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Stupidity, as well as intelligence, has often been a trope in television. The reason these traits turned into tropes is that it's very hard to tell the audience that a character is smart, or stupid, without going overboard. Naturally, there is some middle ground, just not a whole lot. After all, why settle for a character with slightly-above average, albeit far more realistic, intelligence when you can have a TV Genius?

See also Intelligence Tropes and Anti-Intellectualism. A character who Took a Level in Dumbass has tumbled a few notches down the list as a result of Flanderization.

Not all of these tropes are mutually exclusive, and some of them even complement each other. For instance, an Absent-Minded Professor can easily be a Cloudcuckoolander as well.

In approximate ascending order by intellect:


Tropes

The morons

  • The Ditz: This character reaches more deeply into the abyss of stupidity. Chances are they will be looked down on by other characters, and probably be book dumb AND street dumb, but usually have someone to help them out.
  • Too Dumb to Live: This character is going to die, and probably soon. They will walk home alone in the wrong side of town to call their friend about the zombie apocalypse, right before being killed by said zombies. If they are a recurring character on a show, expect plenty of pushes on the Reset Button, lest they join the undead themselves....
  • Lethally Stupid: This character is stupid yet due to sheer dumb luck they manage to avoid getting themselves harmed from their actions but end up harming others or always having to be rescued by friends.

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  • The women in this ad for the LA County Fair. All three women act like dumb valley girls who think that cotton candy is "vegan" because it "comes from cotton".note 
  • Those Two Guys in the Sonic Drive-In (an American fast food chain) composed of a straight man and total idiot. While the dumb one was only slightly dim at first he was later flanderized into being the ditz of the pair. Around late 2016 to early 2017 he mistook a cherry stem for a straw and complained "how it didn't work" and thought his friend was the dumb one and when they talked about "the dumb friend that never gets it" they believe that the smart one is the dumb one and he's being hard on himself.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The main lead of Angel Densetsu has his moments (it's more a combination of Nice Guy, The Klutz, and Selective Obliviousness actually), but then we have the most fearsome and brutal of the Shadowy seven: Hishida Haruka! Yep, she's The Ditz, and The Klutz, and almost a Pollyanna ...she's also the living embodiment of Confusion Fu, and she's not even aware of all the destruction she's spreading around.
  • Asteroid in Love:
    • Several characters have bluntly called Mira dumb. For example, in response to her getting a cold, Mikage actually says she's "a genius in being stupid" to her face, due to her subverting Idiots Cannot Catch Colds.
    • And then when Sayuki "Eva" Ibe appears, Mikage decides she is even more stupid than Mira. How? Sayuri attempts to eavesdrop on the Earth Science Club to scoop on blackmailing material, but she operated in such an obvious way, that every member sees it, and when brought into the Earth Science Club's room, she pretty much mentioned her intentions without any prodding.
  • Rino Rando from Best Student Council. Most of the smarts seem to have been given to her snarky hand puppet Pucchan.
  • Buso Renkin: Kazuki Muto's younger sister Mahiro is a sweet girl, with Genki Girl tendencies, who is such a scatterbrain that when her brother and Tokiko invent the lie that they're siblings immediately believes them and is confused by the fact that nobody told her she had an older sister.
  • Castle Town Dandelion:
    • Hikari is the most energetic among the siblings, but she seems extremely clueless about the consequences of her actions.
    • While Akane's most important characteristics are Justice Will Prevail and Shrinking Violet, as the story goes on it's quite clear that despite her own self-consciousness, she's utterly clueless of what's happening around her — like whether she's wearing anything on her lower body (Chapter 12/Episode 4A), or that everyone knows she is Scarlet Bloom (Chapter 21/Episode 9A).
  • Code:Breaker: An extremely ditzy Re-Coder shows up. When asked how many people she killed, she says "One, two, three... Ten, I guess, because I have ten fingers! But I'm not in a counting mood, so now I'll kill you painfully!" She never lapses into a Slasher Smile but remains cheerful and perky throughout.
  • The characters of Cromartie High School tend to pass the Idiot Ball around quite a bit, but Hayashida is particularly stupid. The Other Wiki describes him as "dumber than a gorilla" — which, considering a gorilla is actually part of the cast, is proven true in the show. In his defense, the gorilla is the smartest member of the class. Yeah. It's that kind of series.
  • The frequent use of this trope as a Charm Point was parodied in a stinger skit in Daily Lives of High School Boys.
    • Yanagin gets her sempai to teach them how to be cuter, and the correct answer is...
      Yanagin's Senpai: "Pretending to be an idiot who doesn't even know common knowledgenote  is what makes high school girls cute! Listen up, their brains and eyes are directed right here..."
    • Ringo-chan is a straight example; she's not the brightest bulb in town. In High School Boys and Panties it took her an hour to diagnose the reason for a network problem: the wire was never plugged on. Then she unwittingly flaunts her panties to Motoharu, the President and the Vice-President; fortunately for her, she doesn't get to see them in the act, much less their horrified reaction.
  • Touta Matsuda from Death Note. Most of the time, anyway. In his defense, he is not so much a could-not-function-in-normal-society Ditz. Most of the time, he acts like a fairly normal (if somewhat impulsive and over-enthusiastic) young man. It's just that in a situation where one false move (like revealing your face to the wrong person) could mean instant death, any false move starts to come off as Too Dumb to Live. It also doesn't help that he's working with (or, as it turns out in one case, against) people like Light, L, Near, and Mello.
  • The standout ditz of Don't Become an Otaku, Shinozaki-san! would be Akina's childhood friend Chigusa. She almost always has a dreamy look on her face and her likes are listed as "stripes". When boys would ask if she would go out with them, she'd respond with "go out where?", Oblivious to the fact they were hitting on her. Konatsu is also ditzy in the more Genki Girl fashion.
  • Elfen Lied:
    • Deconstructed by Director Kurama's ditzy secretary, Kisaragi, who gets decapitated by Lucy in the first 7 minutes of the show because she's Too Dumb to Live. This is made better in the German dub, where she tells her colleagues "I just don't lose my head." moments before.
    • Anna (after she returned to normal) is another example, being unable to solve basic mathematical problems.
  • The title character (and arguably most of the cast) of Excel♡Saga.
  • Kousaka from Genshiken isn't quite as dimwitted as some; his ditz qualifications comes mostly from his utter lack of a filter between his thoughts and his mouth.
  • Tomoko from Great Teacher Onizuka is clumsy, Book Dumb, and doesn't have any real friends when Onizuka meets her. In the manga, her classmates nickname her Toroko (Slo-mo-ko in English) since she's so "slow". She turns out to have Hidden Depths, though.
  • Joshua Lundgren in GUN×SWORD straddles the line between ditz and Cloudcuckoolander. He once looked for Wendy by heading into every women's restroom in a train station, not understanding why the women were screaming until he got arrested for it.
  • Satomi Ookuma of Handsome Girl and Sheltered Girl is the "Sheltered Girl" in the title. She's completely oblivious to how her friend at college, Mizuki Kanda, is not a man but actually an androgynous-looking woman, and thus the "Handsome Girl." It's implied that Ookuma's overprotective parents may be part of the problem, especially since they have some rather strange ideas; her father wants any prospective boyfriend to submit a resume to him.
  • Shizuka Marikawa from Highschool of the Dead. Her entire character is practically this and Ms. Fanservice (though, to be fair, most of the girls in this series are that).
  • Italy from Hetalia: Axis Powers: the name of the series is even a portmanteau of the Japanese words for "hopeless" and "Italy". Italy is such a Distressed Dude that it's a wonder he survived until Germany formed an alliance with him. One notable example is when Germany tries to teach him how to throw a grenade. Italy throws the pin, leaving the grenade clenched in his mouth. He then just sits there blankly, while Germany screams at him to throw the grenade before they both get blown up. The one time Italy manages to plant a grenade correctly he stands there cheering... as a Russian tank comes up behind him. Romano later does the same thing, suggesting that this trope runs in the family, which in the dub Germany immediately lampshades. America is more of the 'lovable/obnoxious oaf' kind.
  • Imaizumin-chi wa Douyara Gal no Tamariba ni Natteru Rashii: ~DEEP~: Ruri often forgets the point she's trying to make. Reina calls her having 30 IQ.
  • Subyss from Innocent is a darker example. He is a Torture Technician with a sadistic streak a mile long, but he is kind of silly in an almost amusing way. He'll ask the wrong questions, get drunk at inopportune moments, is professionally unlucky, and is dumb enough to believe his job is something to be proud of.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • Nai is a boy version of this from Karneval, although he's really a cute little animal. Yogi is more of the "lovable oaf" kind when he's not being serious, which is often.
  • In Kemono Friends, Hululu, the Humboldt Penguin member of the PPP, is both a ditz on and off the stage.
  • Yayoi of Koi Koi 7 (the pink-haired one, not the one with the eyepatch.) When standing in the middle of a heated battle with the shots missing her, her only response is "Fireworks!"
  • Shinobu of Kiniro Mosaic is hardly bright. One of the earliest strips showed her scoring zero in math, and despite her European Foreign Culture Fetish, she doesn't know much English (and tried to read an English paper!) and may or may not even know that England and France are part of Europe at all!
  • Nadeshiko from Laid-Back Camp doesn't appear to be very bright; nearly the first thing we know about her is her not bringing a cell phone nor having any meaningful amounts of cash (just 100 yen) when she cycles in the countryside of a place she moved into a day ago.
  • Tsukasa Hiiragi from Lucky Star is a sweet girl who's also airheaded, forgetful and regularly gets poor grades in school, putting her in contrast with her smarter and more responsible twin sister Kagami. Even mundane tasks like following a study schedule, reading a newspaper or finding her own cellphone number prove to be very challenging for her.
  • Kanako from Maria†Holic is marvelously dumb. She flunked nearly all her exams and, when given notes that "even an idiot could understand" by Sachi, she fails to comprehend even that. She's so single-minded in her pursuit of finding girl-love that she's dim in everything else. Including the realization that liking girls makes her a lesbian.
  • Papi of Monster Musume and her fantasy counterpart Aero of Deadline Summoner are both harpies, barely wear anything and have just as much upstairs.
    Kimihito Kurusu and Mamoru Onodera: She's a birdbrain!
  • My Monster Secret: The entire point of the series is that it's a Romantic Comedy driven by a cast full of characters who are "just a little dumb" (in the author's own words); however, they're all depicted as lovable goofs or space cases rather than simply idiots. Special mention goes to the female lead Youko Shiragami, whose goofiness has more often than not put her secret at risk.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi Konoka can also act ditzy, but it's almost certainly an act.
  • Naruto:
    • The toad Gamatatsu is rather childlike and obsessed with food.
    • Naruto himself fits this in part 1, though it's really more a case of Book Dumb. He outgrows it after the time skip.
  • Aoba of New Game! can be pretty spacey and oblivious at times, like forgetting her ID card multiple times, or failing to recognize that Sophia was inspired by her own appearance. In fact, when designing Sophia, she started to do a search for reference material on twintails — the style of hair that Aoba herself has.
  • Luffy from One Piece easily falls into this trope. From recognizing mixed animals by their least dominant feature to chalking up anything beyond his comprehension (i.e. most everything!) as "mystery" things, Luffy is easily the most gullible and air-headed of Shounen heroes. What's confusing about Luffy is that he is genuinely stupid most of the time, so it's quite hard to notice the situations where he probably is smart, but just acts like a ditz.
  • Himeko from Pani Poni Dash!. She's so dumb, she faints upon SEEING English letters, since her brain can't take it.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The Team Rocket trio seems to have become cursed to this position ever since encountering Ash, (with the exception of the Best Wishes series).
    • Misty's Psyduck stumbled from place to place with a vacant look on its face. He was also shown to be unable to swim despite being a Water-type. He is somewhat more competent in his return in a Sun & Moon episode, though.
    • May and Dawn when they first started as trainers — May was a bit less competent because she didn't really want to train Pokemon, which was before the anime introduced Contests. This even passed on to her starter Torchic, who Took a Level in Badass and evolved into Combusken in the middle of Hoenn, eliminating this trait.
    • Cameron from the Unova arc was ditzier than Ash was in almost the entire anime, as he practically had to be handheld as a Trainer through all of his appearances. In spite of all this, he beats Ash after bringing 5 Pokemon to a 6-on-6 Pokemon League battle.
    • Ash's Rowlet is shown to be this when it isn't asleep. Its first appearance in the anime showed it mistaking a wind chime for food.
    • Casey from the Johto saga is cute, but she's not the brightest kid. In her first appearance, she insulted Ash as a trainer despite only just starting her journey and having about a few days of being a trainer, and insisted on battling him despite this, which predictably ends with her losing miserably to Ash's Charizard. Being a huge fan of the Electabuzz baseball team, she also tries to sing their fight songs... and she really sucks at it. Misty once had to stop her because her singing was so terrible.
  • In the Pretty Cure franchise, the pink-themed leaders might be the sweetest girls they can be, have nifty skills that set them apart and great leadership skills, they might not be the sharpest tools in the shed. Examples include Nozomi, who infamously got kicked out of every school club possible due to her clumsiness, and Ichika, who kept thinking the boyish girl was a handsome boy even when she transformed into a Cure herself.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: Despite being the most enthusiastic in being taught be Fuutarou, Yotsuba Nakano also gets the lowest grades out of her sisters; her test grade in Chapter 2? Eight out of one-hundred. Additionally in Chapter 20, not only she has the lowest overall grades out of her sisters again, her score in mathematics is Nine out of one-hundred.
  • Teasing Master Takagi-san: Mina doesn't seem to be dumb or anything, but she tends to overreact to things, and once walked into the toilet, saw Takagi and asked if she and Nishikata were dating (Takagi said no), left the toilet, ran into Nishikata and his friends and mentioned her conversation with Takagi, and then remembers she went to the toilet because she needed to pee. She also apparently once got hypnotized while watching a hypnotist on TV.
  • Mihoshi, in the various Tenchi Muyo! television series (Flanderized from a Bunny-Ears Lawyer / Genius Ditz in the OVAs). She is an endless source of frustration and despair for not only Kiyone, her long-suffering partner in the Galaxy Police, but also Washu, whose projects are always being ruined by her stupidity.
  • Yotsuba&! qualifies. Sure, she's five years old, but what kid that age doesn't even know how a swing works? She can also be led by the nose rather easily. Any moderately intelligent five-year-old would eventually figure out that Danbo is simply Miura in a cardboard box, for instance.

    Comic Books 
  • Dumb Bunny from the Inferior Five ('60s humor comic from DC), whose name says it all, really. She's "stronger than an ox — and almost as smart!"
  • In The Eye of Mongombo, Norbert Nuskle’s brother-in-law Boswick is so dim, it takes him roughly ten seconds to react or answer someone.
  • The eponymous character from Groo the Wanderer was infamously slow of mind. It often took him pages to react to an insult, and recurring characters would frequently have to remind Groo that they had met before. Sometimes he'd remember that he knew them, but not whether or not he liked them. Say, what did he mean, "Slow of Mind"?
  • Boom-Boom/Meltdown/Tabitha Smith of Nextwave: trailer-trash klepto with the power to make things go boom. She says "zomg" out loud and misspells her own name.
    "I hate cops! Because, like, cops keep arresting me and stuff? For stealing? Like stealing's a crime or something?
    • Forbush Man's mental powers do not work on her. Guess why. Her explanation? "I gave him the explodo because I am clever."
  • A particularly extreme example would be minor Eldritch Abomination Avaggdu from Sláine. So terminally stupid that when tricked into biting his hands, he doesn't notice they're his and starts devouring himself until there's literally nothing left.
  • Kelly from Soulsearchers and Company is undoubtedly helpful, cheerful and well-meaning. However, she is also far from the sharpest tool in the shed. In her background, it is stated that one of the reasons Arnold keeps her employed is that she usually forgets to ask for her salary.
  • The Parademon from the Villains United miniseries. He even fully admits to wanting to die in a stupid gesture.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • In their original iteration back in the pages of Sensation Comics two of the Heyday triplets were dumb blondes — to the point that their grandmother left their inheritance to the one smart triplet figuring they'd be better off with her in charge of their money — who still liked to pull pranks and hated fascists along with the rest of the Holliday Girls. Their The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016) iterations were reduced to twins, changed to redheads and the traditionally smart one became the clueless one while the other became the smart one.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Stheno has a tendency towards cluelessness that irritates her sisters. One of her standout moments involved licking a television because there was ice cream on the screen, even though she's been around TVs before and should be aware it's just an image. It's possible she's lost a bit of grey matter during her numerous resurrections.

    Fan Works 
  • All of the four main characters of the Avantasia Protag AU series have their turns at being ditzy. Some of it is justified because of the time travel leading to unfamiliarity with modern things, but often they do wacky or stupid things with little excuse. The author describes them as "sharing a single brain cell which gets passed around between the four of them."
  • The Boy Who Cried Idiot: Martin is the eponymous idiot, doing things like assuming Lincoln is so-named because he's related to presidents, getting people's gender wrong, and forgetting things moments after doing them.
  • Cao Hong in Farce of the Three Kingdoms. The rare occasions when he actually does something sensible are considered remarkable.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Italy sure seems like one. After all, he seems to be oblivious to a lot of things including Germany's and Japan's obvious feelings for him. Keyword: seemed.
  • Limefrost Spiral in Manehattan's Lone Guardian is described as being forgetful and not very bright outside her element. Her first appearance has her completely forgetting the time that she was supposed to meet Smooth Beat for a date, leaving him to wait at her door while she wasted time sunbathing.
  • My Stupid Reality: Sayu gets in on this:
    Sayu: I guess. Why do we have to take a train or walk everywhere? You're way old enough to drive.
    Light: It would take longer to drive than it does to walk. Have you ever seen rush hour?
    Sayu: The movie?
  • In The Loud House fanfiction The Nightmare House, Leni's impostor is just as dumb as her and accidentally gives away the location of the real sisters.
  • Kayla in NoHoper, is an example of a ditz too dumb to take a hint and cannot fathom that Light is not in the least bit interested in her:
    Light: I like... science.
    Kayla: Oh? Really?
    Light: Yes. And some silence.
    Kayla: Is that a band?
  • Ash Ketchum of The Pokémon Squad, who often borders on Too Dumb to Live and/or Lethally Stupid at times. His stupidity and gluttony often kickstart an episode's main dilemma (such as "Unhappy Trails", where he mistakes RM's credit cards for Pokémon cards and trades them, which forces the entire squad to live in a trailer park. Ash burns down their trailer while imitating Beavis and Butt-Head.)
  • Spooky: Tombstones often creates problems for himself, whether it be by not thinking ahead, using his scythe as a universal tool, or just not comprehending how to tackle a situation.
  • This Bites!: With Vivi now having a permanent place on the crew due to her undeserved bounty, her tendency to act before remembering, considering or displaying all available information is shown in a lot more detail. An example is how she mistranslated the sign language of an ancient civilization of octopi and got everyone mad at the crew because she failed to read through the whole translation book properly and thus didn't notice the particular dialect for people with joints.
  • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread: Cody describes talking to Lindsay as "best to avoid allusion, irony, sarcasm, repartee, satire, and words longer than 'chicken'."
  • Deconstructed in Wishing Well with Rainbow Dash. He's described as "vapid and innocent", but this is due to essentially brain damage. He was fond of eating a fruit that was later found out to cause short-term memory loss. Rainbow Dash's memory issues and childish personality make him unpopular and awkward to be around.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Incredibles, Bob tries to justify Thunderhead's death by his cape snagging on the fin of a missile with this trope, saying, "Thunderhead was not the brightest bulb..."
  • The Lion King (1994): Ed is easily the least intelligent of the trio of Hyenas, lacking common sense and being unaware of everything as well as laughing at things that are not funny and at inappropriate times. He even bites his own leg after a brief scuffle with Banzai. He even has the Fish Eyes to match, suggesting some sort of intellectual disability.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Virtually every character played by famed comedian Lou Costello of the Abbott and Costello comedy duo. Occasionally he will even lampshade himself, such as when one of his characters in the film Who Done It? turns on a radio and hears "Who's on First?" (one of Abbott and Costello's most famous routines) and immediately turns it off, remarking how stupid the "short, chubby guy" (actually Costello himself) is.
  • In Back to the Future Part II, we learn that Marty's son Junior is a total moron. Probably it has to do with the fact Marty had become a "chicken" after his car accident in the coinciding 1985 timeline.
  • Mr. Bean in Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie and Mr. Bean's Holiday. Also Johnny English to some extent.
  • Bullshot. Rosemary Fenton, Damsel in Distress and daughter of an Absent-Minded Professor with a dangerous habit of knocking over equipment in Daddy's lab.
    Bullshot: "I see. You intend taking on the Most Dangerous Man in Europe by yourself, do you? Have you given a moment's thought as to what you intend using for brains?"
    Rosemary: "How dare you! I've done pretty well without brains so far!"
  • August in Cemetery Gates. When Kym tells Tony and Enrique that they wouldn't now what to do with a pragmatic woman, August comments that she is part Russian. Later, Tony persuades her to make a sex tape with him with the argument "everyone is doing it".
  • Cher Horowitz in Clueless... kind of. She's certainly no genius level intellect, and is definitely more than a little naive and 'clueless', but she's savvy enough when she needs to be and has enough wits about her to 'negotiate' her grades with most of her teachers.
  • Corky Romano: Corky is a total goofball who's very nice but also extremely quirky and clumsy.
  • Tabby in Escape Room (2017), who has to count to work out that 'E' is the fifth letter of the alphabet.
  • Ghostbusters (2016): Kevin Beckman. Bless him, but as gifted as Kevin is physically, the pendulum swings hard in the other direction when it comes to his brains (specifically his lack thereof). He wears glasses but took the glass out so he didn't have to clean them, thinks covering his eyes blocks out sound, cannot figure out how to work a phone, only announces appointments when the person has been waiting for at least ten minutes, and wanders off during the final battle to go get a sandwich. Erin wanted to hire him because he is just so damn pretty, while the other girls went along with it because he was the only applicant.
  • Good Burger has the main character, Ed. When Dexter says he looks familiar, Ed isn't sure why but speculates that he (as in Ed himself) might be someone famous, like a baseball player, or a pretty nurse.
  • Tiffany in Headless Horseman. After Doc discovers that the 'blood' on her forehead is really red nail polish, her reaction is an astounded "Oh! So that's why it didn't hurt!"
  • The Hunger Games: Glimmer — for a Career, anyway.
  • The whole future society of Idiocracy is comprised of these.
  • Karen in Mean Girls Has a fifth sense, which she refers to as ESPN, where her breasts can tell when it's already raining.
  • In My Favorite Martian, after Martin clones Brace's body and mind, and later returns to normal.
    Martin: [clutching his head] Whoa. Her head was dark and empty.
  • In Stranger On A Train, Bruno's mother is quite clueless and dotty to everthing concerning her husband and her son, Bruno. She is told her son may have committed murder, and continues to be happily unaffected and disconnected. One interesting note - she shows Bruno her latest painting, and the image is surreal and disturbing. This indicates that Bruno inherited his psychopathic nature from his mother, who is too dense to present any of the symptoms herself.
  • Not Okay: Danni starts off as this, somehow thinking that her article is worth publishing despite her saying things like she "missed" 9/11.
  • Sorina from Pain & Gain, who easily buys Daniel's story about him and the others being CIA agents and even seems to still believe it when testifying at their trial.
  • Dean Walker's daughter in Promising Young Woman who falls for Cassie's story hook, line and sinker and is left sitting in a diner convinced that her favourite boy band is going to show up to shoot a music video. Even Cassie, who is generally sympathetic to other women, tells Dean Walker that is a good thing that the girl is pretty because she isn't very smart.
  • Sharon in Satan's Cheerleaders, who has it to have explained to her what an 'unsoiled maiden' is.
  • Sheila in Scarecrow Slayer. Upon arriving at Caleb's farm, she asks "What is this? A farm or something?", to eye-rolling from Mary in the back seat.
  • Officer Ed from Scotland, PA. Why would anyone trust this man with a loaded gun? They don't.
    Ed: Sir, I called the number, like, 95 times. I practically had it memorized.
  • Blanko the Nerdluck in Space Jam. They don't call him 'Blanko' for nothing.
  • Zangief in Street Fighter. His proposed solution to seeing, on a TV screen, a vehicle loaded with explosives heading toward the building he was in at the time was to change the channel.
  • Margalo from Stuart Little 2. She puts on an understated version of this, mostly to throw Stuart off the fact that she's an Artful Dodger.
  • In This is Spın̈al Tap, none of the characters are particularly bright, but nearly everything Nigel Tufnel says is, as David St. Hubbins puts it, confused.
    Marty: Why don't you make ten louder and make ten the top number and make that a little louder?
    Nigel: (long pause, staring at his amp and thinking) These go to eleven.

