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Brilliant, but Lazy

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"Progress doesn't come from early risers — progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things."

Related to the Genius Ditz or the Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, you have the Brilliant, But Lazy character, who is more than capable of taking care of any situation that the heroes have to deal with, but doesn't care. They'd rather relax and do nothing to help. This character will likely Refuse The Call when it comes, feeling that, whatever's going on, it's not their problem. Expect them to be very sarcastic as well.

Expect such a character to be indifferent, uncaring, and, at worst, obnoxious or self-centered.

However, when it's crunch time, and the heroes need someone to come save them, guess who decides to give them a break?

Often a form of Obfuscating Stupidity. Can be associated with Book Dumb. If they're also rich, they may be an Upper-Class Twit. When they try to be The Slacker, they usually turn into a Professional Slacker. See also Unskilled, but Strong, which a Brilliant But Lazy character can be if they have great power but don't bother working to improve on it. Alternatively, they can be Weak, but Skilled, if they're very experienced (sometimes masterly) yet lack the drive to put any effort into their raw power.

An obvious subversion here is the notable difference between someone who actually is Brilliant But Lazy and someone who thinks they're Brilliant But Lazy but is actually just Lazy. This also applies to those who are secretly afraid they're not brilliant and hence refuse to exert themselves for fear they'll be exposed. They should also beware of falling into the trap of Laborious Laziness if they find that their smarts and their desire to avoid doing work are, in fact, making them work harder at being lazy than they would be working if they just did what they were supposed to.

May overlap with the Erudite Stoner, whose laziness comes from being under the influence, the Absent-Minded Professor, who may seem lazy because his intellect distracts him from everyday tasks, Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and Deliberate Under-Performance. Contrast Dumb, but Diligent, Nerds Love Tough Schoolwork, and High Hopes, Zero Talent (one who doesn't slack but never really gets there). See also, Hidden Depths. Not to be confused with Genius Slob.

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    Comic Books 
  • Jughead Jones is frequently portrayed in this way in Archie Comics. He is second only to Dilton in intelligence. Sometimes he is not even lazy, as he wins awards for his great marks. Several stories have played with the idea that his intelligence is fueled by all of the food he eats.
  • Skalman the turtle from Swedish comic Bamse is this to a very literal degree. He's a brilliant inventor and tinkerer with numerous gizmos and gadgets under his belt, however, he outright refuses to move at a pace faster than a sluggish walk (with a couple of VERY rare exceptions where his friends' lives were in danger). He also has a great disgust for people telling him to hurry, even declaring the word "hurry" itself to be the most offensive term he can think of. To bypass these issues he invented a wheelbarrow on legs that he rides in whenever he needs to move fast or go far. His biggest instance of sloth, however, is his crippling adherence to routines. He always carries around an alarm clock that rings to signal nap — or food time and will unquestionably obey it whenever it goes off, immediately dropping whatever he's doing to sleep or eat. There have been instances where he's ignored the clock, but they are vanishingly few and often involve his friends being in mortal danger.
  • In The Beano, Roger the Dodger's gimmick is that he's often coming up with schemes to get out of doing work. Ironically, these schemes take much more effort than the work he's trying to get out of doing.
  • Examples from the Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • Between his luck and other skills, Gladstone Gander has more than enough talent to become even richer than Scrooge in a very short time... Except he prefers to coast through his life, and rarely puts the effort in anything unrelated to his rivalry with Donald.
    • Donald is often seen like this, Depending on the Writer: it's often made very clear he could become rich through his own hard work, but prefers lazying around or, when he finds a job and excels, tends to forget the little details and ruins himself. Then there are the Paperinik stories, where his laziness and lack of attention to details are simply the result of him going out almost every night and work as a superhero, and Double Duck, where he adds being a super spy to the things that tire him out too much for a normal job...
    • Brigitta McBridge is another businesswoman with the potential to match Scrooge (and she has occasionally come out on top, something Flintheart Glomgold can't honestly say). She's however too busy trying to woo him to fully dedicate herself to getting rich unless Scrooge makes her angry.
      • Best shown by a parallel universe where she had succeeded in marrying her Scrooge... And immediately stopped working and started enjoying the good life, becoming one of the reasons the Scrooge of that universe was on the verge of bankrupt. Then her husband managed to switch places with the Scrooge of the main universe, and when Scrooge decided to restore his counterpart's financial empire to its former glory and put her back to work she single-handedly restored the entire restaurant business branch in a month.
  • Franco-Belgian comic book icon Gaston Lagaffe is an interesting example; while he is undeniably a huge slacker, frequently sleeping on the job or spending company time goofing around without consequences, he is also a gadgeteer genius with a knack for chemistry. The interesting part is, most of his inventions end up malfunctioning/blowing up in his face, with the vast majority of his really successful creations happening purely out of luck.
  • Impulse: Wally at first wanted Bart to be his successor as the Flash, but realised that Bart just doesn't care about learning to use his powers.
    Bart: long as theynote  know I can do better, I don't really see any sense in overdoing it...right?
  • Major Bummer centers around Lou Martin, a slacker accidentally given super strength and intelligence by aliens who confused him with a Martin Louis. Lou's problem is, while he's smart enough to cure cancer if he had the motivation or the inspiration, he has neither; he uses his incredible gifts to lounge around the house, avoid the other superheroes in the area who aren't cute girls, watch cheesy movies, and modify his satellite so he can pick up all the channels he wants. In fact, when the two aliens show up at his house, what he's most upset about is that they ate the last of his macaroni and cheese.
  • In Minimonsters, Lupo is this, but it's subverted because he's narcoleptic and he can't help if he falls asleep all the time.
  • Robin: Tim has a reputation as a brilliant slacker because he does really well on tests but often doesn't complete his homework, sleeps in class and ditches often. This is because he is incredibly busy as Robin, and it doesn't help that he doesn't care for school and ends up dropping out rather than get his high school diploma.
  • In The Secret Service, Jake believes this of Gary, but later feels that he just hasn't had the opportunity to make something of himself.
  • Subverted by Peter Parker, alias the Amazing Spider-Man. Peter is a brilliant scientist who's quite capable of acing his studies, but his constantly being forced to Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World as Spider-Man means that he can't dedicate as much time to his schoolwork as he wants. As a result, he's considered lazy, even though he actually isn't. Ditko, er, ditto for his skills as a photojournalist. Even J. Jonah Jameson admits it...grudgingly...when Peter's not in earshot.
  • In Strange (2022), Clea is more than capable of taking on her husband's role as Sorcerer Supreme, but she's so fixated on trying to bring him back that she neglects many of the other responsibilities that Stephen left her, such as his obligations to the Avengers, constantly putting them off while she pursues her own ends.
  • Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wields the nunchaku, an extremely difficult weapon to master, while his brothers can't. Despite his natural talent, he would rather sit down and play video games.
  • In The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Rodimus would be a very skilled captain and a great hero if only he'd stop pretending to be dead to get out of answering difficult questions. He seems about to learn a lesson about this after "Remain in Light", keeps to it throughout The Transformers: Dark Cybertron, and then immediately gives up and goes back to napping on the job the moment he can offload the difficult bits to Megatron, who for all his faults at least has a functioning sense of responsibility.
  • X-Men villain Mojo is the ruler of the Spineless Ones, an extradimensional race of incredibly lazy creatures, proven by the fact that they spend all their time watching movies on television and have slaves (both the regular kind and genetically created ones) to wait on them hand and foot. As one might expect, filmmaking and slave trading are the two biggest industries in their dimension, and Mojo became their ruler not only by dominating both industries but combining them, having slaves genetically grown for the express function of acting. (Unfortunately for him, this led to the creation of Longshot, who would eventually lead a slave rebellion, which turned out to be no accident; the inventor of the technology had secretly planted a seed that would grow into a desire for freedom into their genetic make-up.)

