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Idiot Ball / Western Animation

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Sometimes, the only way to keep the plot going is to have the characters make some really boneheaded decisions, and Western Animation is no exception.

  • In the Ben 10 episode "A Change Of Face", Grandpa Max doesn't notice that Gwen is acting odd, the reason being that villainess Charmcaster has swapped bodies with Gwen. Even later on, after the ruse has been revealed and more body-swapping has occurred, Grandpa Max still can't tell who's who without a scorecard... This is pretty glaring, given that Max is a former plumber (this show's The Men in Black equivalent), has been repeatedly shown to be pretty clever, and above all is their grandfather.
    • Episode 3 season 4 "Don't drink the water" the Tennyson's meet the idiot calling himself the "guardian" of the fountain of youth, a man who states he has been “bound by honour” to keep its secret by Ponce de León himself, how exactly? During a fair where he was pretending to be an employee at a dunk tank sideshow. Not only did he abandon he's post, the water in the tank is FILLED WITH FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH WATER!. The Tennyson’s discover the true nature of the water shortly after Max requests to have a go, not only does the “honour bound” entrusted guardian fail to turn them away after stating the machine is broken, it actually works perfectly, dropping Max into the water where he would soon revert to he’s 10-year-old self. The team return sometime later to investigate Max’s sudden condition, on the debris of the tank (destroyed earlier in a fight) they find an address that leads them right to the “guardian”. Once they arrive the “honor bound guardian” has already reviled its location to an aging dark sorcerer. En route to the fountain the “guardian” states he finds he’s eternal task is a nightmare, so why would he give up its location if the sorcerer had threatened him with pain or death? The sorcerer is a recurring character named Hex, who, if he possessed a spell to force people to tell the truth, would surly change some of he’s tactics and methods in the show. Really, it is quite audacious that he feel any degree of pride at all when he calls himself a “guardian”, as all he's actions served only to continuously jeopardize the fountains secret. While the isolated location of the fountain would understandably cause its watcher to feel lonely, and so occasional trips away are understandable, why on earth did he not only go through all the trouble of bringing such a large amount of water away with him, but also “disguise” it as a game in which the objective is to have people regularly immersed in it?!. And in a fair of all places?!. If he is too timid to turn people down from playing it no matter how much they insist or how much money they offer, why on earth not sabotage it so the machine truly is out of order?!
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    • Another example is in the Ben 10: Alien Force episode "Good Copy, Bad Copy". You'd think that, considering how much weird stuff they've seen, Kevin and Gwen would immediately be suspicious of "Ben" (really a Galvan named Albedo) claiming he's looking for Ben. Instead, they just assume he's the real thing and has lost his mind, setting up for the old "Which one is which?" bit.
    • Also "Duped" from Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. With Ben splitting into three of himself, each a different aspect. Sending the sensitive part to fight Forever Knights and the Jerkass part to Julie's tennis game is an idiot ball the size of Texas.
  • In the Gargoyles episode "Vows", Demona gains possession of an artifact known as the Phoenix Gate, which allows the holder to travel to any place at any time at will. She travels back in time and informs her past self (also in possession of the past version of the Gate) that SHE should use the Gate to change history, instead of just doing it herself with the Gate she already possesses. The ultimate lesson is that history is immutable, though the reason for this apart from a large, conspicuous Idiot Ball is unclear.
    • Made worse by the fact that present day Demona says she remembers the whole incident (well, Goliath's talk after she got knocked out), but if she remembers that, it's pretty odd to think she'd have forgotten meeting herself and seeing her other self's defeat. So if she already had memories of her plan failing, why go through with it? It reeks of Dr. Manhattan style pre-destination.
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    • The aforementioned pales in comparison with the sheer idiocy Demona displays in "Hunter's Moon". Goliath and Co. break in when she's about to deliver the fatal blow against humankind and unleash the enchanted virus lethal to all sentient beings (Gargoyles will be protected by a magical figurine she has on her table). Not only does Demona start monologuing, in the worst Bond Villainesque manner possible, but she actually POINTS at the figurine as if asking Goliath to smash the thing. He obliges.
      • Not to mention the unpondered fridge-horror: Demona spends her days human. Demona is also nigh-immortal. Best case scenario, the virus 'counts' in terms of her curse about Macbeth, and killing him disperses her nigh-immortality, allowing her to die. Worst case, it doesn't count and she spends her days dying repeatedly and her nights in agony from Mabeth dying repeatedly.