    Literature 
  • Baccano!: Isaac and Miria, the Outlaw Couple pair, are twice as flakey. For instance, they think the fact that no one has ever found gold in a given hill is a perfect reason to dig for gold there, and that to perform a "train robbery", you take a train somewhere, rob someone, and then use the train to escape.
  • Akihisa Yoshi from Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts is by far the stupidest person in the school. He divides pot noodle in half continually thinking that that way he can get infinite meals out of one serving. He even concludes that discovering this makes him a genius. Most geniuses don't spend their food money on porn in the first place. He explains that this why he is eating 1/67th of a pot noodle. Nobody is even surprised that he gets the math wrong there. When Hazuki Shimada turns up and calls asks for the big idiot Akihisa Yuuji Sakamoto says he's surprised that everyone in Japan knows of his stupidity. Akihisa insists it's not all of Japan, just the local area.
  • Bazil Broketail: Vlok is not the brightest bulb among the dragons of 109th. Still bright enough, though, to be a competent swordfighter and a soldier.
  • In Buddenbrooks, Tony is impressed by smart people (like Morten Schwarzkopf — a doctor-to-be with whom she falls in love, but can't marry him because of the Grünlich thing), but is neither book smart nor street smart herself, and calls herself "a silly goose" sometimes. Her poor relative Klothilde is even more so.
  • Dear Dumb Diary — Emmily. [Yes, she really spells it with 2 Ms. It's because it reminds her of candy that way — not M&Ms (those are Ws and 3s) but because "Mm" is the sound she makes when she eats candy.]
    You remember Emmily — she was very sweet and we all loved her, but she was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Emmily wasn't even the sharpest spoon in the drawer. Most of the time, Emmily wasn't even in the drawer at all. She was lost somewhere in the bottom of the dishwasher.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Creighton the Cretin (Greg's comic strip character in the first book) is this in spades. He's tricked into thinking his name is "Stewart Pid" (and then says his name is "Stew Pid"), mistakes a brick for a box, and asks a doctor to give him a new butt because his old one has a crack in it.
  • Razza from Don't Call Me Ishmael!. His grades are terrible and he isn't very intelligent, but he is very sociable and fun-loving.
    Sometimes, Razza wasn't quite on the same page as other people — often, he wasn't even in the same library.
  • The Dresden Files has a few subversions:
    • Maeve does her level best to be perceived as a narcissistic, hedonistic political non-entity. While there is some truth to the first two, Maeve is far more savvy and in control than her public persona indicates. When Billy tells her no-one buys the act, she pouts, but immediately becomes all business and casually provides important information the heroes have been busting their chops to get a hold of. Underestimate the queens of Winter at your own peril.
    • Abby of the Ordo Lebes comes across as scatterbrained through no fault of her own. Abby is actually pretty intelligent and perceptive, but she is also a very limited-ability precognitive with very little control of her ability. The reason she spaces out and comes up with non-sequiturs sometimes is that she sees the present and about a minute into the future simultaneously and occasionally loses track of which is which.
  • Lina the maid from Astrid Lindgren's Emil i Lönneberga. When the parish priest asks her who the first humans were, she answers "Thor and Freya". That doesn't make sense even in Norse Mythology!
  • Homura Hinooka from Fire Girl is a downplayed example. Her ditziness mostly stems from her status as being Book Dumb and being fairly incompetent in knowledge regarding "complicated" basics in life (she doesn't even know how to use the internet for starters) but she is actually fairly self-aware and perceptive otherwise.
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon has Fyrian: woefully uneducated, unable to observe or retain information, and believes everything he is told, but through this becomes an enthusiastic, optimistic, and loving family member.
  • Journey to Chaos: Ponix Enaz is constantly forgetting to fully shapeshift back into his elven form and thus leaving strange body parts lying out, providing Too Much Information, or being so absorbed by puzzles that he neglects what's around him.
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff: The titular protagonist theorizes that Raziel is the origin of dumb blonde jokes.
  • Jack Pumpkinhead from the Land of Oz series is always described as unintelligent. Some of the words used to describe him are "stupid", "dim", "innocent", "simpleton", "not known for his intelligence", etc. He might also have a bit of a neurological disorder, as he fails to pick up on vocal cues and sometimes takes sentences to mean the opposite of what they mean (he once called a ferryman 'nice' after he refused to let Pumpkinhead cross a river on account of not having any money).
  • Miss Marple: Lettice Protheroe from The Murder at the Vicarage is vague about everything, and frequently confused about what time and even what day it is. Several characters express the opinion that it is a form of Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • In the Modesty Blaise novel The Night of Morningstar, Earl St. Maur's wife Victoria is an airhead from a noble family who is incapable of maintaining a train of thought on any subject that doesn't involve horse-riding or sex.
  • Mother Goose: Simple Simon was one, "simple" being a common term for "stupid" when the poem was written. After his meeting with the pieman, he tries to fish for a whale in a bucket of water and then tried to find plums on a thistle bush.
  • Ratburger has Sheila, who is so dumb she thinks a drawn-on mustache is real and it's not even well-drawn.
  • Louie from Rune Soldier Louie has a complete disregard for his own or anyone else's safety: "When it comes to the odds, I have done worse than 20 percent!"
  • In The Shattered Kingdoms, Kira pretends to be like this at the Norlander imperial court, being flighty, talkative, politically naïve, and superficial. Some people see through it, but as she notes, it's pretty difficult to prove she's smarter than she acts, so it's still a good barrier against people trying to get anything from her.
  • Volatilus, the sweet but not too bright little dispatch dragon from the Temeraire books. The little guy can't even pronounce the titular dragon's name — the best he can do is "Temrer".
    Temeraire: And where, pray, do you come from?
    Volly: I was hatched! From an egg!
  • Slayers:
    • Gourry Gabriev is nicknamed "jellyfish brain" because he lacks so much common knowledge about the world and is generally clueless in any circumstance.
    • Naga the Serpent, Lina's (self-proclaimed) greatest rival, gets into a lot of trouble with her lack of sense. In Naga's defense, Word of God implies she is mentally traumatized, so it's less that she's stupid and more that she's genuinely mentally unwell. Although it's probably fair to say she wasn't sensible, to begin with, given the strong hints she's related to Amelia and Prince Philionel, who are... definitely flaky.
  • Tawneee (yes, three 'e's), a minor character from Thud!, a pole dancer. A short, somewhat paraphrased, description: "It's as if the gods said, 'Sorry, kid, you're going to be thicker than a tub of lard, but it'll be okay — because you'll be very beautiful'." She thinks people come to see her because she's a good dancer and knows some "tricky steps".
  • Till We Have Faces: Redival is unable to focus on the Fox's classes and at times misunderstands his teachings. She ends up lacking the foresight to see her gossip and slander against her sister will do great harm to her family.
  • In Warrior Cats, Fuzz, the kittypet that Barley meets in Secrets of the Clans, is a cheerful ditz who is so literal-minded that he thinks Barley's name is "Erbarley", and upon being corrected, then thinks it's "Justbarley".
  • Who Wet My Pants: Reuben doesn't notice when he wets his pants and when it's pointed out to him, he thinks first that someone else did it and then that they sprang a leak.
  • Wolf Hall portrays Thomas Cromwell's son Gregory as a bit dim. While Cromwell is a highly savvy polyglot, Gregory is a poor scholar, guileless, and flighty; at one point Cromwell admits to a friend that neither Cambridge nor Gregory have anything for each other. Gregory does wise up as time passes and his father finds more effective mentors for him, but Cromwell actually likes that his son is so unlike himself even if it makes it difficult to relate — he might not be the brightest but he's a model gentleman. More importantly, having a genial ditz for a son is always leagues better than getting Granddad's drunken, abusive jerkassery repeated in the family tree...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Canada's Worst Driver has no shortage of the truly clueless. Andrew Younghusband often wonders how in tarnation they get their drivers licenses, and Season 4 was a toss-up between a ditz and a road rager.
  • El Chavo del ocho isn't short in ditzy characters, but the biggest one is Kiko, who is so deeply dumb, he rarely notices and often ends unconsciously agreeing which every insult given to his intelligence.
    Kiko: *mocking El Chavo* You're so dumb because you arrived late to the brains repartition.
    El Chavo: So? What 'bout you?
    Kiko: Ha! Like I ever went!
  • Danger Force: Bose is far from the brightest.
  • Dear White People: Kelsey, in some aspects. Following the blackface party, Kelsey successfully manages to get a therapy dog for herself because she told the counselor she would kill herself over the party. In addition, she was genuinely surprised that racism was still a thing that could happen. She actually does experience racism in the aftermath of the final episode where Sorbet is dognapped, with only a note reading, "Black girl, white dog, not on my watch" left behind, but is dismissed by virtually everyone in the room.
  • Desperate Housewives:
    • Susan Meyer started out as the Ditz, but it was largely limited to being a horrible cook and having a tendency to trip over things. This has since been Flanderized to the point where she occasionally just seems mentally disabled, such as her being so desperate to get the new neighbors to like her that she kidnapped their dog planning to heroically "find" it later.
    • Susan's mother Sophie is far ditzier than her daughter, especially when it comes to men, coming across as an aged Brainless Beauty. Susan's daughter Julie, on the other hand, is smart and mature. If this family trend continues Julie's daughter might be the next Marilyn vos Savant.
  • Doctor Who: In "Silence in the Library", Miss Evangelista is a very self-aware Brainless Beauty who is described as having mistaken an Escape Pod for the bathroom twice on the journey over, requiring the ship to turn back for her both times. Then, she falls for some obvious Schmuck Bait, wanders off by herself and is eaten by the Vashta Nerada. She no longer qualifies in "Forest of the Dead", as her Brain Uploading by the Library's computer had some corrupted data that vastly boosted her intelligence.
  • Eureka: Sheriff Jack Carter is by no means stupid, but being of average intelligence in a town of the country's brightest scientific minds often puts him into the ditz role by default since he doesn't understand their Mad Scientist projects.
  • Father Ted: Dougal (in the UK, a Channel4ID had him forgetting what channel he was promoting).
  • Friends:
    • Joey, especially in later seasons. His ditziness especially shines through in the subject of geography — at various points in the series he has thought that the Netherlands was where Peter Pan lives, described Chandler's "going to Yemen" ruse for getting rid of Janice as clever because "it almost sounds like a real place", and goes to the bank to try changing dollars into "Vermont money".
    • Phoebe is supposed to be street-smart but she frequently comes off as a flaky ditz and her quirkiness is played up to eleven.
      Phoebe: I got a call at two in the morning, but all I could hear was, like, this high squeaky sound, so I thought, okay it's, like, a mouse or a possum. But then I realized, like, okay, where would a mouse or a possum get the money to make the phone call?
    • Rachel starts out as almost painfully clueless concerning any real-life skills (she moves in with Monica without asking and says she's gonna "get one of those 'job' things"). Thanks to Character Development she becomes a lot more sensible and capable.
    • Rachel's sister Amy, who notably thinks Phoebe's name is Emma. When Phoebe keeps trying to correct her, she doesn't at all get the hint and instead thinks she's making a "funny noise."
  • Glee:
    • Brittany (pictured at top) is one of these, with a little Dumb Blonde thrown in for good measure. Recipes are confusing and a ballad is a male duck.
    • Finn is not the brightest bulb, either (his default expression is an open-mouthed blank stare).
  • The Goes Wrong Show: Dennis is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He frequently gets his lines mixed up, assumes the stage directions are part of the dialogue, or is too Literal-Minded (which has resulted in a few cases of Who's on First?). In many shows, he's cast as objects or animals to prevent him from messing up, but not even that can stop him from getting something wrong.
  • The Good Place: Jason, whose death was the result of locking himself in a safe and suffocating inside while trying to rob a restaurant. He's also easily distracted by shiny things, namely sparklers.
    • Patty, AKA Hypatia of Alexandria, from the titular episode is portrayed as this. She was a brilliant philosopher and mathmetician when alive, but spending the past 1,600 years without any kind of intellectual stimulation has rotted her brain to the point that she doesn't even know the meaning of the word "philosopher". The other residents of the true Good Place are portrayed the same way.
  • Hee Haw:
    • Junior Samples was almost painfully dumb at times.
    • Irlene Mandrell was this, combined with a "dumb blonde" persona in many of her comic roles during the later years of the show. (Belying the fact she was a very talented musician, just like older sisters Barbara and Louise.)
  • Hip Hop Harry: That token black kid, affectionately nicknamed "Stupid Scott" by Joel McHale of The Soup. Despite being roughly around the age of 12, he expresses the cognitive skills of a 6-year-old and has to have explained to him (by the smarter Asian girl) things like how to fill up a bathtub or why its not a good idea to feed ice cream and hot dogs to a pet gerbil. The program goes out of its way to make viewer wonder how on earth he manages to cross streets on the way home.
  • The InBESTigators: Ava's best friend Pixie, who thinks the solar system has a planet called Sagittarius, and can hold an entire conversation about her hair without noticing the other person has left.
  • The Inbetweeners: Neil. It sort of works to his advantage because it stops him from realizing just how wrong everything keeps going for him. Amongst other things, he thinks Swansea is a species of animal, and that women give birth through their anus.
  • On The Joe Schmo Show, a parody of reality shows in which every character except the chosen schmoes were actors playing according to a script, all of the characters were written as archetypes such as "The Rich Bitch" and "The Asshole." In the second season, Cammy's archetype was that of "The Moron." She played the role to a tee. This particular season was a parody of reality-romance shows and in her Establishing Character Moment she gave the suitor character, Austin, her cell-phone as a gift saying that now he could call her at any time.
    Ingrid: (interview segment, Beat) ...But she just gave him her phone...?
  • Kel from Kenan & Kel. In one instance, he thought a headless mannequin was speaking to him.
    Kel: How are you talking with no head?
  • Kaamelott: Perceval is stupid in a manchild and Book Dumb way, though he does have his Genius Ditz moments.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The Orcs in the show are more feral and dangerously primitive Orcs than those of the Third Age.
  • Married... with Children: Kelly Bundy was eventually Flanderized into a brainless trollop who hadn't enough mental capacity to remember her homework and the members of her own family at the same time.
  • Modern Family: Luke is always tripping, jumping on the trampoline while on a pogo stick, getting his head stuck in the staircase railing... He inherited it from his Bumbling Dad Phil and shares it with his sister Haley.
  • Night Court: Bull Shannon. Bull is firmly in Genius Ditz territory, as he frequently is thinking about things on an entirely different level than the rest of the characters. In one episode in which the characters took an IQ test, Bull outscored the rest of the main cast significantly.
  • Odd Squad:
    • Octavia from Season 1. She is a Dumb Blonde who can be very airheaded, and often tends to muddle things such as commands and when to feed the dinosaurs.
    • Omar from Season 3, although he can border on Genius Ditz at times. One prominent example of his ditziness is in "Running on Empty", which had him prioritize playing Two Truths and a Lie with Oswald over catching a blob that's loose in the van.
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • Dumb Jock Stretch Snodgrass and his brother Bones. The Snodgrass brothers are incredibly dense and are often very Literal-Minded. In "Madison Mascot" Stretch Snodgrass tears off a piece of a note Mr. Conklin wrote, asking Miss Brooks to buy an elephant bookend. Stretch gives the incomplete note to Miss Brooks, telling her Mr. Conklin wants an elephant as a mascot for the school.
    • In "The Yodar Kritch Award" (based on an earlier radio episode featuring Stretch)), Bones Snodgrass wins the trophy for "unique achievement" in English, after, uniquely, having failed to give a single correct answer.
    • Then there's ""Suzie Prentiss" in the episode of the same name (a remake of "Stretch is in Love"). She managed to get a minus two on her test, after having not only not answered a single question right but also managed to spell her name wrong.
  • Parks and Recreation: Andy Dwyer.
    Andy: Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the thing up here and it says you could have network connectivity problems.
  • Peep Show: Jeremy (aka Jez). ("Potatoes aren't veg, are they? I mean they kind of are... but not really. I mean tomatoes are fruit but potatoes are like... bread?")
  • Pretty Little Liars: Oh, Hanna. This line sums it all up:
    “Jenna can’t hear us — she’s blind.”
  • ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.?: Sharon, Carmen's Anglo friend, hangs often at the Peña home, where they speak English and Spanish. The culture and language barriers make her come across as ditzy, as well as her attempts at Spanish. Even when language is not an issue, her tendency to blurt the first thing on her mind does not help.
  • Reba: Barbra Jean (who's also a Dumb Blonde), to the point where most of the characters (usually Reba) make fun of her intelligence (or lack thereof).
  • Screenwipe: Barry Shitpeas and Philomena Cunk, two brainless characters who pastiche the kind of Talking Heads found on I Love the Exties shows. They spend all their time misidentifying shows they're watching, assuming they can even identify the actors (they are under the impression that Professor Brian Cox is Jason Orange), and delivering rambling, brainless commentary that sometimes is unexpectedly profound but is mostly just Insane Troll Logic. Later, Philomena starts making TV documentaries about subjects like "Time" and "Crime" — in the latter show she said that if 1 in 20 people in Britain are victims of crime, that means 19 in 20 are criminals, and asks a legal expert questions like "if a policeman broke the law, could he arrest himself?".
    Philomena: Next time on "Moments of Wonder", I'll be asking why there's more water in a tap than you'd expect.
  • Stath Lets Flats: Sophie demonstrates an alarming lack of common sense — for example, she thinks “bubbly” is a slang term for chocolate and mistook a building for a hospital “because [it was] big” — and writes and performs songs with nonsensical lyrics: “So raise a glass of beer / And set fire to the beer / But make sure it’s safe / Keep all the women safe”.
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: London Tipton is often referred to as the "airhead heiress" who, depending on the episode, may not know what a book 'is'' let alone how to read it, or be capable of doing anything for herself.
  • That's So Raven: Chelsea is so often clueless and slow-witted that when she demonstrates knowledge about something, both of her friends are shocked. Yes, not even the psychic can see those moments coming.
  • Titus had Titus' younger brother Dave, who was also The Stoner, but is best summed up by this exchange.
    Titus: Dad, you're not in love with her; it's the heart attack rebound thing. It's the angina talking!
    Dave: (Overjoyed) It talks?!
  • The Windsors: Prince Harry, who's generally goodhearted save his propensity for dressing up like a Nazi, but is so stupid he can't even read or write. He lacks all knowledge about the British government and even the history of his own family, and is mainly concerned with getting shitfaced at every opportunity.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Max. The only person who could write "One Syllable" as the answer in a game of charades.

    Music 
  • Devo's character Booji Boy (portrayed by their singer Mark Mothersbaugh, in a rubber mask). He is supposed to represent someone who has devolved into a manchild, as per the band's theory of devolution.
  • 'Cause I'm a Blonde by Julie Brown. "Because I'm blonde, I don't have to think, I talk like a baby, and never pay for drinks..."
  • 2D of Gorillaz. The man introduced himself in an interview with "Hi, my name is 2D, and I'm the singer, and I need the toilet..." Then in Rise of the Ogre he was quoted as saying:
    "I never really thought about what I wanted to do after school, though... I've never really thought about anything, as far as I can remember."
    • He is also implied to have some Hidden Depths, as he is still capable of composing stunning music and saying some surprisingly philosophical things once in a blue moon. 2D may be more of a Genius Ditz or Brilliant, but Lazy when he's not thick with painkillers.
  • Bassist Tomomi Ogawa of the Japanese band SCANDAL. The band once successfully tricked her into thinking she was made to pay for the pyrotechnics at their first Budoukan concert, complete with a fake cheque. Even after the prank was revealed she still looked like she was in a state of complete shock and confusion for another 3 minutes.

    Podcasts 
  • Tellie from Sequinox is not very bright, which is unfortunate because it's supposed to be the girls' mentor. It can vaguely remember some things, but most of the time when they ask it questions about Gaea, their powers, or the Stars, Tellie just shrugs and says "I don't know". And then probably eats a dinner plate.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Puppet Shows 
  • Between the Lions:
    • Scot and Dot, who never think to get out of the way when danger approaches, forcing Chicken Jane to take the punishment for them.
    • Walter and Clay Pigeon, who cannot finish a thought without the help of the other.
    • The Lone Rearranger, who usually needs his partner to point out when it's time to do his job.
    • Captain Ahab and Captain Starbuck of the Moby Duck segments, who are unaware that the fabled duck is right behind them.
    • Dr. Nitwhite, the aptly named professor of vocabulary who is constantly making "discoveries" of the English language that his assistant Watson inexplicably points out are already common knowledge.
    • And most of all, Cliff Hanger.
  • The puppet for George W. Bush in the French satirical show Les Guignols de l'Info is regularly portrayed as brainless.
  • Bruno from Bullzeye was an extreme example. When his wife Uschi had her head in bandages (after he injured her without noticing), he thought she was one "Herr Sultan". Sequel Series Eye TV makes him intelligent enough to be a TV salesman, but not a very good one.

    Radio 
  • The Jack Benny Program: Dennis Day portrayed himself this way. Apparently, he didn't even realise he was supposed to cash the paychecks Jack gave him each week.

    Video Games 
  • Janet Van Dyne in Avengers Academy has shades of this. While most characters have a study mission at the Timeless Archives, Jan has "Try to Study", which involves her sleeping on top of the desk. She gets better as she levels up, however, as she begins studying fashion and later entomology.
  • BlazBlue: Taokaka often forgets things that are told to her just seconds after the fact.
  • Dooley, the protagonist's sidekick in The Darkside Detective. When he was a boy he wanted to be an astronaut until he realized astronauts have to go into space. As a man, his ability to put a coherent thought together hasn't improved much. At one point, he comments that he's never understood the point of fire alarms since surely alarming a fire would only make it more dangerous. Half the time, he seems only vaguely aware that he's a police officer, and even when he can remember that he doesn't seem to notice anything weird about the supernatural situations he and his boss deal with.
  • In Don't Wet Your Pants, when you ask your character to do something that's not part of the game, he will reply "I don't know how to X". This makes him seem pretty ditzy when you ask him to do things like "walk" or "blink". He's also able to take off his pants but not put them back on.
  • Dragon Age II. Merrill is not incapable but she tends to miss things in conversations and dig herself into holes while speaking. A good compilation is here.
  • Nanashi in Duel Savior Destiny is a complete airhead with a faulty memory and a rather bubbly disposition in contrast to the whole 'so undead my limbs are falling off' thing.
  • Galaxy Angel: Milfeulle Sakuraba, while not technically stupid, is very slow on the uptake and often needs to be explained things. The anime however ramps it up, sometimes even to Lethally Stupid levels.
  • The Game of the Ages brings us the Village Idiot of Stupidity. Guess what his defining attribute is?
  • In Holy Umbrella, the Emperor Dondera displays a surprising degree of goofy ineptitude despite ostensibly being a Big Bad bent on world domination. At one point, he runs scared of being robbed by Donderamaid before the heroes point out that Donderamaid is his own minion.
  • Yellow Heart from Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, for all her enthusiasm and good intentions, has simplistic speech patterns, extremely limited literacy, and is generally about as sharp as a spherical brick. She makes up for it by being horrifyingly strong even by the standards of a Physical God.
  • I Miss the Sunrise:
  • In I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, academia is not one of Tammy's strong points. She tries, but she's so bad at it that helping her study actually decreases the MC's Reasoning stat. And while she already knows that babies grow in their mothers' bellies, she was so embarrassed to watch the sex ed holovids, she doesn't know how they're made in the first place.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Surprisingly, NOT Goofy. Despite him easily qualifying for this in the comics and TV-shorts/shows, he's pretty smart in KH, except for occasionally confusing similar words.
    • Alice shows some real Dumb Blonde qualities in the first game, particularly when, while waiting to be rescued from her beheading sentence, she says "I would like to keep my head. Why, if my head and body were to be separated, none of the food I eat would be able to reach my stomach!"
  • In Miitopia, two of the personality types showcase this sort of behaviour. First are Airheaded Miis, which are more blatantly this trope, with their abilities being picking the wrong target for an attack (which does bonus damage, but still), playing with the monsters you're supposed to be fighting, or even falling asleep mid-battle. Energetic Miis are less so, but one of their actions falls into this trope, with them tripping over as they attack a target, dealing extra damage at the cost of taking a bit of damage themselves.
  • In Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, there's Nokia Akkino. For starters, she's not even a hacker and has issues trying to understand anything more complicated than just logging into EDEN. She is The Narcissist, often commenting that she's got a "hot bod" as an important quality (it works for the most part, because most guys do fall for her especially when she starts the Rebels) but only pulls ahead in life because Heart Is an Awesome Power, though this can fall in Born Lucky territory. She is also hopeless in trying to remember names or makes some up on the spot, much to the embarrassment of people around her. Even Fei notes she's capable of sucking the tension out of serious situations by causing mass Flat "What".
  • Nippon Ichi Video Games: Examples include Flonne and Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth! in Disgaea, Trenia in Makai Kingdom, Taro in Disgaea 2, and Danette and Levin in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. Most of them are used as a foil for the resident Deadpan Snarker.
    • Danette and Levin may suffer from an unfortunate Racial Hat, but Levin acknowledges Danette as the Ditz, and Danette acknowledges herself as the ditz! Though thankfully, Levin turns out to be a lot smarter than he lets on, so you don't have to suffer his supposed "idiocy" forever.

      Danette gets a little better as well, after the seal of her memories (and seemingly other brain functions) is broken.
  • One of the female cheerleaders in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, Aoi Kanda (the pink haired Meganekko), is completely clumsy when it comes to anything outside cheerleading, whether it's failure to make a meal for sale, failure making a pottery, dropping foods on floor (or not chewing it properly), spacing out on class, and the list goes on, see the bottom of the page. And those are only examples from the first game.
  • A few Pokémon are described as being this:
    • Slowpoke and Slowbro are mainly characterized by their ditziness as it takes five seconds for them to register pain.
    • Rhyhorn are so dim that they'll charge at something, forgets why it's charging in the first place and then only remember when it hits something. It becomes a little smarter when it evolves into Rhydon.
    • Cranidos and Rampardos have skulls that are so thick that it prevents their brains from growing.
    • Pidove are so forgetful that they may await a command even when they already have one. In Detective Pikachu, they apparently can't remember names that were given to them.
    • Quagsire's Pearl Pokédex entry describes it as being rather dimwitted.
    • Cramorant are dim-witted bird Pokémon that often forget what they're fighting in the middle of battle.
  • Portal 2 has Wheatley, an awkward, lovable little Idiot Ball, who guides Chell around Aperture and helps her stay under GLaDOS's radar, all the while being laughably bad at it. That is, up until the end of Chapter 5, "The Escape", where he takes over GLaDOS's body, becomes Drunk with Power and throws both GLaDOS and Chell down an elevator shaft. He becomes the new Big Bad, forcing Chell to team up with GLaDOS in an attempt to stop him before he causes a reactor core meltdown with his complete incompetence.
    • Justified in Chapter 5, when GLaDOS reveals that Wheatley's real name is The Intelligence Dampening Sphere, and his purpose is to (in her words) "cling to [GLaDOS's] brain like a tumor, generating an endless stream of terrible ideas." This was done in an attempt to slow her down. To rephrase that, Wheatley was created for the sole purpose of being an idiot. As she reveals this, she unfortunately also gives Wheatley's Berserk Button a good, hard whack.
      GLaDOS: You're not just a regular moron... You were designed to be a moron!
      Wheatley: I! AM NOT! A MORON! [slams GLaDOS against the elevator so hard the glass cracks]
  • Lucia in Shadow Hearts: Covenant is described by her own teacher Carla as "slow".
  • Star Ocean: The Last Hope Sarrie from Just how bad is it? She wakes up on a sacrificial alter, in a room with greenish light... and simply says "Good Morning!" She then remembers that "guests" came in through her window, and she was going to serve them tea...
  • Suikoden: Viki is actually implied to be pretty smart, but suffering from a severe case of time-displacement-induced confusion. Her younger self, who has done less time-hopping, is very smart, observant and has a knack for pointing out other people's idiocy — including her own future self's.
  • Zigzagged for the gran in Survivor: Fire: She doesn't come out of the kitchen when it's on fire, but then she seems pretty competent.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Both Lloyd and Colette qualify quite well for the title of The Ditz. A great example is a skit conversation between the two and Regal when Colette asks how Lloyd memorized every single Dwarven Vow (of which there are at least 108).
    Lloyd: Since I was a child, I memorized one before each meal and was tested on it. And if I couldn't say it, I didn't get to eat.
    Colette: Oh, I see... There must have been Dwarven Vow memory ingredients in the food.
    Lloyd: Huh? R...really?
    Colette: I wonder if I can memorize all the Dwarven Vows if I eat Dirk's cooking.
    Regal: No, Colette, that's not it. Lloyd's desire for food temporarily strengthened his memory.
    Colette: Oh... so Dirk's food has powers like an Exsphere to increase people's abilities.
    Lloyd: I see!
    Regal: ...why does the topic of conversation go out the window when talking to Colette?
    • Taken to further extremes in Dawn of the New World:
      Tenebrae: Am I really that much of a stick in the mud?
      Emil: I can't believe he's still thinking about that.
      Colette: I honestly don't see any mud on you. But what's wrong with getting mud on you anyway? Everyone gets a little dirty now and again.
      Marta: I don't think he meant that sort of mud.
      Colette: Well then, what sort of mud did he mean?
      Emil: No, listen. There was never any mud, to begin with.
      Colette: Oh! So was it more of a muck? Or maybe a slime?
      Tenebrae: So now I'm slimy?
      Colette: I have to say, I prefer mud to slime myself. It's easier to clean.
      Tenebrae: Well, it would depend on where the slime came from.
      Emil: Yeah, but think about your fur. Slime would stick to it, while mud would just wash off, no problem.
      Marta: Someone, anyone, please make it stop!
  • Cirno in Touhou Project. In particular, the manual for Phantasmagoria of Flower View has a screenshot with numbers pointing out items of note (i.e. "1. Player Character", "2. Score", etc.); Cirno was labelled "9. Baka".
    • Rumia is known for constantly blinding herself with her own darkness powers and knocking into trees while flying.
    • While not typically known for it, Youmu Konpaku has her moments of this, such as this gem from Imperishable Night:
      Youmu: Oh no, Lady Yuyuko! It's completely dark when I close my eyes!