    Comic Strips 
  • Angus Og: Angus himself. If he put half as much energy into honest work as he did dodging it with his imaginative, and often convoluted, Get Rich Quick Schemes he'd have been a millionaire.
  • Beetle Bailey: Plato is the The Smart Guy of the camp, but he's got no damn interest at all in being a good soldier, and all he ever (rarely) uses his brains for besides idle philosophising is avoiding work.
  • ​Riley Freeman from The Boondocks is an interesting example. He's pretty smart, and occasionally displays insight and vocabulary beyond what one would expect of an eight-year-old. However, the highest grade he's ever achieved in school is a C+ — and even this he thought was too high. This is because Riley's goal in life is to emulate his favorite gangsta rappers. So it's more like Brilliant, but Ignorant. His brother Huey points out that one of his idols, The Notorious B.I.G., was actually a decent student as a kid, much to Riley's disbelief.
  • Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. He brings home Cs and Ds, when the viewers (as well as Calvin's parents) know he's capable of much more, given how much effort he puts into his plans to throw snowballs at Susie, has a lot of creativity that he spends building snowmen, and knows just about everything about dinosaurs. He thinks of things much beyond the simple first grade material and has a very advanced vocabulary, but he'd much rather hang out all day exploring the woods behind his house. In one strip, he gets a good grade on a test, but he feels that it's just not worth the effort. In another strip when he was comparing test grades with Susie, she was surprised why he was happier in getting a C than an A. He tells her that he figures that life is easier if he keeps everyone's expectations lower. Lampshaded in other strips, where his teacher says, "Calvin, if you'd put half the energy of your protests into your schoolwork..." The guy is a philosopher as well. He asks his father "how does men killing each other solve the world's problems?" to which his dad has no response. Also, when he sees a pile of litter in the forest he states that "the truest sign that intelligent life exists is that none of it has tried to contact us."
  • Dilbert:
    • Wally may not actually be brilliant, but he's at least a case of Competent, but Lazy. He could achieve a lot more if his immediate superior was someone other than the one and only Pointy-Haired Boss. The original Wally, in his very first appearance, is brilliant but trying to get fired to get a company severance package. Scott Adams has said this scenario was exactly based on real life . More than one time he has shown that his true ambition in life is to be useless, not lazy; in fact, he tends to put more effort into creative new ways of avoiding anything resembling a task than any amount that could possibly be demanded by said task. He once joined golf to learn new ways of being useless.
    • And some strips show he may have the potential to be the laziest Evil Genius in the world.
    • Also in Dilbert, Word of God says the smartest person in the strip is Dilbert's garbageman. Why would the smartest person in the world be a garbageman? The author doesn't know, since he isn't the smartest person in the world.
  • Caulfield in Frazz can run circles around his teachers, but he avoids serious work whenever possible.
  • Garfield is incredibly lazy but quite intelligent: he is able to outwit criminals, is a skilled detective, and can build advanced technology out of simple household objects.
  • J. Wellington Wimpy from Popeye is incredibly intelligent and well-spoken. It was once mentioned that he went to college (bear in mind this was during a time when a college education wasn't required or commonplace), but he never works, and would prefer to get through life by mooching off of others.
  • The Wacky Adventures of Pedro's title character seems like a talented inventor and writer, but also a simpleton who takes his duties for Boys' Life magazine progressively less seriously.
  • Jeremy in Zits can be this way. He gets a 3.7 GPA at high school (and is in AP classes) yet can't be assed to try harder. Of course, he's also incapable of doing household chores but what teenagers aren't? This varies depending on the storyline. In a few, he has a GPA above a 4.0 and works feverishly at his schoolwork, but his class is so full of highly-caffeinated (and occasionally flat-out cheating) overachievers that this barely puts him in the top half of the class.

