Angel Densetsu raises the Idiot Plot to an art form - the entire concept is that the main character, a total Nice Guy who wouldn't hurt a fly, unwittingly becomes the most fearsome gangster in Japan because of the whole cast's inability to communicate properly.
Blue Spring Ride is an example of characters who are so emotionally broken, their personality disorders are so severe, that they cannot help but continuously make the worst decisions possible in order to make their lives miserable and needlessly complicated. Kou avoids loving Futaba mostly due to his Survivor Guilt, Futaba persistently chooses to be miserable by obstinately chasing after the emotionally-unavailable Kou, and it becomes even more absurd with Toma, who knowingly pursues the emotionally-unavailable Futaba pretty much because she's emotionally unavailable.
Pretty much every time the Central 46 in Bleach make any kind of decision, horrible things will happen in Soul Society because of their sheer stupidity or Jerkass tendencies. Most of this occurs in Filler of course, but some of it is in the manga and thus canon, which means that all of the Council must be clutching an Idiot Ball. This is lampshaded in-universe by various characters; when Ukitake and Kyouraku defy the order to have Rukia executed, their argument with Yamamoto, who fights them over their 'betrayal' is all about blindly following the rules versus standing up against the rules for the sake of justice. Ichigo and Byakuya have the exact same argument when they fight. By the end of the manga, Soul Society has been changed enough by Ichigo's beliefs that the Central 46 is done away with completely in favour of a more progressive system.
In Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, Nora could have been evacuated in advance if Flit just tell Commander Hendrick that UE is about to attack the Colony. Or if ANYONE in the Earth Federation put two and two together and figure out that UE is going to hit Nora next, something even a 14 years old kid can predict.
Pretty much the entire second half of the Cardcaptor Sakura anime. It's painfully obvious to the main characters that Eriol is the cause of all the weird happenings, but no one is even the least bit suspicious of him. Most glaring is when Eriol buys a huge bag of sewing thread, cryptically says "There are many uses for thread" and wanders off. About five minutes later Xiaolang is turned into a People Puppet and forced to attack Sakura with, you guessed it, thread.
Alex "Definitely Not A Villain" Brisbane: Step on the map. Yugi: Make me. Alex Brisbane: Oh, come on. I'll be your friend. Yugi: Look. There's no way I'm stepping on any freaking map. Alex Brisbane: What if I told you there was candy inside the map? Yugi: You've got to be kidding me. I'd have to be an idiot to fall for that. Téa: Candy? That sounds pretty good. Tristan: Yes. Let's go get the candy!
The entire plot of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V relies on a guy who's supposed to be a genius scientist and skilled commander doing all of the following: ignoring the obvious wishes of his daughter, keeping a violent sociopath who is one chunk of a universe-killing monster on the longest leash possible while locking up comparatively harmless individuals, sticking with a ridiculous plan involving mass human sacrifice even when it's very obvious it isn't going to work, and never explaining his motives to anyone until the last minute. His son, Reiji, really isn't much better; entire storylines would be avoided if he'd just stop needlessly antagonizing people, making plans that don't benefit anyone, or get off his butt and actually put his skills to good use. In particular, the Synchro arc could have been ended in an hour if Reiji just told Yuya that Yuzu was safe, and then either used one of the countless opportunities in the arc to pick her up and leave, or just moved on to the Xyz Dimension. Supposedly, he was looking for allies, but the only permanent ally they pick up from Synchro is Crow.
Sonic X takes this to absurd proportions when everyone on the planet fails to remember basic astronomy facts for a couple of episodes, except Sonic himself, amusingly enough. Eggman rigs the moon to block out the sun, making it look like the moon pretty much stopped, along with the sun. Nobody finds this fishy because they've forgotten that the moon revolves around the Earth, and the Earth around the sun, not to mention the Earth spins on an embarrassingly wonky axis. Eggman takes the opportunity to try and brainwash everyone with the lamps he sells, only to have his plan foiled by Sonic yet again, because he was the only one not holding on to the gigantic Idiot Ball. The ball in this case being literally the size of the Moon.
In the anime of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, the protagonist is specifically oblivious and thickheaded enough to be continuously embarrassed and ashamed of his female-lead just so hilarity may ensue. As a matter of fact, at the end of the first episode, the protagonist came to a life-changing, self-aware conclusion that he is merely a cog within the machine, a simpleton that is too afraid to be important; and that conclusion — is completely forgotten in the next episode; making it possible to repeat the same mistakes throughout the show, looking for the exact answer he had already answered on the first episode through the many hijinks which ensues with it.