    Visual Novels 
  • Several characters in the Ace Attorney series.
    • The most prominent is probably Maya Fey. Her ditzy commentary during investigations is part of her endearing charm.
    • Larry Butz may not appear as often as Maya, but he's the biggest ditz of the series; while there are many other airheaded characters, no one commits to the role with the professionalism that he does. He serves largely as a foil to make the sensible characters seem sharper, but he has a knack for providing the occasional piece of absolutely critical evidence.
  • Helion in Aselia the Eternal - The Spirit of Eternity Sword got a two-part OVA and is rather scatterbrained most of the time. She's probably not actually stupid but tends to act without thinking.
  • Henry from Double Homework makes every other ditz seem like Einstein with the inanities that come out of his mouth nearly every second.
  • Michiru in The Fruit of Grisaia comes off as largely brainless at times. She's exaggerating her natural ditziness a little so she stands out more, but that's only a result of being stressed from not standing out due to not being very smart or pretty, to begin with.
  • Monster Prom: Scott the werewolf football player is a total ditz, but he's loveable in how enthusiastic he is about everything and even resident Alpha Bitch Vera likes him.
  • Arcueid, she of Tsukihime and Melty Blood fame, comes off quite ditzy, being a centuries-old vampire princess not used to the societal norms of the human world.
  • Yumina, the titular character from Yumina the Ethereal, who completely lacks any common sense and has trouble understanding even non-complex concepts.

    Web Animation 
  • Wayne the Ogre in 442oons.
    "I'm Not Stupid! <whispers> What's an og-reh?"
    —— Wayne The Ogre
  • The Pink and Blue unicorns from the Charlie the Unicorn YouTube videos appear to be this at first, but seeing as they tricked him into donating his kidney — without consent — in the first movie, and ended up robbing him in the second, they're something else entirely.
  • Dreamscape: Boru is an absolute moron that really frustrates Seleenara with how specific she has to be with her orders to get them through her thick head.
  • Nar in GEOWeasel, doing such things as going out in a severe storm that knocked out power to get batteries for a video game, and Thinking Out Loud about a surprise party for the person standing right in front of him.
  • Many, many innocent bystanders in GoAnimate. Many videos depict the troublemaker planting an obvious trap in the ground with the people falling into the trap, unaware that they were just trapped. Idiots!
  • Several characters on the Homestar Runner site. Homestar himself is the most noticeably ditzy, but there's more than one Idiot Ball being passed around among the cast, including Strong Mad and Homsar.
    • Though at least game shows Homsar as being completely intelligent, it's just that he's speaking another language. It's also been shown that he is completely coherent and intelligent on the phone, and is, in fact, both aware of, and quite distressed by, the fact that he can only speak random nonsense in all other situations.
  • Plancy's World: The main character, Plancy, is this. The series is made as a Take That! toward Dora the Explorer, so Plancy is made to be like Dora, but dumber.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Caboose is a team killer because he keeps accidentally killing Church, who he also thinks is his best friend. He's recognized as the dumbest creature in the universe. He gradually becomes disconnected from reality (at one point, he loads his gun with crayons and forgets how to spell his name).
    • Donut has a strange view of the setting at times.
    • Sister could also count when she arrives. Both of them share two traits — speaking terrible Spanish, and both of them talk way too damn much.
  • All of the characters in the video podcast Tiki Bar TV drift in and out of this. This is largely because the dialog is improvised while the actors are drunk, leading to some bizarre exchanges that drift back and forth between The Fool and Cloudcuckoolander, and generally end up falling around The Ditz.
    Dr. Tiki: I'm a PhD MD USB for a reason!
  • Ultra Fast Pony:
    • Rainbow Dash is belligerently dim and illogical. Once, during a motivational speech, she forgot what the opposite of "good" was. In another episode, she mistook a road sign for a clock — and thought she could time travel by changing the "clock".
    • Sweetie Belle seems to have fried her brain with Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll. She once forgot Twilight Sparkle's name, twice, in a conversation lasting less than a minute. She doesn't know what cutie marks are — even though they're a central concept of Equestrian society, and even though she joined a club specifically about cutie marks.

    Webcomics 
  • The Bird Feeder has Terry, who forms a mockingbird duo with his counterpart, Jim. Strips with them in it usually consist of Terry speaking for a long stretch about a dumb thing he's been thinking about, and finally, Jim taking the opportunity to tell him how dumb he is.
  • In the Cross Time Cafe, Ky is a ditz combined with 100% Eldritch Abomination. But don't call her a ditz... or you will see her true self... a 60-foot tall burning-mad demon!
  • T-Rex in Dinosaur Comics worries about being racist against taxi drivers, and makes good-natured attempts to use every school of philosophical thought in recorded history to justify the things he does every day (mainly stomping on people and things).
  • In El Goonish Shive, Elliot's "party girl" alter ego form make him behave this way. While under its influence Elliot unwisely seeks out Carol the reporter and starts talking to her on camera at a time when Elliot in his right mind would logically seek not to draw attention to himself or his proximity to where Cheerleadra was just seen. In the process he nearly reveals he is Cheerleadra and kisses Carol on the cheek an act he shortly regrets since Carol is Sarah's sister.
  • The Little Trashmaid: Tidy isn't the brightest bulb thrown into the ocean. Her reaction to being given a bag with a shirt in it was to wear the bag like a shirt, and use the shirt as a bag.
  • A Magical Roommate:
    • Duchess Letita is very ditzy, although whether it's due to her stupidity or just her strange viewpoint is fluid.
    • Her younger daughter is a clearer example, though it's implied that she's only ditzy because she thinks she's entitled to everything and chooses not to use her brain.
  • Not that most Mountain Time characters are smart, but Dawn literally can't tell up from down.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Elan thinks only in terms of narrative tropes which leads to him being Wrong Genre Savvy even in a world where genre savviness is useful. He once thought that singing a song could make someone stealthier. He matures over the course of the comics, becoming a Genius Ditz, but the Ditz is still there.
    • Crystal, the goth assassin, is too stupid to live in a place like Greysky city without someone smarter than her telling her what to do. When she fought Haley, she attacked her with pickles. Her reasoning was thus: Haley never ate pickles, but pickles are yummy, so the reason she didn't eat them must be that they're deadly to her.
  • Ménage à 3 isn't above exploiting the ditz joke:
    • Sonya is largely defined by her comedy stupidity. There are occasional moments which suggest that she has some kind of brain which she just never bothers to use, but that's unproven at best.
    • DiDi, it is increasingly clear, is fundamentally disconnected from normal reality.
    • Maura definitely lacks smarts and is prone to silly accidents such as knocking her date out.
  • Dustin from Spacetrawler is so consistently stupid that the other characters just start doing the opposite of whatever he advises.
    Pierrot: Dusty thinks it's a bad idea, it must be sensible.
  • Sticky Dilly Buns inherits a penchant for ditz characters from its parent comic, Ménage à 3:
    • Title character Dillon is easily fooled by fairly Blatant Lies, especially in matters of romance.
    • Andy is completely incapable of picking up social cues or noticing when he's being exploited, and takes the dumbest advice from whoever offers it, to the point of hero-worshipping the very camp gay Dillon as an oracular source of heterosexual dating advice. Quite what he's doing as a prospective boyfriend for the book-smart, nerdy Ruby is unclear. He is cute, admittedly.

    Web Original 
  • Taipu from the BIONICLE online games and shorts. He at one point mentions that a lot of rocks have fallen on his head, which might have something to do with it. Also a Dumb Muscle, at least among the Matoran.
  • Goku, from Dragon Ball Z Abridged, is this crossed with Idiot Hero. He is never focused on whatever he's doing, he thinks about food all the time, and he stopped fighting because he was getting bored.
  • Dream High School's Student Council President, Corliss. One of her highlights is not realizing you're joking when you tell her your name is "Grok, Destroyer of Worlds":
    Corliss: Oh my gosh, I'm soo sorry! Is that a foreign name?
    • And no matter how much you insist that's not your name she doesn't understand and even gives you a nickname ...joy.
    • Then she introduces you to some other students as Grok, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Zack in the TV Tropes original webseries Echo Chamber.
    Tom: Kenneth Branagh did it first.
    Zack: The Blue's Clues guy? Wait, I forget. Was he the blue one, or was he the dog?
  • Hugo, one of Matt Santoro's clones. He uses made-up words, mistakes paint chips for the kind of chips meant for eating, and thinks it's a good idea to get numerous immunization shots at once.
  • Tara from Sex House is a parody of this archetype as frequently found in Reality TV. She, along with the rest of the cast, becomes increasingly more intelligent as the series delves further into the horror genre.
  • Ryan ToysReview
    • Combo Panda, despite being a skilled gamer, can be quite dim-witted. For example, he thinks his backyard is one of the Earth's continents, and in the science fair, he used the same science experiment two years in a row, because he thinks "Pepsi is different from coke" when the former is a brand of cola.
    • Gus the Gator, even though he lacks naïvety and can be quite intelligent, can be clumsy and oblivious at times.
    • Big Gil the Shark is the most clueless main character, and he often fails at quizzes.
  • February from Starship. She takes the fact that she removed her helmet before she was supposed to on an unfamiliar planet as a sign that she's "super ahead of schedule". Bug and Junior have their moments, too.
  • Tiffany Thongbiscuit. When she heard from The Vogue (Pronounced "the vagooey") that Mad Men was fashionable. She went to school dressed as a literal mad man.
  • At the Super Hero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, one example is the minor character Bubble. Someone comments to herself, "She has a bubble all right. Between her ears." Another good example is the egocentric, villainous Solange, who isn't smart enough to be an effective villain. She uses her powers to absorb an ethereal protagonist and steal said character's powers; she gets run through the Humiliation Conga for her efforts.

    Western Animation 
  • Big Dog and Little Dog from 2 Stupid Dogs, especially the latter. The entire point of the show is that they're idiots. In fact, Little Dog apparently doesn't even know his own name.
  • Cinnamon Bun from Adventure Time is literally half-baked. As a result, he's klutzy and not particularly intelligent. However, "The Red Throne" has Cinnamon Bun become fully baked, amping up his intelligence.
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Scratch and Grounder (especially the latter) are a pair of particularly dimwitted badniks and Western Animation’s equivalent to the Team Rocket trio. They’re the primary reason Dr. Robotnik can never actually catch Sonic.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Richard Watterson is a Bumbling Dad with nothing in the way of common sense or maturity. There is a reason for it: his mother was so safety-obsessed that he was never able to think for himself, and now he can hardly think at all (as Nicole put it).
    • Gumball Watterson and Darwin qualified back in Season 1. It took them an entire episode to recognize an obvious robber as a bad guy. In Season 2, they became somewhat smarter.
    • Out of Gumball's classmates, Sussie is the dimmest bulb. She can't tell when someone is bullying her and has a tendency to make weird noises. That being said, she has Hidden Depths as her answer to Gumball and Darwin's question in "The Question" is by far the most profound.
  • The Beatles: Ringo Starr was portrayed as a complete bumbling idiot.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: Beavis and Butt-Head are defined by their sheer stupidity. They have no common sense; they can only barely read; they can't pick up on the obvious even as it happens in front of them; and they can't recognize the inherent danger in things like jumping out of a moving vehicle or touching a buzzsaw. Butt-Head is marginally the more intelligent of the two, with the keyword being marginally.
  • Bob's Burgers: Several of the Belchers aren't particularly bright:
    • Linda Belcher is not exactly bright. She's been shown to be gullible, impulsive, and childish on multiple occasions.
    • It's been shown that, unless it involves horses, Tina Belcher's not very bright. Examples: not realizing two people she thought were two kids who liked each other were siblings even after they called the same woman "Mom"; didn't realize Bob was lying to a panicking Gayle over the phone that Linda wasn't missing until he gave up trying to explain to her he lied; and genuinely believing, until Louise made fun of another girl who thought the same, that elbow macaroni was made from actual elbows. However, she does show quite a cunning side to her personality when motivated, such as getting the family out of debt in "Tina-Rannosaurus Wrecks" by recording the insurance scammer's confession, expertly plays Louise in "Ambergris", hatches a successful plan to catch the mole in "Tina Tailor Soldier Spy" and in general shows quite a lot of insight into people's personalities.
    • Gene is far and away the dumbest member of the Belcher family. He can't even remember the name of his father's establishment (and was seriously certain it was Dad's Burgers).
  • Bonkers: The titular character but it could be explained away by his being a Toon; he's super emotional, gets all huggy (and kissy) when he's happy and seems a bit naive when it comes to human matters (especially in the Miranda episodes). On the other hand, he's very knowledgeable about his own kind and knows just what sort of Toon stunt or prop can save the day.
  • Brickleberry:
    • Steve Williams. Being the stupidest of the main cast, he has frequently endangered the safety of himself and others. Not to mention that he cannot count past 92 nor tell fiction from reality.
    • BoDean is an even bigger example, given that he eats raw bacon, jacks off while putting guns in his mouth, and sticks pencils and pens in his eye as soon as he signed up for Bobby's health care plan.
  • Camp Lazlo: Chip and Skip. Two morons for the price of one.
  • Carl²: C2. He is only a few months old, and part dog, so some of it is excusable.
  • CatDog: Dog displays an astonishing lack of common sense, and his stupidity and recklessness often endangers Cat. He’s pretty well-meaning, though. Most of the time...
    • Lube, one of the Greasers, also being a dog, is just as dumb as Dog.
  • Madison from Class of 3000. She tried to sell fleas at a flea market and a garage at a garage sale, and tends to be very oblivious to her general surroundings.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • Numbuh Three goes between this and Genius Ditz frequently, often appearing oblivious to her surroundings while in danger, although, in the Grand Finale, it's implied that she was Obfuscating Stupidity to stave away depression.
    • Numbuh Four is Book Dumb to the point of almost being illiterate, and often too thick-headed to see the obvious, but again, the finale shows he grows out of it, gaining a medical degree from Harvard as an adult.
  • Daria:
    • Brittany and Kevin. Of the pair, Brittany tended to be the smarter one (which isn't saying much, though at least she managed to not be held back and graduate from Lawndale High).
    • Tiffany, the Asian Airhead of the Fashion Club.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dee Dee, trope namer for "What Does This Button Do?".
  • Drawn Together:
    • Captain Hero, despite being an alien superhero with powers such as super strength, flight, and laser vision, is shown to be a very dumb superhero. He once thought that an AIDS charity walk was a race and that his immigrant neighbors from Greece were a college fraternity. Foxxy and Xandir often berate Captain Hero for his stupidity and poor decision making
    • Princess Clara, despite being religious is also a ditz. She once thought that women could get pregnant from a kiss and that she was pregnant after Foxxy kissed her in the pilot episode. She also claimed that a creature called the woodbeast was mentioned in the bible even though there is no actual mention of one.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • Cosmo has no idea what he's doing with that magic wand, or anything else really. If he weren't immortal, he'd be so dead.
    • Timmy's Dad is probably even dumber than Cosmo, but he's occasionally shown to be good at mechanics and a number of his creations actually work. For that matter, Timmy's Mom isn't anything to write home about in the intelligence department either.
  • Family Guy:
    • Peter Griffin is a complete idiot most of the time (and a jerk). In one episode, he finds out that he's mentally handicapped.
    • Chris Griffin has an intelligence somewhere between that of a signpost and a bag of moldy French fries. One episode reveals it to be because of his unhealthy addiction to masturbating; when he stops completely, he's a great student.
    • Jillian, Brian's ex-girlfriend. She makes Peter look like a genius. Though she does wise up to Brian thinking she's an idiot and dumps him. She may not be all that bright, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have feelings.
      • Jillian’s group of friends are just as dumb (if not dumber) than her.
    • Cleveland Took a Level in Dumbass when he got his own show (mostly to match Seth MacFarlane's other sitcom fathers), though still not to Peter's extent.
  • Cheese from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, who seemingly has the intelligence of a two-year-old; he’s scared of cake, loves chocolate milk in spite of being lactose intolerant, and repeats the same words over again.
  • Futurama:
    • Amy Wong from is a black-haired Ditz — she fails at haggling, confusing it with bidding at auctions, and flirts with all men. Bordering on Genius Ditz, since she's also an engineering student (though in one DVD commentary, the writers admitted that they'd completely forgotten that). Only after the return of the show post-cancellation, she begins to be portrayed more as a Ditzy Genius.
    • Fry. Partly because he's a Fish out of Temporal Water and partly because of that whole Delta Brainwave thing. In either case, he always seems to be a little slow on the draw.
    • All three of Mom’s sons are pretty stupid, but Igner takes the cake. He's also a very naive Manchild. The sheer irony is that Professor Farnsworth, unquestionably one of the smartest characters on the show, is his father.
    • Enos, Fry’s grandfather (at least until a series of events led Fry to become his own grandfather), wasn’t very bright. He eats computer chips out of Bender’s head, licks his fingers after handling raw chicken, and considers himself lucky to be “saved” after being pushed into a pile of rusty bayonets. This trope is a given, being an Expy of Gomer Pyle.
  • Disney character Goofy is a classic example.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Billy once scored -5 on an IQ test (for comparison, they gave the same IQ test to a shovel and two candy necklaces, and they SOMEHOW scored 22 points higher than Billy did). Amazingly the show was somehow able to come up with a character even less intelligent than him: Fred Fredburger.
  • Hip-Hip and Hurra. It goes so far that you could argue that each of the characters represents a different type of stupidity. Heck, some episodes in the second season almost feel like a race between the characters, to see which one is the biggest idiot of them all.
  • Inspector Gadget: The inspector bungles through each case until his niece and dog solve it. Sometimes, he doesn't even know there is a case despite being in the middle of it.
  • Invader Zim: Gir is amazingly ditzy. He often heads into Cloudcuckoolander territory, depending on the local humidity and/or piggy count.
  • Johnny Bravo, especially in Seasons 2 and 3, where a lot of the humor was based around his stupidity, sometimes to the point of making him Too Dumb to Live.
  • KaBlam!: June used to be one of Nickelodeon's biggest ditzes until her change into the Deadpan Snarker starting in Season 2.
  • Kaeloo: Stumpy, to the point of being Too Dumb to Live at times. There was one episode in Season 2 which proved that he is literally the "most moronic of morons". However, there are implications that he may have a mental disability, with Mr. Cat even going as far as to call him the show's "token disabled person" because of this.
  • Kappa Mikey: Gonard at one point forgets where his hat is. It's on his head. Also, he takes part in the auditions for a new cast member for Show Within a Show "Lily Mu", despite already being a cast member. All this is in the pilot episode. "Cheerful buffoon" is putting it mildly.
    Gonard: Dude! Check out my laced gloves! Hey, where'd my shoes go?
  • Luanne Platter, from King of the Hill is rather airheaded. However, earlier episodes showed her as having a little more brainpower than she was usually given credit by others.
  • Looney Tunes has many of these.
    • Elmer Fudd, whom Bugs almost always tricks effortlessly. In Bugs’s very first cartoon, he breaks down crying because he thinks he killed Bugs... the very same rabbit he set out to kill in the first place.
    • Willoughby the Dog, who appeared in a few shorts from the early 1940s. This naturally comes with the territory of being an Expy of Lennie.
    • Red Hot Ryder from Buckaroo Bugs is so insanely stupid that he makes Elmer look like a rocket scientist. He utterly fails to put two and two together that Bugs is the Masked Marauder until the end of the cartoon.
    • Junyer from the Three Bears shorts was a bumbling half-wit who caused never-ending pain to Papa Bear through his Lethally Stupid tendencies.
  • The Looney Tunes Show:
    • Lola Bunny can out-ditz anyone on the show.
      Lola: Are you really a duck? I always thought you were a crow. Aren't ducks the ones with those big beaver teeth and that big beaver tail?
      Daffy: Those are beavers.
      Lola: So, you're a beaver?
      Daffy: Uh... Forget it.
      • Later, in the same episode:
      Lola: Porky's a pig? I always thought he was a seal.
    • Daffy Duck also has his ditzy moments. In “Eligible Bachelors”, for example, he repeatedly asks Granny if she died while she was telling him her experience in World War II. He apparently doesn't know who Superman is, either.
  • The Loud House: Leni Loud is portrayed as the stereotypical fashion-obsessed Dumb Blonde of the Loud sisters.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Pinkie Pie is far from stupid, but she's too hyperactive to actually use her intelligence. It's her clones that are the real ditz because they can only say "Fun!" and forget the names of her friends.
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders are also presented like this, by way of Children Are Innocent.
    • Derpy almost by definition, as seen when she unwittingly destroys town hall.
    • Snips and Snails certainly qualify, especially the latter.
      Spike: The proof is in the pudding!
      Snails: (laughs) I like pudding!
  • Philbert Frog, BIG time. How else can you describe someone who once forgot that you have to shut your eyes if you want to go to sleep?
  • Pet Alien: Gumpers is by far the dumbest of the aliens. In "Evil That Pinched My Feet", he couldn't even think of a word beginning with B!
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • Bubbles can be pretty dim. One example is after reading Mojo Jojo's repetitive ransom note, she asks who did it.
    • The Mayor makes Bubbles look intelligent. In "Best Rainy Day Adventure Ever", he forgets that he's a mayor and jumps out the window after Bubblesnote  calls him on the phone.
    • Bunny from "Twisted Sister". She is told to beat up villains but instead beats up police officers. She also has trouble saying big words.
  • Regular Show:
  • Rocket Power: Twister Rodriguez isn't very bright. He had trouble spelling a simple word such as "trouble" in one episode.
  • Rocko's Modern Life:
  • Scooby-Doo:
  • Farmer John from Sheep in the Big City isn't very bright. Aside from not being very creative in naming the title character (he apparently named him Sheep because he looked like one when he was born), he also tends to be easily manipulated and deceived by General Specific and Private Public whenever they try to capture Sheep.
  • The Simpsons:
  • George Martin from Spaced Out. As one of the Krach Industries employees puts it, he's "Educated, but not too smart. Eager, but not too smart. Obedient, but not too smart."
  • Brak from Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Cartoon Planet, and The Brak Show. He doesn't even understand how to properly take care of a goldfish.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Patrick Star and SpongeBob. More famously the former.
    • Patrick is speculated by some fans as Obfuscating Stupidity, because of occasional moments of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, as well as one time where he is perceived to have admitted he's not dumb.
      "SpongeBob, you can't always expect my usual brand of stupidity. Keep you on your toes."
      —- Patrick Star, hinting at his possible, but not certain Obfuscating Stupidity
    • SpongeBob used to subvert this trope because he was originally naive and loopy. He now plays it straight due to Flanderization.
    • We also have Mermaid Man, who, while not exactly stupid, is incredibly senile.
  • Teen Titans: Starfire can act spacey and clueless because she's an Amusing Alien and she doesn't have much knowledge about the Earth. When the Titans go to Tamaran, she is not at all ditzy and it is her teammates that have the blank "what's going on" looks.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): Bebop and Rocksteady are a pair of incompetent minions. No wonder Shredder never wins.
  • Ten Year Old Tom: The titular Tom isn't a very bright kid. He is easily led, never thinks things though, and just doesn't know when to stop talking in-general. His first campaign slogan when running for class treasurer was "I'm bad at math".
  • Timothy Goes to School: Lilly is prone to forgetting things and very clumsy. But she's a really sweet student and gets along very well with her friends in school.
  • Total Drama:
    • Lindsay. Despite being one of the dumbest contestants with little skill or clue as to what she's doing, she still remains one of the best contestants who fortune favors. She eliminates herself in Action and in All Stars, and has accidentally voted for herself more than anyone else.
    • Her boyfriend Tyler isn't very bright, but not to the same extent as her.
    • Owen. He's a few sandwiches short of a picnic most of the time.
    • Geoff. Particularly in Island and Ridonculous Race, though nowhere near to the extent of Lindsay. In the words of Gwen: "Geoff doesn't seem like the scholarly type."
    • Katie and Sadie. Downplayed with Katie, she's not the brightest on the team, but she's scarcely seen doing anything excessively stupid. Sadie is implied to be smarter than Katie; however, she is still fairly airheaded.
    • Lightning rivals Lindsay in terms of stupidity. He has trouble identifying other contestants' genders, appears unable to count to ten, and thought steak came from trees, among other things. Nonetheless, his physical prowess makes him a formidable competitor in his own right.
    • Downplayed in All-Stars with Zoey. She's not a total ditz, but is shown to be very gullible and obtuse, as evidenced by it taking an entire season for her to realize that Mal exists, despite receiving explicit warnings from both Alejandro and Duncan.
    • Sugar in Pahkitew Island. She reasons that Leonard is smart, simply because she can't understand half of what he says.

