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Ditzy Genius

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"He was so learned that he could name a horse in nine languages; so ignorant that he bought a cow to ride on."

Contrasting with the Genius Ditz, who, while usually foolish, has one area (or some) in which they are absolutely brilliant, we have the inversion: the Ditzy Genius, a character who, while they are very intelligent and talented in several or many areas, has absolutely nothing in the way of common sense, logic, wit, or tact, or at least isn't good enough in those areas.


This can occasionally be shown as naïveté to the point of stupidity, and/or nigh-Suicidal Overconfidence/inability to see the danger or flaws in what they're doing. In any case, these characters end up landing themselves in trouble more often than not. They are capable of doing pretty much anything they put their mind to, but they also tend to forget to ask themselves if they should do it, or even question themselves on why they even do it in the first place.

The primary difference between a Ditzy Genius and a Genius Ditz is that a Ditzy Genius has high general intelligence but is highly inept at something more mundane than their intellectual interests (social skills, for example) or lacks common sense, whereas the Genius Ditz usually seems dumb or clueless but is in fact highly proficient in at least one fairly specialized skill or field of knowledge. Contrast also Book Dumb, which is a character smart in mundane life but abysmal in everything academic.


In any Tabletop RPG using The Six Stats, this kind of character-type will have high Intelligence, but low Wisdom.

Sometimes, this is a deliberate characterization decision made to give a highly intelligent character a Fatal Flaw, or make them come across as weird, or any number of other reasons. Other times, it happens entirely by accident because the writers keep tossing the Idiot Ball to a character who's (perhaps only because we're told as much) supposed to be academically brilliant.

This trope is Older Than Feudalism — one of the earliest instances of this trope dates back to ancient Greece, more specifically from Plato's dialogue Theaetetus, in which Socrates explains that philosophers were back then often perceived as absent-minded because they didn't care about such mundane things such as gossip or social fads, but instead about truly important matters such as the essence of knowledge.