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    • This is actually an explicit feature of Demona's character. She's such a mess of contradictory issues, topped with a healthy dose of repressed self-loathing, that she has a noticeable tendency to sabotage herself. Word of God even outight says that Demona is, and always has been, her own worst enemy.
    • In "Deadly Force" Elisa Maza, an experienced police officer, is apparently stupid enough to leave her gun lying around her apartment loaded, which leads to Broadway accidentally shooting her when he starts playing with it.
    • Derek Maza, later called Talon, had a firm grip on this throughout the show, with a slew of stupid decisions, irrational thinking and pulling erroneous conclusions out of his ass. He believes his level-headed detective sister is obsessively paranoid about wanting to catch David Xanatos doing something illegal, and when Xanatos offers him a job, he accepts, ignoring Elisa's warnings because he believes she's just trying to control him. Even after Elisa obtains proof of Xanatos's misdeeds on tape, she gives the tape to Derek, which he never bothers listening to. Derek ends up mutated due to Xanatos's machinations, and due to the presence of the Manhattan Clan to rescue another mutate resulting in the apparent death of Dr. Sevarius, the scientist that could create the cure, Derek blames Goliath for this for a long time, even trying to kill him, to the point that he believes Elisa, his own sister, is in on the whole thing and protecting Goliath from him. When Elisa tells him that nobody died on the day Derek got mutated, which she'd easily know because there would have been a police report, Derek refuses to believe her, but when he does see the Sevarius is indeed alive, he believes Sevarius and Goliath have been in cahoots from the start, and later believes that Elisa is also in cahoots with them. It ultimately takes hearing Xanatos admit to everything right in front of Derek to get him to finally see reason.
      • Derek, now known as Talon, continues to hold it in the episode Kingdom, where Fang has been bullying and shaking down residents of their underground community for any valuables, yet Talon does nothing, believing Fang will "come around eventually". Due to Elisa, Goliath and Bronx having been missing for over a week, Fang easily manipulates Talon into attacking Xanatos in hopes to get Derek either weakened, injured or even killed, just by telling Talon that Xanatos is the one who mutated him and that Xanatos always hated Elisa. Fang and his cronies proceed to find a cache of high-tech weaponry and take over the Labyrinth, taking Talon prisoner. Had it not been for the intervention of the Manhattan Clan, Fang would've continued unopposed.
      • Ironically, this leads into Fang holding the idiot ball, as during the fight as he took over, Maggie manages to escape thanks to Claw. Fang, rather than send his goons after her, decides to just let her go because he figures she can't move around during the daytime without causing a big scene. Maggie simply cloaks herself and heads to where the Manhattan Clan lives, which Fang knows because it was her who originally showed their home's location to Fang and Claw under Talon's orders, and she gets their help, resulting in Fang's being plans ruined and him ending up imprisoned.
  • In G.I. Joe, the creation of Serpentor was likely the biggest mistake in Cobra's history, but one part of it stands out as especially idiotic. After Dr. Mindbender fails to obtain the DNA of Sun Tsu (meant to give Serpentor wisdom and patience), he thinks that replacing it with Sergeant Slaughter's DNA would be a good idea. (Sun Tzu, Sgt. Slaughter. Same thing, really) Ironically, Cobra Commander (whose incompetence is the whole reason for the plan) is the sole voice of reason when this suggestion is made, ranting about how ludicrous it is to put the DNA of an enemy into someone who is meant to lead them. The point is eventually rendered moot, as Slaughter himself destroys his own DNA sample just as the experiment is happening, and Serpentor is born without it; without either Sun Tzu or Slaughter's DNA, he proves to be impatient, impulsive and little better than Cobra Commander.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Harley Quinn's idiot ball is The Joker. With him around, she's hardly more dangerous than the average Mook. When she sets out on her own (Or with Poison Ivy), she becomes a deadly threat that on one occasion completely outsmarted Batman and came closer to killing him than any other villain in Gotham. This is even Lampshadeed in Batman: Arkham Knight where, without the Joker, Harley's Taken A Level In Badass:
    Joker: What's confusing me is how the hell she found your top-secret Bat-base, Bat-face? She couldn't find her own reflection in a mirror when I was ALIVE. It's like something was holding her back.