Not too smart, but not too stupid

  • Book Dumb: This character isn't dumb at all, but they won't score high on school tests.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: This character is a daydreamer. Barely even on the list, but a little naive nonetheless.
  • Dumber Than They Look: The character fits several aspects of "The Smart Guy" stereotype, except for actual intelligence.
  • The Fool: Here we reach into a character who is more than a little bit dumb. They may not be stupid and they can go through life without much assistance, but they're still not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Dumb. But not foolish.
  • Smarter Than You Look: A character appears to be dumb at first (usually by falling into some negative stereotype) but is eventually shown to be intelligent and learned.

Examples:

     Anime and Manga 
  • Mira from Asteroid in Love needed to take make-up exams in her first trimester of high school. She is especially poor when it comes to anything mathematics-related, and she also needed to take make-up exams on English. Despite this, she's quite knowledgable when it comes to astronomy.
  • Tomo, Osaka and Kagura from Azumanga Daioh all display this trope to some degree. The three of them are pretty much as intelligent as any high school girl, yet their test scores are so low, they once added them and got 104, or in American, an A++ (if Chiyo, Sakaki and Yomi did that, it would be roughly a 270 / AAA++++++). This is justified, though, because Tomo is a Genki Girl with the attention span of a squirrel, Osaka is a Cloudcuckoolander with the attention span of a squirrel, and Kagura is a Passionate Sports Girl with the attention span of a squirrel. In an ironic twist, all three of them manage to pass their entrance exams to college before the much more studious Yomi does (complete with a Lampshade Hanging from Yukari about how odd it is that they got into college at all).
  • In Barrage, Astro thinks 7 minus 5 equals 3. He didn't even know what money or work is until he was taught by a passing alien named Black, but this is justified as Astro is an orphan growing up in the slums who had no chance at a proper education.
  • A filler episode of Beelzebub reveal that the students of Ishiyama High hate studying 180% — so you can imagine their surprise when they are given an assessment test. The students of the school are so stupid that even Oga is stunned. "Good Night" Shimokawa couldn't even spell his trademark Character Catchphrase, and one student even cheated on filling in his name during the test; and the worst part was that the test was on elementary school subjects. At the same time, Oga was in a pinch during Beel's assessment test and was going to dump him off the smartest guy in the school — meaning the guy who got the highest score on the test. Luckily, he managed to pass that assessment test anyway because it turns out the smartest person at Ishiyama High was Furuichi, the only person in the school who isn't a delinquent. Though that was probably because the smarter characters didn't even try. Himekawa, perhaps the smartest person of the entire main cast, made no effort to try and cheated by taping some money to his paper as a bribe.
  • Although a lot of it can be attributed to growing up in the countryside, Asta from Black Clover is unknowledgeable in many things. He doesn't know what a date is, table manners, the role of a Magic Knight (the position he aspired to become), and his brain overloads when the Witch Queen provides an Info Dump on the elves. Despite this, it takes him very little time to learn how to sense ki and he quickly grasps the mechanics of his Black Asta form. The Guidebook gives him a 4/5 in "Cleverness", showing that while he may be traditionally dumb he really can be clever.
  • Inversion: Despite being an apparent delinquent and shonen lead, Ichigo Kurosaki of Bleach has one of the highest grade point averages in the school, to the chagrin of his normal friends who are upset that he betrays his stereotype. He replies that he gets enough flak from the teachers for getting into fights and his strange hair colour, so he studies hard to make sure that at least they can't complain about his grades. However, in battle he tends to charge in without a plan, and ignore his allies plans.
    • It's the same with Chad (who gets a higher score than Ichigo), except he's not so much of a delinquent anymore.
    • Then there's Orihime, who, despite her space-case tendencies, manages to get at least 3rd in their entire grade.
    • Keigo, however, is a straight example. He takes great pride in having low grades and being an idiot. However, Mizuiro once said that Keigo is actually very intelligent but is deliberately sabotaging his education. Eventually, he's revealed to be extremely good under life-threatening pressure when he's the only one to keep his head enough to make everyone take advantage of Aizen and Gin confronting each other and flee before Aizen can turn on them. He was also able to put together something he'd seen hundreds of chapters ago which made him realise that a shinigami's weapon was the only thing that stood a chance against a being like Aizen, and he was prepared to use the weapon in a Heroic Sacrifice to give his companions a chance to escape. Fortunately, the sword's owner turned up before Keigo died.
  • Blue Exorcist: Rin Okumura, like most Shounen Protagonists, is this trope. Especially compared to his younger twin brother Yukio. However, like most book dumb characters he's shown to be Street Smart; on the field he's pretty quick on the uptake, he's very good at connecting to and inspiring others, and has shown some pretty interesting flashes of natural abilities, such as one instance of Stealth Hi/Bye in a room full of experienced exorcists. He just can't seem to connect to academics like his brother, though he did get a Junior High Diploma and manage to become an Exwire. The fact he, according to Word of God, sleeps eleven hours per day (possibly half because he's half-demon)probably doesn't help, and neither does his Locked Out of the Loop status before he entered cram school (which justifies his ridiculously low scores at the start). His Stepford Smiler status throws some doubt into just how "dumb" he is as well.
  • Genta from Case Closed is not very good at school and has difficulty with simple basic Japanese and math. Although, he is a first grade elementary student.
  • Senshi from Delicious in Dungeon is Street Smart, but he doesn't read books much and distrust magic. He is even unaware that dragon carcass is very flammable due to its fuel-producing innards and tried to start fire nearby.
  • Nobita in Doraemon is an extreme and somewhat exaggerated version of this trope. He literally keeps getting zeroes in his tests. Even the resident Dumb Muscle Giant gets some questions rights, Nobita just zeroes everything. On the other hand, he can be intelligent at times and quite cunning, usually when trying to get his hands on Doraemon's gadget.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball:
      • Son Goku grew up without a formal education, aside from learning basic reading and math while training with Master Roshi for a year. Before that he thought 14, not 12, came after eleven and afterwards it's revealed during his fight with Ninja Murasaki that he still can't count past 25. Even as an adult he still comes off as an idiot, even before factoring in the English dub making him sound reasonably smarter (it doesn't help that in the original Japanese he speaks with a downplayed Tohoku accent, a dialect that's typically associated with country hicks). As an adult, though he still can be naive and a little too willing to trust others, what keeps him from being an Idiot Hero is that he can show surprising wisdom and it's clear that his intelligence is focused on combat. When it comes to fighting, he's a genius, able to point to pick up on the strengths and the flaws of various techniques, outthink his opponents with good strategies, and he can learn and invent new techniques with relative ease.
      • In his debut appearance during the Tenshinhan Saga, Chaozu has trouble with basic math and can't tell left from right without pausing to think which hand he holds chopsticks in. Apparently, unlike Muten Roshi, Tsuru-sennin doesn't bother providing his students with basic schooling.
    • Dragon Ball GT: After reverting to a kid, Goku has seem to become even dumber than he was in his childhood, as he has trouble to count up to three.
    • Dragon Ball Super: Vegeta makes a mistake by suggesting a preliminary written test exam for the fighters of the interuniversal tournament. It's actually a simple test meant to keep out mindless monsters incapable of following rules. However, Majin Buu fails the test by writing his own name wrong and falling asleep, and Goku barely passes by reaching the minimum score. It is also implied that Magetta from Team Champa had also difficulty during the test, but still passes. Now, Team Beerus is forced to enter the tournament with only four people instead of five.
  • In Failed Princesses, Nanaki Fujishiro and Miki are both gyarus with a knack for beauty and fashion, with Nanaki even appearing in a magazine. Unfortunately, they also have terrible grades, which results in them ending up in remedial lessons together some time after they end up feuding.
  • Fruits Basket both subverts and plays this straight with a few characters.
    • Kyo is a subversion; he has the personality of a delinquent and is obsessed with martial arts, but he's actually a good student.
    • Played straighter with Tohru, who is highly emotionally intelligent and insightful when it comes to people's feelings, but struggles with her grades and often needs help with studying.
    • Hanajima is smart, but simply doesn't give a damn about schoolwork (except when faced with the threat of summer school in non-air conditioned rooms, when she makes sure to avoid failing grades).
  • Miaka from Fushigi Yuugi is a borderline female example. You'd think that all the stomach thinking and putting herself needlessly in danger would reflect in dis-interest for studies, but her grades aren't abysmally bad and she's shown having an interest in studying so she can get in a good high school, like Yui. This is even more accentuated in the manga, where it's explained as her way to seek for the approval of her Education Mama. Ends up subverted at the end of the TV anime series, when it's revealed that Miaka passed the entrance exam to Jonan while Yui, who's more traditionally smart, did not. They both end up going to a different high school together.
  • One of the rare female examples is Maya Kitajima from Glass Mask, who is able to memorize full scripts and acknowledges lots of acting techniques, but is barely average at school. She lampshades this by thinking she's just not interested in academic prowess.
  • Hinata, Kageyama, Tanaka, and Nishinoya from Haikyuu!!. Hinata's test scores are so low he doesn't even know the passing grade and has once remarked that he'd never gotten a double-digit score in any exam. Kageyama, however, is the most surprising one. On one hand, he's known in-series as a volleyball prodigy, is on-par with arguably the most intelligent member of his team with regards to tactics, and has been shown to memorize volleyball signs in less than five seconds. On the other hand, his grades are catastrophically low, he thinks the brain is a muscle, doesn't know what veteran means... the list goes on and on.
  • In Hori Miya, Miyamura is not as intelligent as people think despite his smartish looks.
  • The iDOLM@STER — Haruka and Yayoi are both implied to be this.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Jotaro Kujo from Stardust Crusaders is an outright delinquent who skips school regularly — although this may be because all of the girls at his high school can't stop fawning over him, and he can't stand most of the others — but despite his self-imposed lack of formal education, he has incredible intuition and deductive reasoning skills (which, in a rather odd Shout-Out, he attributes to his obsessive watching of Columbo as a child). Jotaro actually ends up being a marine biologist (of all things) later on, which goes to show he isn't as dumb as one might think.
    • There's also Narancia from Golden Wind, who has a pathetic mathematical skill. His Establishing Character Moment saw him calculate 16 x 55 = 28... despite having previously correctly writing down 5 x 6 = 30. He received a fork to the face from Fugo as a result. From the anime:
      Fugo: [after stabbing Narancia in the face with a fork] YOU STUPID DELINQUENT! ARE YOU MESSING WITH ME!? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TEACH YOU THIS BEFORE YOU LEARN!? YOU SHIT FOR BRAINS!
  • Jonah in Jormungand may be one of the best and most badass members of the group but even though he can take down a whole camp by himself he still can't do basic multiplication. (The fact that he's still a 10- to 12-year-old kid who spent his entire life as a child soldier doesn't help.)
  • This is actually a plot point in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War where Otomo had to change schools due to failing Shuchi'in's High School entrance exams, leading to a rumor that she transferred out of fear of Ishigami (supposedly) stalking her.
  • Kill la Kill:
    • Mako. Aikuro is amazed she managed to get to high school. It's implied that she can't even read kanji. The fact that her "Hallelujah" speeches are full of kanji-based Visual Puns make this even more hilarious.
    • Ryuko as well. The first Drama CD has her boldly saying she'll spend a week in the town library to prepare for an upcoming test... only to do nothing but sleep and eat for the week and end up relying on Senketsu to answer the academic questions for her. She shows her street smart side by analyzing Satsuki's intuitive questions, like whether or not Satsuki's eyebrows are big and figures out that based on Satsuki's personality and the setting that her tester does not want to hear that they are.
  • Hajime of The Kindaichi Case Files is a great detective with the IQ of 180. However, he is shown to be bad in school Performance with bleak prospect on college. The very first case, however, mentions that he gets the highest score in the entire history of Fudo High's entrance exam, indicating that he can make it if he tries to study. The thing is, he is not seen putting much effort in studying (as evidenced by him resorting to cheating at the beginning of Wax Doll Castle Murder Case) coupled with his growing game addiction. He is still able to answer questions that rely on logic though.
  • In the sixth episode of Kotoura-san, it was revealed Hiyori failed most of the subjects, despite looking smarter than the local Idiot Hero Manabe, who barely passed.
  • Kuroko's Basketball has Kagami, who is good at basketball, eating and not much else. He argues that, having spent his childhood in America, he can't understand enough Japanese to do well on his tests. Which would be plausible, except that he also does terribly (as in, scores only a few marks) in English. His excuse for this is that it's not actually English you use on a day to day basis. Aomine, being very similar to Kagami, is shown to be this as well (like Kagami, he's also only really good at basketball). Kise's grades are said to also be pretty bad, albeit slightly better than Kagami's and Aomine's. As for the rest of the Generation of Miracles, Kuroko's are extremely average, Midorima's somewhat intelligent, Murasakibara's aren't really talked about, and Akashi is a Teen Genius (though it's implied he's worked very hard with his studies.)
  • Little Witch Academia: Akko has little knowledge about the magic world and tends to struggle a lot in academics, often sleeping in class due to boredom and getting poor grades for her lack of innate magic ability. In spite of this though, she's shown to be incredibly clever, creative and innovative at times, which has saved her and her friends quite a number of times, on top of solving numerous problems. She's also quite proficient with the Shiny Rod as well, despite being poor at magic otherwise.
  • Lucky Star:
    • Tsukasa gets poor academic grades and is capable of sleeping from 10:00 PM to 2:00 PM. Despite this, she is shown to be an excellent cook.
    • Konata is such an otaku that she actually forgets to do her homework. In fact, Konata admits in one particular episode that she's perfectly capable of achieving high marks, but her obsessive and procrastination habits just fill in more than academics.
      • Konata got into this locally prestigious high school by the lure of a PS2 and a PC.
      • In one episode she demonstrates her ability to cram for a test with a single all-nighter; she manages to get the same good score as Kagami, despite of that the latter studied for the same test well over a week.
    • Misao is similar to Konata, but she's more inclined towards outdoor activities.
  • Maken-ki!: In Takeru's case, it's mainly to facilitate exposition, by having the others fill him in for the benefit of the readers. But is still egregious since he's usually clueless about matters even a first-year student should know.
    • Himegami had to explain that the Tenbi region is essentially a small autonomous nation. And in Chapter 15, Haruko and Inaho had to tell him what Amanohara was, even though it's a landmark that's visible from anywhere on campus.
    • Takeru failed his mid-term with a score of only 20. So, during their cram session, Usui had to re-educate him on how Element works; which is considered basic at the academy.
  • In Miimu Iro Iro Yume no Tabi, Daisuke has no problem following Miimu's scientific explanations; she even suggests he has the potential to become a great scientist himself... frequent poor grades notwithstanding.
  • My Hero Academia:
  • Naruto routinely comes up with winning strategies for his squad, yet placed dead last in the exams (the databooks give his intelligence score pre-Time Skip as 1.5 out of 5) and one scene implied that he is barely literate. It seems he can only think properly under life threatening danger, but has apparently grown out of this after the Time Skip (said score has gone up to 3). (In fairness, he had no parents to teach him anything.)
    • Justified because, as Kakashi once stated, Naruto is a kinesthetic learner — the type who learns "with his body" or "by doing" — which didn't serve him very well during the mostly theoretical training at the academy. Once he actually starts doing missions and acquiring battle experience, he winds up mastering a handful of techniques that are well beyond a beginner's level, if, occasionally, in roundabout manners, and proves himself a very fast learner who somewhat overtakes the analytical and traditionally talented Sasuke until the latter makes a Deal with the Devil. They remained roughly on par ever since. Further justified in that Naruto is the host of the 9-nailed demon fox and the seal interferes with his ability to control his chakra properly.
    • Sakura's something of an inversion in Part I, as she aces every test in the academy, but rarely puts her intelligence to practical use in the field (for example, she doesn't see through either of the fake Narutos in the Forest of Death before Sasuke, who has 1.5 fewer intelligence points in the databook, pointed them out). She winds up becoming a mostly brute-force focused fighter as far as her strictly offensive capabilities are concerned. Her intelligence is ultimately put to use in medical jutsu.
    • Shikamaru's academy grades are not much better than Naruto's (mainly because he's so lazy that applying pencil on paper tends to be a drag for him and he sleeps through the exams), but he has an IQ of over 200 (which if he lived in the real world would make him quite possibly the smartest person who ever lived) and demonstrates his intelligence through his brilliant strategies. Even his intelligence has been admired by people like Kakashi and the Third Hokage. Sakura once said that Shikamaru is the smartest ninja in the Land of Fire.
  • Yue Ayase from Negima! Magister Negi Magi is one of the smartest girls in the class, not counting the Mad Scientist or the Time Traveller. She adores reading, especially philosophy. It's just that reality is so incredibly pointless that she doesn't care to try at all, which places her in the lowest grade percentile of the class. (The so-called "Baka Rangers.")
    • Also fellow Baka Ranger Kaede Nagase, who actually seems to be a very wise girl for her age. Perhaps the Ninja training just gets in the way of her studies.
    • Both Asuna and Ku Fei (also of the Baka Rangers) have both shown impressive tactical skills and Asuna is very good at judging the emotions of others. Admittedly, Ku Fei has to work with the handicap of a less than perfect grasp of Japanese (you try learning to speak language A taught in language B when C is your native tongue), and it is widely speculated that what ever spell keeps Asuna from remembering her past also interferes with her general memorization skills. In fact of the five only Ensemble Dark Horse Makie is arguably just plain dumb.
  • Luffy in One Piece is very book dumb when it comes to science and medicine — he once tried to heal a wounded Zoro by pouring booze on his face because "Zoro likes sake, so it'll make him better". One of the TV specials implies that he can't even read. However, he's extremely good at coming up with the best ways to use his Devil Fruit powers to their fullest in various situations. One that particularly sticks out is when he out-smarts Eneru's Mantra mind-reading ability... by out-dumbing him. He intentionally thinks of nothing (The name of said technique translated as "Gum-Gum Space-Out"). That trick actually fails, since Luffy realizes too late that he can't attack without thinking, but he then immediately starts bouncing punches off a wall. He has no idea of what the redirected punches will hit, making it impossible for Eneru to dodge them by reading his mind.
  • Saitama of One-Punch Man. With his deity level strength, he should be in the S-class of heroes. But unfortunately he's not exceptionally bright. Scoring a perfect 100 on the physical portion of the hero test, but a meager 42 on the written portion.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Ash (Satoshi) inevitably ends up like this any time he's placed in a traditional school setting. An episode of DP has him failing miserably during a Pokémon quiz, leading another character to question how a trainer with such poor academic knowledge of Pokémon could have earned 6 badges. The episode eventually leads to an Aesop about how learning theory in school doesn't necessarily make one good at actually doing something in real life. The character who mocked Ash's low score gets curbstomped in a real battle against the Team Rocket trio, without any dirty tricks, because he had no actual experience and had no idea what to do other than list off attack names.
      • The Sun & Moon series shows him being fully aware of this; when struggling with an assignment to give an oral report on differences between Alolan and Kantonian Pokémon, he tells Professor Kukui that he thinks it would be better if Lillie or Sophocles did it instead.
    • Iris is revealed to be this when she returns to Opelucid City when it shows that she never performed well academically in school.
  • Pokémon Adventures: A particularly interesting case is Odamaki Sapphire — the girl is almost illiterate to the point she had to ask an assistant how certain words sounded during the intellectual portion of Roxanne's qualification exam, but due to certain aspects of her upbringing she's much smarter than she appears. Roxanne lectured her on learning how to read after the test was finished... only for her brain to crack when she realized the girl scored the highest of everyone in the room! The look on Roxy's face was priceless.
  • Ermengarde in Princess Sarah, like her original incarnation, is portrayed as scatterbrained and scholastically backward; in a flashback, we also see that this may be related to neglect by her father, a university professor. However, she is also portrayed as good-hearted and generous, loyal to Sara even after she loses both father and fortune, and nurses Sara when she falls seriously ill. She also is the only person, apart from Sara, whom Lottie can relate to, at least to some extent.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: As the Nakano sisters were all nearly held back a year before transferring schools, leading their father to hire a private tutor out of desperation to help whip the five of them into shape; which is where Fuutarou comes in.
  • Ranma Saotome of Ranma ½. He's known for his success with on-the-fly solutions, though he's also capable of coming up with intricate plans, such as the one he used to get Happosai to change Pantyhose Taro's name. He's attentive and smart, to the point where he can reproduce a martial arts move after seeing it only once and then find its weak spot. Too bad he's kind of Book Dumb in certain areas.
    Akane: Ranma, you do know what Romeo and Juliet are to each other, don't you?
    Ranma: Father and daughter, right?
    • This is much more pronounced in the anime than the manga, where he's never shown to be having severe trouble with studies. The one time his grades came up, his only comment on seeing them revealed was "Hmm, not as bad as I'd thought."
  • Tsunayoshi Sawada from Reborn! (2004). In the beginning, he's pretty much the school's Butt-Monkey that gets the worst grades. And for the longest time, it really did look like he was all-around useless. However, after the series got more serious, he's shown to not actually be stupid — when he's determined and tries, he's very smart about fighting and utilizing his abilities in combat. He still has bad grades, but it's shown that if people actually bother to help him, he actually can sufficiently well in class (e.g. the time when G disguised himself as Gokudera and tutored Tsuna, and he manages to solve a problem in class).
    • Yamamoto, though not as bad as Tsuna, is definitely smarter outside the classroom than in it. Interestingly, Troubled, but Cute Gokudera pretty much has perfect grades despite his delinquent appearance and attitude towards everyone but Tsuna.
  • In The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World, Red isn't the brightest guy and the scenes of his life flashing before his eyes show him struggling to study. Despite this, he's a capable warrior and trope-savvy from experience thanks to his adventures as Kizuna Red.
  • ReLIFE's Kaizaki Arata, who's stuck in an endless cycle of make-up tests. The other transfer student Onoya as well, though she was faking it.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Kurumu Kurono is strong, beautiful, and has decent social skills, but does so terribly at her exams that, even after getting extensive tutoring from Yukari Sendo, she still flunked a big math test and had to go to summer school. Which she skips.
  • The Royal Tutor has an extreme example in Leonhard, who has always struggled with academics. Because of this, he's been hit by previous tutors and has developed a fear of studying and refuses to have anything to do with it. This has lead to him not knowing what one plus one is (much to the the amusement of his brothers, especially Licht). It's shown that he's very athletic and is good at sword fighting and horse riding — more than anything else, it seems like it's the fear of being beaten that's hindering his studying than actually being dumb, although he is ditzy in general.
    • Eventually, Heine manages to convince Leonhard that he'll actually help him study and not hurt him, and Leonhard learns basic mathematics by being taught to visualise his favourite cake (for example, you have one slice. If you put another slice on your plate, how many do you have? Two slices). In a later chapter of the manga, Leonhard runs into one of his former tutors and becomes convinced that Heine will punish him for not getting every answer correct, even though he's fully aware that Heine's never done that before. Heine figures out what Leonhard's worries are and reminds Leonhard that he'd never physically hurt Leonhard or any of the others. Leonhard manages to (mostly?) get over his Heroic BSoD.
  • Sailor Moon: While Makoto and Minako aren't good at studying either, Usagi's bad grades, unwillingness to study and constant running late to school are some of her most prominent character traits. It's also a Running Gag how she only ever writes in hiragana and still can't write in kanji at all (by Japanese standards, this means she essentially writes like a kindergartener since children start learning how to write kanji in elementary school). One letter written to her by her future counterpart is entirely in hiragana, and she begs the present Usagi to study hard.
  • Sand Chronicles's Daigo is strong, athletic, good at hunting and has decent street-smarts, but he does terribly on his school tests and exams. He improves drastically in the last year or so of school (with the help of his friend Ayumu) so that he can go to the college he wants and become a teacher.
  • Sekirei has the protagonist Minato himself who cannot do well under pressure. But give him time to think and he aces through tests and is actually quite competent in making up plans.
  • Fuyuki Hinata from Sgt. Frog is an average student at school, but is an outright expert on occult matters, and even an Amateur Sleuth in the anime.
  • A Silent Voice: Yuzuru is a skilled photographer and wins local photo competitions, but she rarely attends school. Later, after Yuzuru decides to become a regular student again, she reveals to Shouya that she's been failing her assignments and asks him to teach her how to study, which Shouya happily agrees to.
  • Sayuri in Silver Plan to Redo From JK never paid attention to her studies during her previous, and even when she has a second chance and is trying to learn, she struggles. It takes the help of the best student in her grade for her to improve enough to actually pass exams. On the other hand, she has considerable street smarts due to having spent time homeless in her previous life.
  • Silver Spoon: This is not uncommon, given the setting.
    • Tokiwa's book learning is... well, microscopically detailed when it comes to animal husbandry, and microscopic when it comes to anything else. Receiving a 10% grade on a math test makes him break down in Tears of Joy.
    • Aki is a downplayed example. She regularly scores in the 60%-70% range on tests. Not failing, but not enough to be considered "great" academically, and definitely not enough for the university and career she is hoping for.
    • Ayame is another textbook example, and even extensive tutoring by Shingo wasn't enough to bring her grades above "pass".
  • A Slam Dunk episode features four members of the Shohoku Team failing their exams with ridiculous results. They had to stay up studying in Captain Akagi's house all night long. Hilarity Ensues there.
  • Spy X Family: Anya is quite intelligent, and is an exellent observational learner, able to pick up skills quite quickly just by watching her parents, or even copying them from TV. Her grades however, are just scraping by at best, and simply not failing a test is considered grounds for celebration. It's a Justified Trope in this case, as she has a mental block against studying because it reminds her of her time spent as a human guinea pig. Futhermore, she grew up in an orphanage and didn't receive much in the way of an education, as opposed to her classmates from high class, wealthy families. There's also an implication that she's actually a year or two younger than she claims to be, which puts her a major developmental step down from the rest of the class.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, many Ghouls are either illiterate or read at a very basic level. This is because anything resembling a formal education is a rarity for them, with most instead learning survival skills on the streets and growing up to be very cunning individuals. When she begins attending school as a regular student, Touka often struggles in her studies due to having spent much of her childhood on the streets. However, she genuinely enjoys school and eventually states she would like to become a teacher.
  • Yakitate!! Japan: Azuma Kazuma. While he is shown to be quite smart academically, he received next to no formal training in the art of baking. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, he manages to not only reinvent nearly every baking technique from scratch, he improves on them. He often doesn't even know the name of what he just did before an opponent or judge is surprised that he knew it. Which of course allows them to explain it to us.
  • Nozomi of Yes! Pretty Cure 5. When she finally gets her teammates together and they find out how poorly she does, Karen suggests getting together and studying. However, her implied Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! makes it hard for her to get her head into the game and she ends up bailing in frustration. Coco's able to convince her to keep going and try again and she does better... but not that much.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
      • Besides being a slacker in school, Jonouchi (Joey) is often confused by cards everyone else knows about, doesn't understand how the game's chain mechanic works, and often has to count on his fingers to do math. That said, once he understands said cards/mechanics he becomes an extremely capable duelist, able to devise fairly complex strategies on the fly.
      • Yugi from was shown in the manga to be a very poor student, despite being considered a gaming genius by the other characters. One chapter shows him make a Bingo game out of test score results, being utterly uncaring of the fact that he himself scored 372nd in the school.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
      • Despite being in a school practically designed to take advantage of his abilities, Judai Yuki is perpetually stuck in the lowest dorm of Duel Academy due to his low scores... at least, with any of the written or studying parts; during the actual field exams, where he actually gets to duel, he excels greatly. This does appear to be partly by choice, as he's turned down promotion at least once on screen. Perhaps the writers just think he'd look horrible in Yellow or Blue...
      • This actually becomes a plot point in Season 3. Because he's widely regarded as one of the best duelists at the school, many younger students start emulating him — meaning they skip or sleep in class and don't study. According to Professor Satou, those students lack Judai's natural ability at Duel Monsters. Satou ends up forcing Judai into a duel with another student's life hanging in the balance — and somehow still pulls off being a sympathetic character. The whole ordeal functions as part of Judai's Deconstruction.
      • Sho was also like this for a while, being a fairly competent duelist and student whose fear of failure always sabotaged his efforts in Season 1. By Season 3, he is temporarily promoted to Blue, but goes back to Yellow because he doesn't believe himself worthy yet. In Season 4, though, he accepts the promotion.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: Yuma is not only doing poor at school, he didn't understand how to play Duel Monsters properly even after several years. Once Astral shows up, Yuma finally learns to duel like pro.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Downplayed with Yuya in Arc-V, where he does mention having trouble in science and math, though generally subverts this due to doing decently in other subjects, and has much more average intelligence than Judai or Yuma.
  • YuYu Hakusho features Yusuke, who is incredibly Book Dumb. He once got a twelve (yes, twelve out of 100) on a test. However, on the battlefield, he's a fairly competent strategist, and in one episode, he correctly applies the principle of light reflection to defeat Hiei. There's also Kuwabara, who starts out Book Dumb (he got a seven on that same test; Yusuke was bragging that he was smarter), and, as part of Character Development, studies hard and gets into a prestigious high school.