    Fan Works 
  • Askin Nakk le Vaar is portrayed as this in Alabaster Orchestra, allowing fleeing enemies to escape, and quickly killing those who choose to stand and fight.
  • At one point in the Avantasia Protag AU series, a supernatural accident reveals an alternate dimension with Alternate Self versions of the four main characters. The original Aaron is brilliant and extremely productive to a fault (doesn't rest for days), and his Alternate Self is still brilliant, but extremely lazy instead and spends all day sleeping.
  • BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant: Ragna, according to Ozpin's file on him, is rather intelligent despite his middling grades. His biggest issue is that he simply doesn't care about non-combat related subjects and as such barely puts any effort into them beyond the bare minimum.
  • Deconstructed with Naruto's aunt Setsuna from Bloodlines (The SOC Puppet). She was one of the best students the Ninja Academy had seen in years, but she was also very lazy to a fault. She slept through not one but three different exams and was eventually kicked out of the academy. Setsuna now works as a waitress at the start of the fic.
  • Clash in Clash's Revolt has the potential to be a great musician, but she's never put her heart into practicing.
  • In Fate/Long Night, Robert Baratheon is a lot smarter than he looks, but if a matter doesn't involve fighting, feasting, or fucking, he doesn't care about it.
  • Jormungandr in The Great Slave King is extremely crafty and intelligent, but is quite laid back and relaxed, to the point of falling asleep during moots and being more concerned over the lack of catering than one of his fellow deities lying dead on the floor.
  • Harry from Harry The Lazy Hufflepuff is an extraordinarily brilliant wizard, who only uses his genius and talents to make his life easier.
  • In Hermit, the frost demons have this as their hat with Cooler as the sole exception. Besides Cooler being the only member of his species willing to train to grow stronger, he's also the only one who will actually get his hands dirty himself rather than rely on weaker minions to do his bidding. Notably, after Cooler conquers an extremely valuable planet that the frost demon empire has been trying to acquire for several years, he's mocked for doing the work himself.
  • Naruto is portrayed this way in Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox. He's known to fall asleep in class out of sheer boredom, but he's capable of solving a Rubik's cube in the time it takes to say the alphabet from A to F. He actually manages to astound Hiashi, who'd dismissed him as a bad influence on Hinata's educational growth, with the Rubik's cube.
  • Kyon was this trope in Kyon: Big Damn Hero. Then his mother issued an ultimatum to get him to pull up his grades. Soon, readers see him topping the class, and he becomes nearly as good as Haruhi, resident Ace, in school.
  • Due to the requirements of her Feruchemy, protagonist Ferris of Life Ore Death resembles this, as she spends several hours doing nothing much each day to store her energy for later use. In truth, she actively defies the trope, as she usually multi-tasks by practicing her English while mostly immobile, and she works hard at physical conditioning when she isn't preoccupied meditating.
  • Nie Huaisang in The Lost Cause would really rather just paint his fans and catch birds. As Jin Guangshan is plotting to kill his beloved older brother, however, he gets involved in political scheming to keep him safe.
  • My Bloody Academia: Ryuko is implied to be on the same level as other recommended students like Shoto and Momo, with Endeavor even offering to recommend her into UA. The reason she didn't take it is because the test process for recommended students was more time and effort than she wanted to invest into. Even then, she barely put much effort into studying for the main exams, and she got a 93. Tsuyu even outright calls her this trope.
  • Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way of My Immortal. Supposedly the only one who can defeat Voldemort (and easily out-matches him in Chapter 9), but would rather shop at Hot Topic and have sex with anything that moves instead.
  • Light in My Stupid Reality has put all his effort into looking like a popular Book Dumb slob in order to protect himself from L.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Alexis Lois "Lexi" Luthor, the granddaughter of the infamous Lex Luthor, graduated from college at the age of five and earned a degree in nanoengineering at seven. She's already fluent in Japanese and English, is a skilled martial artist and acrobat, and is the heir apparent of LexCorp. Yet she spends far more time indulging in her fascination with Japanese culture than caring about what her board members think of her and plans on attending U.A. (a school with a 0.33% admission rate) as a Support Course student just to have an excuse to stay in Japan.
  • Nine Knackered Souls: Even after being turned into a pony, Grif instead prefers to use his super pegasus speed to escape from Sarge and nap on clouds.
  • Misty's Psyduck in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has some shades of this. He prefers to run away or lie down playing dead to avoid battles but can be surprisingly competent when he has to, especially if his trainer is in danger.
  • Revan in the Knights of the Old Republic fanfic So Not My Problem is The Dreaded, but has to be nagged or lectured into doing anything. He employs an impressive command of the Force to avoid working; for example, he Force Persuades two lying witnesses into honesty to avoid cross-examining them. The AU fic Affably Evil diverged because of this; in canon and the first fic, the Jedi ambushed Revan and abducted him for Heel–Face Brainwashing. In the second fic, Revan couldn't be bothered to show up to the ambush, and Malak was so frustrated that he went instead.
  • There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton: It's established in Close Encounters of the Gem Kind that the Collector really is nearly omniscient, but that he finds actually using that power to locate people or information to be boring. Hence his vast network of informants, to spice things up.
  • Superboy/Conner Kent in Teen Titans: Call of Blood, who was engineered to have "the power of Superman and the mind of Lex Luthor," and there are signs he inherited the knowledge and intellect of his human "father." He can quote Machiavelli, use terms like "Sisyphean" and "quid pro quo" in the right contexts, and repair a remote data receiver without instructions. However, all Conner really wants to do is play superhero and chase skirts, then kick back with video games and junk food like a normal teenager.
  • The Smeet Series: Tallest Red and Purple are portrayed like this in a more evident way than in canon, particularly with the latter. Red is still portrayed as the smarter one who takes his duty more seriously, but a different, more serious side of Purple is shown during the events of Indokani.
  • Tom in Tom Riddle's Schooldays is intelligent, but only becomes best in his year by reading the answers from his classmates' minds.
  • Destron Allicant in Travels Through Azeroth and Outland might have qualified for this trope during his student days.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The 3 Little Pigs: The Movie, Wally and Beemo have quite a talent for composing and performing awesome songs, but don't do much with it on account of their supreme aversion to hard work until around the middle of the film.