Post exposition, it is explicitly shown that the protagonist has dealt with the tough, socially-inept, probably autistic heroine for almost a whole month; yet he is still shaken by her quirky, eccentric, abnormal behavior as if he just met her.
In The Girl Who Leapt Through Space, Nami's sisters structurally fail to acknowledge her obvious depressed state, going so far as to kick her down even more, as Kazane does in one episode. Even after Nami's FaceHeel Turn, Akiha simply tells Nami to shut up instead of listening to her during their first critical confrontation. Yeah, that really worked, now did it.
.hack//Legend of the Twilight runs on this to an absolutely unbelievable degree to the point that its predecessor .hack//SIGN and the IMOQ Games are genius by comparison. In Sign, the main character Tsukasa is trapped in the established game, and can't leave until he finishes despite how dangerous it is. In IMOQ, the players of the game have a reason to stay playing to rescue people they care about who end up trapped like Tsukasa, only without Tsukasa's autonomy; unless they want to see them die as the system breaks, they have to work to save them, as the people in charge of the system won't. In fact, in both Sign and IMOQ, there is an active coverup to prevent anyone from learning about the system anomalies that are caused by the game's black box files meant to take in data from the human-game interface to help create AI, so there's a legitimate reason why no one knows until it's absolutely too late to not be involved. This then holds true for most of the content in .Hack///G.U. and later entries as well, where by the time they learn what's going on, they're too involved to then be able to back out. In Legend, however, the main characters learn in the first episode that the game they're in is glitched and dangerous, and unlike Tsukasa, they have the ability to leave whenever they want to, and a means to avoid being involved. So what do they naturally do? They continue to play the dangerous game simply because they can, until one of them eventually ends up comatose and trapped there. By the end, it's their own fault any of this happened. Which is made worse by the reason it's glitched and dangerous now (since it's set after the storyline which made it no longer dangerous), which is an entirely different Idiot Plot about a group of kids abusing the system to make a friend of their own, when they're already friends! On top of that, it's based on a manga where there actually wasa reason for them to stick around (protecting an AI girl from the admins trying to kill her, when killing AI was what kicked off the events of the earlier series). It's not for no reason that the series is considered Canon Discontinuity.
Yuria doesn't want to have sex with Shunsuke because if she does she'll become his life-long sex slave, being a Sex Bot and all. She's pretty sure she doesn't like that idea, even after she starts wondering if she's fallen in love with Shunsuke. That's all well and good, but Shunsuke also doesn't want to have sex with Yuria because he is bafflingly devoted to his chaste, ice-cold girlfriend who he rarely hears from and even more rarely gets to see. And anyway what kind of idiot makes a Sex Bot who is intelligent and emotional enough to decide they don't want to be a Sex Bot? (Oh right, that kind).
Simply put, the protagonist has a powerful demon sealed in his balls and can't ejaculate for a month or humanity will be destroyed. He does away with his Porn Stash, yes, and manages to deal with the various Horny Devils going after him, but doesn't stay away from his nymphomaniac-when-drunk coworker.
Which gets even funnier because he does leave her. AFTER the world is safe.
The devils could have done nothing at all, since a horny teenager would have eventually rubbed one out... in fact at the beginning of the story he was going to do just that, if Elyse hadn't intervened.
One of the two major conflicts in the final arc of Phantom of Inferno relied entirely on one of the characters coming to a braindead misunderstanding and the protagonist not only not making any attempts to correct her, but saying whatever he could to make himself look guilty and egg on the conflict.
A common criticism of the final arc of Shakugan no Shana. After Yuji undergoes a FaceHeel Turn, he merges with the Snake of the Festival and becomes the leader of the Crimson Denizens of Bal Masque. Eventually, however, it's revealed that Yuji and the Snake of the Festival intend on creating a new world called Xanadu for the Denizens, with limitless Power of Existence, to end the Forever War between them and the Flame Haze, as they would no longer need to eat humans to survive. Unfortunately, the Flame Haze don't trust the Denizens to behave themselves, and the conflict continues as the Flame Haze attempt to change the Snake of the Festival's spell to make it impossible for the Denizens to obtain Power of Existence in Xanadu from humans. Ultimately, the Flame Haze are defeated, but the day is saved when the Denizens themselves allow this change to occur, as even they don't want to eat humans anymore. So, if the Snake of the Festival and Yuji had simply decided to create Xanadu in this way right from the start, the Flame Haze wouldn't have needed to take the Denizens' desire to reform on faith, and the conflict would have been entirely eliminated.