    Comic Books 
  • A lot of Marvel and DC characters on both sides get this not because they are stupid, but because they hang out with too many super-geniuses. Depending on the Writer, they will be shown as either dumb, just a bit outclassed, or even having common sense as compared to the overcomplicated plans of their teammates/nemesis.
    • The Thing compared to Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Doom, who all went to college together. People tend to forget that Ben Grimm has multiple engineering degrees and was a military test pilot and NASA astronaut. In large part because he doesn't talk like the highly educated man that he is, along with being overshadowed by his super-genius former classmates.
      Mr. Fantastic: Come on, Ben, you have a few college degrees too!
      The Thing: Don't broadcast it, I want my admiring public to think I'm a self-made genius.
    • Thor compared to Loki or Iron Man; heck, any of The Avengers compared to Iron Man or Hank Pym.
    • Depending on the Writer, the Juggernaut compared to his telepathic genius brother Professor X. It took a Heel–Face Turn for him to ever bother pointing it out to anyone, but he was raised in a household of physicists, and as Cain explains to his attorney the She-Hulk, he just plays The Brute most of the time because that's what everyone expects from him.
    • Superman compared to Batman or Lex Luthor. Likewise, anyone in the Justice League compared to Batman. With Superman it really is the writers' faults. Clark Kent is a world renowned investigative journalist and a prize winning novelist. Superman helps maintain the advanced Kryptonian equipment in his Fortress. And on at least one occasion he has said to Batman's face that he was just as smart as Batman, which Batman openly agreed with. If anything Superman is an inversion; he's book smart but does not have a talent for combat and tactics, so people (both in and out of universe) assume he is less intelligent based on how he fights. Even then, that's mostly because Superman is so incredibly powerful that he usually doesn't need to fight in the first place, not to mention as a Technical Pacifist he much prefers to end confrontations non-violently whenever he can get away with it and thus, what tactics he does use often are not about "winning" a fight in the traditional sense.
    • Nate Grey is an Artificial Human designed as a Living Weapon by the Age of Apocalypse version of Mr. Sinister, and prematurely aged to his late teens to that end. This, his escape, and his life with his Found Family of guerrilla fighters disguised as Shakespearean actors, before becoming effectively homeless in the main Marvel Universe means that for a long time he was Unskilled, but Strong, utterly devoid of life experience outside of survival, and only really good at fighting. However, his impulsive nature, hot-temper, and usually justified paranoia meant that most people thought he was either dim or a brash hot-head. As it was, he learned fast, developed some very unconventional uses of his powers, and displayed a level of tactical brilliance on par with his father and older brother when he ran rings around Norman Osborn, the Dark Avengers, and the Dark X-Men, in Dark X-Men, nearly destroying everything he'd achieved in a matter of hours with a Batman Gambit he'd come up with on the fly (and in the end, Norman did exactly what Nate was planning shortly after, during Siege: had mental breakdown and went full Green Goblin in public, destroying his power and reputation).
  • Batgirl III (Cassandra Cain) is one of the top martial artists in The DCU, but is illiterate and barely has any spoken language education. She has one of the better excuses for this, as she was raised without access to books or speech by the assassin David Cain, who intended for violence to be her only language.
  • Excalibur (Marvel Comics)'s Meggan was illiterate, and while far from stupid, Book Dumb and socially naive, leaving her deeply insecure around her Illuminati-level genius physicist aristocrat boyfriend (later husband) Brian Braddock. She was learning to read and was able to write down phone messages by the end of the series. By the time of Captain Britain and MI13, she was capable of masterminding a revolution in Hell and doing a Deal with the Devil (Hades, to be more accurate) that actually worked out in her favor. However, she's still a bit insecure about her lack of education when it comes to her and Brian's Brainy Baby, as she worries that her baby won't need her.
  • Gail Simone's final arc of Red Sonja shows that Sonja is only borderline literate. Her difficulty practicing her handwriting is depicted like a learning disability.
  • Chase Stein from Runaways, despite being the child of genius inventors, has no scholastic aptitude whatsoever and is easily the dumbest member of the group (including the 11-year-olds):
    Chase: Hey, I may not be book smart, but I am Street Smart!
    Gert: Which street? Sesame?
    • Yet when on his own, he was clever enough to come up with a simple plan to deal with the Gibborim; find and threaten those smart enough to help. His "anonymous white van" idea also shows he has some degree of cleverness.
    • This starts to lessen as the series goes on: Chase shows a skill with fixing and using tech devices close to his parents, and is as skilled with the Staff of One as Nico, the resident spellcaster herself.
  • When asked by the professors on his final theology exam how many parts (and what kind) a good sermon should have, Hieronymus (from a story illustrated by Wilhelm Busch) answers (sorry for not rhyming): "Two parts: One part that no one can understand, and one part that's understandable."
  • Zipi y Zape: The twins. They can build a time machine out of a barrel and a broken grandfather's clock, but then they'll struggle to do their assignment: calculate 5*13.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes is shown to be very far behind his classmates academically, but is a loquacious philosopher in his spare time, showing a vocabulary and critical thinking skills far in advance of what you could expect from a normal 6-year-old. In this case, it's an explicit criticism of the school system. Bill Watterson has also said that he enjoyed having Calvin use big words to describe stupid ideas. It's also implied that Calvin, while intelligent, is simply not motivated to apply himself. In one strip, for example, his father sits him down and asks him why he doesn't do better in school, noting that he's obviously smart because he managed to devour every dinosaur book he ever got his hands on. Calvin simply replies that they never study dinosaurs in school. He has shown considerable aptitude in school-grade subjects like math and reading comprehension in situations where the subjects, such as dinosaurs or time travel, were interesting to him. Calvin is a classic case of a gifted child in an education system that isn't engaging him properly.
    In addition, Calvin is also very mischievous, more interested in causing trouble and messing with the teacher's head than actually learning. He regularly gives bizarre answers on his tests ("What is the significance of the Erie Canal?" "In the cosmic sense, probably nil,") which seems to be as much for his own amusement as an attempt to cheat the system.
  • Dennis the Menace (UK) is an example of this being taken to a ridiculous degree. In the comics these days, Dennis even has a futuristic car that he designed himself, with protective armour and water cannons, and yet is shown to be completely (and cheerfully) lost at school.
  • In For Better or for Worse, one word: Gordon. While Gordon graduates high school with average grades, he is a gifted mechanic who turns out to have a decent head for business. He goes to work for a local outfit, and within ten years all but owns the place, it being sold to him when the owner retired; he then takes the store from a local landmark ("Oh, right, that place") to a thriving business which, the last time it was seen before the strip's conclusion, may well have been on the verge of becoming a franchise.
  • Caulfield, from Frazz. He dislikes school and frequently derails lessons, but reads books far above his age's reading level and has intelligent discussions with the titular janitor.
  • The German comic Haiopeis, with anthropomorphic sharks.
    Shark 1: Do you know about books?
    Shark 2: Sure... but they're worthless, taste like cardboard.
    Shark 1: I didn't want to eat them.
    Shark 2: What then?
    Shark 1: I wanted to know how to switch them on.
  • Manolito from Mafalda and, to a lesser extent, Mafalda herself (Her report on "the British Invasion" was a drawing of hippie fans of The Beatles). Felipe is absent-minded during lectures, but he never seems to fail a test. Manolito is actually shown to be rather dumb outside school as well, never properly understanding or caring anything that he cannot relate to money, so he may be more of a Genius Ditz.
  • Peanuts:
    • Peppermint Patty would rather be playing sports than sitting in a classroom, compounded by not getting much sleep weeknights because she waits for her father to get home from work at night. On the other hand, any girl her age who could be capable of mistaking a dog obedience school for a human school to the point of enrolling in it, "studying" with the dogs, graduating and being so sure that she doesn't have to go to regular human school because of that "diploma" is on her own level of stupidity. She already thinks Snoopy is a 'little kid with a big nose' and treats him accordingly. Remember, with Patty, we're quite far into Jock territory, too. As if she didn't have enough downward pressure on her grades.
    • Sally also has a lot of trouble in school, and often struggles with her homework despite Charlie Brown's patient efforts to help her. One of the strip's running jokes is the unintentionally humorous school reports she gives in front of the class, which are frequently inspired by malapropisms and end with her feeling humiliated as her classmates laugh at her. Some of her more memorable reports include "Santa and his Rain Gear", "Footbidextrousers" people, "The Bronchitis" (a dinosaur that supposedly went extinct from coughing too much), and her report on the oceans of the world, in which she reported there are no oceans in the individual landlocked states in the US.

    Fan Works 
  • Anchor Foal: Part of Harem Fantasy's description of Passionate Sports Girls:
    They may not be too bright.
  • In the That's What Bein' A Friend Is About series, Ninten is shown to be this, and it ends up becoming a major plot point in Something That You Just Don't Understand, where he believes that he's too academically incompetent to fulfill his destiny of saving the world from Giegue.
  • In The Calvinverse, Calvin's still as Book Dumb at his comic counterpart. Lampshaded in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series:
    Hobbes: You know, if you actually studied, you'd get a few things done school-wise.
  • Dragon's Dance: Wataru frequently skips his lessons on his village's history in favor of training with his dratini, which he has a natural talent for. Because of this he only has a vague knowledge of major events in their history, and thus doesn't realize why keeping the dragonite who live in the valley secret from outsiders is such a big deal to the elders.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, the Lemony Narrator seems to do well enough to be in university, as well as write in the structure of an essay, but her inability to understand simple logic, something which fuels her conspiracy theories, as well as her ignorance of basic math fulfills this trope.
  • In This One, Kenshin is so backwoods that he doesn't how old he is, what year it is, what writing is or that there are numbers past five.
  • Downplayed with Captain Kanril Eleya of Bait and Switch. A mustang from a blue-collar background, she's very proficient as a tactician and is by no means uneducated, but by her own admission in "Shakedown Shenanigans" she's a soldier, not a scientist or diplomat, and often needs to have technobabble explained to her. In one case in A Voice in the Wilderness, she can't make heads or tails of some sensor readouts, but she does understand more general concepts such as what a radioactive half-life is and that a Class N planet is going to look rather like Venus.
  • In Hope for the Heartless (which takes place after the events of The Black Cauldron) Avalina is described this way. As a brush farmer, her education is not the best of quality, but her captor, the Horned King, recognizes her as a bright child and a passionate learner. For example, she can read better than many grown men, even if she mispronounces some things and halts in odd places (reading is a passion she's not have had much time for before her capture), but her arithmetic is at best poor and handwriting barely decipherable and she can't read maps. Not satisfied with such potential being wasted in meager duties, the mostly self-taught warlord decides to educate her himself, and she makes great progress.
    • Creeper, the Horned King's lackey, doesn't come off as very bright (at least in the lich's eyes). For example, he has Never Learned to Read. Avalina still argues that he has potential and convinces the Horned King to try to teach him. Eventually the lich begrudgingly concedes and is surprised to learn that the goblin can count to twenty and picked up from Avalina the skill to make a rope.
  • Subverted in the story Vapors where Naruto's problem is described as potentially being dyslexia that gives him reading troubles. Unfortunately, dyslexia hasn't been discovered in the Elemental Nations, so they have to make do as they can.
  • Combined with Taught by Experience in Chiaroscuro where Naruto quickly figures out (after learning about Suna's economic struggles) that Suna is likely to attack Konoha because "I've been poor before. Eventually, poor people get desperate." It's also implied that Naruto was struggling only because he was behind when it came to basic skills, like reading and writing, which was something parents usually jump-started their kids at home.
  • In Returning, a Ravenclaw student, Lyra, struggles with theory and obviously has a very fast and loose approach to note-taking (the excerpt we see is peppered with misheard words and commentary). She's also an Inept Mage, which makes her a far from promising Hogwarts student.
  • Risk It All: Although his grades are middle-of-the-pack at best, Ren demonstrates a keen understanding of probability and statistics, quickly crunching the numbers to weigh the risk vs. reward in casino games as well as the randomness of the skills and powers he gains.
  • In Faith The Vampire Slayer, Faith has poor grades but is a skilled mechanic, being able to figure out everything wrong with Giles's car the first time she rides in it then fix it, and a decent negotiator.
  • Exaggerated in Dragon Ball Z Abridged with Goku, making him essentially Too Dumb to Live. But, while his idiocy is ramped up, there's also this moment when discussing the Ultra Super Saiyan form with Gohan.
  • In the Robotboy fic Human After All, Gus doesn't know that Japan fought against America in World War 2. It's implied he's never even heard of the war.
  • Ambition of the Red Princess:
    • Naofumi struggled academically throughout his school career but quickly shows an impressive understanding of people and their motivations, such as realizing that a barkeep offering everyone a free round of beer will make his customers eat and drink more along with their cheer drawing in more curious customers, earning him more money than the single lost barrel of beer would've earned him. Similarly, when Malty exonerates him of having allegedly raped her, Naofumi almost immediately puzzles out that she was expected to betray him as part of a plot by the king.
    • On other occasions, Naofumi immediately dismisses the other heroes' claim that being the Shield Hero makes him useless, citing how important tanks are in multiplayer games. He also realizes that the two "envoys" sent by Siltvelt are low-level spies given that their "plan" to smuggle him out of the country is to take him by carriage through the main road connecting the two countries, which is fortified by a heavy garrison. Naofumi takes a moment to explain why leaving Melomarc is a bad idea to begin with as it'd paint him as a deserter, and that's if everyone at the garrison thinks rationally and lets him pass rather than killing him.
  • Korra, as she's depicted in Project Voicebend, is terribly uninformed about a lot of subjects a girl her age should know about. She's barely literate, she doesn't know how to do basic math, she has no idea what sex is or why she feels all tingly whenever she gets into a fight, among many other things. This is because the White Lotus taught her nothing besides how to bend the elements and beat people up. It's actually a very sensitive issue for her.
    Tarrlok: My club is not dumb. You're dumb.
    Korra: [tearfully gasps]
    [cut to Korra sobbing uncontrollably at Air Temple Island]
    Korra: You guys... I think I'm dumb. I don't even know what 2 + 2 is!
  • Ron Weasley's usual role as this is invoked in the fanfic Muggle Fairy Tales are Mad! when a discussion of Fudge's poor performance as Minister of Magic leads to Ron bringing up Gunderman Poddingport, a Minister so useless that he's never even mentioned in the history books because he's most well-known for eating sweets while the goblins attacked a village in the sixteenth century; Ron only knows about Poddingport because his ten-times great-grandfather Ronaldus was one of the wizards involved in cleaning up the aforementioned mess, with Ron paying more attention to the story than his siblings as he was named after Ronaldus.
  • Flosshead from Seth In The City. He seems to be fairly pop-cultured for an evil dinosaur hatchling, is very good with technology and yet usually gets no higher than C's in school.
  • Ty Lee from Ash and Petals is not a dumb girl, but school has never been her strong suit. She only got through her academy days by copying off of Azula.
  • Actually subverted with Percy in Son of the Western Sea. Actually having help with schoolwork and not having to deal with the Olympians giving him quests which throw his life into chaos means that he was able to improve his grades. While he still struggles with English and History, he gets an A in Physics and a solid B in pre-calculus. Given he is (unknowingly) the nascent god of spaceflight, that makes sense.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 11 of the third story, Diplomacy Through Schooling, Sonata freely admits that she used to be this. She's put a lot of effort into fixing that since she got back to Equestria though.
  • In Second Year, Second Try, Yu Narukami is great at using Personas, solved a murder mystery and is an excellent cook, but ends up getting Held Back in School and repeating his second year at Yasogami. It's also pointed out that the other Investigation Team members who get poor grades have various talents outside of school.
  • In Leaving Town, Riko "Erwin" Matsumoto is extremely knowledgeable about history, especially World War II, but doesn't do all that well in school.
  • In Tough Love, Charlie rather bluntly reveals his low opinion of Bella's intelligence (or lack thereof). What seems to frustrate him more than that, however, is how she has completely given up trying to even pass her classes, instead preferring to wallow in her sadness over Edward dumping her. She ignored any and all help offered by teachers in the form of tutorials, extensions and counseling, and once turned in a calculus test covered entirely in the words, "WHY, EDWARD, WHY?"
  • Through Her Eyes: Averted. Despite her own beliefs on the matter, Ruby is actually one of the most intelligent students at Beacon, second only to Weiss. That said, her past education of homeschooling and internet tutorial videos means there's a lot of blind spots in her knowledge base, such as technology, so she has to do a fair amount of catch-up work in order to stay at Beacon. Either way, her real strength is in her fighting ability, which amazes the rest of her class.
  • The Way, Truth, and Light: Played with in Ritsuka Fujimaru. In this version of the story, he was an orphan who was raised in a church and never went to school, so the only books he had ever read are the Bible and a few texts on the Saints. He can reliably quote scripture, but he knows nothing about history or mythology, so he has no idea who Servants like Cu Chulainn and Heracles are. This contrasts him with Mash Kyrielight, who was raised in isolation and studied history and mythology to be able to recognize Servants and what they can do, but has never heard of the Bible or Jesus.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The entirety of Delta, in Animal House, are stated to be extremely bad students; the highest-scoring person is fraternity president Robert Hoover, with a 1.6 GPA (four Cs and an F), with Bluto having a 0.0 and D-Day having no GPA at all (no courses completed). However, they had to have been pretty damn smart to pull off the events of the climax.
  • In The Art of Self-Defense, Sensei is a smooth talker and incredible schemer, but requires a calculator to perform simple math.
  • Bill and Ted in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure will apparently mature into musical geniuses, display a high degree of creativity, and have a surprisingly sophisticated vocabulary. However, they are failing history and clearly have not paid much attention in school.
  • In The Blind Side Michael Oher is presumed to be worthless and unteachable, until a teacher administers a test verbally and he actually receives a passing score. The problem lies not in his inherent intelligence, but rather in his borderline illiteracy and the methodology of the test itself. Throughout the remainder of the film, Oher is depicted as being highly competent so long as a task can be adapted to a metaphor he understands.
  • In Blue Is the Warmest Color Thomas can be easily seen as intellectually inferior to Adèle since he's not much of a reader but is actually good in Math. He is also reasonably talented in music and decided to learn on his own because he didn't like his music classes. He learned to play various musical instruments by listening and watching videos.
  • Kenny Dantley, the protagonist of Corvette Summer, doesn't care about any of his classes except auto shop. He gets a D-minus on one exam.
  • In The Dark Crystal, Kira is nobody's fool, but she never learned to read.
  • The Getting of Wisdom: Laura, at the start of the film, lacks a formal education in such subjects as history or literature, but is a remarkably gifted pianist, able to play complex pieces entirely from sight.
  • Ghostbusters (2016): Patty, the only non-scientist on the team, is nevertheless a huge history nerd who knows a lot about even minor New York landmarks. This proves invaluable when tracking ghosts and figuring out the Big Bad's master plan.
  • Lady Bird: Lady Bird is artistic, clever, and very bright, but she doesn't care much for schoolwork and as such gets pretty mediocre grades and is shown a few times to struggle with math. However, it's mentioned that she got surprisingly good SAT scores and she manages to get a scholarship to college.
  • Teddy from Neighbors might be this. His grades are very poor (because he apparently never goes to class) and he's hopelessly naive about the 'legacy' of Delta Psi but otherwise he seems pretty sharp in contrast to the genuinely stupid likes of Scoonie and Garf. Notably he realises the importance of winning over the neighbours (at least at first) and it's his idea to sell Delta Psi dildos, making the fraternity a lot of money.
  • In Night School (2018), main character Teddy doesn’t perform well academically, but spent most of his adult life managing a complex social life that allowed him to appear more well-off than he actually was. This becomes justified later when it’s revealed that he has a learning disability.
  • Jean-Baptiste Grenouille of Perfume displays a high level of intelligence in addition to his brilliance in perfume making. However, he was raised as a simple tanner's apprentice in 18th century France, so he has no education at all. Even in adulthood, he must ask simple questions like, "What's a legend?"
  • Malik from Un prophète is almost illiterate (though he does get some education while in prison) — but he's very, very clever.
  • Stop! Look! And Laugh!: Jerry Mahoney is this; he is a bad student, mentioning how awful he does in school on his tests but he is smart enough to pull tricks to fool Paul Winchell or avoid going to school.
  • Ted and John from Ted 2 are clearly unfamiliar with literature, as when Sam mentions F. Scott Fitzgerald to them, they think the 'F' in his name stands for 'Fuck'.
  • Subverted in The Waterboy. Bobby Boucher seems to be mentally retarded, but that's really due to years of excessive sheltering by his mother, who taught him everything "is the Devil!", as he has practical knowledge about water filtration, and later does well with every college class, even having a near-perfect score on his high school-equivalency exam.

    Jokes 
  • In Russian Humour, the Chukchi people of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug — an indigenous people who were already there when Russians settled Siberia — are portrayed this way, being extremely naive and ignorant of the modern world and social norms, For example...  but having a kind of benign perspicacity — they are usually used to highlight the absurdities of modern life or establishment propaganda:
    A Chukcha returns from a visit to Moscow. Everyone is curious. "What is Communism like?" asks another Chukcha. "Wondrous," replies the Chukcha, "in Moscow everything is for the betterment of man. Also saw that man." note 
    • And sometimes they just have sharp frontier instincts:
    A Chukcha and a Russian explorer are out hunting polar bears. They see one. "Run!" yells the Chukcha, and sprints back the way they came. The Russian shrugs, raises his gun, and kills the polar bear with a single shot. "You Fool!!" yells the Chukcha. "Russian hunter bad hunter — you can haul this bear the ten miles back to the yaranga yourself!"

