguises, and he never has the common sense to be suspicious whenever he's offered something for free. In one decades-old story, both these idiot ball traits were combined: Scrooge needed a new butler, so one of the Beagle Boys applied for the position wearing a Paper-Thin Disguise and offering to pay Scrooge for the privilege of being his butler. It worked.
  • All-Star JSA Cyclone. Little Maxine Hunkel seems to have no idea that she should use her powers in combat these days. All she ever does in a fight is freeze up and scream for help. And this is not against extradimensional horrors or powerful supervillains but against petty mooks the rest of the JSA are clobbering without breaking a sweat. She should be standing in the middle of a screaming tornado with mooks being flung through the air, but instead hunches up and whimpers as they move in for the kill. This behavior is made even more ridiculous when one remembers that Maxine spent a lot of time hanging around Magog, a member of the JSA that (for all his faults) had a habit of making sure the kids around him were combat-ready. So not only is poor Maxine consistently forgetting about her powers, she's forgetting all her JSA training period (even if Magog somehow missed training her, someone had to).
  • The Mighty Thor: While Thor is often characterized as more of a warrior than a leader, some of his actions don't follow his established character.
    • After returning to Asgard, he placed the Asgardians on Earth without giving them guidance on how to interact with it, flew off to have adventures and avoided his kingly duties.
    • He did not point out his killing of his grand-father Bor was self-defense and he had no way to recognize him since Bor had been thought dead for thousands of years.
    • He acts surprised when Osborn attacks during SIEGE, and now somehow moving the city of Asgard to Earth is the equivalent to moving the dimension so the entire cosmos is out of whack letting in interdimensional invaders.
    • Balder does not get informed about what Doom was all about, not expecting retaliation for SIEGE, and exiling Thor in the first place.
    • Thor and Balder decide it's a good idea to once again trust Loki despite suspecting him being up to something and with the whole trying to kill them both and rule Asgard for the past thousand years. Balder even points out that he was an idiot after the fact.
  • In Transformers: Generation 2, Megatron finally admits that this is the sole reason he has trusted Starscream for so long, and while Optimus is tempted to record and exploit this confession, it really isn't the time.
  • Identity Crisis hinges on "The World's Greatest Detective" and countless others not checking phone records of the deceased.

  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW):
    • The first Story Arc had the changelings impersonate the Mane Six and prey upon their insecurities to trick them into a Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure, it takes them till next issue to realize this and make amends. Given that the Mane Six knew they were up against changelings, who's abilities for impersonation and deceit were well established to them, why it took this long to suspect anything...
    • King Aspen was billed as a wise, respectable leader in The Root Of The Problem, how does he show it? When a Corrupt Corporate Executive illegally cuts down there a forest, he uses the forest to forcibly seize replacement land from the ponies instead of attacking those who were still cutting it down. Worse, Celestia and Luna, who would have been on his side, are too busy containing the damage he's causing to help. Worse, the villains are easily stopped and their damage undone once the heroes bother to deal with them, meaning this conflict would have ended before becoming a story if not for Aspen's Misplaced Retribution.
  • Avengers Arena: #8 emphasizes that due to her Training from Hell, X-23 is constantly studying her surroundings and determining the best way to kill everyone around her. So of course, in #10 she blindly charges into a fight with Apex, who has control of a freaking Sentinel. After having her ass kicked as quickly as one would expect, she then hands the ball off to Apex herself, who completely forgets about Laura's Healing Factor and fails to finish her off when she had the chance. This despite Laura arguably being the most dangerous of the kids in Murder World, and certainly one of the best-equipped and trained to survive in it.
  • Much of the interpersonal conflict that fractured the Runaways during the "Home Schooling" arc (which in turn resulted in the series' cancellation and condemned the team to C-List Fodder status) probably could have been avoided if someone had thought to keep the obviously-pissed Chase and the apparently-dead Old Lace as far away from Klara as possible until she'd calmed down enough to retract all the vines that were trapping them in their home. Instead, Chase is given a front-row seat, from which he actively makes the situation worse by tormenting Klara, ultimately causing Nico to defuse the situation in the some of the worst ways imaginable - by using a spell to magically tranquilize Klara and making Old Lace's body disappear. As if to highlight the presence of the idiot ball within that story, the collected edition contains a "What If?" story in which the Runaways became the Young Avengers and Iron Lad took over the team. Molly gets critically injured, and one of the first things they do is keep everyone away from her while she's convalescing...
  • Cecil Stedman grabs hold of this hard several times in Invincible. Notable examples include hiring D.A. Sinclair, a guy who performed horrific experiments on innocent people to make them cyborg slaves, and expecting Invincible to be OK with it. Even though he knows one of the guy's victims was Mark's friend Rick Sheridan, and he's seen first-hand how psychologically destroyed the experience left the guy. Then there's the fact he kept Conquest, a guy who required a Deus ex Machina from Atom Eve to be weakened enough for Invincible to defeat him. An experience that left him with both arms and a leg broken as well as three concussions, possibly from where Invincible had to headbutt him to death.
  • Avengers vs. X-Men is one long game of Idiot Ball Hot Potato. The entire plot, from the Avengers ignoring the X-Men (who have decades of first-hand experience with the Phoenix Force), to the X-Men themselves forgetting all about their resident Phoenix expert Rachel Summers (who plays a remarkably small role in the crossover given her years of experience as Phoenix), to Captain America showing up at Utopia demanding Hope be turned over, to Tony Stark trying to blow up the Phoenix Force, to attacking the Phoenix Five after they've turned Earth into a paradise, is dependent on pretty much everyone grabbing hold of the Idiot Ball and running with it for all they're worth.