  • In Batman Beyond, Max embraces the idiot ball like a long lost lover in "Hidden Agenda". She's being targeted by Jokerz and she ends up coming to the conclusion that Terry is one, so she decides to send him a threatening note to meet her in the park at 8 pm or she'll blow his cover. So... these Jokerz have been trying to kill her, her plan is to demand one of them meet her at night in a secluded park, and she actually expected to not just meet a group of armed Jokerz waiting in ambush when she showed up at the meeting place?
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold, specifically when Grodd thought turning Batman into a 400 pound gorilla would ensure his total victory.
    • Another example involving Grodd occured at the conclusion of the Justice League episode "Secret Society". After all the other villains have been defeated, he tried to fight Superman... By himself. The end result was both painful and humiliating for Grodd.
      • Possibly justified in that this was a last resort and originally Grodd was trying to escape. And with his mental powers he came close to overwhelming Superman.
  • Kim Possible: Ron's intelligence varies from episode to episode, and sometimes he's just flat out clutching this ball. Kim gets it a few times, too.
    Ron: "Hello, Information? I'd like the number for 911 immediately please!"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Spike at your Service suddenly has Spike completely unable to do tasks he has previously been shown doing with no problem, and is suddenly obliviously stupid when previous episodes have depicted him as at least reasonably intelligent. According to Word of God this is an Orphaned Reference to the original script where he was Rarity's servant instead of Applejack's, and the reason for the sudden drop in IQ points is he was nervous about letting down his crush.
    • Growing Up Is Hard To Do depicts the Cutie Mark Crusaders as being unable to use the train, use maps, and travel by themselves because of their age. Note that they've done all three of these each several times in the past, most notably being able to travel from Equestria to the Crystal Empire alone by scooter, with absolutely no problem whatsoever, to say nothing of them now being apparently old enough to tutor and have jobs. According to Word of God, this is because the episode was originally penned for back in season 5, but they didn't get the green light until the final season and wanted to do the episode so badly they didn't care about the plot holes.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • Honorable Mention: The Orb of Confusion — a literal Idiot Ball.
    • The trope applies to several episodes, with varying results - SpongeBob, Mr. Krabs, and/or Plankton will be saddled with the Idiot Ball at any time whatsoever. The only ones safe are Sandy and Squidward... and even then...
    • The episode where SpongeBob lost his name tag had a big one. Normally, retracing your steps is a smart way to find something you lost. The idiot part is how SpongeBob thinks he has to perfectly recreate everything he did that morning, no matter how unpleasant, and having to redo the whole thing if even the tiniest detail is missed. It's telling when Patrick by contrast grabs the smart ball after all this and tells Spongebob to just keep going through the rest of his day instead of focusing on one specific part.
    • Squidward has been known to hold the Idiot Ball. In "The Snowball Effect", Squidward tells Patrick to think of him as SpongeBob, to teach him how to have a snowball fight (while Spongebob asks to be Mr. Krabs). Squidward throws a snowball at Patrick and says, "Now, what are you going to do?" Patrick throws a snowball back at Squidward, who had said not five seconds ago to think of him as SpongeBob. Squidward asks why Patrick didn't throw it at SpongeBob.
    SpongeBob: *Impersonating Mr. Krabs.* Argh, it's true, Mr. Squidward. Now get back to work!
    • The other time his stubborn, outspoken nature came back to bite him was in the first movie, where he brags to Plankton that he's going to expose him, and doesn't get very far.
    • SpongeBob in "A Pal For Gary", Up to Eleven. If he had just heeded the old lady's warning about Puffy Fluffy, none of the traumatic events that Gary goes through would've happened.
  • The same goes for The Fairly OddParents, where in most episodes it's Timmy's idiocy that gets the plot moving. And very often keeps it moving, as Timmy could easily resolve most of the plots with wishing, and on the occasion that there is a reason why he can't, it's usually pretty flimsy.
    • In "Man's Worst Friend", Timmy doesn't seem to immediately notice that Sparky has been replaced with his anti-fairy counterpart. Keep in mind that the main distinguishing feature separating anti-fairies from fairies is that anti-fairies are entirely blue.
  • The Flintstones: Fred Flintstone gets hit with one halfway through "Dino Disappears". When he's looking for his runaway dinosaur Dino, he sees a random dinosaur in someone's backyard that looks just like his pet and immediately decides that this must be Dino, to the point of ignoring all evidence to the contrary and enacting out a kidnapping scheme. What makes this more noticeable is that, not five minutes earlier, Fred himself encountered three dinosaurs that looked exactly identical to Dino but weren't him.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Iroh, usually Retired Badass and The Caretaker in one, once almost killed himself by drinking tea made of the leaves of a perceived delicious tea plant that wasn't (well, he and Zuko desperate for food at the time). Followed by a small Find the Cure! plot. (Though this may have been a bit of character exposition, meant to demonstrate exactly how much Iroh enjoys his tea.) However, this also could have been a Batman Gambit on his part. As up until then Zuko refused to go to a village for help, and Iroh did this to make him decide to go.