    Literature 
  • Julia from 1984 is barely literate, yet able to guess the Party's innermost goals almost intuitively, and evade capture by a totalitarian regime for ten years. It's entirely possible, however, that she's actually an agent of that regime used to lure people like Winston into a false sense of security before the Thought Police come after them.
  • Huckleberry Finn from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the EPITOME of this trope. He's able to come up with elaborate plans on-the-spot to turn the tables around in a bad situation but he can't even spell his own alias correctly. Jim too. As a slave, he's uneducated (and it shows), but he can be pretty philosophical about what he does know.
  • Aximili from Animorphs is an Andalite military cadet, a member of a super-advanced alien species, with all the complete-education and training that implies, and all the vastly-superior-to-human-science knowledge that comes with it — and his actions throughout the series show that he's quite intelligent and quick-thinking as well. He also conveniently knows very little about a great many plot points and other miscellaneous details that he should reasonably be expected to know by the standards of his people, because while he has completed his education, he spent most of that education staring at the attractive female Andalites in adjacent learning cubicles. Some things, it would seem, are universal.
  • Claudia Kishi from The Baby-Sitters Club series is this trope. Basically her entire personality, and many of her plotlines, revolve around the fact that she does poorly in school despite being talented at art and having generally good judgment and social skills. In the early books she's just uninterested in school, but she seems to get dumber as the series goes on, even going so far as to be sent back to a grade she had already completed.
  • Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts: This is a given as Fumizuki Academy separates it’s students into different classes based on their entrance exams scores, with the series focusing on Class 2F. However, it also plays with the trope as most of the students being downplayed examples due to Crippling Overspecialization and a few others being subverted examples due to being Brilliant, but Lazy.
  • Bazil Broketail:
    • One of Relkin's greatest regrets — by his own admission — is that he lacks proper education, having finished only two classes in the local school. Nevertheless, throughout the series he still proves to be quite intelligent and insightful for a simple soldier. In book four, for example, he correctly identifies the weakness of a steel golem conjured by Gadjung the sorcerer and later also is not fooled in the least by Heruta's attempts at brainwashing him.
    • Bazil also qualifies. He doesn't seem to have received any formal education other than combat training, but he still repeatedly displays wisdom and knowledge beyond that. This is most prominent in book five, where he learns the language of Ardu (and actually does better job at it than Relkin), later takes leadership over them, organizes them into an army that he leads against slavers of Mirchaz and actually proves to be a brilliant tactician — all this despite having no education in strategy and the dragons' hat of being generally poor at planning.
    • Unlike Relkin, who finished two classes in local school at least, Mono received no formal education at all. He claims that wife of his houselord Goole taught him how to read and write (though he admits he was never good at the latter), as well as some basic mathematics, and that's it.
    • Count Trego is an utter ignoramus in every matter except warfare and details of Czardhan nobility affairs. Argonathi witch Endysia actually embarrasses him by revealing that she read the Ballads of Medon, an exquisite work of art written in his homeland — that Count Trego himself has never read, only picking the most popular parts. Still, his gradual development into a better man shows that he is quite intelligent and capable of learning things previously unthinkable to him if he wants to.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Touma Kamijou is really smart when it comes to fighting and surviving, often managing to figure out his opponents' weakness and outsmart as well as outpunch them. He is also good at applying the laws of physics to predict trajectories and stuff like that. He does really poorly at school, though in his defense, saving people, the city, or the world often eats up the time he could have used to study. He is also ignorant in a lot of topics that his peers are not. For example, he only understands Japanese. Most other characters know multiple languages, and often complain that he must be an idiot when they have to translate for him. He doesn't know about any country besides Japan, which his peers also complain about. He is also very ignorant about mythology and history. At one point, his companions, who are all from England or Italy, start talking about the Japanese surveyor and cartographer Inō Tadataka. He has no idea who that is, causing his companions to say that he must be a slacker to not know his own country's history.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • Greg is not stupid, but he is a slacker who receives bad grades.
    • Rodrick lets his father do all his homework, and fails his assignments when he does it on his own.
  • Caius from Detectives in Togas. Leading to many funny situations when he can't answer the questions of his teacher. Like this: "The Rhine is a river... which has banks on both sides."
  • While Mildmay in Doctrine of Labyrinths is quite intelligent, he's also functionally illiterate.
  • Don Camillo: Peppone dropped out of school in third grade and is only literate in the most technical sense. It doesn't stop him from eloquently arguing politics, turning his blacksmith's shop into a successful auto repair business, serving as his home village's mayor for over twenty years or out-scheming his arch-enemy, the village priest, with surprising regularity.
  • Razz, from Don't Call Me Ishmael!, fits. Failing his subjects, described as "wasting his potential".
  • Flox from Fairy Oak is hopeless at math. So much she is willing to break the Magical Law in order to scape a pop quiz.
  • Flawed: No matter how hard Juniper studies, she is only an average student at best, despite being a generally intelligent person in other walks of life.
  • From Russia with Love: SMERSH assassin Red Grant failed the political indoctrination segments of his training, but got top marks in more practical, technical subjects like codebreaking and tracking. Once in the field, he shows he's not just Dumb Muscle by demonstrating skills many other thugs and henchmen in the franchise are seemingly incapable of, like using stealth and holding down a cover.
  • Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!. He doesn't tend to do very well in school. Granted, it's not like he has a lot of street smarts in relation to normal people's survival and lives either, but... he sure is good at fighting and surviving in the combat zone. Not to mention his knack for rescuing people. An episode shows that Sousuke's problem is he is just unable to think outside of military terms and situations. He reads classic poetry and somehow comes to the conclusion that it's talking about a World War II Naval battle.
  • Galaxy of Fear covers its bases. Zak Arranda is reasonably intelligent but hates to study. His big sister Tash is a bookworm who likes study and cites her sources when she writes essays — admirable, for a thirteen-year-old.
  • Skylar in Gives Light is witty and perceptive, but says he doesn't perform well in school. It's not clear whether he's legitimately Book Dumb or just plain lazy, as he also claims to hate reading books and never finishes them.
  • Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind is mentioned to have barely scraped by at the Fayetteville Female Academy, and never willingly opened a book since her graduation. However, this is purposefully cultivated because intellectual women found it harder to catch husbands in the antebellum South. She is highly skilled in wrapping men around her little finger and is also shown to have an instinctual knack for business and uncanny math skills. Frank Kennedy was appalled to find out that she even knew what a mortgage was. Melanie, on the other hand, is not afraid to discuss literature and philosophy with her fiancé.
  • In The Hammer (2022), Tiny admits that he's not the sharpest tool in the shed and sometimes wishes that he'd paid better attention to his comrades' lectures. When Asgard tries to explain the power of gravity to him, Tiny tunes him out and starts picking his ears while showing disdain for Asgard's attempts to describe something that Tiny takes for granted. But Tiny's strength and martial talent are the real deal, having developed a form of mana manipulation that would make him one of the ten strongest knights in the land despite starting from nothing as a penniless commoner. He's also quite adept at manipulating others, taking advantage of how people think he's Just a Kid until it's too late. This is also justified; Tiny's upbringing as a slum orphan means that he never obtained a formal education.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Both Harry Potter and Ron Weasley have a fairly low level of interest in academia and usually rely on their uber-nerd friend to succeed for them. Everyone knows that Harry Potter becomes a great wizard, yet he's only this great when in danger. He even flat-out says this in the fifth book. Even J.K. Rowling states that while Harry does become a gifted wizard, he was pretty much comparable to Ron as The Ditz, especially when one remembers how out of the trio, Harry was the only one to never use a single spell in the first book. Even though he just learned of Hogwarts' existence a day before attending, he was certainly given the chance to learn at least one spell throughout the school year, especially given the circumstances. Even Ron learned two spells, and successfully performed one. This is downplayed a bit, in that neither Harry nor Ron are bad at school, just kind of middle-of-the-road, with their grades in a major exam suggesting them to be the wizarding equivalent of B-students.
    • If you thought Harry and Ron were bad academically, Ron's prankster twin brothers, Fred and George, are even worse. Case in point: Mrs. Weasley commented once of Ron achieving seven "Exceeds Expectations" grades in his O.W.L. exams as more than Fred's and George's added together. On the other hand, they managed to found a highly successful joke shop to sell their magical inventions that impress even Hermione. However, they were not always Book Dumb; in the first book, Ron mentioned that they make high grades, despite being goofs. Their grades declined because in the later years of school, they could no longer breeze through exams without even trying. And given their career plans didn't require getting into the advanced classes, it wasn't worth the effort to them to study harder.
  • Kyon from Haruhi Suzumiya is clearly intelligent and knows a lot for his age, as displayed by his continual references to widely varied aspects of culture, history, mythology and advanced scientific concepts, many of which a high schooler would have no reason to know, but is far below average as a student, possibly due to his cynical and apathetic personality. In the novels, he ends up needing Haruhi's help on at least one assignment. Lampshaded by Kyon himself: "Why is it that I can be so smart when it comes to reading Nagato's facial expressions or Koizumi's hidden clues, but fail to answer every single test question?"
  • Justified in Homerooms & Hall Passes, where the main characters are transported from a Standard Fantasy Setting into an American middle school. In their original setting, they're all competent adventurers. But they're at a serious disadvantage in classes that presuppose a lifetime of immersion in technology, geography, history, and even cosmology different from that their own.
  • Ichika from Infinite Stratos is very bad when it comes to theoretics, much to his, his sister's, and his haremettes' annoyance.
  • In It Can't Happen Here, much of the American populace is book-dumb after the Windrip regime's educational "reforms", book burnings, and censorship campaigns. Institutions of higher learning have been eviscerated, and the remaining schools only teach practical or useless classes, meaning that much of the populace is ignorant of history, literature, and civics. When citizens revolt against the Corpos, this works against them as well as the Corpos.
    So, after the first gay eruptions of rioting, the revolt slowed up. Neither the Corpos nor many of their opponents knew enough to formulate a clear, sure theory of self-government, or irresistibly resolve to engage in the sore labor of fitting themselves for freedom ... Even yet, after Windrip, most of the easy-going descendants of the wisecracking Benjamin Franklin had not learned that Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" meant anything more than a high-school yell or a cigarette slogan.
  • Jakub Wędrowycz, a genius and master exorcist, only went to elementary school for three years back in 1910's, so his knowledge of anything not related to the supernatural is... sketchy (he can barely read and write the Latin alphabet). He personally despises any higher education and considers it a disgrace when his grandson turns out a Teen Genius who reads books all day.
  • Yuuri from Kyo Kara Maoh!, is shown as having very average grades (and baseball abilities), but evidently has enough street smarts (well most of the time, anyway) to make it as king.
  • The Legend of Yan-Kan Mar: Toki (formerly Yan-Kan) is illiterate due to her social standing never allowing her to go to school back when the Taiko ruled the world. When given the chance she still doesn’t go to school, but rather gets a job while her sisters get a proper education.
  • In The Lighthouse Duet, Valen is hinted to be severely dyslexic, incapable of reading even single words, and his addiction issues cause him to make terrible decisions when the cravings hit, but he has an excellent memory and is able to adapt to any number of unfamiliar situations.
  • Peyssou from Malevil is a skilled farmer and mason but is otherwise uneducated. He often asks Emmanuel or Thomas to define some of the less-common "smart" words they use.
  • Fanny Price in Mansfield Park is from a poor family and hasn't had access as a child to the governesses her rich cousins had; as a result, when she first meets them they laugh at her for not knowing basic facts about geography and history. However, she's got more common sense and a better sense of morality than they do, and does a better job of making up for lost time in academic knowledge than they do in developing character.
  • In Maoyu, The Hero is the resident World's Strongest Man, but lacked a formal education. In the first episode, he didn't even know what pollution is. He sadly lampshades this in that he is only suited for fighting and is not equipped to help in problems concerning economics and politics. He is quite clever and practical, just ignorant, and he learns quickly.
  • The Master Key: Rob may be fascinated with electricity, but is kind of an idiot, not to mention an asshole. He thinks he knows everything about the world despite never having left his home town, frequently leaves his destinations worse than when he arrived, and turns down the final gifts of the Demon of Electricity, who is a Benevolent Genie, gives him a huge "fuck you", and demands that he depart forever.
  • Vin from Mistborn has this to an extent; she's actually pretty good at reading and writing but hates doing them. Also, she once encounters an obscure mathematical puzzle and doesn't even realize it is one.
  • The Murderbot Diaries: Murderbot is far from stupid but has wide gaps in its education by virtue of having spent most of its life, occasionally leading to it making a Note to Self to do things like look up what a "metaphor" actually is or using "anagram" instead of "acronym" either in internal monologue or in conversation. Also not helping is that much of Murderbot's actual experience of how human society works outside of the areas a SecUnit is actually supposed to be is drawn from TV shows it binged on Space Netflix.
    Murderbot: A forensic sweep might show that I'd been there. If forensic sweeps worked like they did in the entertainment media, which, come to think about it, I had no idea if they did or not. (Note to self: look up real forensic sweeps.)
  • Played with in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!. Catarina is incredibly dim, but only socially. While she has absurd ideas of how she's supposed to learn magic and so on it's actually indicated a number of times that she gets average scores on tests when she tries. When she's not interested in something though she's capable of barely reaching double digit scores, though, so it's fortunate that she actually feels she needs to learn magic and so on.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians also has several examples of this — most of the demigods are ADHD and dyslexic, which results in their doing rather poorly in school, despite their hyperintelligence in other areas.
  • Terry Pratchett loves this trope as much as any of them.
    • In Maskerade, Granny Weatherwax is described as "grudgingly literate but keenly numerate". In an early book, she initially couldn't comprehend the un-reality of a local play.
    • Cohen the Barbarian is illiterate, though he loves books (they make for good lavatory paper), but he's got so much cunning and guile it doesn't matter. Unlike most barbarians, he does have a great deal of genuine respect for education, though. He had a Geography teacher as part of his retinue and trusted adviser in Interesting Times, and would listen and defer to him when faced with a problem he was best equipped to tackle. He even proved himself willing to listen to Rincewind when he thinks what the man has to say is relevant.
    • Leonard of Quirm, despite being possibly the most well-read and brilliant man on the Disc when it comes to what we Roundworlders would call "actual" science, seems to think that an excess of education or training can be a bad thing, leading to a flaw he calls "learning the limits of the possible" — i.e., a failure of imagination. He failed the Alchemists' Guild exam due to doodling complex devices in the margins and absent-mindedly correcting the questions. He is also rather bad at coming up with names for his inventions for some reason.
    • Perhaps the finest example of this in Discworld, however, is Harry King, who like Cohen tends to use certain kinds of paper for lavatory use (his wife likes newspaper when it's recycled, but King himself prefers to "cut out the middleman"). He was born a poor street kid and eventually came to be the waste management consultant in Ankh-Morpork. William de Worde, by no means stupid and possibly the most well-read person in Ankh-Morpork outside of the Patrician, had the "uncomfortable moment when an educated man realizes the illiterate person sizing him up could probably out-think him three times over"
    • His Grace the Duke of Ankh, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes is also a key example. He doesn't know much in terms of education (he grew up as a street kid, with all that entails in old Ankh-Morpork), and struggles manfully with his paperwork and other more intellectual duties, but he knows people better than almost anyone else in the setting. While Smart People Play Chess, he questions why the pawns don't overthrow the nobles and set up a republic.
  • P. G. Wodehouse's Psmith series owes its setup to this trope. Mike Jackson is pulled out of his school on account of his failing grades and sent to a private school, where he meets Psmith, exiled from Eton for a similar reason. Despite their academic deficiencies, Mike is a near-infallible cricket player and Psmith is an underhanded genius hiding beneath the guise of a stereotypical Cloudcuckoolander.
  • At the start of Red Rising, Darrow didn't even know what shampoo was. This was mainly due to the fact that he was a member of the lowest caste in society, who weren't allowed to read, and weren't allowed running water for showers, only being able to clean off dirt by blasting themselves with pressurized air. Once he gets an actual education, he's very quick thinking, well read, and eloquent.
  • Roys Bedoys: Roys often complains about having to study and procrastinates studying, which makes him somewhat of a bad student until he steps his game up.
  • Gwen and Lesley from The Ruby Red Trilogy don't really pay attention at school (except in History class) and 'study' by watching popular movies only loosely related to the topic, yet outside of school, they are able to hold their own in trying to figure out and navigate the complex conspiracies of the Guardians. This is sharply contrasted with Gideon and Charlotte, who have received intensive education practically since birth in historical knowledge and skills designed to let them fit seamlessly into past eras, but have also been successfully indoctrinated to play their roles in the Guardians without question or complaint and are unprepared for navigating healthy friendships and relationships in their own era.
    Gwyneth: "If you've been trained for your life as a time traveler only half as thoroughly as Charlotte, then you've had no time to make any friends at all, and your opinion of what you call average girls comes from observations you made when you were standing about the school yard alone. Or are you telling me that the other kids at your school thought your hobbies, like Latin, dancing the gavotte, and driving horse-drawn carriages, were really cool?"
  • Cayleb of Safehold openly admits to not being much of a scholar, but he is definitely not stupid.
  • Sharpe: Sharpe starts the series as this, being a Satisfied Street Rat with the education that entails in the late 18th century. Even after he learns to read (after three months with William Lawford and a page from The Bible in a cell in India) he never shows any interest until he gains a commission and gets married. After that, however, he becomes a voracious, if somewhat eclectic, reader.
Slacker: Football hero String is smart enough to understand a playbook perfectly, but he's failing all his classes and thinks To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee is one of the stars of Duck Dynasty.
  • Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note:
    • When Wakatake is not in the mood he can easily become this. This is why on one hand he is eligible for Team KZ (which requires being the top 2% academically), but on the other hand couldn't even get into the middle school he wants.
    • Aya's little sister Nako turns out to be this in her spinoff Genie Team G Jiken Note, in a more classical way. Despite having an IQ of 260, she's an perennial underperformer, always been divided into the lowest class in Shumei Seminar and her intelligence is hardly recognized until the fifth grade.
  • The world of Temeraire features several people like this, though it certainly wouldn't be uncommon as public schooling was all but unthought of during the Napoleonic wars. Laurence forced himself to cram the necessary mathematics to be a sailor into his head when he was a boy, but was not much skilled beyond that, and had little love for books. Laurence, though, is not a slow man by any means. However, it's subverted when Temeraire's love of books and joy in reading and knowledge infects Laurence. Laurence also insists that his adolescent ensigns and cadets do their schoolwork, when he's not so busy he forgets, and though they perform their duties ably and, as children and youth are wont to do, pick up languages faster than the adults in the crew, they show great resistance and dislike of it. Similarly, uneducated dragons, even from breeds not particularly renowned for thinking, prove quite capable of debating advanced mathematics with Temeraire. The trope is also inverted in a minor character, a lieutenant who, "If ships could be sailed by figures could sail around the world without fear" but when called to order others around habitually gives the wrong order.
  • D'Artagnan from Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers is very perceptive and good at Indy Ploys, but "had never been able to cram the first rudiments of [Latin] into his head, and [...] had by his ignorance driven his master to despair".
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf novel Grey Hunters, Sven's marked lack of interest in history and the archives makes a Foil for the more studious hero, Ragnar. At one point he drags Ragnar away from the hologlobe for beer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charles Gunn from Angel is far from well-read due to growing up on the streets but has a first-rate intellect, though he gets self-deprecating about being "the muscle" in the group in later seasons. In Season 5, this is subverted when he becomes the group's legal expert after getting a mental download of a comprehensive knowledge of the law, along with some Required Secondary Powers like golf, foreign languages and Gilbert and Sullivan.
  • Arrested Development: High-school age Maeby Fünke is able not only to con her way into a job as a film executive, but to actually execute it competently, despite only getting a crocodile in spelling and a daisy in arithmetic.
  • Penny from The Big Bang Theory is this, having dropped out of community college and having trouble learning scholastic topics. This contrasts with the rest of the characters who all work in different scientific fields.
  • Jesse Pinkman, from Breaking Bad, never did well in class, especially Walter White's chemistry class, and speaks in a particular vernacular that does not make him seem very intelligent. When it comes to actually performing chemistry, however, he is surprisingly talented: he actually understands Walt's formula for his sky blue meth instead of just simply following a recipe, and not only is he one of the only three people who can cook meth with purity in excess of 90% (the others being Gale Boetticher and Walt himself), but once managed to create a batch of Walt's formula out of a cramped RV meth lab by himself.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Xander is hopeless at basic schoolwork.
    • Buffy herself comes off this way, largely because her slaying cuts into her studying. Those of her teachers who aren't jerkasses recognize that she is actually very bright, and she gets a great Verbal SAT score.
    • Faith is shown to be this on having the phrase "Achilles' Heel" explained to her.
      Faith: "Ah. The school thing. I was kinda absent that decade."
  • Doctor Who: Noble Savage Leela may not be the most educated or intellectual of the Doctor's companions, but she is highly observant and intuitive. This makes her an excellent complement to the Genius Ditz Doctor.
  • In Dead Gorgeous, Rebecca believes being pretty and popular are more important than being smart. As a result, she neglects her studies in favour of fashion and gossip magazines. In "Smoke and Mirrors" it is revealed that is failing every subject, which nearly causes her to fade out of existence.
  • Drake from Drake & Josh, with a side of Brilliant, but Lazy.
    Drake: All right, it's been 17 minutes since we were at the sign that said "two hours from this point." I figure an hour and 43 minutes for the line, 6 minutes to ride The Demonator, 13 minutes to find the car and 22 minutes to drive home. That puts us at the front door at exactly 10:58, which is two minutes before mom and dad said they'd be home.
    Josh: All right, like, if you can figure that out … why are you failing math?
    Drake: Because this is important!
  • Eureka's protagonist, Sheriff Jack Carter is book dumb in comparison to his town full of supergeniuses. He has street smarts in addition to what would be considered a high degree of education anywhere else in the world. This works in his favor as the running theme of the series is how the super-geniuses go for overcomplicated answers but it's Carter pointing out the simplest solution that saves the day.
  • Family Ties: Mallory is frequently portrayed as a space cadet and average (at best) student who posits that there may be "special verbs for dead people" since they don't "do" anything. However, she is clearly a very talented fashion designer who nearly beats Alex in the PBS scholarship contest of her own accord.
  • Leonard Snart (a.k.a. "Captain Cold") in The Flash is a very good villainous example. He never finished high school, and his signature Freeze Ray was stolen from STAR Labs rather than anything he made himself. That said, he was a very cunning and successful professional criminal even before he took on this gimmick, thanks to a hefty dose of Awesomeness by Analysis, and was the first villain to hand the Flash a solid defeat and remain at large, rather than being killed or captured. He has also taken apart and put back together his cold gun enough times to know how to maintain it, despite the technology being way beyond him. He insists that his partner (who's even more this trope) do the same with his flamethrower. Mick later turns out to be even smarter by being able to pilot a timeship and track down temporal fugitives as the Bounty Hunter Chronos. Jefferson "Jax" Jackson never went to college due to a busted knee ruining his chances for a football scholarship. Despite this, his skills as a mechanic translate surprisingly well to maintaining a timeship almost as well as Rip (a trained Time Master).
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Being a smallfolk (commoner) who was only relatively recently elevated to the nobility by Stannis Baratheon for loyal service, Ser Davos Seaworth is illiterate until Season 3 as smallfolk don't generally learn how to read and write, but he is still one of the most intelligent characters on the show. He's a quick thinker and excellent strategist, and even the Book Dumb part is starting to disappear since Shireen began teaching him to read.
    • In "Battle of the Bastards," Tormund doesn't understand the strategic terms that Jon uses and takes the metaphor "had demons in him" literally.
  • Emma Norton in Genie in the House. Interestingly, despite being the more popular and seemingly girly of the Norton sisters she is also the character with most of the stock sitcom male characteristics; laziness, Small Name, Big Ego, a tendency towards get rich quick schemes, and comedic lechery.
  • Cappie, the president of Van Wilderesque fraternity Kappa Tau on Greek is shown to be extremely smart, to the point of being able to converse freely in Latin and figuring out what the point of a psychological experiment was that the research assistant didn't realize, but he's also shown to completely not care about school, such as showing up to a class for the first time two months after it started.
  • Matt Parkman on Heroes, although he's no genius, is streetwise enough to have been a cop and cunning enough to have literally thought his way through some nasty situations. He's also dyslexic, hence Book Dumb through no fault of his own.
  • iCarly: Sam Puckett takes this trope so far that a realistic question can be asked of how she hasn't been expelled or held back. Again. She got held back already in the 3rd grade. She's also a bully. Yet outside the school, she can scheme and plan.
  • Luke from Jessie is shown to be highly creative and intelligent when it comes to pranking and scheming but is expelled from school on a regular basis due to his behaviour and grades. Though an episode where he and Ravi switch character (It Makes Sense in Context) reveals he'd actually have good grades if he did his homework and didn't fall asleep in class, making him also an example of Brilliant, but Lazy. A guest appearance on the Spin-Off Bunk'd reveals that Luke actually gets Straight As in summer school.
  • Gentarou Kisaragi, the main hero of Kamen Rider Fourze is this. So much that he considers getting a 50 his greatest accomplishment! Plus, that 50 was originally an 18 — due to helping out the detention teacher's son, he bumped it up to the 50 to pass! The other half of this trope is shown in Gentaro's social skills (he's incredibly good with people and can befriend just about anyone, plus is a very good judge of character and when someone is hiding something), his deductive reasoning (figuring out who the Monster of the Week was based on a character tic), and his ability to learn, adapt, and improvise during battle.
  • Kenan Rockmore from Kenan & Kel. He forgets what George Washington did with the cherry tree, can't think of an author to use as an influence for his "graduation speech", and doesn't know how to spell "thief" ("T-H-E-A-F-E"). That said, he is resourceful when it comes to planning his schemes.
  • Mirabelle from The Kicks, though this is largely due to laziness. "Breakaway" reveals that she believes she's not smart enough to pass her classes, so she doesn't bother trying.
  • LazyTown: A strange subversion. Robbie is an Evil Genius without a doubt, as he's able to build machines that would have engineers scratching their heads (like a microwave that can make inventions for you and even a time machine), and his varied disguises and antics show he's obviously a very knowledgeable individual despite all their goofiness. However, for some reason, he struggles with simple arithmetic and reading.
  • The Librarians: Compared to Flynn Carsen (22 academic degrees), Jacob Stone (world's foremost expert on art history with several Ph.D.s and honorary doctorates), and Cassandra Cillian (a genius-level mathematician), Ezekiel Jones (world's greatest thief) and Eve Baird (colonel in a special UN counterterrorism unit) seem like outliers. Ezekiel doesn't like to read much and tends to scoff at Jacob's knowledge of art. Despite this, he has incredible street smarts, self-taught skills of getting out of any situation, and knowledge of the criminal underworld. Eve, on the other hand, doesn't need to be book smart, when she has three (sometimes four) Librarians, whose knowledge and skills she knows how to direct, as well a good leader should.
  • The titular character of Life with Derek obviously isn't stupid. He just has other priorities.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
    • On the surface, Tamar from Numenor comes across as the stereotypical dumb bully who taunts the main characters just because, but he has enough Hidden Depths to prove he is fairly smart. He is charismatic enough to make the people listen to his speech against Miriel and act as an Agent Provocateur for Pharazôn, and when Halbrand suddenly offers drinks for everyone, he notices is all an act for Halbrand to steal his guild crest.
    • The Stranger is completely amnesiac on his arrival and doesn't even know to talk. Nori has to teach him how to communicate properly.
  • Reese of Malcolm in the Middle was shown, more often than not, to be an ingenious planner — Malcolm himself hangs a lampshade on it by saying:
    "It's weird. Reese is one of the worst students at school, but he's invented like fifty games, and they're all fun."
  • Kelly Bundy from Married... with Children began the series as a snarky, Book Dumb teenage girl before turning into a Brainless Beauty essentially overnight.
  • Modern Family: Haley Dunphy gets middling grades at best, often misuses words larger than two syllables, and altogether considers thinking to be a "nerd" thing to avoid at all costs. However, she's shown to have a very cunning mind when she puts in the effort, from the time she convinced the family she had a waitress job (and then tricked them into thinking her mom's outburst got her fired when Alex tried to expose her), continually sees through her parents' manipulations, and even started up a successful fashion blog — though she also accidentally turned herself into a camwhore since she didn't know how to turn the webcam off, and was changing clothes in front of it.
  • The eponymous character of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.
  • Never Have I Ever: Paxton. The reason why he's in Mr. Shapiro's class is because he flunked it as a sophomore.
  • The writers of The O.C. seemed unsure whether Summer Roberts was merely Book Dumb or The Ditz. She seems to vary with different episodes, and at least one episode hinted she was more a Seemingly Profound Fool ("what is a Jihad?").
  • Derek "Del Boy" Trotter of Only Fools and Horses was always more interested in making money down the market than school, which for him was mostly a way to hang out with his friends. He has a shockingly poor grasp of just about every academic subject, save for maths where his decades of wheeling and dealing have left him with fantastic mental arithmetic. Despite all this he is an excellent Guile Hero, able to outwit people much better educated and successful than himself. One memorable instance involved him confessing to a crime moments after receiving a legally binding declaration that he couldn't be arrested for his involvement with it. His Book Dumb nature means that he is so frequently wrong about things that when he is secretly acting out one of his brilliant plans, even the audience is fooled.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Teenager Walter Denton is a cunning schemer, editor of the school paper and manager of the baseball, basketball and football teams. However, his grades range from mediocre to absolutely abysmal. This odd dichotomy was acknowledged by Mr. Conklin in the episode "The Birthday Bag":
    Mr. Conklin: Excellent, Walter. It's a wonder that agile mind of yours doesn't function so efficaciously in the schoolroom.
  • Kim Parker from The Parkers is a dimwit in academics, and there is a running gag about her having bad grades, but she does have a big heart and dreams of reaching success. At the show's end, she never graduates from Santa Monica College, but she goes on to become a successful fashion designer.
  • Perpetual Grace Ltd: Glenn is an adolescent who has spent most of his upbringing running his father's pawn shop rather than going to school or socializing. As a result, he's shockingly ignorant about basic concepts. For example, he gets lost due to believing that west is always to his left. Characters often struggle to explain complex situations to him in terms he understands.
  • Played with with Inspecteur (DI) Lampion, in French series Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie. He's smart and interested in new sciences and techniques (like profiling), but often fails to recognise the classical poetry and literature that his superior, Commissaire (DCI) Larosière, is fond of quoting.
  • Pretty Little Liars: Hanna was never a particularly good student, but she knew her fabrics.
  • In Princess Returning Pearl, Xiao Yan Zi has never been formally educated, and when book-learning is forced on her at eighteen, she finds it extremely difficult, though she is by no means unintelligent. Her struggle with learning literature is a major subplot in the series.
  • Queen Sugar: Deconstructed. When Hollywood began to struggle academically in high school, he was too ashamed to ask for help and none of the adults in his life noticed that he had stopped going to class. This motivates him to run for a position on the school board, to make sure more kids don't fall through the cracks like he did.
  • Red Dwarf
    • David Lister, at least in later seasons, is Book Dumb but can be a reasonably intelligent guy. In "The Inquisitor", where he is put on trial to justify his existence (before himself as Judge), he fails because he could have been a better person than he was, whereas both The Cat and Rimmer (who are easily just as, if not more, a waste of DNA) get off by their own low standards.
    • The Cat is shown to be good at piloting Starbug and having a good sense of smell and perception of nearby danger. This is despite the fact he's not intelligent in other areas.
  • Darlene Connor from Roseanne is a D student more interested in sports than useless studying. However, she's quick-witted and a talented writer, and becomes the first person in her family to go to college, presumably doing well when she's studying something that matters to her.
  • Schitt's Creek has Alexis Rose, who never finished high school and has no interest in anything even slightly academic. She does have a strange amount of street smarts and a particular flair for self-promotion, which she eventually turns into a career in public relations.
  • Turk from Scrubs was a C student in high school, but managed to get into medical school and eventually makes head surgeon. This is to some extent true to life; it is often far easier to focus on academics when one has a clear direction, goal, and interest. He notes himself that his college marks picked up soon after he decided where he wanted to go with his studies.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: Chief Engineer Trip Tucker is an engineering genius, head of the engineering department on Earth's first Warp 5 starship, and consistently throughout the series is shown managing tricks on Enterprise no one else in Starfleet could have pulled off. He also appears to have the same instinctual knowledge of the engines as his successor (predecessor?) Montgomery Scott — and struggles with basic algebra.
  • Romeo is this on The Steve Harvey Show. Although he's been in High School for nearly seven years, he actually does well on his SAT's and by the series end, he gains admittance into a four-year university course.
  • Zack from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.
  • Dean Winchester, the elder brother in Supernatural is this trope. He almost never reads unless he has to while researching a case, and he only has a GED, having dropped out of high school at sixteen to hunt. However, he is a great mechanic, managing to keep his beloved 1967 Chevy Impala in great shape and even rebuilding it by himself after a semi totals it in the first season finale, and he made an electromagnetic frequency (EMF) meter out of a busted Walkman. Not mention he's a great liar, a fairly smooth talker, a hell of a tactician, and he has a lot of supernatural lore committed to memory.
  • In the TV version of Sweet Valley High Jessica is a complete airhead in the classroom, assuming amongst other things that makeup tests are about the use of cosmetics and that Paris is in Italy. Otherwise, while definitely shallow and impulsive, she can be plenty cunning and manipulative, particularly if someone plays a nasty trick on her.
  • Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond on Top Gear — not stupid by any definition but completely uninterested in the kind of engineering, mathematical, or mechanical trivia that fascinates their colleague, James May.
  • An episode of The Twilight Zone dealt with a girl who was mute and presumably illiterate, but with incredible mental powers (like Cassandra Cain minus the whole assassin thing). When her teacher showed her a picture of a boat and asked what it was, the girl had a vision of the boat rocking at sea, and she felt very sad that she couldn't share this with the teacher. The story ends with the girl's caretaker finding her, but she's been DePowered to a normal child.
  • The Wire:
    • This is a major recurring motif among the street-level characters in the show. Many of the teenage characters are shown to struggle in school, while most of the adult dealers and hustlers have very little formal education—yet the show frequently shows that they're far from stupid, as it takes a great deal of cunning and intelligence (including math skills) to survive on the streets of Baltimore. Highlighted in one memorable scene where a boy named Cyril struggles with his math homework, despite having no problem keeping an accurate drug count while dealing on the corner.
      Wallace: Damn, Cyril! Look: close your eyes. You workin' a ground stash. 20 tall pinks. Two fiends come up at you and ask for two each, another one cops three. Then Bodie hands you off ten more. But some white guy rolls up in a car, waves you down and pays for eight. How many vials you got left?
      Cyril: Fifteen.
      Wallace: How the fuck you able to keep the count right, and you not able to do the book problem, then?
      Cyril: Count be wrong, they fuck you up.
    • Several of the detectives are also examples. Legal professionals who read their reports often gripe about their terrible spelling and grammar. Jimmy McNulty is the most prominent example. He's not particularly educated or well versed in academic subjects, but he's a brilliant detective and always sees himself as the smartest man in the room. After a disastrous date with a political strategist who is unimpressed by his blue collar lifestyle, he bristles, "I'm the smartest asshole in three districts and she looks at me like I'm some stupid fuck..."
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Alex Russo regularly fails exams, but is the craftiest and most competent character in the series. This is lampshaded by her best friend, Harper, when she is looking for a substitute teammate in an academic contest after one of her original teammates dropped out:
    Harper: I wish you were smart. Then you could fill in.
    Alex: I am smart! I'm street smart.
    Harper: But not book smart.
    Alex: I am too book smart! Sure, I don't read books, but I hollow them out and hide things in them.