Compare Nerds Are Naïve, though note that not all nerds and geeks are geniuses and vice versa. See also Cloudcuckoolander or Brilliant, but Lazy, especially in cases when the character's intelligence is largely informed. One of the standard Hollywood interpretations of a nerd, along with Extraverted Nerd. Very closely related to Smarter Than You Look and Bunny-Ears Lawyer. Also compare Absent-Minded Professor, who isn't foolish so much as forgetful. See also No Social Skills and Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training. If the character's deficiencies are in the areas of manners or consideration for other people, see Insufferable Genius.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Harumi Kiyama in A Certain Scientific Railgun is a very intelligent scientist, but lacks even the most basic shred of common sense. For example, her thought process when it's hot essentially comes down to "It's hot, therefore I should take off some clothes." The fact that she's doing this in public doesn't occur to her. She actually becomes the source of an Urban Legend about a "Stripper Lady" because of this.
  • In Asteroid in Love, Ao is usually sensible and intelligent, but her relatively frequent lapse of common sense puts her to this trope, mainly due her interest in astronomy as well of her Spock-ish way of thinking.
  • Kirino Chiba of Bamboo Blade is frequently behaving in a ditzy, overexcited manner. She is also ranked 20th in her year at school. Not genius level, but highly respectable nonetheless.
  • Bartender: The titular character, Ryu Sasakura, is a textbook example. Behind the bar, he is The Glass of the Gods, a walking liquor encyclopedia and the king of customer service, smooth as silk and slick as a silver bullet. Outside his comfort zone, he is a somewhat goofy Manchild with a strange obsession with eating gyoza.
  • In Beauty and the Feast, Yamato is mentioned to have excelled at any sport he put his mind to and was even chosen to represent Japan at a junior high level baseball tournament. But he's also air-headed and spacey, often forgetting to respond to his family's texts and failing to communicate himself properly, causing others to make assumptions about him.
  • Teen Genius Hattori Heiji from Case Closed. He's a brilliant detective who always keeps on par with Shin'ichi's deductions, but can't for the life of him remember to call Shin'ichi "Conan" when they're in public (which shouldn't be that hard, since "Conan" was the first name Heiji knew him by). He also has a bit of a Hair-Trigger Temper, particularly when talking to his childhood friend Kazuha. So much so that one fanfiction diagnosed Heiji with Asperger's Syndrome in a fictionalized psych profile.
    • The main protagonist, Shin'ichi Kudo, is introduced as an amazing detective, even given the nickname "The Modern Holmes". However, he is incredibly socially inept, which was a major reason why he had little to no friends as a child, the sole exception being Ran.
  • Lloyd in Code Geass. Brilliant mecha designer, does not understand basic human interaction. The characters are shocked to hear that he is engaged. It's an arranged marriage since Lloyd is an Earl. He was only interested in the match because of his fiancee's vintage Giant Robot.
  • L of Death Note is a Ditzy Genius (compared to Misa Amane) as he was stated by the author of Death Note to be the most intelligent character in the series, and has enough idiosyncrasies and few enough social skills that he can barely interact. Generally hyper-competent, he tends to fail in normal conversations and interpersonal relations.
  • Laios, of Delicious in Dungeon, is incredibly knowledgeable about monsters, surprisingly good at deduction and observation, a decent tactician, and a peerless fighter. He also once tried (successfully!) to eat Animated Armor.
    • Senshi is a keen survivalist, a solid combatant, and a Supreme Chef, but spending years underground and eating monsters makes him fairly spacey and dotty. After being kidnapped by orcs and claiming to have a plan, he revealed his plan was that he could use the orc supplies to make bread.
  • Yuri from Dirty Pair she is very intelligent when it comes to science, forensics, and hacking, but she can be rather ditzy at times, particularly when she's around a guy she likes, or sometimes when thinking up crazy ideas to solve a problem.
  • Although Doraemon is the smartest of the main characters and seems to have a vast knowledge of many different subjects, he ended up the clumsiest of his kind due to a problem during his production, and will rarely get anything done when he's nervous.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Bulma, especially in the English dub. She's one of the brightest minds in the world, being able to make brilliant inventions out of junk in minutes, however, she tends to make bad judgement calls. This is best shown in the Red Ribbon Army Saga where she invents a high-tech spy drone and sees that Goku is planning to attack the Red Ribbon Army HQ. After the drone gets blown up she realizes they need to call for help, but she complains they don't have a phone. Turtle then points out that if she could make a drone then a phone shouldn't be any trouble for her, to which she gets the point and sets to work making the phone. All this and yet somehow she gets the idea to become a treasure hunter. She gets only slightly better at this over the course of the series, in the sense that she doesn't walk headlong into danger without thinking first so much.
    • It runs in the family, because her father, Dr. Briefs, is even worse — he's a genius in anything mechanical, but has absolutely no common sense.
    • While Piccolo is easily the smartest of the Z-Fighters and a good tactical genius, several of his battle plans fail because he overlooks glaring flaws in them and doesn't notice until it's too late for him to do anything about it. For example, when fighting Raditz, he breaks out the Special Beam Cannon to take him down, but it fails the first time because he didn't actually think to immobilize Raditz beforehand.
  • Girls und Panzer gives us Miho Nishizumi. At first glance, she's shy, socially awkward, and usually clumsy. She is also an expert tactician and commander in the sport of Sensha-do/Tankery, due to being from one of the most prominent families in the sport. The only thing that sets Miho apart from her family is that Miho values the safety and efforts of her team which clashes with her family's "win at all costs" belief.
  • Joshua Lundgren of GUN×SWORD is one of the greatest mecha engineers in the world... and doesn't understand why women scream when a guy walks into the girl's bathroom.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, Maria and Nagi have both skipped grades and know multiple languages. When they are split up while on a train, Hayate is torn between protecting his master or staying with the maid until Hinagiku shows up for a less-than-fully-heroic rescue because they are completely clueless about the world.