    • Also, using Firebending to heat his tea while they were trying to stay incognito... in the Earth Kingdom... surrounded by refugees from the invading Fire Nation forces. Zuko immediately lampshades: "What are you doing firebending your tea?! For a wise old man, that was a pretty stupid move!" Iroh doesn't make that mistake again, though- a later scene has him borrowing spark rocks for their stove even though as far as he knew nobody would see him lighting it himself.
      • Taking the two above, it looks more like his dangerous obsession with tea is his own idiot ball.
    • Katara, who before had been hiding out of sight, deciding to step out and into the crazed Azula's line of vision just as Zuko has taunted her to shoot him with lightning. This is just so Zuko is knocked out of the fight protecting Katara so she can defeat Azula.
      • Also Zuko himself. Already having an edge over a crazed Azula, it was looking like he could win the fight through normal firebending alone, but then feels the need to taunt her into using lightning. And he doesn't just taunt her, he specifically says "Whats the matter, afraid I'll redirect it?". Even a VERY out of it Azula isn't stupid enough to shoot lightning at a guy who specifically says "I can stop lightning".
    • Professor Zei. Wan Shi Tong is taking his library back to the Spirit World, feeling betrayed by humans' use of its knowledge for selfish and destructive purposes. He has one and only one chance to escape, but his obsession for knowledge leads him to stay in the library as it sinks into the other realm, in a place not designed to be inhabited by mortals. He has essentially condemned himself to death. Much later in The Legend of Korra, his withered skeleton turns up in the library, though the exact cause of death is not confirmed.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, episode "Sonic Breakout", Robotnik captures Sonic's favorite comic book artist, and Sonic decides that the best way to break him out is to get captured himself. Now, this in and of itself isn't idiotic. But assuming that Robotnik wasn't smart enough to build a cell specifically designed to hold his archenemy, who could escape a normal cell with ease? His henchmen may make that mistake, but he's not that stupid.

      On the other hand, Robotnik did leave said henchmen in the room to guard the cell, which was what let Sonic escape.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door there's Numbah 86. While it may be easier to list the appearances she made where she wasn't an idiot, "Operation: E.N.D." stands out. As Numbuh One tried to tell her (not that she listened) it should have been obvious to her that he was not thirteen years old, given that the two of them were in kindergarten together. Apparently, she believed a computer over something she had personally witnessed. However, she was a serious feminist, so maybe she just was using it as an excuse to get rid of him...note 
    • The placement of said Idiot Ball in that case may have been a slight homage: 86 also being the Agent number of the Cloud Cuckoolander lead in Get Smart.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "Lisa's Rival", Lisa is no less smart than she usually is, but she's feeling like an idiot because a new girl in class, Alison, has proven to be better than her at everything. Visiting Alison's house, Lisa attempts to play an anagram game with Alison's father but fails miserably. Taking her to be a simpleton, Alison's father hands Lisa a red rubber ball, saying "this is a ball. Perhaps you'd like to bounce it."
    • "Pranksta Rap". The plot revolves around Bart faking his own kidnapping and gives rise to two idiot ball moments. Bart handwrites the ransom note. Marge fails to recognise her own son's handwriting.