Suzuka would be about a dozen volumes shorter if Yamato didn't find a way to say or do exactly the wrong thing every single chapter.
Related to this is the Leaf Village's treatment of Naruto. Let's take the kid who somehow fails to notice his resemblance to the Fourth Hokage and treat him like shit. That way, not only are we insulting the memory of a hero who died to save us all, but we further the chance of Naruto running away out of disgust and taking his WMD with him to potentially be used against us. Let us also not make any associates of the Fourth Hokage any effort to train Naruto in the use of his tailed beast nor actually tell him about it so that he will be completely at the mercy of its influence and unaware that he potentially has a bullseye painted on his back. One or two of these things in isolation would qualify as the Idiot Ball; a string of these things over the course of a decade is an idiot plot.
In the Blood Prison movie, Naruto is sent to prison in order destroy the villain Artifact. However, Naruto was never told about any of this.
"Stink Bomb", from the anime anthology movie Memories is about a salaryman at a pharmaceutical company who takes some experimental pills - thinking they're cold medicine - and becomes the vector for a chemical agent that kills everyone within several hundred meters from him. From then on, everyone just gets dumber. His immediate superiors call him out of a quarantine zone to deliver the pills to them. The JSDF try to kill him, but are so incompetent they just cause massive property damage and only exacerbate the problem. The American military screws things up even more by trying to capture him alive to get access to the chemicals. And throughout all this, the salaryman just can't figure out that he's the source of the obnoxious stink and no one EVER bothers to try explaining it to him. It's played for laughs, but galling all the same.
It doesn't excuse all the plot holes, but the salaryman doesn't even seem aware of the stink (he does notice the gas, however) until the very end, when he finally comments on it, and the movie was made before everyone in Japan and elsewhere had cellphones to call each other through. Otherwise, everybody who approached the salaryman died before being able to explain anything, even with protection, and the American soldiers in extra special protection bringing him in at the end probably didn't know Japanese. Which is a big stupid thing on its own, but considering how smugly overconfident their Commander seemed... Plus, the JSDF's weaponry failures were handwaved with a few lines about the chemicals interfering with their systems and wrecking havoc on them.
In Lost+Brain the entire plot is basically one when Fridge Logic kicks in. The plot is based off Hiyama's plan of using hypnosis to remove human weakness with him controlling them having no chance at working, which any amount of additional research would have told him. The plot get even more stupid with the fact that Kuonji and the police never seems to even try to investigate Hiyama even though all the trouble happening can pretty much be linked to him.
Little Jumper would be a lot shorter if Chimari had thought to look up her mother's name before going back in time. But then again, the Idiot Ballis an Ichinose family heirloom.
Infinite Ryvius would have been resolved if they had transmitted what happened to the rest of civilization, and definitely would have if they simply landed or had somebody leave the ship.
In Zeta Gundam a lot of trouble would be avoided if the Argama crew could control the catapult deck traffic better.
The very first arc in CLANNAD hinged on the entire cast failing to have the common sense to question or search out a reason for why one character was being unseen and forgotten by more and more of the school and town. One member decides to investigate alone, and then immediately forgets and becomes unable to see said character. After that, they explicitly avoid this. It's not enough.
The majority of Pokémon episodes are guilty of this, as Team Rocket show up wearing easily transparent disguises and the protagonist would always fall for it, then act surprised when Team Rocket tries to escape with their Pokémon.
The Johto-era "The Poké Spokesman" is a fun episode whose intriguing premise, a man who claims to understand Pokémon Speak, is ruined by the repeated assertion that Pokémon cannot understand humans. No-one, not the nurse with a Pokémon subordinate, not the gym leaders, not the career Pokémon trainer, disputes this. Meanwhile the interpreter is rescued by Team Rocket - one of whose members is a talking Pokémon - on the grounds that his talent will make them a mint.
Guardian Force, the latter half of Zoids: Chaotic Century, features a truly spectacular idiot plot in which Hiltz, The StarscreamBig Bad, wants to revive the Ultimate Death Saurer to Kill All Humans until only his race, the Ancient Zoidians, remain. In order to do so, he needs Fiona to open the door to Zoid Eve. The sensible thing to do would be to trick her into doing so at the beginning of the series, when the Ultimate Death Saurer would be unstoppable. Instead, he goes on a totally pointless tangent, building the Death Stinger and using it to go on a seven episode rampage, giving the main characters plenty of time to build the superweapons and develop the skills and experience needed to defeat him. Hiltz didn't need the Death Stinger for his plan; in lieu of the revelations made during the final four episodes, everything which happened before comes across as For the Evulz in-universe, and To Sell Toys out-of universe.
