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Cool, but Stupid

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"So, ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking, yeah?"
Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The intersection of the sets "Stupid things" and "Awesome things", which, surprisingly, are non-disjoint sets. A field mainly occupied by the obsessions of 8-year-old boys, but one that can be surprisingly fertile for all that.

Examples should be confined to things that are acknowledged in-universe as being stupid or ridiculous, yet are treated as being awesome or cool despite or because of this.

Differs from So Bad, It's Good and So Cool, It's Awesome by being the localized case; those apply to the whole show. See also Achievements in Ignorance, a Sister Trope: when the "impossible" is achieved due to not knowing it's impossible; frequently, cases of Cool, but Stupid are acknowledged as being stupid, but carry on regardless "just to see what will happen". Compare Awesome, but Impractical.

In-Universe Examples Only

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    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In Team Four Star's Dragon Ball Z Abridged version of the Broly movie, Vegeta has a mental crisis over how someone as cool as Broly can have such a ridiculous motive for wanting to kill Goku. Incidentally, this seems to be the general fan consensus on the character, as well.
    Vegeta: I don't know what's going on anymore. He's so cool, but he's so... goddamn dumb.
    Piccolo: Okay, Vegeta? While you're here having this "crisis", we're out there getting beaten to a bloody paste!
    Vegeta: But you don't understand! The Legendary Super Saiyan is motivated by a crying infant! He is a literal giant f**king BABY!!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Many of the things Jeremy Clarkson builds on Top Gear (UK). Past examples have included a V8 powered blender, a flamethrower mounted on a snowplough, and modding a car so much it caught fire. Although May and Hammond once converted a Reliant Robin (very small plastic three wheeled car) into a space shuttle (which exploded on takeoff because it couldn't properly detach from the rockets, but details). It is also their opinion of the Pagani Zonda. The Top Gear (UK) equivalent of Cool But Stupid, frequently leveled as a judgment on their own projects, is "Ambitious but rubbish."
  • Many a "carry the myth to its logical conclusion" test on MythBusters. Past examples include a car with dimples like a golf ball and a boat made out of duct tape.
    Adam: I've just had one of those "what the hell are we doing" moments.
  • In Home Improvement, many of Tim Taylor's "improvements" on Tool Time... such as a rocket-powered riding lawnmower.

  • Toby Keith said that he decided to record "Red Solo Cup" because it was both the stupidest and most awesome song he had ever heard.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Flavor text from Dungeons & Dragons suggests that most of the gnomes' most brilliant inventions started with astoundingly dumb ideas. For instance, the Gnomish Magnetic Armor, which repels magical attacks, was originally intended to repel metal debris on workroom floors.
  • GURPS Ultra-Tech has the rocket striker. It's a swinging melee weapon with a rocket engine attached for extra power. Yes, you read that right. May be either So Bad, It's Good or just far too silly for the setting.
  • Rifts has no such compunction, however, and will gladly introduce weapons like the bangstick, a truncheon (also available in staff and hammer) with a single-round shotgun chamber built into one end and an impact trigger. It sells like hotcakes because Rifts' Earth adventurers and mercenaries are stated in-universe to live and die by Rule of Cool, and many of them love the concept of being able to finish off the enemy by poking them with a stick. The funny part is, something basically similar really exists and is perfectly practical but highly situational.
  • In the Macho Women with Guns manual encounters chapter, the Warmechbots are explained as having dominated the battlefields for ages... until people realized what a dumb idea they were, got rid of them, and then tried to pretend they never existed.
  • An odd case: There exists a Chess opening that runs counter to every bit of good chess strategy, known as the "Bongcloud Attack". It's widely considered cool because it's so stupid.

    Video Games 
  • Horizon Forbidden West: In the Burning Shores DLC, Aloy and Seyka explore an abandoned theme park based on an in-universe movie series called Pangaea. At one point, the two come across a hologram depicting an apparent scene from one of the movies, where a squad of soldiers has a last stand against a pair of Tyrannosaurs rexes. Seyka says that it's ridiculous but also kind of awesome.
  • Discussed in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, by Demyx.
    You ever get the urge to just do something stupid... and AWESOME?
    Wait, wait... I'm getting an idea... Nope, it's gone.

    Web Animation 
  • SWAG.MOV's climactic battle between a Kaiju-sized Rainbow Dash and Discord. The Freeze-Frame Bonus in this scene reads, "THIS IS SO FUCKING RETARDED OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M ANIMATING THIS".
  • The Urban Legend of the Rocket Car, one of the earliest Darwin Awards: someone attaching a Jet-Assisted Take-Off rocket to the roof of his car and driving in a straight line until he hit a cliff.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja:
    • The Alt Text for this strip (in which Doc focuses his energy to fight ghosts by humming the Ghostbusters theme) reads, "Very stupid ideas taken very seriously. Dr. McNinja."
    • The Radical Lands are literally made of this. Inhabitants include winged sharks and octopuses, muscle-bound gun-toting dinosaur people, flying tattoo needles, helicopter-head ents, a centaur-werewolf hybrid, a bipedal unicorn tyrant, and way too many creatures with Cool Shades. It is implied that Dr Mcninja's dimension is in between the "boring" real world and the Radical Lands, and is therefore a balanced World of Weirdness as opposed to the full-blown World of Chaos that is the Radical Lands.
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Sword-chucks — that's nunchucks made out of swords; they're even stupider than they sound. Every character except their inventor is fully aware of how completely idiotic this is, but they end up working perfectly.
    • In a guest comic, Fighter even makes staff-chucks to cast spells with. They're considered even more ridiculous and turn out to spray destructive magic uncontrollably when used. Since he made them as a gift for Black Mage, it all works out.
  • In Knights of Buena Vista, this is how Mary feels about watching a Michael Bay movie.
    Mary: I know his movies are really stupid. That's WHY I like them.

    Web Original 
  • Many of the questions asked on What If? (e.g. Using eagles to deliver pizza to plane passengers in flight.) are this. In fact the conclusion reached at the end of each answer is often either this, the world being annihilated, or some combination of the two.
    Randall (On the feasibility of siphoning Europa's oceans.): No, but I like where you're going with this.

    Web Videos 
  • In Atop the Fourth Wall's review of Brute Force, Linkara acknowledges this about the comic.
  • Honest Trailers: This is the Narrator's opinion of Pacific Rim. He dubs it "either The Most Awesome Dumb Movie Ever Made or The Dumbest Awesome Movie Ever Made."
    Narrator: Let's be honest, that movie was super dumb. But I still cannot wait for the sequel!
  • Brand in Midnight Screenings felt that Transformers: Age of Extinction worked better than the other films due to being just stupid enough to avoid pissing him off, and having the cool aspects that he enjoyed in other Michael Bay films.
  • In the Dragon Ball Z Abridged version of the first Broly movie, Vegeta's Heroic BSoD turns out to be a result of him realizing that while Broly's Legendary Super Saiyan form is "so cool", the reason for this transformation (Broly hating Goku because he had to endure three hours of his crying when they were babies) is "so dumb".

    Western Animation 
  • The Martians of Invader Zim destroyed their own civilization and worked themselves to extinction to turn Mars into a workable space-craft (except, of course, that upon completion there was no-one left to drive it). Why? Because it was cool.
  • In The Dragon Prince, Soren is the first to acknowledge how dangerous his zipline is, but he, Ezran, and Rayla genuinely enjoy themselves.

Alternative Title(s): Stupid Yet Awesome, Stupid But Awesome