    • "Beyond Blunderdome" has Mel Gibson coming to town to screen his remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Rather than listen to how 99.9% of the audience loves the movie and hails his performance as genius, Gibson thinks they're all too awed by his star power to be honest. He thus focuses on the one bad review of the bunch, written by (of course) Homer, who complains about the lack of violence in the movie. Rather than realize how Homer is a total moron with no taste, Gibson thinks Homer is the "only one with the guts to be truthful" and makes the huge mistake of listening to his advice on how to reshoot the movie. The result is the film now ends with a scene of Gibson's Smith going on a bloody rampage that completely misses the point of the original film. The reaction is horrible as the movie flops and Jimmy Stewart's granddaughter threatens to sue Gibson for defamation. It's when Homer presses on Gibson making things more violent that it finally hits Gibson he's been listening to an idiot. He kicks Homer out of the car while moaning on his career is ruined and the public will never see him as a beloved actor again.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Moon grabs this hard in the final stretch of the show. Even knowing that the Arc Villain Mina Loveberry is an uncontrollable crazed woman who wants to kill all monsters her own daughter fought so hard to protect, she still allies herself with her in order to get her kingdom back, and even gives her the army of Solarian warriors she wanted. It doesn't even occurs to her to warn Star or Eclipsa about it before joining her, or that Mina will turn against her too once she gets her plans going, not even to change the spell used to create the warriors so she could control them instead of Mina of Queen Solaria.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • In "The Gungan General", Obi-Wan and Anakin are sent to negotiate with some Weequay who have captured Count Dooku. Right from the start, they go in expecting a trap, yet apparently did not bother to think of any countermeasures. They quite willingly hand over their lightsabres rather than hide them, and worst of all, at the end when they've finally broken free and have the Weequay leader at blade point, ready to give up and come to prison quietly, Obi-Wan tells Anakin to let him go. Why? They never even try to explain why Obi-Wan suddenly wants to let someone who lied to them, drugged them, kidnapped them, and tortured them get off scot free!
    • The Clone Wars also has Cad Bane, a bounty hunter who seems to have the power to hand out idiot balls to all of his enemies. In every one of his appearances, he manages to succeed by turning the Jedi into complete morons. Bigger idiots than they usually are in the prequel era, that is.
    • The entire clone army seems to be equipped with standard issue idiot balls. While it is reasonable for the droids to not really have any sort of care for self-preservation, the clones will often completely ignore cover and tactics to charge enemies head-on.
    • Mace Mother Fucking Windu starts off with the idiot ball in the Zillo Beast arc. A giant beast that eats the inhabitants of the planet the Jedi are negotiating with is found, and Mace Windu turns into Captain Picard, demanding that the rights of the creature be respected, and it not be killed. The native Dugs aren't too thrilled by this, as this thing is the equivalent of Godzilla on their world, and demand that the Jedi help kill it, under threat of ceasing negotiations with them. Mace Windu explains this to Senator Palpatine, and asks to be allowed to take the beast off world. Senator Palpatine says to defer to the locals if the creature's death is a sticking point. So now we have a conflict between killing this innocent creature and signing a necessary treaty, or letting it live and losing out on valuable resources. Only, it's completely unnecessary. Windu presents the issue of the creature's survival to the Dugs as one of just "letting it live and putting up with it", while he presents the option of having the creature taken off world to Palpatine. The Dugs have a perfectly legitimate reason for not wanting a creature that could destroy a large part of their population to be allowed to live on their planet. However they might be more apt to let it live if Windu were to actively present the removal option to the Dugs. Since "dead" and "on the other side of the galaxy" have the same end result from the Dugs' point of view, there's no reason why this couldn't have been even floated as a solution, thus ending about half an episode's worth of needless conflict.
  • Lion-O of 1980s ThunderCats (1985) runs headlong down the field with the Idiot Ball held very tightly ("I'm going to go exploring! Uh-oh, trouble I can't handle myself! Wait, can't call the other Thundercats, the episode's not three-quarters over yet!") though he occasionally passes it off to other Thundercats. Tygra, especially, seems willing to run with it. Lion-O has the justification of being a child in a grown-up's body, but Tygra and the others have no excuse.
  • Every character in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon would carry the ball when the plot required. A stand-out moment includes a scene in the series' third episode, when, left to their own devices in April's apartment, the turtles suddenly become retards: Leonardo begins throwing tubes of lipstick at a painting, calling it "target practice"; Raph interprets "insert capful of Shampoo into tub" as referring to an actual baseball cap; Donny starts fiddling with April's answering machine with no regard as to her privacy; and Mikey proves incapable of making instant pizza which he had no permission to touch. April is understandably furious.
  • The Transformers: Optimus Prime gets whacked hard in the face with this in the episode "Heavy Metal War". He's been fighting Megatron for centuries, long enough to know which powers Megatron does and doesn't have...and yet he doesn't realise that Megatron cheated during a one-on-one battle until Teletraan-1 spells it out for him. Even though Megatron uses powers that he has never used before.
  • Thrust is actually pretty smart in Transformers Armada when he first shows up. After several Deus ex Machina-induced failures he starts spending a lot more time around the Idiot Ball, culminating in getting his rear kicked by human children.