  • Averted with Manolo in The Book of Life. His father has this belief from his point-of-view: Manolo has the skills of a bullfighter and the potential to be the greatest Sanchez bullfighter ever. However, Manolo would rather play with his mariachi band all night. In reality, Manolo just abhors the idea of fighting bulls so he's not doing it out of laziness, but out of morality. Carlos, thankfully, gets over it.
  • Brutally deconstructed with The Lion King (1994)'s Scar — while his brilliance goes to the point of providing the page quote for Brains Evil, Brawn Good and he's clever enough to plan one assassination plus subsequent coup then play Xanatos Speed Chess when the original plan fails, when it comes to actually ruling a kingdom he lets the place fall apart by not even trying. In part, this is due to him coveting the title of king mainly for power and privilege - when he discovers that it requires actual work on his part, he has less than zero interest in doing anything other than sulking in his cave.
  • Sully in Monsters University had the physique to be a naturally talented scarer, but he lacks the motivation to study the field and would prefer to rely on his roaring for all kinds of scaring.
  • In Disney's Treasure Planet, Jim Hawkins is this according to his mom as he overhears her talking.
    "And you know how smart he is. He built his first solar surfer when he was eight! And yet he's failing in school..."
  • Avatar in Ralph Bakshi's Wizards is a wise and powerful wizard but prefers to spend his time sleeping and ogling the beautiful Elinore. In fact, when he confronts his Evil Twin Black Wolf, he claims that, unlike his brother, he hasn't practiced a lot of magic in years. Which is true, as he barely uses any magic, beyond simple tricks, throughout the movie.
  • The Princess and the Frog Prince Naveen seems to have a decent head on his shoulders; he speaks several languages, has a decent grounding in the sciences, and in general seems to cope with both the threat of looming poverty and being turned into a frog fairly well. His textbook Heroic Build indicates that he is quite physically active too. However, he has no interest in doing anything that requires actual effort, and that's why his parents cut him off.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted in Amadeus. It seems at first that Mozart spends most of his time partying, chasing women, and getting drunk. But when it comes time to compose a song, he can do it brilliantly out of thin air. However, after his jealous rival, Salieri, sends a maid to spy on him, it's revealed that Mozart spends countless hours at home constantly working on new compositions and is over-stressing himself.The stress would lead to his poor health and him dying young.
  • Big Game: Terrorist Intel head Fred Herbert gives off this impression. He's laid-back, and often seen eating a sandwich or drinking from a mug throughout the movie, whilst tactically working out what's going on at breakneck speed and being way ahead of the curve compared to the other Pentagon officials (although the brilliant part is partly justified by him being in the know on the Government Conspiracy).
  • The Dude of The Big Lebowski actually would be a fairly capable detective if he put his mind to it. He just happens to prefer lying around, drinking White Russians, listening to music and smoking marijuana.
  • Dr. Peter Venkman of the Ghostbusters has doctorates in Psychology AND Parapsychology. You'd be hard-pressed to tell, given that Ray and Egon always do all the brainwork. But the IDW comics have shown that when the chips are down, Venkman does have considerable skills in the areas. In "Displaced Aggression" he's able to cobble together workable means to capture and contain ghosts by using the remains of his gear and available technology in the Old West.note  And in the IDW ongoing series, he defeats a ghost that has possessed him by using psychology to figure out its weakness.
  • Kumar Patel from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Ridiculously lazy and ridiculously brilliant.
  • At the beginning of Independence Day, David's father berates him for being this because he's got impressive skills as a programmer and scientist but he's using them as an employee of a cable company — essentially a satellite TV I.T. guy.
  • Eggsy from Kingsman: The Secret Service has a great IQ, school performance and excels in physical abilities including Le Parkour, but he left it all to become a street crook. He says that this is because of how he was raised, on account of his deceased father causing his mother to be averse to his activities that may lead her to lose another family member (like joining the armed forces). Harry persuades him to leave his criminal life.
  • Lions for Lambs: Todd (Andrew Garfield) is a bright political science major who used to get good grades, but has since become disillusioned with politics and stopped showing up to class, preferring to throw parties for his fraternity instead. His plotline concerns his professor trying to get him to engage with the class again.
  • Lawrence from The Rainbow Experiment is usually late to school because he doesn't care about his studies. He gets away with it by being at the top of his class.
  • Chris Knight from Real Genius. He's not even that lazy — a lot of his schemes require a massive amount of planning and work to pull off; he even mentions that the sheer amount of work he's already done not only on the laser but other projects at the school would earn him a degree and then some. It's more of a case of Brilliant but Rebellious.
  • Max Fischer from Rushmore is a variation — he's failing at school because he devotes all of his brains to extra-curricular activities and mad schemes (like getting Latin cut from the curriculum in favour of Japanese... and then saving Latin again. Huh.)
  • Peter Parker is accused of being this by Dr. Curt Connors and Dr. Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2, before Octavius learns why Peter is too busy to do much in the field of science, of course by then... he has other problems to attend to. The irony of the Trope Namer being one of the people least likely to ever end up on this page is delicious. Even Otto acknowledges it when he repeats his earlier line at the end to an unmasked Peter.
  • In Star Trek (2009), James T. Kirk is far too busy getting into bar fights and being an overall jerk to heed Captain Pike's Call to Adventure. But, when Pike uses Kirk's daddy in an attempted Dare to Be Badass, Kirk seems to change his mind. Or, to use Pike's own words, Kirk is "the only genius-level repeat offender in the Mid-West."
  • In Swing High, Swing Low, Skid is a brilliant trumpet player but doesn't have any ambition whatsoever.
  • David Lightman, the protagonist from WarGames. Despite mediocre grades at high school, he knows more than a thing or two about computers and hacking. This comes to bite him in the ass big time, though, when the U.S. Government takes a look at the picture all of this presents of him and immediately assume he's a Soviet spy.
  • Unlike his characterisation from Yojimbo, Sanjuro from the film Sanjuro, while a brilliant strategist and a Master Swordsman, would rather spend more time dozing in a corner of the room rather than participating in the activities of his nine more impulsive companions.
  • Similarly in the crossover film, Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo, Sasa is a brilliant swordsman in combat, but, as one gang leader points out, "he's either drunk or snoring away".