  • Miyako of Hidamari Sketch acts like she has a case of Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!, but her artistic and academic abilities are levels above the other characters—she's one of the few people who is Brilliant, but Lazy but not Book Dumb. That said, her use of Gratuitous English is also quite terrible...
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
    • Most of the humor in the series comes from Kaguya and Miyuki being this: they're legitimately very bright, but they also suffer from badly warped ideals, weird upbringings, and Complexity Addiction, resulting in them turning every single exchange into a Battle of Wits. Most of these "battles" end in a stalemate because of them managing to outsmart themselves. Kaguya, for instance, nearly had Miyuki dead to rights in an exchange that would have ended in him admitting he was a virgin, but revealed in the process that she was so sheltered about sex that she thought "your first time" meant kissing.
    • It becomes clear as the series goes on that Fujiwara is more flaky than stupid, which isn't helped by her "best friends" sabotaging her test scores by tricking her into not studying. She can speak five languages, design functional games, elaborate scams, is a skilled pianist, and still scores slightly better than average on tests in a very difficult school despite almost never studying.
  • Sanae Dekomori from Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!s anime adaptation may be a Cloud Cuckoo Lander out of her delusions, but she's still the top student of her grade, to Yuuta and Shinka's utter surprise.
  • Miyuki Takara from Lucky Star is extremely smart, talented, gets very high grades, and has a lot of knowledge about different subjects that the other three main characters don't. However, she can be rather clumsy and naive, and is prone to spacing out when she's thinking too much about something. That's probably why Konata is always saying how Moe she is.
  • Yuu Kashima in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is good at almost everything, but she has an off-kilter thought process and can never seem to figure out when the things she does will get her in trouble.
  • My Hero Academia gives us Denki Kaminari. He is considered the dumbest person in class 1-A, but at the beginning of the story we are told that UA is the top Hero school in Japan and perhaps the entire world, and that in order to get in you basically had to ace middle school, showing that literally everyone at UA who is considered "dumb" such as Mina Ashido, Rikido Sato, Tetsutestsu Tetsutestu, and Ejiro Kirishima, are actually all still quite intelligent. Denki is a special case as he does have many real moments of stupidity, but he's still at the top school in the world meaning he is simply the dumbest genius in a school of geniuses.
  • Professor Shinonome of Nichijou is a technological wunderkind who built a Ridiculously Human Robot and a device that allows her cat to speak like a human. She's also 8 years old, and possesses all the naivete of a kid her age despite her amazing mechanical aptitude.
  • Tamaki Suoh in Ouran High School Host Club is so ditzy that despite starting a Host Club, he mistakes his romantic feelings for Haruhi as wanting to be her father. He also has the second-highest grades in his year without even trying, to the frustration of some.
  • Black from Pokémon Adventures. Type match-ups, move accuracy, evolutionary lines, detailed information on every Gym Leader and Elite Four member (including their team line-ups), Black studied them all before going out on his quest To Be a Master. Pity he has No Social Skills and feels that it's appropriate to shout out his dreams to people who are quickly going deaf.
  • Tenpou in Saiyuki Gaiden brilliant strategist, but seems baffled by everyday life and would probably be buried under a pile of books almost permanently if it wasn't for Kenren.
  • Mikogami Hayato of Sekirei graduated from college before the age of 15, and is cunning enough to outsmart the resident Manipulative Bastard. On the other hand, he's a hyperactive teenager prone to Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! moments. He treats the Sekirei Plan like a super-exciting game of Pokémon, and expresses the desire to transform the world into something out of a video game if he wins.
  • Dr. Gel from Space☆Dandy is said to be the Gogol Empire's greatest scientist, and is even shown building impressive technology and performing complex calculations and equations to back this claim. That said, he suffers from Skewed Priorities and repeatedly fails at his assigned task of capturing the title character. He's so bad at it, in fact, that Dandy doesn't even know that Gel exists until the final episode. Gel simply assumes that everything Dandy does is an ingenious plot to foil him, and while Dandy is smarter than he looks, Gel's repeated failures can usually be chalked up to bad luck and cartoonish incompetence.
  • Jou Kurumada of Tomica Hyper Rescue Drive Head Kidou Kyuukyuu Keisatsu. He's a skilled mechanic and brilliant strategist. Other than that, he can be rather clueless. The drama of an entire episode is drawn from the fact that he can't remember the contents of a phone call he had with his wife just the other day.
  • In Yuyushiki, Yui sees Yuzuko as this. She does do well in school, but as Yui points out...
    Yui: [on Yuzuko's defying Smart People Wear Glasses] She really is pretty smart. It's her ideas that are dumb.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • The perpetually six-year-old Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes. An example:
    Calvin: Hey Mom, did you know that gravity in outer space works as if space was a soft, flat surface? It's true. Heavy matter, like planets, sinks into the surface, and anything passing by, like light, will "roll" toward the dip in space made by the planet. Light is actually deflected by gravity! Amazing, huh? And speaking of gravity, I dropped a pitcher of lemonade on the kitchen floor when my roller skates slipped.
    Calvin's mom: [cleaning up the mess] How can kids know so much and still be so dumb?
  • Jason from Foxtrot. The kid always does his homework and gets incredibly high marks in school... yet will pull off incredibly dumb, and sometimes dangerous stunts, half the time just to torture his sister. He's a kid smart enough to program absurdly effective computer viruses, and dumb enough to send them to people who want to see if his website has any content.
  • A Dilbert strip has the Pointy-Haired Boss interviewing a prospective job candidate:
    Boss: Wow! You have three masters degrees and a PhD!
    Interviewee: Yes, it's all very impressive, but interestingly, I have no common sense whatsoever.
    Boss: That's not the sort of thing you should say during a job interview.
    Interviewee: I don't see why not.