  • In a Justice League Unlimited episode, you have rebelling young twin heroes, one of whom can turn into different animals, real or not, and the other can turn into water. When these two heroes (and other young, misguided heroes) try to blow up the base they live in after the reveal, a group of Justice Leaguers tries to stop them. The twins attack a member of the Justice League by drowning him in a room filled with water and have a T. rex, obviously not an aquatic creature, attack said hero, underwater. Again, this happened underwater. Who's the Justice Leaguer they fought? Aquaman. Though the characters were in the middle of a mental breakdown, so thinking clearly was not exactly something to be expected. If they're inspired, as it seems likely, by the Wonder Twins of Superfriends, then one could say they keep pretty true to the original characters.
  • Teen Titans hands Robin a huge idiot ball at the end of "Trust". After spending an episode fighting against a shapeshifter who had both shown that she could mimic both the appearance and voice of anyone, cannot replicate powers, and loses her structural integrity when she's exposed to strong heat. What does Robin do after a fight where the result isn't clear? Immediately trust the Not Hot Spot, and handed over a spare communication device - which allowed The Brotherhood of Evil to track down every. single. superhero. that the Titans gave the com device to. Nice Job Breaking It Robin. This makes it worse since Robin is supposed to be the smart, suspicious one.
  • Inverted by Inspector Gadget, bizarrely enough. While Penny and Brain were typically the ones who saved the day, there were quite a few isolated moments when Gadget himself could actually show competence when the plot demanded it. Typically these happened when the former two held this trope and got into scrapes similar to the ones they usually save Gadget from.
  • Episode 12 of Sym-Bionic Titan has some Idiot Ball moments when you consider two things: One, why didn't Lance and the others consider stomping and or obliterating the supposedly dead monster's body just to be safe. Two, wouldn't it have occurred to Ilana and Lance by now that Octus isn't a normal robot considering his build and powers? It's made clear early on that everyone on the show occasionally picks up the ball for the plot (episode 4, anybody?).
  • The Animals of Farthing Wood: Weasel conveniently forgets Fox's message for Adder to kill Scarface and mixes it up as simply killing a blue fox, despite she being the one who suggests they get Adder to kill Scarface.
  • In Voltron Force S1E14 (Inside the Music), Pidge picks up the Idiot Ball and runs with it for a touchdown. He's so heavily invested in keeping his secret identity as the mastermind of the band "Stereolactic" a secret, that he doesn't even tell his True Companions. This results in the Cadets wasting time and effort chasing him down, believing that he's the Drule agent, that could have been used finding the real agent.
  • Most of the characters on Futurama, save for Hermes, will carry the idiot ball from time to time, but Leela, often times, will take off running with it. To analyse this for a second, Leela is the Only Sane Woman most of the time; the character with the most common sense and intelligence (combined; Farnsworth might be the brightest intellectually but he's barely sane). This makes it difficult for the writers to start up certain plot points without taking a few IQ points off of Leela for the episode.
  • In Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures, the titular redhead is, if not the smartest character in the show, the most consistently competent. Yet in "Star Light, Star Bright", Strawberry asked the pop singer Cherry Jam her name when she first met her. That was despite Strawberry earlier mentioning that Cherry Jam was her favorite singer, Cherry repeatedly singing a line from a song she was writing when Strawberry found her (which Strawberry helped with by singing her suggestion back), Cherry Jam being dressed in similar clothing as she was in the "music video" at the beginning of the episode (including trinkets with cherries on them), and Strawberry noticing that, near Cherry, it smelled like cherries. Four-year-olds facepalmed watching that.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Venomous", Peter Parker hides from his other team members and S.H.I.E.L.D. that Venom, the monster they have been chasing, is actually a possessed Harry Osborn. This allows his team to completely trash it and allows Spider-Man to constantly botch and drag out their battles with it...rather than just have Peter tell the people that could have helped him sooner by holding back and using their infinite scientific resources to cure him sooner.
  • While a lot of it is Flanderization into simply dumber characters, South Park is generally willing to hand out idiot balls for whatever reason they feel like it. Given that the show has no shortage of idiotic characters, it manages to have many IdiotPlots without handing out any balls, but occasionally Stan or Kyle, the only sane kids, will start acting like idiots. Before the majority of the cast became idiots normally, idiot balls were more common, and their frequent usage is likely what lead to flanderization.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!:
    • Ms. Marvel picks one up when she sees what appears to be the rest of the Avengers walk out of a Skrull spaceship. Despite being well aware of the Skrulls' ability to shapeshift, she's only suspicious for as long as it takes for "Tony" to give a made-up alibi. She only starts to show signs of knowing once they start invading Wakanda for no reason, and even then she needs to see "Thor" die and revert to his green alien form to be 100% sure.