  • In AXIS, Sam Alexander, the second Nova, spent most of the event jumping from one screw up to the next, most of which admittedly weren't entirely his fault. However, he managed to trump all of these when he decided it was a good idea to reveal his civilian identity to Carnage.
  • Carried several times by The Rival Herminus in Swordquest. To pick the worse example, he follows the protagonists to a Lethal Lava Land, finds a magic chalice ahead of them, replaces it with a decoy... and then gladly turns it over when the heroes arrive, and leaves to go treasure-hunting. Egregious when you realize that the chalice is a never-ending source of water in a land of unending heat, and doubly so when the heroes discover that it's also a Portal Pool to another realm.
  • Dark Avenger in Noob comic 9. His student Précieux gets randomly chosen as commander in a battleground subject to Decapitated Army and it quickly get established the Dark Avenger in the one truely calling the shots for the Coalition army. But what's this? Sparadrap, the Empire player that Dark Avenger has Mistaken for Badass got killed early in the battle? Dark Avenger decides he must be planning something and goes to ambush him at the Empire's Respawn Point. As he arrives at the Respawn Point in question, Dark Avenger's guild master Roxana, who has been guarding it, is needed elsewhere and puts Dark Avenger in charge preventing the resurrection on Empire players. Realizing Dark Avenger took Roxana's place, Sparadrap gets taken over by his dismal player's much more competent brother who kills Dark Avenger and hence enables resurrection for the dead Empire players. Meanwhile, Précieux has lost control of the situation and is currently surrounded by a big fire.
  • A major problem within Civil War II is that everyone, especially Carol Danvers believes Ulysses' precog-based visions at face value, thus incidents that could easily be solved with a little bit of talking and waving it off is instead turned into Carol running at the person with the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. at her side, ready to arrest anyone and everyone for just thinking of a crime. For example, the Power Man & Iron Fist tie-in has Carol confronting Luke Cage with the belief that he was going to cause a jail break, mostly because Iron Fist was in there for a reason. He was only thinking of it idly and had no intention on doing anything that would get his best friend in trouble. The ensuing fight ends up causing the jailbreak and Cage gets injured in the process.
  • Justice League: Rise of Arsenal was especially bad with this trope, wherein the main characters seemed to take turns holding it whenever they were trying to help Roy Harper deal with losing an arm and his daughter Lian following Justice League: Cry for Justice.
    • Doctor Mid-Nite remains totally oblivious that Roy is stealing pain medication to handle the pain in his infected right arm.
    • Cyborg designs a shoddy prosthetic limb meant to work "around" Roy's infected nerves and still gives it to Roy even though he admits the arm is going to make the pain worse. He then caps it off with a rather poor joke he has to quickly apologize for.
    • Mia Dearden approaches Roy at Lian's funeral to express her sympathy, even though her leaving Lian by herself was one of the factors in Lian's death when Star City was destroyed. She honestly doesn't expect Roy would be angry at her for that, but sure enough he starts trying to strangle her while screaming about her neglect.
    • Dick Grayson gets in a fight with Roy after he lapses back into his old heroin addiction, and after knocking Roy unconscious, instead of bringing Roy to his friends and family to help Roy got through this bad patch, has him dumped in a prison for supervillains with substance abuse problems where he's strapped to a bed and forced to sweat out his addiction. To make matters worse, when Roy eventually escapes, it turns out Dick left Roy's new arm and all his weapons at the center instead of putting them somewhere Roy couldn't get to again, obviously not thinking there was a chance he'd escape.
    • Black Canary does nothing to alert the others that Roy is abusing pain medication when she finds him passed out on his living room floor with several empty bottles nearby, and after he's been brought to the aforementioned prison, uses her one opportunity to help him to instead declare him a lost cause and walk away. She previously spent most of the story walking around expressing the barest amount of emotion possible and offered little genuine comfort to Roy.
    • Finally, none of the characters have noticed or stopped to pay attention to Roy long enough to see he's been suffering from hallucinations of his former dealer goading him on, which then turn into hallucinations of Lian calling him a bad father. Dick should've realized something was off when Roy, getting high on heroin for the first time in years, goes through an incredibly vivid hallucination and nearly kills several people when heroin is not supposed to do that.
  • DMZ: On a day when American soldiers are rampaging through the DMZ, Matty identifies an area where some soldiers might be and gives his forces an order to kill "bad guys" at that location. The leader of his troops, a moral and veteran ex-Marine who knows Matty well, interprets that order as slaughtering everyone in a wedding party he finds at that location. No one explains how or why the troops decide that Matty's intended "bad guy" targets are a family of civilians. The scene is obviously based on the Mukaradeeb wedding party massacre, which was caused by American soldiers mistaking the location as a safe house for insurgents. In the DMZ version, however, the troops know that they should be fighting uniformed soldiers.
  • Played for Drama in Catwoman from Batman as her trust in her childhood friend Sylvia Sinclair had tragic consequences. Despite Selina being forced to leave Sylvia to be arrested in the past, with Sylvia spending 10 years in jail, Selina trusts Sylvia, thinking of her as her closest childhood friend. When Sylvia betrays Selina, she admits she did not think Sylvia would have a grudge against her. Her stupidity costs Selina her brother-in-law's life and her sister's sanity.
  • Speaking of Batman, the Dark Knight himself grabs this in Batman: Hush, which requires that he doesn't have a contingency plan for, of all things, Batrope failure. This leads to him getting his Batrope shot while in mid-air, and him not being able to save himself.

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