    Music 
  • Abba's "Thank You for the Music" is about someone who people see as this until she sings.
  • The narrator of the Sam Cooke song "Wonderful World" may not know much about what he learned in school, but it would be a wonderful world if you loved him.
  • Soulja Boy has a song called "Report Card," which focuses on him rapping about asking his teacher to change his grades on his report card from straight Fs to straight Ds.
  • XTC's "Mayor Of Simpleton" has a similar theme to "Wonderful World", with the narrator also making the argument that, because he's so book dumb, he'd be totally straightforward about his feelings with you because he's incapable of making up a lie.

    Podcasts 
  • While it's not uncommon for serial killers covered by The Last Podcast on the Left to be school dropouts, Pee-Wee Gaskins earns special mention here as his autobiography, Final Truth, is described by Marcus as having surprising insight into the psychosis of serial killers despite Gaskins dropping out at age eleven, being more classifiable as a "mass murderer" than "serial killer", and such studies not yet being part of the common public consciousness. Marcus and Henry quote one section in particular, in which Pee-Wee accurately describes a type of Serial Escalation common to serial killers, where after the first, most difficult kill, they have to do a little bit more to maintain the thrill and grow steadily more sloppy as they do.

    Roleplay 
  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Jae is said to be smarter than the average Joe, but logical subjects like maths or engineering baffle her.
    • Tamasin has a bright mind, but she doesn't work well with how the school tries to teach her. This has fed into her bad reputation, and as a result she's become prone to skipping class.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Da Orks in Warhammer 40,000. On the surface they look like a bunch of drunken soccer hooligans who can barely stack a couple crates up without smashing them to splinters, but looks can be deceiving. Just because charging at you with an axe held high and a loud bellow on their lips is their favorite tactic, doesn't mean it's all they do. Contrary to popular belief, they do indeed understand the concepts of flanking, high ground, suppressive fire, camouflage, feints, tactical withdrawals, and other such strategies. They have an entire god devoted to "Being Cunning" — specifically, Being Brutally Cunning — so don't let your guard down. Additionally, because of how their version of psi works, choosing not to roll with formal education is actually a very calculated and clever strategic decision. If they built an engineering college for the mekboys so they all understood how engines and aerodynamics work, making their hoverbikes go faster would no longer be as simple as a can of red paint.

    Theater 
  • Annie's people are like this in Annie Get Your Gun, per the "Doin' What Comes Naturally" number.

    Video Games 
  • Absinthia:
    • If the party pays off Violet's student debt, everyone will state that the rich should be taxed, except for Sera who doesn't know what taxes are.
    • Despite having no formal training in chemistry, Jake is quick to learn how to brew potions when Thomas's wound is infected. In the ending, he uses this newfound skill to get a job making potions for Halonia's military.
  • The Kid in Bastion qualifies: a quick learner who immediately knows how to use new weapons, even the most sophisticated ones, and even upgrade them, the only person ever to have signed up two tours of duty for a highly risky job, a very skilled and reknowned scout and explorer, witty enough to survive being headhunted by powerful organizations... and a school dropout who only wants to make a living in a merciless world.
  • Elvis from Bravely Default II used to be such a huge mess as a student of Lady Emma's class. Most of his mistakes somehow revolved around setting his head or his clothes on fire, accidentally throwing the mysterious book into the fire but luckily finding out it's magically durable, he often fell asleep during her lectures and was often left behind instead of getting help from her, and his idea of training to traverse the Wayward Woods is to get lost in there and figure out a way to find the exit. Emma's notes do point out that what he lacked in smarts was made up with the potential he had, but even in the present day, Elvis leaves a lot to be desired that not anyone in the team dares to seek sage advice from him.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind makes fun of this tendency for barbarians, with a picture book aptly titled "ABCs for Barbarians." It goes through A, B, and C, associating them with simple words before stopping.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Ritsuka Fujumaru has to go on multiple time traveling adventures to save the world. With a few exceptions (for example, they knew who Ushiwakamaru was, as they were a fan), they don't know anything about history and mythology, so their companions have to fill them in. In battle, they are good at strategy and using their Servants' strengths to their fullest.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • Raphael struggles academically and has a penalty in Reason, the most brain-intensive field. However, while he is a bit simpleminded, he also has a lot of practical knowledge, and his neutrality in Authority shows that he's not completely helpless.
    • While Felix isn't unintelligent in the slightest and at worst neutral with every physical weapon type and movement type, he also admits he's no good at tactics. He has weaknesses in Reason and Authority, the most brain/study-intensive fields. Interestingly, Reason is his Budding Talent — building it during classes will make good progress for becoming a Mortal Savant down the line. His supports with Ingrid show that he's capable of thinking outside of the box, but isn't interested in discussing tactics.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: Several characters manifest this:
    • Dys dislikes traditional classes, in part because he's guaranteed to run into the Child Prodigy twin sister towards whom he has Successful Sibling Syndrome if he attends them. Instead, he sneaks out of the colony to observe the local wildlife. When Sol becomes old enough to go on officially sanctioned expeditions, Dys plays the role of the more knowledgeable peer.
    • Nougat, the recurring tutoring student, is suddenly much better at math if she's using it for something hands-on or pertaining to everyday life.
    • Sol can befriend Nomi-Nomi, one of their peers, while working as a tutor in the same manner that they can befriend other peers by working alongside them. Job events, however, show that Nomi-Nomi comes to the tutoring sessions to get help, not provide it. Nomi-Nomi is also a walking argument in favor of the colony starting to support full-time artists.
  • According to an NPC in his neighborhood and his friend's comment in the anime adaption, Endou Mamoru from Inazuma Eleven is this. However, in a soccer game, he's a Hot-Blooded captain who is a huge source of Heroic Spirit.
  • Kyo Kusanagi of The King of Fighters may be an excellent fighter (having won the titular tournament at least 7 times), but because of this, he's been kept out of school for so long that he's at least 25 and has yet to graduate (not counting the time he was kidnapped and missing for at least a year). The problem being that, despite the successive year appellations, he hasn't aged — nor, for that matter, has the rest of the cast. No wonder they changed the sequel labeling style. It's more of a case of Kyo being The Slacker. He's not an idiot; he just gets bored very easily and decided to drop out from school by the time the NESTS saga rolled around. By the way, he's only won KOF from '94 to '97.
  • In Lil Gator Game, Lil Gator easily gets bored with overly technical stuff, such as when some kids from a fancy prep school try to explain their projects in detail, and thinks that an equation is "the thing where rocks get smaller". Despite this, they can be shown to be quite smart for a kid their age, especially when they point out the contradictions in their friend Martin's "testimony" during the mock courtroom scene.
  • Dekar from Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals is pretty consistently portrayed as an idiot, but he's also resourceful and very philosophical. Also, he was the only one to see through Idura's trap at the Tower of Sacrifice. (Of course, Idura DID manage to trick him into the trap after a few minutes — but it didn't matter, as Dekar simply tore the thing apart.)
  • Most of the Investigation Team in Persona 4. With the exception of Yukiko and the Protagonist (whose aptitude depends on the player), none of them are seen to do well on their exams. In spite of this, none of them are actually stupid. Rise has only just restarted school after suspending her career as a teen idol, Teddie has never been to school but picks up ideas fast, and Naoto is by far the most intelligent and educated member of the group, albeit without any visible academic record to prove this. Both Yosuke and Chie don't really stand out in regards to intelligence but help move the investigation along regardless. Even Kanji — who is clearly the least intelligent of all — makes up for his lack of intellect with a rather specialized interest.
  • Persona 5 has more than a few examples.
    • Ryuji and Ann are not particularly good students, with Ann only good at English, but aren't necessarily stupid, either. Even though Ryuji is one of the least intelligent members of the party and often lacks common sense, he has a number of clever ideas, such as using the Metaverse to collect evidence of Kamoshida's abuse.
    • Eiko Takao, a friend of Makoto's from the Priestess Confidant. Unlike Makoto, who's one of the top students in her grade, Eiko has poor grades, but is knowledgeable about fashion, has a boyfriend and seems to have a vision for how she wants her life to go. Unfortunately, it turns out that Eiko is also somewhat gullible, and her boyfriend turns out to be manipulating her in order to get her into debt and sell her to the sex trade.
  • While not strictly educationally relevant because of the world it takes place in, Phantasy Star IV has Chaz. Whenever he's presented with anything technically complex, it's mostly lost on him, and he's easily impressed and surprised by technology (a particularly dumb moment is when he's impressed that Demi — who is an android — is adept at handling machines). He even lampshades this, pointing out that Rune has basically had to explain everything to him since he joined the party. However, his understanding of people is top-notch, and he's usually aware of other characters' feelings and thoughts before they express them; this also leads him to his Moment of Awesome when he recognizes the hypocrisy inherent in his destiny and chooses to refuse the call.
  • In Puyo Puyo, Amitie is a competent magician and nobody doubts that she'll be a great one someday. With that said, she's always in need of supplementary classes, and it's implied she does badly in those as well.
  • John Marston, the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption, is certainly this, to serve as a stark contrast to his son Jack and the sequel's Arthur Morgan.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope with the Boss in the Saints Row series. They often come across as completely ignorant about pretty much everything not involving crime and mayhem, to the frequent irritation of their allies and enemies alike. It's either selective or obfuscated, though, as they're also a fan of Jane Austen.
    • In Saints Row 2 Tera tells them she's a microbiologist during a mission. They don't know what that is.
    • And in Saints Row IV they don't recognize the famous "tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow" soliloquy from Macbeth, much to the exasperation of Zinyak who wanted it to demoralize them.
  • Luke, the protagonist of Tales of the Abyss goes well beyond Book Dumb to not knowing nearly anything, being completely ignorant about his own world or the way people live. He even unwittingly shoplifts from a food stand because he doesn't know how stores work. While he is observant and resourceful and clearly fairly intelligent, having lost all his childhood memories coupled with his belligerent attitude makes it difficult to teach him anything. Of course, this functions as a convenient way for the other characters to explain even the most basic common knowledge about the game world to the player.
    • Then you find out it might be more justified than it previously appears, since he's actually only seven-years-old. And been cooped up in his own house the entire time to boot. This also means he's much smarter than it seems at first; how many seven-year-olds can arrange a peace treaty meeting or quickly realize the methods needed to save the world when just handed brief explanations?
    • Tales of Symphonia's Lloyd Irving is like this. Starts off completely clueless, but by the time Martel shows up you get the feeling that Lloyd has figured out exactly how to plow through the Gambit Pileup. Dawn of the New World pretty much confirms this, because even when you consider that most of the evil deeds that Lloyd was blamed for were actually Decus in disguise, the real Lloyd is still pretty much running his own plan, as evidenced by his demanding the cores and then running away when he realizes he's outnumbered by his former friends, rather than just joining up with them. Yet, despite now being nearly twenty, academics-wise, he's still only managed to get around to memorizing his multiplication tables, as revealed in a skit with Raine.
    • Tales of Vesperia has its own protagonist, Yuri Lowell. Though he is the one that keeps the party steps ahead of the other groups throughout the game, he states outright that he has little patience for reading. While most of the others in the party tend to be experts in their (book) researched fields, they each end up relying on Yuri for his street smarts. That said, he's also a Guile Hero; his lack of academic interest is out of laziness, not lack of brains.
  • In Touhou Project, Mystia Lorelei canonically cannot read kanji ("fine print" in translation), yet runs a successful con act using her power to inflict Temporary Blindness to sell grilled lampreys as a folk cure for blindness, making her one of the most successful youkai in Gensokyo despite being functionally illiterate and on the business end of the Superpower Lottery (and a lot of poultry jokes).
  • Rosie of Valkyria Chronicles finished her education (and therefore military training) at middle-school level. Nevertheless, she starts off as one of Welkin's squad leaders and is more experienced in combat than most of Squad 7's recruits.
  • The 'Tactical Points' (TP) element of Xenoblade Chronicles 3's Chain Attack system is widely regarded as a means of displaying how intelligent party members are in carrying out their attacks. While Taion has a TP base of 35, Lanz and Sena, the two muscle-heads of the party, both have a TP base of 15. This has led to memes of referring to the pair having '15 TP moments', whenever they do or say something that could be construed as stupid. And then you have Triton, a scatterbrained old man with a TP base of 10.

    Visual Novels 
  • Keiichi in Higurashi: When They Cry has an interesting case of this; it's revealed that while his grades are standard to mediocre, he has a rather good to great understanding of the real life implementations of whatever is being done. However, in Tsumihoroboshi-hen, it is revealed that Keiichi has scored genius levels on IQ tests, and is quite smarter than he initially seems, yet has a pathological block that requires him to be interested in the subject to do well. He is also shown to help Mion and Rena with their studies, and Mion is a year older than him.
  • Played for Drama in Little Busters! with Kud, who is a very eager and hard-working learner, but because she isn't used to the Japanese examination system and isn't very good at multiple-choice tests while under pressures tends to consistently do pretty badly in tests.
  • Nurse Love Addiction has this with Asuka, who isn't the brightest bulb to begin with, to the point where you have to wonder how she got accepted into nursing school even with her younger sister Nao's help. That said, it's reconstructed in one character's good ending, where Asuka becomes the top student in the class simply by having a tutor that suits her.
  • Akira from Spirit Hunter: NG is clever enough to solve the various puzzles and mysteries Kakuya throws his way, as well as keep himself alive against murderous spirits, but he's terrible at anything that requires actual research and leaves that to his more intellectual allies. In his profile, his intelligence is his lowest stat, more than three times less than his physique.

    Web Animation 
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: It's clear Trisha's not going to be class valedictorian anytime soon, but she does have knowledge in certain areas — cheerleading, paperwork, cameras, etc. Her mother, Trish Cappelletti, was a former student at Overland Park High School, and she repeated two years and stayed at the school for six years total.

    Web Comics 
  • Dear Children's Cailin Carver and Josh De Witt, two of the main viewpoint characters, are not into books, in stark contrast to their friend Chelle Seagal — to her frequent frustration. Josh, in particular, is quite intelligent, despite his lack of interest in reading.
  • Ariel of Drowtales shows signs of this, including not knowing her clan's history outside of the romanticized versions she read though this makes sense considering Syphile's lackluster teaching (which consisted of giving Ariel a dictionary, something far beyond her ability to understand, and ordering her to read it) and the fact that she only spent about 5 years at Orthorbbae, significantly less than almost everyone else in her age group, and much of the time she did spend there was spent trying to avoid being attacked again after she was discovered to be a girl, and she's explicitly said to have not gotten very good grades as a result. Despite this she's been shown to be fairly intelligent in other areas and is very good at thinking on her feet.
  • Muko from Furry Fight Chronicles didn't graduate from high school, and anything she learned about furry fighting came from magazine posters.
  • Orville from Hodges Pond does not know what a vegetarian is and can't spell the word "scholar".
  • Celina's imp cannot add, has trouble reading, and often writes letters backwards in Imp.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, since Bob starts out as officially the world's most average man, he's not really dumb, but since the rest of main cast (Jean's a scientist, Molly's a prodigy, and Voluptua's a 300-year-old alien) are much brighter and more well-educated than average, he tends to come off looking Book Dumb by comparison.
  • In Jupiter-Men, Quintin, Jackie, and Arrio all struggle in different subjects in school. Quintin flunked his social studies project thanks to his String Theory-laden presentation about Jupiter-Man, while Jackie is a straight-C student. Arrio mentions struggling with Spanish and Jackie says they can all be dumb together. But Jackie is a cheerleader, a member of multiple clubs (though she's known to bounce between them), and is social and popular. Quintin is capable of in-depth research into subjects he's interested in, going so far as to take his own pictures of Jupiter-Man, though his efforts go unappreciated owing to his belief that Jupiter-Man has superpowers.
  • Averted by Max in Max Overacts — Max isn’t stupid, but he is definitely prone to poor decision-making, lack of focus and his classroom grades are below average, which he regards as a problem.
  • Oona from The Order of the Stick falls under this. While she seems like a simpleton with limited vocabulary, she's actually smarter than she lets on, expressing complex and philosophical thoughts on politics between goblinoid races and her intention to keep Monster Hollow's population sustainable for her settlement. While she does speak in the third person, her dialogue is not bold and lowercase like the other characters with poor intelligence, giving the indication that this is the result of different languages and syntax.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
  • Sleepless Domain: Sally has trouble in class. When she asks Tessa for her notes from the other day, saying she thinks she missed something, Tessa retorts, "Let me guess, like, all the notes?" Her grades are below Gwen's, who, according to this page's Alt Text, has a solid B in every subject.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Sigrun and Emil. Sigrun didn't really get an education to speak of, being a Taught by Experience Military Brat. A scene shows her to be completely baffled by the fact that Mikkel actually likes to read. Emil got educated by private tutors and was doing fine until he family got a Riches to Rags episode and he joined the public school system, seeing his grades drop greatly. The fact that that he's shown to be not that much better than Sigrun in terms of academic stuff (and much worse than two other members of the crew) during the story strongly hints towards those tutors failing to actually teach him something.
  • Rak from Tower of God, who has no idea of the basics of the Tower or weapons, but has an intuition and empathic intelligence that is incredibly accurate.
  • In Weak Hero, this is the explanation for why Eugene is both The Smart Guy of the main group and lacking in grades enough that he needs to go to cram school — he's interested in any sort of knowledge that doesn't pertain to school. He even shows more interest in a science contest than he ever does in the classroom.

    Web Original 
  • Quantum from Beyond the Impossible, to the point people are surprised to find out he knows more than just comic books:
    Quantum: I thought tachyons were only theoretical?
    [everyone stare at him like this is the strangest thing they've ever heard]
    Quantum: What? I read... [shrugs]
  • Sgt Ducky: Ducky is actually quite intelligent about the topics he wants to talk about but frequently explains how he performed badly in school due to a lack of interest.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Solange is cunning, smart enough to see how to apply her father's business practices to ruling her high school, but Book Dumb because she's already a billionaire heiress who is never going to have to work for a living. There's nothing any teacher has to tell her that she sees any value in learning. Too much work.
    • Subverted by Shine, who is determined to overcome his lack of education; despite having made a fortune from his distilling devises before the age of fourteen, he feels he missed something important by leaving school when he was only nine, and wants to better understand just what his powers are doing.
  • Worm: Thanks to an upbringing which went straight from Parental Neglect through Parental Abandonment into the Department of Child Disservices, the supervillain Rachel Lindt (i.e. Bitch or Hellhound, depending on whether you ask her or her enemies) is outright illiterate — although she has learned quite a bit about caring for dogs.