    Mythology and Religion 
  • African Mythology: In West-African mythology, this is one of Anansi The Spider's major character traits. Most of the times where he has the tables turned on him are due to the fact that he is so intent on avoiding work that he often screws himself over.
  • This is one interpretation of Askeladd from Norwegian folktales. In nearly every story he's said to occupy himself with poking the ashes in the fire, a job reserved for weak (or sometimes just plain lazy) members of the household. But he saves the day by bullshitting his way through everything.
  • In the age-old concept of the Seven Deadly Sins, this trope is among the most popular interpretations of what defines the Sin of Sloth; in this form, Sloth is about having potential, skill, talent what have you, but failing to utilize that potential, skill or talent just because you don't feel like it.

  • Roxanne from Interstitial: Actual Play has a lot of potential, but she tends to give up or wash out of anything that requires too much effort (like college).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • TNA calls Kevin Nash "the smartest man in pro wrestling." However, he's also the least motivated man in pro wrestling; he simply can't be bothered to do much of anything unless it involves a big, fat paycheck.
  • Ric Flair made this accusation toward Carlito on Monday Night Raw, saying he had no passion but admitting he was pretty good after they wrestled. Since this tended to be management's opinion of Carlito outside of Kayfabe, this promo may have their attempt to send a message to him.
  • Also in TNA, laziness is what motivated AJ Styles to team up with Ric Flair, as he really didn't need to but it would be easier to win matches that way.
  • Hulk Hogan in Japan tended to make more of an effort and do much more mat wrestling than he did in the U.S (he could even bust out athletic moves like enziguiris). While on the one hand if he brought more of that style to his work in the U.S., he'd likely be thought of more highly as a wrestler than he is. On the other hand, that style would clash with the formula that made him so successful in the first place. Damned if you do...
  • Basically Orange Cassidy's gimmick. He's the laziest man you'll ever see in professional wrestling, spending most of his matches with his hands in his pockets. But when you piss him off, he's one of the fastest and smoothest wrestlers in the game today.

  • In Absolute Power (BBC), Martin McCabe has a "first-class mind", but prefers leaving the work to Charles who hugely enjoys it. On several occasions he spends an entire episode flatly refusing to think about the project at all until Charles finds everything backfiring and Martin can solve it in five minutes. (He also has a conscience, unlike Charles, so sometimes he refuses to work on the project for that reason.)