There is however a very good reason why Hiltz didn't simply wake up the Death Saurer ASAP: The heroes have already killed a Death Saurer once before and they can do it again. The true purpose of the Death Stinger was to be a Sacrificial Lamb to power-up the Death Saurer. Given that the powered-up Death Saurer could no-sell a direct hit from the Gravity Cannon, where even the Death Stinger died (temporarily) to it, it is reasonable to assume that the Blade Liger couldn't penetrate the Death Saurer's new armor to hit its core on its own power. The point about the Death Stinger's preceding rampage being For the Evulz still stands, though.
The entire short "break-up" arc in the Sailor Moon R anime could have been resolved by Mamoru telling Usagi the truth. Yes, he had prophetic dreams that she would die if they stayed a couple, but that did not require that he toss her to the curb and dump her. Then it gets resolved when Usagi finds out anyway and he completely caves. The real kicker? The dreams were being sent by the future King Endymion (Mamoru's future self) to try and strengthen the couple's love. That's right — he broke them up to make them love each other more.
Every single episode of the Island/Africa arc in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. There are so many holes in the "plots", that one could drive a truck through them.
Much of the problems or conflicts in Dragon Ball either start or worsen because the Z-Fighters but especially Goku and Vegeta almost never take their enemies seriously, preferring to let their enemies power up just for a good fight, regardless of the consequences for the whole universe if they remained undefeated.
Pretty much the entire Gohan plot in Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone is this. The demonic henchmen of Garlic Junior want the Dragon Ball on Gohan's hat. Gohan is a precocious and disobedient child, and the son of one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet. Now, if you were in this situation, would you a) take the hat off the kid's head and leave him, or b) kidnap the kid and leave the hat on him basically the whole time, thus not only having the kid running around your base causing trouble, but provoking his father and causing him to hunt you down? If you answered the latter, you really have nobody to blame but yourselves when you get vaporized.
The Cell saga brought out the worst in most of the main cast. Every step in Cell's progress was the direct result of a protagonist's mistake:
Piccolo's urge to destroy 17 and save the day provided a huge energy beacon to pinpoint their location.note This was difficult to avoid, as the Androids had shown up at Kame House demanding to fight Goku, who still hadn't recovered from his heart problems. At that stage, a fight was unavoidable, Piccolo stepped up to move the fight away from Kame House as he was the only one present with a realistic chance to fight any of the Androids successfully.
Tenshinhan using his Shin Kikouhou to incapacitate Cell would, given that it immobilized Cell for a long while even after he got a massive power boost from absorbing Android 17, probably have been used to greater effect against him before he absorbed 17. It also took Android 18 far too long to even consider escaping while Tenshinhan was sacrificing his life for her.
Trunks doesn't use his full power when trying to stop Cell from absorbing 18, because he didn't want to hurt Vegeta's fragile ego by revealing he's stronger than him. He also doesn't even think to destroy 18 himself after knocking Cell away twice during this (nor does she think to request this, despite having been perfectly willing to do so herself).
Cell wasn't immune, either giving them ten days training could be reasonably considered a bad move on the off-chance they have some massive power-booster than takes a few days, such as, maybe, a Year Inside, Hour Outside training room.note Though that was specifically his reason for doing so. He saw how much stronger Vegeta had gotten in less than a week, and was hoping to get an opponent to challenge his new strength. Though that also proved to be as bad of an idea for Cell as it sounds.
Goku feeding Cell a Senzuafter passing the fight to Gohan took out a prime opportunity to finish him off.
When Gohan deduces that Goku's reason for passing him the fight is probably because of how his fury awakens his potential, Cell intentionally sets out to Kick the Dog enough to provoke Gohan's rage so he can see that power. Cue Super Saiyan 2 making his "perfection" worthless.
The worst case is Vegeta who makes wrong decisions one after another. When Bulma suggests they could use the Dragon Balls to locate Dr. Gero and kill him before his work is finished, Vegeta immediately refuses to accept that option and causes all the other Blood Knights to agree with him. Then Vegeta allows #17 and #18 to be activated by Dr. Gero, despite the others trying to prevent Dr. Gero from doing so. He fights #18, gets his arm broken, causing the others to step in and get their asses kicked. Then Vegeta allows and helps Cell to reach his final form and gets his ass kicked, which eventually (along with terrible decisions of Goku and Gohan) results in the death of his son from the future. And when Vegeta snaps to get revenge for Trunks, he gets smacked by Cell and causes Gohan to be heavily injured. He finally redeems himself by helping Gohan to kill Cell by distracting the latter.