    Web Videos 
  • In Episode 4 of FU DW, after a mention that D.W. can't read, the narrator quips that she should change her middle name from Winifred to Can't (Dora Can't Read).
  • Arin from Game Grumps can discuss game design, theoretical economics, and quantum physics at length, but is a high-school dropout that can't tell you the difference between a century and a millennium.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Finn doesn't have a school to do bad in, but he's terrible at math and doesn't understand Princess Bubblegum's science experiments. He's also quite impulsive and sometimes gullible. That being said, there are numerous episodes where he gets by through cleverness or subterfuge rather than just running at monsters with a sword. (Not that he doesn't do that too.)
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Batman's villain Scarface has some trouble saying big words but he's a great planner, almost to Clock King level.
    Scarface: Woke up last night with one of them whatchamacallits. Prema... Premanotion.
    The Ventriloquist: "Premonition"?
    Scarface: Don't put words in my mouth!
  • Ben 10: Kevin Levin is a justified example in Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien; he's 17 years old, has spent most of his life on the streets, and hasn't gone to school since the age of 11. He's an utter genius at practical things like energy weaponry and mechanics (from cars to starships), as well as math due to managing his own finances and history from keeping track of who hates who and why, but is understandably lacking in most academic areas.
  • Bugs Bunny: While he's very clever and Street Smart, he has trouble reading ("diabolical sabotage" becomes "dy-a-bo-likkle...sab-o-tay-gee") and he doesn't know geography very well. In "The Abominable Snow Rabbit", he ends up in the Himalayas, while trying to reach Palm Springs:
    Daffy: You and your shortcuts. I told you to turn west at East St. Louis.
    Bugs: Yeah, I know. [Looks at map] The way I figure it, we're somewhere in the Hi-may-lay-us mountains.
    Daffy: That's pronounced "Himalayas"... Himalayas? Why, you four-legged Marco Polo! That's in Asia!
  • ChalkZone: Rudy Tabootie has been shown to not do very well academically, even getting straight Cs on his report card in "School of Destruction". Despite this, he easily outsmarts the various villains in the show, and is very resourceful and creative.
  • Clarence: The titular character is optimistic, knows how to have fun, and comes up with crazy plans. But this also leads to him being slow academically, being shown to have been placed in the crayon class in the episode ''Average Jeff'
  • Code Lyoko: Ulrich Stern and Odd Della Robbia demonstrate this trope (in contrast to teammates Jérémie and Aelita); Odd's mostly due to laziness since he's been shown to be quite capable if he decides to be, and neither of them are helped by their Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World lifestyle; in Ulrich's case, this is a source of contention for his overbearing father.
  • Danny Phantom: Danny Fenton while portrayed to be resourceful and clever in intense situations, is the standard C-student male teenage protagonist commonly seen in shows with High School settings. Of course, this is at least partially attributed to the notion that fighting ghosts constantly interferes with his studies. Nevertheless, his attitude towards his studies was subject to much varying. However, it's been averted once or twice, explaining why he didn't just do the obvious thing in a given situation (IE: Wishing a ghost who's playing genie into her containment) and instead spends the episode doing as he wants to do.
  • Daria: Jane has more common sense than most people and she's a very skilled artist, but it's noted in a few episodes that her grades are middling at best, especially in math. Her academic performance in other subjects is never specifically mentioned.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Eddy, the leader of the trio, has a consistently poor report card record, and has shown to be utterly clueless in anything related to academic knowledge, along with being incredibly impatient and prone to shoveling the bulk of the workload off on Ed and Double D. However, he is the leader of the Eds for a reason, has shown to plan out some truly ingenious scams throughout the series, and his wit is pretty quick as long as general knowledge isn't required.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy Turner is incredibly resourceful and able to outsmart adults, fairies, pixies, snarky genies, aliens and all sorts of other beings many times his age, but the series goes out of its way to ridiculously illustrate how bad he is with anything that involves academics, to the extent that it's a Running Gag that he always gets straight "F's." (Then again, his sadistic teacher Crocker seems to make it a point to give "F's" at every given oppertunity.)
  • Fillmore!: Subverted in the last episode where the main suspect in the poisoning of a class tarantula seems to be a Book Dumb kid who was often kept behind after class to look after it. The character's Big Secret is that, against his image, he's an A student, and was looking after the tarantula because he wanted to.
  • Futurama: Philip J. Fry is frequently portrayed as a lazy, childish The Slacker who is impulsive to the nth degree, has a soda addiction that nearly cost him his (best) (girl)friend's life (It Makes Sense in Context) and caused him to suffer near-lethal radiation poisoning, and on a trivia show blurted out the answer before any others were listed. In one episode, he attends Mars University, just so he can drop out. He has minimal social skills and has difficulty talking to people (including women). And despite being in a situation where not understanding his current environment makes sense, it's made pretty clear that he doesn't have much more knowledge regarding anything else outside of a small sector of nerdy interests. Despite all of this, he does manage to be quite clever at times, as well as pull off some remarkable feats and moments of clarity when given the right motivation.
    Fry: Well, I may not have brain smarts, but at least I have street smarts. (gets hit by a bus)
  • Goof Troop: Pete. They make it clear a few times that he didn't even finish High School, yet he runs a successful used car lot, is a successful Manipulative Bastard and would probably be considered upper-middle class in economic standards. His son PJ as well but in different ways. He doesn't do very well in school most of the time it's mentioned, but he's consistently the Only Sane Man.
  • Gravity Falls: Both Mabel Pines and "Grunkle" Stan Pines in contrast to their more bookish and academically talented brothers. Although he's not college-educated, Stan's shrewd business acumen and strength as a con man are second to none, and he managed to fix the broken portal just by reading up extensively on physics despite his lack of experience in the field. Mabel is highly creative and socially gifted, to say nothing of her mean hand with a grappling hook.
  • Grojband: Kon, as shown in the episode "Math of Kon" as he failed six years worth of math.
  • Home Movies: Brendan Small is a parody: Everyone claims that he is very intelligent but in reality, he is egotistical, incompetent and a failure at everything.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Jade Chan is generally Book Dumb on the basis that at times it could be argued if she even cares about school, for she would rather be on Jackie's adventures, see Adventure Rebuff. It doesn't help that at school she is often talking about said adventures instead of learning. Outside of school however Jade possess a smart and cunning mind and seems to be a very good problem solver, not the mention the ability to break into underground military installations. She is definitely street smart to the point that it scares Jackie how clever she is, at times it seems like he would have to be cunning himself to outsmart Jade. The leader of the super-spy organization Section 13 gave her a standing offer to join when she gets old enough. He was laughing at the time, but it is uncertain if he was joking (though later states this seriously when she managed to get into their most secured vault with no trouble). Her future version was actually competent enough to become leader of that organization, until being demoted for a mistake.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: Villain Jeremiah Surd's minion Lorenzo is a pretty competent guy, but seems to lack education. For instance, he didn't recognize the terms "Apollo" and "cardiac arrest".
  • Stumpy from Kaeloo. He's apparently so dumb he can't even recite the alphabet beyond the letter "B", and thinks his favorite superhero discovered America. However, the show heavily implies that he has some sort of learning disorder.
  • Kim Possible: Ron is the typical C-student male protagonist. Yet Ron regularly assists Kim in saving the world, and while evil was the best villain in the series, inventing several doomsday devices. Also built one when kidnapped by Drakken using stuff lying around, and gave Senior Senior Senior the ideas to build traps.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Luanne Platter did terribly in school but she is a gifted mechanic, a good example of this was in an episode where Hank's truck is taken apart for evidence when a delinquent broke into it and Luanne puts it back together in less than two days. Not to mention how he let her touch his truck, something he never let his own friends do greatly suggested her level of skill. However this side of her is rarely shown in the later episodes mainly due to flanderization.
    • Bobby. Very creative and has encyclopedic knowledge of cultural trivia, but a C student at best.
  • Wendy from Les Sisters, to the extent that her scores on tests for a hundred points are single-digit numbers.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Rainbow Dash regularly expresses a strong jock attitude, often misunderstanding complicated words ("Tenacity?" "Gesundheit.") and (initially) fears the stigma of being known as an "egghead" who reads books, but she is a capable weather manager (which fans posit would require extensive academic training). "Testing, Testing, 1-2-3" goes even further, implying that she may have some sort of learning disability (hence her dislike of heavily academic subjects). It also shows that when she's flying, she's capable of processing and remembering large amounts of information very easily. In later seasons, it's shown that her book dumbness was entirely a façade, and the reason she had trouble learning in a classroom was not due to learning disabilities, but because she was bored.
    • Applejack is down-to-earth and fairly simpleminded (she refers to French as "speakin' in fancy") but has enough business sense to run her farm without any economic problems.
  • Luz Noceda from The Owl House is repeatedly shown to be very intelligent, is an avid reader, and has a strong desire to learn. Despite this, her grades were implied to be rather lackluster back on Earth. The fact that she has ADHD probably has something to do with it.
  • Ozzy & Drix: An episode emphasized the importance of book learning in a painfully Anvilicious way. After Book Dumb Osmosis spends the entire episode berating Drix for not having any street smarts to offset his prodigious book smarts, it is ultimately Drix's book smarts that save the day. Ozzy, realizing for the last thirty seconds of the episode that book learning can sometimes go a long way, asks Drix to educate him. Drix obliges by quoting well known sciency things ("Well, for example, E=MC2") without offering anything resembling context, to which Ozzy reacts with obnoxiously exaggerated excitement.
  • Recess: TJ is perhaps the perfect embodiment of this trope. While his grades are notoriously average/below average, once on the playground he can pull off elaborate schemes from (quite literally) under his hat.
  • The Replacements: Todd Daring is shown to be brilliant schemer, but seems to have an aversion to anything to do with schoolwork. At his most extreme, he replaces his German teacher with someone who only speaks German so his father cannot find out how badly he is doing.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart Simpson is clearly an excellent example of this — at school, he is falling behind everybody else, barely managing to stay in his own grade, whereas in his spare time he thwarts criminals and solves mysteries, often displaying intuitive thinking skills on a par with his sister Lisa. Further proven in the few situations where he does apply himself academically, and manages to do quite well for himself. He has also proven himself to be an excellent polyglot, speaking fluent French in two months, and Spanish and Japanese in a matter of hours.
    • Ralph Wiggum, despite having a reputation for rather dim fits this to a minor extent. Although he's as Book Dumb as one could possibly get, numerous scenes have been dropped throughout various Simpsoncentric media from the comic, to the series itself that he's possibly creatively gifted. When his head's on somewhat straight(er than usual) anyway.
  • South Park: Trey Parker and Matt Stone have admitted that Eric Cartman is a genius: the smartest character in the show. However, he refuses to care about anything that does not immediately help him, especially school. He never pays attention in school and remains ignorant. Despite this problem, he forms very detailed plans, considers complex issues and is a brilliant manipulator. Despite this, he demonstrates frequent belief in totally ungrounded assumptions (which, given the nature of the South Park 'verse, are sometimes proven true.) An excellent example: in one episode, Cartman is horrified to find that there are more minorities at the local water park than white people and does a complex series of calculations to determine the population ratios and rate of change. Stan then remarks that this is "more math than I've ever seen you do," to which Cartman snaps "Because this is important!"'
  • Static Shock: Protagonist Virgil Hawkins was a below average student. He was formerly a good student, but being a super hero has interfered with his study time. Similarly, his best friend Richie (before gaining superpowers of his own) was shown to be a very poor student who excelled in engineering, making high-tech devices for Static to use constantly, but never passing a math test.
  • Strange Hill High: Mitchell avoids studying as much as possible. He even states in "Read All About It" that he used the school hiding place the previous maths exam.
  • TaleSpin:
    • Wildcat seems pretty unintelligent, but give him any mechanical task to work on and he shows his true genius. Give him a broken telephone and he can fix it in ten seconds flat.
    • Baloo is revealed in one episode to be poor at spelling, and in a later one that he never even finished primary school. He is, however, a top-notch pilot and is capable of coming up with some cunning strategies when dealing with the various villains in the series.
  • Beast Boy from Teen Titans (2003) is by far the least academic of the main team, justified by how he didn't exactly have a normal, healthy upbringing with education in mind. He's shown to be really bad at subjects like geography (he assumed the Great Wall of China was in Japan) and history ("Now I know how George Washington felt when Napoleon beat him at Pearl Harbor!"). He does, however, have a vast knowledge of pop culture (which becomes useful when he and the team end up Trapped in TV Land by Control Freak) and demonstrates with his Animorphism powers an encyclopedic knowledge of the animal kingdom for things to turn into, including more esoteric lifeforms such as dinosaur species and amoebas.
  • The Venture Brothers:
    • Hank Venture. Earlier in the series he would have probably fallen under the category of an ordinary dumbass, but as of late he has acquired a rather typical teenage mindset. Even so, Hank still is as uneducated as a doorstop.
      Jefferson Twilight: Hank, aren't you just a little ashamed of your ignorance?
      The Alchemist: Like, just a little?
      Hank: Yeah. Constantly.
    • One episode had the two of them graduating "high school" and looking into colleges, with Hank instead deciding to join S.P.H.I.N.X. so he could work with Brock. To basically everyone's surprise, Hank manages to pass every single test they put him through to keep him from joining the organization, and he shows a freakish level of competence in handling dangerous situations. This can be attributed to being raised by resident-badass Brock Samson, and having picked up tricks from his life as a boy adventurer. But that same episode brought up that both Hank and his brother Dean have so little experience living in the real world, they have barely any actual life skills and wouldn't last a week outside the compound.
  • W.I.T.C.H.:
    • Will appears at least as smart as anyone else the rest of the time, but her grades are so bad she tries to hide them from her mother.
    • Irma Lair counts, saying she "lives in the now" and doesn't worry about her grades.
    • Book Dumb doesn't mean incompetent as they display intelligence and creativity at their Guardian positions; one notable example is Will using Teletransportation to save herself and a group of her allies, a feat that requires ten years of training to do safely. And this was her first time attempting it. Of course she did freak out when it seemed she teleported them into a wall. Naturally, waking up, going to school and saving the world causes grade loss on its own.
  • Yin Yang Yo!: With his exaggeratedly short attention span and prodigy for playing mindless video games, Yang is almost a blue anthropomorphic rabbit version of Timmy, complete with Jerkass tendencies. This is especially apparent when compared to his far more studious and level headed twin sister. The three shows share writers and directors, so it's not much of a surprise.

    Real Life 
  • Comedian Russell Brand did terrible in school. His book even has notes from his teachers who suspected he was Obfuscating Stupidity. Listening to his stand up and reading his book he comes off as extremely intelligent even culturally well versed.
  • George Carlin didn't do too well in school and has said that either the work would be too difficult or too easy and he'd be bored. Carlin also goofed off in class quite a bit as well. Knowing his stand up, Carlin is possibly one of the smartest comedians who ever lived and some even call him a philosopher.
  • Frank Zappa hated mainstream education and was a self-taught performer and composer. He even took his children out of school at age 15 and refused to pay for their college. Zappa was never anti-education, being a fiercely intelligent and near-obsessive autodidact, but his general disdain for everything to do with The Man left him with no respect whatsoever for the "formal" side of formal education.
  • One YouTube video showed an amazing example of this trope. A poorly educated Chinese man with no electrical training builds complex robots out of stuff from junkyards. His creations are amazing. He is clearly ingenious and clever.
  • A classic example is Dave Thomas, the founder of the Wendy's restaurant chain: ridiculously successful restaurateur, philanthropist, advertising icon, and high-school dropout. He finally got his GED in 1993 (at sixty-one, mind) because he thought his success might encourage others to take the wrong lesson and drop out like he did.
  • Bill Lear — if his name sounds familiar it's because he invented the personal jet that bears his name — and he never even had an opportunity to drop out of high school as he never went beyond the 8th grade. The Wright brothers themselves were simple bicycle mechanics who possessed what amounted to only a basic education for that era (which wasn't much).
  • Sammy Davis Jr. worked in show business his entire life and never attended school.
  • From a study that was quoted on The Colbert Report: out of all the billionaires in America, 5% come from Harvard while 35% come from "the college of No College Education". Also keep in mind the percentage of Americans who graduated from Harvard; it's got to be less than six million people.
  • As quoted above, Albert Einstein supposedly wasn't successful at school, and thus ended up as a clerk in patent office. Fortunately, this gave him plenty of time to daydream, and while Einstein wasn't a particularly fast thinker, he was a very deep one, which in turn led to his discovery of the theory of relativity. This is, in fact, a 100% thoroughly debunked myth (except about the speed/depth of his thoughts — depending on his knowledge of trivia, he might have done very well on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? but poorly on Jeopardy!). Einstein did extremely well in school. Einstein was actually a child mathematics prodigy who was doing both differential and integral calculus by age 12. It is true, however, that he didn't like the then-very-militaristic German schools. The myth may have arisen because the grade rankings in Switzerland (where he was born and went to school) are opposite to the ones in Germany (where he lived later). In Germany, 1 is the best grade, 6 the worst. In Switzerland, 6 is the best and 1 the worst. It could be assumed some Germans heard that Einstein "only" got 6s and came to the wrong conclusion. Also, when he first tried to apply at ETH Zürich (a science and technology university) he did not pass the entrance exam, because it was written in French. He still got exceptional marks in mathematics and physics. The other source of this myth may be the opinion of his teachers, who claimed that young Einstein was often prone to daydreaming and had trouble in focusing. Which is not surprising given that Einstein had already mastered large parts of his curriculum and was simply bored as hell. And one more thing: Einstein was not 'just a clerk in patent office'. He was a technical expert tasked with approving patent claims, a job that usually required a doctorate just to apply. He had, however, some "social" problems with some of his teachers. Best known is the case of his private teacher, when he was five-years-old. The teacher quit after young and irascible Albert threw a chair at her.
  • A similar case with Alan Turing. The British concept of being "educated" when he was young placed a heavy emphasis on the Classics, literature, history, and social sciences. Turing, who was brilliant at mathematics but weaker on these other subjects, was considered too narrowly-focused by the standards of the system. Of course, he went on to be Britain's greatest codebreaker during WWII and also laid the groundwork for modern computing as we know it.
  • Thomas Edison did poorly during his brief time in grade school as a child — which may have had something to do with undiagnosed hearing loss — yet he became one of the most successful inventors the US has ever known. He invented the phonograph, introduced practical incandescent lighting and power generation, started the first American motion picture company, and developed a system of corporate research and development caught on throughout the world. His mother started homeschooling him when he was about ten; he was a voracious reader and did his own chemistry experiments. His schooling basically ended at age 12 when he started working as a food vendor and newspaper boy on the Great Trunk Railroad, and through a youth spent hustling he learned telegraphy, started patenting inventions, and went into business. His favorite science was chemistry, but he taught himself a little bit of just about everything over the years with the help of an increasingly huge research library. He could never have produced so many inventions or gotten so successful without help from a lot of talented employees, many of whom he hired specifically because they had formal education or specialized knowledge that he lacked. Edison's treatment of rivals and employees who challenged his authority does require scrutiny, and he did more than once lose his dominance in the very industries he had founded by saying It Will Never Catch On to things such as the alternating current power grid and phonograph recording deals with famous artists. That said, nobody can deny that he left his mark on the world and changed innovation from a solitary pursuit into an industry in itself.
  • Especially talented and intelligent children may often receive poor grades for a variety of reasons. Studies have shown that intelligence can manifest in many different ways. For example, a kid with good tactile intelligence might perform poorly in mathematics even if he has an intrinsic understanding of mechanics. Teaching styles often only address certain kinds of intelligence, putting certain children at a disadvantage. Intelligent children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia can also fall behind if their needs are not properly addressed.
    • Math teachers routinely expect students to show how they reached their answer, and reduce scores if they don't, regardless of how correct the answer is. Gifted students who can work out the answer in their heads see no need for the step-by-step procedure, so they suffer for it. On the other hand, this method of grading really is meant to help out students who aren't too good at math, as showing your work often gets you enough points to pass so as long as you've answered a handful of questions correctly.
  • Adolf Hitler is an example. He was a notoriously bad student and dropped out of school when he was only 16-years-old. Yet he also had an excellent memory and had a lifelong love of reading, and would eventually have a private collection of more than 10,000 books (although, on the other hand, he used that excellent memory to memorise passages from other authors and pass them off as his own, and believed that the smartest way to read a book was to commit the "useful" parts to memory and ignore the rest). He rose to seize control of an advanced industrial country and made some considerable headway towards conquering the entire world. As time went on, however, poor decisions and generally degrading sanity caught up with him.
  • Marshall Mathers is an interesting case of this, he hated school and did poorly in it, repeating ninth grade multiple times, but he loved books and read the dictionary front to back multiple times, which he says gave him his incredible skill at rhyming.
  • Craig Ferguson dropped out of high school at age 16 and since then has had no formal education. He considers himself an autodidact, having read for pleasure pretty much everything the rest of us are forced to read in school. He is thus incredibly well-read and extremely literate and articulate. He now has his own show, a Peabody Award, and two well-received books to his credit. Keep in mind that in the British educational system, leaving school at 16 is equivalent to graduating high school in the U.S. Only those students seeking to move onto university (U.S.: "college") go to school beyond the age of 16, as they study up for their A-levels (exams intended to be used for entry into university).
  • In fact, this trope would partially apply to a majority of people in some countries. For example, studies show that, in France, people who have been reported to have a higher IQ than average (above one standard deviation from the average, meaning approximately superior to 115) are also globally low achievers at school. They have lower ratios of success at the "Baccalauréat" (High School graduating exam), and a higher proportion of them drop school before actually taking the "Baccalauréat". This might or might not be true in other countries as well. This is frequently believed to at least partly stem from the rather rigid and conformity-oriented French education system and the lack of formation of teachers relatively to this matter (although significant changes have been made thanks to governmental initiatives).
  • The late stand-up comedian Mitch Hedberg. During an interview, he revealed that he lost interest in being book smart around 10th grade and barely graduated with a high school diploma. He also lampshaded it a bit with this great one-liner:
    "I never went to college, but if I did, I would've taken all my tests in a restaurant because the customer is always right."
  • Quentin Tarantino never finished high school but has been tested with having a genius-level IQ and has an encyclopedic knowledge of film. He also admitted in an interview that he loved his history classes.
  • Christopher Titus brings up that he barely finished high school and that he still had a substandard education at "California public schools." While not academically intelligent, his stand-up routine brings up a great deal of fantastic insights into human interaction and the importance of self-awareness. In his podcast he also points out that his close friend (and fellow podcast member) Tommy Primo was actually put into special ed only because he was too hyperactive to pay attention and was a troublemaker, one time even jumping from the second story of the school to escape some teachers. Tommy eventually became a stuntman (among others, doing work on Titus) and was asked back to the school for a career fair.
  • Ringo Starr was notoriously uneducated due to years spent in the hospital as a child, but he was far from unintelligent. Besides being an excellent drummer, he had a very quick wit even for a Beatle.
  • Emperor Akbar, of the Mughal dynasty and the 16th Century India, is known as one of the greatest and most respected rulers that India ever had for several reasons: developing a comprehensive, cohesive and standardized taxation system across India, developing a comprehensive military and bureaucratic organization for his empire, patronage of wit and art and music, love for philosophy and developing his own school of thought, for coopting Hindu elites into his regime (thereby ensuring their loyalty to his dynasty) and for fostering a culture of tolerance and co-existence between Hindus and Muslims (thereby ensuring a degree of social stability). All these things portray a clever, wise and hard-working bookish intellectual, isn't that so? Well, he was known to be illiterate.
    • Likewise, Charlemagne. He had no education as a child (his father, Pepin "The Short" didn't see the point), but then had a huge Empire basically dropped on him by the Pope. He was functionally illiterate his entire life. His solution was to have books read to him, while he exercised: which is pretty darn clever in itself, given what we now know about the effects of exercise on learning. He was also famous for grilling diplomats about their home countries. He presided over a period that some historians call a "Little Renaissance" in the 8th Century AD, that saw a flowering of the arts on the continent thanks to the political stability imposed by Charlemagne. However, the Carolingian dynasty he founded ended up not lasting very long note , and more warfare was to come before the real Renaissance happened. English-language world history books tend not to talk about this period, because Charlemagne's influence didn't extend into England. Charlemagne came up with the Imperial system of weights and measures. While inferior to the later metric system: this was miles better than the systems which had existed previously simply because all the units were intrinsically related to one another and could be applied globally (a pint's a pound the world around). This system was not named for the British Empire, but in fact for the Holy Roman Empire.
  • André Masséna, one of the most brilliant commanders of the French Revolution and the First Empire, had little chance of getting any kind of formal education in his childhood (what with being a poor orphan from Nice and having to work as his uncle's soap factory) and only learned to read and write in his late teens. Contrary to other generals of the same era who tried very hard to compensate for their lack of initial schooling by studying hard in their adult life, he never cared much about deepening his culture, instead relying on his instinct to make war.
  • Stanley Kubrick, one of the most visionary directors of all time (who reportedly had an Improbably High I.Q. to boot), hated school and got poor grades. He often cut class to go to the movies, and he later criticized the American educational system for failing to provoke critical thought.
  • The infamous bibliomaniac Stephen C. Blumberg stole over 23,600 books worth at least 5.3 million dollars from various libraries throughout the United States before being caught in 1990. Ironically, this very literary person (he never tried to sell any of the rare books he stole) was a poor student who struggled to complete high school and only attended six weeks of college before dropping out.

Smart, but eccentric

  • Absent-Minded Professor: A character who's unbelievably intelligent but would forget their own head if it weren't attached.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: A character who is smart but rarely puts any effort into things, yet ends up being successful regardless.
  • Ditzy Genius: A character who is clearly intelligent but has nothing in the way of common sense or tact. An expert at landing themselves in trouble.
  • Genius Ditz: A totally ditzy character who is absolutely unbeatable in one area of expertise.
  • Modern Major General: A character who is highly skilled in several areas, except for the one they're supposed to be skilled in.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Ain't got 'nough time to stand around explainin' quant'm mechanics and the intr'casies of wrangling non-linea' space-time fluctuations to no city slickers. Ya'll wanna use the teleeporta' or not? I got a chess match going against that insufferable genius feller, and the weasel's probably cheating while I kain't see the boards.

Conventional geniuses

  • Book Smart: A character who gets good grades in school.
    • Child Prodigy: A genius who just so happens to be a pre-teen kid.
      • Brainy Baby: A genius who might still be in diapers or daycare.
  • Genius Bruiser: When The Smart Guy and The Big Guy are one and the same. A character who's highly intelligent and intellectually accomplished, while also being physically intimidating and useful in a fight.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Not only ranks this character very high on the brain chain, they are also one of the nicest, if not the nicest, character in their own work. They probably wouldn't make a big deal knowing they're at the top either, not wanting to make their less intelligent friends uncomfortable.
  • Insufferable Genius: A character who has talent, knows it, and will no doubt tell you again and again. While they are very close to the top of the brain chain, they can't reach it due to there being one valuable thing they can't seem to wrap their heads around, humility.
  • The Smart Guy: A character who can always be depended on to do some Hollywood Hacking, provide some Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, or have technical knowledge.
  • Teen Genius: A genius who just so happens to be a teen. Exactly like the TV Genius (see below), but without the odd side effects.
  • TV Genius: A character who, naturally, is smart, but only how an unintelligent person would imagine a genius to act. This usually includes a lack of social skills, an extensive (read: show off) vocabulary, and Nerd Glasses.

The biggest brains in the world

  • Einstein Sue: A Mary Sue that, despite often having no reason, is depicted as the smartest character in the setting.
  • The Philosopher: Has deep knowledge about the wisdom of the world and will talk about metaphysical problems, The Meaning of Life and moral dilemmas to a degree that only the smartest characters will understand. Other characters like the Insufferable Genius or The Professor will still learn from him. Is mostly portrayed as a Byronic Hero in fiction, which doesn't make him any less smart.
  • World's Smartest Man: If you were somehow able to quantify and rank intelligence, this guy is #1.
  • The Omniscient: The smartest possible character in fiction and on top of the brain chain. He knows everything relevant to the story, if not everything as a whole. Will often be neutral, or have an Omniscient Morality License.

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