    • HYDRA and AIM are fighting and destroying New York in the ensuing battle. What does Maria Hill do with her army of highly trained soldiers and flying aircraft carrier? Go after the Avengers and make them join S.H.I.E.L.D. by force, naturally.
  • The Nickelodeon Christmas Episode of Doug gives the entire town of Bluffington an Idiot Ball. In the beginning of the episode, Porkchop is shown accidentally injuring Beebe Bluff in an attempt to save her from drowning in a frozen lake. Because of this, her father initiates a massive smear campaign against him, painting the dog as a monster... and the town believes this, even though many episodes show Porkchop helping people. Even worse, when Doug tries to start a petition to save him, they flat out dismiss him, saying that "It's Christmas." When Porkchop goes to trial, Doug is forced to call everyone out on it.
  • On Goof Troop, Pete is a Manipulative Bastard and PJ is the Only Sane Man... usually. Sometimes, one or both of them acts in a manner more befitting the resident Cloudcuckoolander, Goofy. One time PJ forgot he didn't have a balcony, and another he mistook an egg for a "giant albino M&M." Pete, for his part, managed to think his wife was pregnant and almost due just because Goofy said so, and in another episode tried to hide from The Mafia in the back of... The Mafia's car. Max usually manages to avoid the Idiot Ball, only acting on his characteristic intelligence flaws.
  • Legend of Korra: One major complaint fans have with season 2 is that nearly everyone is carrying the Idiot Ball.
    • Lin is suddenly incompetent and quite frankly lazy in her handling of the attacks on Republic City, whilst constantly berating Mako for actually being proactive. She even falls for a rather obvious frame up when Mako gets too close to the truth.
    • Korra enters the spirit world to close the portals to the human world when in reality it would be much safer to wait until after Harmonic Convergence has ended. Only she can open both portals after all. And in the end the two Big Bads take a child hostage to force her to do so. This culminates in Vaatu's escape when the convergence arrives a week later.
    • Suyin is guilty of this in season 4, where her attempt to kill the antagonist, Kuvira, just makes things worse and lands her and the bulk of her family in jail.
  • This happens quite a bit in Total Drama for when a character gets themselves eliminated. There are many instances where, in order to eliminate a contestant, said contestant will make a stupid mistake that will cause them to get either blindsided or temporarily earn the hatred of their competitors. An infamous example is when Heather hides the invincibility statue in All-Stars after finding it, only for Alejandro to find it and use it against her.
    • There are also plenty of times in which a contestant is dumbed down for an episode when the season's Big Bad is working on manipulating them in some way in order to make them foolish enough to make the mistakes necessary for the villain's plans to work and get someone eliminated while the real threat remains in the game. Mal in All-Stars and Alejandro in World Tour are often accused of invoking this by their detractors (notably with Zoey and all of Team Victory), but even Heather has a couple instances under her belt (such as easily convincing Trent that Gwen didn't actually like him in order to break them apart).
  • Mickey Mouse (2013): Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy are all handed the Idiot Ball in the 2014 Paul Rudish short "Mickey Monkey". After a monkey steals Mickey's clothes, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald all mistake the monkey for Mickey and vice versa even though the only way they are identical is that they both have black fur and a similar body shape. They don't even suspect anything when the monkey doesn't speak English or even when he grooms Minnie as he would for a mate. After Mickey gets his clothes back and chases the monkey away, he is then unable to notice that now his friends have been replaced by a trio of gators that stole their clothes as the monkey did with him.
  • In the ChalkZone episode "Double Trouble", both Snap and Penny seem to be holding it when they run into Rudy's evil robot double created by Skrawl and Craniac 4. While Robo-Rudy has some pretty clear differences between him and the real Rudy, both Snap and Penny (who's The Smart Guy, even) can't tell the difference until Craniac 4 slips up his dialogue for Robo-Rudy and accidentally reveals he's a robot double.
  • Phantom Limb was holding it very firmly in The Venture Bros. during The Monarch's backstory. He fails to recognize Monarch as one of his own Shadowmen when Limb catches him with Queen Etheria, and buys his story that he's actually a different villain named Manotaur (who actually does exist, unbeknownst to The Monarch). That alone is one thing, but The Stinger of the episode shows that Phantom Limb somehow never once questioned it, because he's seen exacting his revenge on the aforementioned Manotaur, who 1) is now retired, 2) had nothing to do with the above events, and 3) looks nothing like The Monarch.