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The titular dragons are highly intelligent, with terrific Hit Dice and top-notch spellcasters. One must guess the only reason they haven't taken over the world is that they just prefer to pile up a nice hoard and take a nap on it. One Dragon article basically explains that a reptile weighing tens of tons for whom a herd of cattle is a snack thinks very carefully before using up energy.
    • They're not even the worst examples. The serpentine Yuan Ti, for example, are as smart as dragons, have their own array of cool tricks, and unlike dragons are actually fairly well organized and not prone to excessive Chronic Backstabbing Disorder when compared to other Chaotic Evil creatures, which enables them to work together on long term projects, but they almost never actually seem to do so. The explanation there is a mixture of caution and, yes, laziness: they want to rebuild their Vestigial Empire, but prefer to do so using slaves, yet there are too few Yuan-Ti left to wage war to capture more. So they prefer to sabotage and subvert other humanoid civilizations until the time is right.
    • In the Planescape setting, there's Factol Karan, the leader of the Xaositects — sometimes. As the leader of a group that embraces Chaos, he doesn't always use his skills to their fullest potential, even though his is a powerful warrior. As The Factol's Manifesto puts it, "Karan is a great leader, he just doesn't lead his men to great things."
  • Exalted:
    • Eye and Seven Despairs is a villainous example. He is implied to be the most brilliant and devious of the Deathlords, who are already the most devious Big Bads in the setting. His base, Cold House, is simultaneously part of the Labyrinth at the depths of the Underworld while existing in Creation — a feat that nobody else can even understand, let alone emulate. He uses this brilliance and the world-conquering power invested in him by long-dead Primordial super-deities... to torment three specific people for offenses they committed in their past lives, which they don't even remember or know about. He has accomplished exactly nothing else — well, he did also invent an infectious and terrible zombie plague, but more or less forgot about it once a chance at overly-convoluted revenge against people who have no idea what's going on presented itself — and only halfheartedly stirs himself when his Neverborn masters force him to. As a result, he's viewed as lower in respect amongst the Deathlords than the one that was almost fed to Oblivion for her screw-ups.
    • His fellow Deathlord, the Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears, is also a good example: she's conceived of a Batman Gambit to conquer Lookshy, one of the great military powers of the setting, with hardly a shot fired. She's even gone so far as to construct the Trojan Horse for the plot and arrange for them to capture it. But she hasn't actually gotten around to triggering the booby trap inside it and sending in her legions to mop up...because she finds war terribly boring.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! game, there is the Xyz Monster, Slacker Magician, who's name and appearance pretty much describes her. However, she is clearly very intelligent, proven by the fact that when she decides to get her act together and stop slacking, she becomes Downern Magician. She even invented the Stim-Pack, according to the stories in the Master Guide 4.

  • Jeffrey Moss in Bells Are Ringing.
    Ella: He's not a playboy! He's a very talented playwright.
    Gwynne: Yeah — but all he does is play. He never writes.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Maya Fey shows herself to be a gifted spirit medium, frequently able to channel her deceased sister in seconds whereas normally a ritual is needed. However, she tends to shirk her training for various reasons and solve murders with Phoenix instead.
    • By Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Ema Skye seems to have become something along these lines. She has a genuine love of science and a very useful amount of knowledge regarding forensics, but she lacks her predecessor Dick Gumshoe's enthusiasm for investigating. Failing her final exam has left her pretty half-hearted about her detective work. As a result, she can be quite sloppy and thus overlooks certain vital clues that Apollo picks up on and uses to solve the crime in court.
  • The vice principal in Canvas 2 grudgingly admits that Hiroki is an excellent teacher when he bothers to actually do his job.
  • Kotomi Ichinose from CLANNAD never shows up for class, but still remains at the top of the country's national rankings. Though arguably, she isn't lazy, because she skips doing research on topics far above what any normal university would ever teach and that nobody has ever really understood except her parents.
  • In the visual novel Crescendo, Ryo (the main character) certainly qualifies. He's calculated the exact number of days he needs to attend school and tests he needs to pass in order to graduate and passes the entrance exams for a prestigious university simply because it's in walking distance of his house.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc's Leon Kuwata (the Ultimate/Super Highschool Level Baseball Star) is the top batter for the highest ranking high school baseball team in the country who has even been scouted by the professional leagues. Despite his insane talent, he actually hates playing baseball, and has never showed up to a single practice. The only reason he even played it at all is because he was talented at it and wanted to get into Hope's Peak. Once he got in, he immediately quit baseball and set his sights on becoming a rock star instead (and the only reason he wants to do that is to get girls).
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Akane Owari (the Ultimate Gymnast) sees no point in practicing her talent when she's already good enough to beat the leotard off the competition as it is, and doesn't care about gymnastics beyond winning prize money to support herself and her Massive Numbered Siblings. The only two things she's genuinely passionate about are fighting and eating.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony:
      • Himiko Yumeno. She is the Ultimate Magician but she often claims she can't do a lot of magic tricks because of her MP being too low. In addition, she is quite The Slacker, frequently bemoaning that doing things is such a pain. She makes a deliberate effort to grow out of this after her friends Angie and Tenko are killed, feeling that she has to live for their sakes.
      • Miu Iruma. As the Ultimate Inventor, she naturally possesses a genius intellect. However, she only seems to want to invent things that let you accomplish tasks while you sleep, presumably so that she can just do nothing but sleep all day and still get work done, which probably makes her the laziest workaholic that's ever lived. The one invention she made that wasn't like that, contact lenses that are applied like eyedrops, she considered a failure because it doesn't involve sleeping and sold off the rights to it. Naturally, it's the only invention of hers that is massively successful.
  • Gilgamesh from Fate/stay night is a villainous example of this Played for Drama. He has access to every legendary weapon in history (for comparison, the most anyone else has is three), and he's so powerful that all the other characters in the game together wouldn't stand a chance against him. Fortunately for everyone else, he never gets serious because of his massive ego. To give an example of just how insanely strong he is, he easily won against a guy who he somewhat respected and he did it while standing still. And that's not him fighting seriously, just showing some respect-nobody has ever warranted him going all out with perhaps the lone exception of his only companion, Enkidu.
  • Galaxy Angel: Tact Mayers, the protagonist of the first trilogy, is constantly reprimanded by his penchant to avoid work and always jumps the chance to have some fun. When it comes to face the enemies, however, he proves himself a genius tactician, leading the Elsior and the Angel Wing to victory in ways no one could have predicted.
  • Toki Meki Memorial Girls Side:
    • Kei Hazuki easily gets good grades in most subjects, but sometimes falls asleep during exams and ends up with 0 points. Though he admits it's less that he's lazy, more him being tired from his model job.
    • Played for laughs when the heroine thinks this of fun-loving Madoka Kijyou and sees that he can get passing grades if he just applies to himself. Madoka points out that he cheated.

    Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss: Loona, Blitzo's adoptive hellhound daughter, is terrible at her job as his receptionist. Her seeming lack of people skills and always being on her phone give the impression of a lazy, bitter Sassy Secretary with no people skills. However, she's shown that she can be friendly and personable with the right motivations, is far more perceptive of her surroundings than her phone usage suggests, and is gifted at using powerful demon magic. And despite her lack of combat training, she's demonstrated to be the best fighter of the whole group.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Killer is not necessarily lazy, but more like uncaring. Whenever someone asks him to solve a problem he has a solution to, he'll just mock them and do nothing. Basically if it doesn't involve fighting, Killer doesn't give a shit.
    • Andy is actually a very effective fighter, but would rather be The Load because he thinks it's funny.
    • Trevor claims to have a lot of knowledge on things, but being a Sleepyhead means he can't even get through a sentence properly.
  • Calamity in No Evil is shown to be extremely observant and quick-thinking, seeing through Wrip's disguise in seconds in "Little Bunny Foo Foo" and being the first to figure out what's going on in "Conduct", but she spends most of her time goofing off and doesn't really take much seriously.
    Calamity: Where'd the bones go?
    Ichabod: (as though he can't quite believe it himself) A little girl made of patchwork came and took it away.
    Calamity: Sweet! Let's head for the party then.
    Ichabod: We're not going to question this?
    Calamity: (indifferently) If it's important, it'll come back to bite us.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Dexter Grif may just be this according to Church, being the only member of the Red Team that the Only Sane Man is willing to take seriously as well as usually forced to play Commander Contrarian to Sarge, whose plans focus entirely on ways to get Grif killed. In one of the Multiple Endings where the characters are forced into combat against each other, Grif actually does pretty well, taking out a tank and killing Tucker. Eventually confirmed in Season 15, where Grif teaches himself Spanish in two months just to be able to understand Lopez.
    • Lopez easily notices the flaws in everything the soldiers do but does nothing to help them. (Though considering what they put Lopez through, he might just be passive-aggressive instead of lazy.)
    • Tucker might be this as well. He develops into a more than competent combatant throughout the series, and it's implied that the only reason he's not running the Blue Team is that he simply prefers not to, and just lets Church handle it. His status as this is confirmed in Season 12, Episode 19.

  • Black Mage of 8-Bit Theater seems to be the most generally well-informed on magical theory, including magical traditions he doesn't personally practice and is the Only Sane Man about half the time. The problem is that the other half of the time he's using his dedicated decision-making process, which defaults to just blowing everything up out of irritation and moving on. He went so far as to unlock incredible power hundreds of strips before anyone else could, then keep it under wraps just because he couldn't be bothered to use it.
    • Fighter is indisputably a capable fighter, but early strips have him flashing back to tuning out his mentor and he later undergoes a "Trial of Sloth" that makes it explicit he's well below his actual potential. (He gets confused at the highfalutin words being tossed around and finally slices up the avatar, claiming that "[his] brain told [him] this was easier".)
  • In Blood And Smoke, Junior is heavily implied to be this. He is smart enough to build fully functional robots out of scratch in the middle of his classes but still gets failing grades.
  • Dr. Light, Dr. Wily, and Kalinka Bob and George are smart enough to build robots, but lazy enough to build robots to do work for them.
    • Dr. Light built Proto Man, Rock, Roll, and the original six Robot Masters as house servants. X, the most advanced robot of the time, was built specifically to clean his lab. He also designed his robots to repair themselves because he was sick of repairing them every storyline.
    • Dr. Wily gave up on building Robot Masters one by one, and made an instant Robot Master building machine.
    • Kalinka threw together a functioning, self-aware robot for a science fair, resulting in Ran. Ran is so fragile that she stopped repairing him, instead building a machine that builds and teleports a new Ran built with the same material and memories as the last one. note 
  • This is stated outright to be the reason behind Jim's behavior in Darths & Droids: Roleplaying is his downtime. When he games, he likes to turn his brain off.
  • Idril from Destiny Fails Us will go out of her way to print off a fake report card, instead of doing the actual homework. Just because she wants to play some video games.
  • Walky in Dumbing of Age. Having coasted through school because the answers came easily to him, college is the first time he's had to actually study, and he doesn't like it.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Coyote claims to be this on this page.
  • I Don't Want This Kind of Hero: Deconstructed. Naga has zero ambition and generally does the average he needs to as a hero — something he occasionally gets called out on, and many people would rather make better use of his incredible powers. However, the question then is if being a Born Winner means that Naga should be denied the right to live his life, and Naga himself is annoyed at the people who claim he's doing nothing, given that being a superhero is already going beyond. He's helping people out on a regular basis — why should that not be enough?
  • In Jupiter-Men, Quintin's Photographic Memory should make it trivial for him to succeed in school. But he pays so little attention in class that he gets poor grades anyways. When he is paying attention, he's surprisingly gifted at making Indy Ploys and can memorize complex passcodes with a glance.
  • Jones from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things has taken up and dropped so many hobbies that she's highly proficient in whatever skills the plot demands that day, from archery to butchery to rock climbing... with the sole exception of housework. Her apartment's a mold-infested mess, her sofa-bed is missing the "bed" because she was too lazy to install the hinge, and she'd rather bulk-buy t-shirts and donate them to charity after one use than do her own laundry.
  • Xykon from The Order of the Stick is something of a villainous version. Despite being a highly competent and rather intelligent villain, he's literally too lazy and self-absorbed to do much himself, leaving the detail work and day-to-day running of his empire to Redcloak while he acts like a buffoonish borderline-Cloudcuckoolander. Seriously interfere with his plans or challenge his rep, however, and Xykon will show you exactly why he's one of the most dangerous villains in the comic. Xykon is downright proud that he can afford to be lazy. To him, not needing a plan to deal with an enemy is the ultimate expression of power.
  • Taffe Torbern in Pacificators. According to Word of God, she is actually somewhat of a genius, but she has no motivation because she never wanted to be a Pacificator, and tends to fall asleep when bored.
  • The premise for PHD. They are, after all, grad students, but also Ridiculous Procrastinators.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Kevyn Andreyasn of the team's resident Mad Scientist. His bio mentions that he entered university to study theoretical physics and left without a single course finished because he'd inevitably do all the coursework and read all the literature in the first month, grow bored, and drop out. He is stated to be one of the smartest humans in the galaxy, which makes his chosen career as a mercenary all the more puzzling to his would-have-been academic peers. The answer is simple: he thinks it's fun.
    • Elf is another example, although a level lower (she did the same thing in high school). After spending a lot more time with Kevyn, she starts to show that she's really extremely bright. (And while Kevyn thinks she could have become weapons designer, Tagon points out the logical flaw: the chance of those weapons being used against them.)
  • Ellie of Shotgun Shuffle initially appears to be a Dumb Blonde, but it quickly becomes apparent that she just never applies herself to anything.
    Ashlii: I go to school with Pumpkin. She says you're the stupid one.
    Ellie: Please remind Pumpkin that we all agreed I'm the LAZY one!
  • Riff from Sluggy Freelance. Partially it's the tendency to invent totally insane devices that carry a higher probability of demonic possession than you would like but that boy would be a lot further in life if he just put more effort into coming up with more of his awesome inventions.