In all continuities of Area 88, many of the protagonists' problems could have been avoided if Shin had simply picked up the phone and called Ryoko to inform her of his deployment in Asran and Kanzaki's ambitions.
Asran's civil war could have been avoided if Abdael had simply shown King Zak the cryogenic chamber in which Soria was housed and explained why funding the country's medical system was vital to curing Soria's cancer.
The encounter with Death 13 in Part 3 of Jojos Bizarre Adventure could've been resolved halfway through if everyone hadn't suddenly lost their intelligence and were unable to believe that a baby was a stand-user (when they'd already encountered a stand-wielding orangutan, so they've certainly seen stranger things.) Even worse is when Kakyoin figures out what's really going on. Instead of trying to calmly and rationally convince the others (which isn't too much of a stretch because he's already one of the calmer members of the group), he resorts to hysterics and only convinces them that he's lost his mind.
My Monster Secret is a deliberate example Played for Laughs. The entire series revolves around a bunch of idiots trying to keep incredibly obvious secrets from each other, or taking mundane situations and driving them completely off the rails. It's to the point that when the series' Big Bad, Principal Shirayuki, shows up, protagonist Asahi is terrified of her simply because he has no idea how to handle someone who's actually competent.
Lucy. Despite being shown to competently use her magic and her spirits as well as having powerful magic with impressive magic reserves (being able to summon spirit after spirit over and over again is supposed to be significantly impressive for celestial wizards), Lucy continually uses her spirits in the stupidest and most banal ways possible whenever it is actually important. She has also been shown to be able to strategize and think smartly about magic battles, but she will routinely do things that border Too Dumb to Live in sheer stupidity. This is particularly annoying when we've seen many of her spirits being used in inventive and effective ways by wizards who were equal in power or less powerful than she later becomes - used in ways that she witnessed and should easily be able to replicate. A good example is in the Tartarus arc prologue in the first fight against Jackal: he's shown to be able to use his explosions to repel wind-powered attacks, so who does Lucy summon? Scorpio - to use his sandstorm attacks...
Digimon Adventure tri.'s big problem is that the entire anime is fueled by this trope. Despite the main heroes of Digimon Adventure 02 being MIA, no one, not even fellow DigiDestined Takeru and Hikari, bother to ask questions or look for them. There are Digimon rampages going on across the city and the kids are more focused on their teen angst than them. They even take, at face value, the words of a woman who is obviously dodging all of their questions.
Trigun is usually good at avoiding such issues (except where it would be funny), but falls into this with the episode Little Arcadia. An old couple has owned an extremely valuable piece of land for twenty years and now a greedy developer wants to take it from them. Pretty standard plot. Except that the only thing they need to do to stop the developer is take the deed to the land to the city office. Milly and Myril meet the couple in town, then accompany them back to their house where the couple tells them about how they're going to take the deed to the city office the next day. Absolutely no reason is given why they couldn't have done it that day. Or any other day in the last twenty years. On top of that, their son had been trying to get them to sell because he was afraid that the developer would murder them for the deed and thinks that they're just being foolishly stubborn. At the very end of the episode he finds out that they intended to leave the land to him- not once during his life did they apparently ever think to tell him this.
The entire premise of the Yuri Genre manga, Handsome Girl and Sheltered Girl relies on this trope, since Ookuma, an apparently heterosexual young woman, ends up with Kanda, a woman who looks like a man. While Ookuma mistaking Kanda for a guy isn't too surprising, the fact that she continues to think this after spending time with Kanda strains the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Worse, still, it takes several chapters for Kanda to outright say to Ookuma "I'm a woman" in order to clear up the misunderstanding, even after she inadvertently starts going out with Ookuma.
In The Mute Girl And Her New Friend, Mashiro, a girl who suffers from aphonia, has to order lunch, but unfortunately, her homeroom teacher neglected to tell the staff that Mashiro can't talk. As a result, Mashiro tries to write in her sketch pad, which is her means of communication, only for the staff member on duty to yell at her about "drawing." Luckily, Kokosaki, Mashiro's new friend, reads Mashiro's mind and orders for her, but one would think Kokosaki would take the more sensible approach of telling the cafeteria staff about Mashiro.