  • Family Guy has nearly the entire cast written as idiots and most episodes involve an Idiot Plot. Certain characters like Brian and Joe Swanson tend to be used as the voice of reason, but they are sometimes given the idiot ball to help advance the plot or assist in the random gag of the day.
  • The Steven Universe episode "Onion Trade" is about when Onion steals Steven's rare action figure, Ranger Guy. Steven discovers a magical artefact that can replicate anything. Steven wants Onion to give back Ranger Guy. Does Steven use the wand to replicate the toy that Onion took and resolve the whole thing in five seconds? Nope. Instead he creates a bajillion copies of one of the more common action figures and creates a HUGE mess and destroys half the city doing so. Pearl even asks Steven why he didn't just replicate Ranger Guy, to which Steven replies "....DANG IT!!" Though do bear in mind this was an early episode of the show, and Steven wasn't always very smart in those early episodes, but STILL, even then he was usually leagues smarter than THIS.
  • One King of the Hill episode focuses on a series of salesmen who have been exploiting Hank's customer loyalty by constantly overcharging him, resulting in him paying over the odds for a new car. Hank is normally shown as being a master of most life skills, including household budgeting and automotive maintenance, so it is hard to believe that he could be so oblivious in this situation (especially when Peggy of all people is on the ball). To make matters worse the plot then involves Hank becoming the unwitting leader of a terrorist organisation.
  • In one episode of The Lion Guard, Kion meets the Obviously Evil lions of the outlands, led by Zira. Zira tells him that using his superpowered roar against other lions will cause him to lose the roar forever, and he believes her and is rendered helpless for most of the episode. Except, his father Simba told him very clearly before that his uncle Scar, who had the roar before him, lost it not because he used it on other lions, but because he used it for evil and selfish purposes. This is compounded with the fact that the most stupid of his friends, Bunga, is the one who has to remind him of this, at which point he then easily defeats the outsider lions.
  • Kaeloo: The only person who is safe from this is Mr. Cat - and even he was used for this in "Let's Play Catch the Mailman".
  • It's honestly amazing that the denizens of Pontypandy Fireman Sam haven't gotten themselves offed, given how often the characters do something stupid that results in them having to "call uncle sam" to bail them out of it.
  • In the last episodes of Gravity Falls, Bill Cipher holds this ball firmly. He tricks Mabel into giving him physical form for selfish reasons. He goes through all the time and effort to create an imaginary world for Mabel to live in, just so she won't help Dipper. It never occurs to him to simply tell everyone it was all Mabel's fault. It's obvious that his goal is to stop the Pines family from trusting each other, yet even when Mabel is in a court case, it's never brought up. Bill has no way of knowing if Mabel would be Easily Forgiven (which is perfectly possible of course) and only a complete moron wouldn't at least try.
  • In season four Winx Club, soon after the Winx have arrived on Earth, they investigate what turns out to be an animal smuggling operation and are caught off guard and captured by two perfectly ordinary criminal humans. They wonder aloud how they could have been beaten by two random crooks when they're incredibly powerful magical beings who routinely go up against other incredibly powerful magical beings. Then they use their powers and get the crooks to back down.
  • Ready Jet Go!:
    • Jet gets passed this in "Mindy's Weather Report". In that episode, Mindy tells the gang that a storm is on Saturn, and Jet believes that there's a storm in Boxwood Terrace, and tells all the neighbors (including the Petersons) to prepare, despite the number of times Sean, Sydney, and Mindy try to tell Jet that the storm is on Saturn. When the gang goes into space, they see the storm on Saturn and Jet says: "Why didn't you tell me?" with Sean and Sydney in annoyance.
    • Mindy gets passed the idiot ball in "Galileo, Galileo!", where she believes that the sun orbits the Earth, despite the fact that in "Round and Round", she portrayed the Sun and saw that the solar system revolves around the sun, not the Earth.
  • Holly Hobbie and Friends: One of the main issues critics had with Fabulous Fashion Show was that Holly was passed the idiot ball and as a result was acting out of character and like a complete Yes-Man to Portia. The ball was then passed over to Amy and Carrie in Marvelous Makeover for most of the first story before it was finally threw away, but by then it was too late.

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