    Several times it's mentioned that he tried to patent a device but got rejected because his device's power adapter got loose and ate the patent agent, or something similar. Many Sluggy plots have revolved around someone else taking one of his discarded ideas and working out the bugs that he couldn't.
  • In Snowflakes, there’s Sloan. Despite only being a kid, she reads academic literature for fun and even ends up becoming a political strategist during the orphanage’s election. At the same time, though, she prefers to “sleep in till noon and call people idiots” and hates getting out of bed more than once a day.
  • The Eebs in Spacetrawler were extremely powerful telekinetics and omnimaths who could produce virtually anything engineering-based in the galaxy. They also liked to mostly spend their time just drinking beer and casually murdering people. Their sloth was in part based on the fact that everything simply came too easily to them.
  • Exaggerated in Tower of God with Phonsekal Lauroe, a genius Wave Controller who has a strong habit of sleeping everywhere. Especially on the battlefield. He's never without his blanket and pillow, and when he has to move around, he floats with them around him; his teammates once had to threaten to take them away to get him to do anything.

    Web Original 
  • Caleb from Flander's Company is the resident Gadgeteer Genius who's supposed to run the research department, but spends most of his office hours next to the coffee machine. Whenever he is taking himself seriously, he is actually quite competent and can come up with good inventions. Sadly, he is incredibly lazy, resulting in him mostly passing his time drinking coffee or causing explosions.
  • Chet in The Escapist's new series "Game Dogs". According to his employee dossier, he's known for two things: his lacking work ethic and the attendant reprimands for tardiness and missed deadlines, and the unparalleled brilliance of his work and problem solving when he does produce something. As only the pilot has actually been aired, it remains to be seen whether or not this will turn out to be an Informed Ability.
  • Ryney from The Mystery Sphere is possibly one of those. It depends on whether his apparent apathy and laziness are true or whether he is faking it.
  • Hinted by Genius Ditz The Nostalgia Critic. He knows how to take over the world but doesn't want to tell, and he can learn languages really fast when he's obsessing over something meaningless. He also once discovered a pattern in the stock market that could lead to making only successful investments, but ignored it because he was actually looking for a Stealth Insult from The Angry Video Game Nerd.
  • Married mediums Frank and Sadie Doyle of The Thrilling Adventure Hour are brilliant monster hunters and occult investigators, but only if they become interested enough that it overrides their utter lack of concern for anything that is not either each other or liquor.
  • Plenty of the high schoolers at Superhero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. Askey can't be bothered to go to classes, as all he wants to do is play video games or make video games. Thrasher is the son of a supervillain and uses his superpowers to... thrash on a skateboard. Fantastico has Exemplar skills and perfect memory, but couldn't be bothered to write a paper for English class (he has money too, so he paid one of his minions to write it). The mutants who are brilliant and not lazy are flat out scary.
  • In this story from Not Always Working, a worker at a hotel takes every pain to skive off his regular work, but can instantly, effortlessly, solve every Impossible Task that comes up, whether it's an unpleasable customer, misplaced delivery, or management actively looking for an excuse to fire him, sometimes unaware that the task was impossible.
  • Despite being well-behind in his magical education, Jarry from Welcome Back, Potter can cast spells with gestures instead of a wand, something Stacey remarks is something only an especially talented wizard can do. Instead of using it for anything constructive, he uses it to change channels on his TV and con muggles out of money.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Super Smart Slacker, The Shikamaru, Coaster


"Dear Chief Replacement..."

While Alucard is pretty lazy at his job of killing Vampires for the Hellsing Organization, he dedicates a ton of effort into his jokes: 400+ Death Threats meant for the Pope sent via Carrier Pigeon is just one example of this.

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / BrilliantButLazy

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