    Fan Works 
  • Princess Luna in Progress manages to be a brilliant leader, improving irrigation systems and the tax code and much more (not to mention being a Physical Goddess), and set the microwave to 27 minutes when making popcorn. Being a Fish out of Temporal Water helps.
  • As revealed in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue of The New Retcons, Robin Patterson becomes this: unable to live by himself, but was accepted into the physics program in a nearby university.
  • Futari Wa Pretty Cure Blue Moon has Ami-sensei. She's constantly given to speeches about hope and justice, chasing a promotion she's not sure will ever arrive despite her best efforts, and is the laughingstock of the school, but she's a Gadgeteer Genius who can build anything from a super-toaster to an elaborate trap for the local Panty Thief to an interdimensional communicator.
  • The Doctor Whooves – The Series Doctor makes a show of being this, which is part Obfuscating Stupidity, part genuine unfamiliarity with the world he's found himself in, and part simply him.
  • My Heroes Reborn: Hibiki Kinzoku has the Past-Life Memories of MCU Tony Stark but is this thanks to his original personality being that of a complete moron. He can't even use freakin' Amazon without accessing Tony's memories.
  • Ruby Rose in Boop the Snoot for Critical Damage! is a mechanical genius who creates and customizes her own weapons and is an expert fighter with her complex sniper-scythe, but she ain't what most would call practical or sensible. For instance, she spent all her money on equipment to customize her runner to transform into a Wave-Motion Gun. In hindsight, Angel should have known better than to give the gun crazy Siren what amounted to a blank check.
  • In Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv) Light Yagami is characterized this way:
    Light: Oh my God I forgot my death note!
  • Roxy in HSETAU. She's a brilliant scientist and self-made billionaire, but she buys an infrared sauna off of the internet to scan WK and WQ because x-ray machines are expensive. When her 13 year old daughter Rose suggests borrowing the x-ray machine at the local clinic, Roxy realizes that not only is Rose right, but building the sauna would probably put them on a fast track to giving WQ and WK cancer. Roxy's behavior is mostly due to her frequent drinking clouding her judgement.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, Akihiko Kayaba is proved to be this. Despite his hair-brained scheme to pretend to set up a death game to save face over a bug that was more due to how sleep deprived he was, he is still a genius programmer. Sugou states that despite Sword Art Online's buggy code, his team was able to advance virtual reality simply by studying it. Sugou's entire plan is based on the fact that Kayaba's code has the potential for video game stats to affect a person's real life ability such as charisma allowing for real life Compelling Voice. And the fact that he could have made a genuinely good game if Bethesda didn't order him to finish the game before its deadline. And when Bethesda refused to delay the release so he can undo a bug that could kill people if they log out, he decided to lock everyone in the game and claim he added the kill nature on purpose, rather than consider he could frame a terrorist group from the crime, which he regrets when Asuna points it out.
  • Penny in A New World on her Shoulders. Due to being an android, she has a mind akin to a super computer that makes her one of the most intelligent students in Atlas, managing to get perfect scores where her teammates (including Weiss and Ciel) struggle. Her social skills, however, are completely lacking and she's very Literal-Minded.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Bug's Life: Flik is very smart and capable of building various inventions, but is also very clumsy and mistakes the goofy circus bugs for mighty warriors.
  • Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove is a borderline polymath who excels at cooking, various types of obscure linguistics (both Hash House Lingo and squirrel), identifying different types of wood at first glance, communicating and empathizing with others, and identifying meta inconsistencies in his own narrative. He’s also so dense he knocks himself over while trying to slap a fly that’s landed on his own face, thinks he won’t be seen if he “pauses” his own (self-provided) theme music and he flattens himself against a wall in plain sight, and is generally a Horrible Judge of Character when it comes to his Bad Boss, Yzma. In essence, he’s too dumb to realize he’s a genius .
  • Professor MacKrill from Help! I'm a Fish. He's a highly intelligent scientist who created a potion that can be used to turn other living beings into fish and vice versa. He easily forgets things and often makes up songs to help him remember.
  • Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is very book-smart and artistic, but he doesn't realize what would be suspicious about getting a 0 on a true-or-false test. There's also the time he tried to play dumb to a security guard asking what he was doing by claiming to not be Miles Morales.
    • From the same movie, there's Dr. Olivia, who is one of the smartest women on the planet: she's the one who constructs the device that allows for dimensional warping, and frequently makes online videos about the nature of quantum mechanics. She's also a Cloud Cuckoolander who rides a bike to work, has an exercise ball instead of a chair at her desk, and has about two hundred icons (with absolutely no rhyme or reason to their placement) on her computer's home screen. This makes The Reveal of her full name—Doctor Olivia Octavius—and role as classic Spidey villain Dr. Octopus all the more surprising; how could such a silly, lighthearted genius be a threat?
  • Gune in Titan A.E. is the chief scientist of Korso’s crew on the Valkyrie, and while he comes across as a Cloudcuckoolander Absent-Minded Professor when we first meet him, he’s shown to be incredibly brilliant at his job. Korso even acknowledges this.
    Cale: I'll tell you a secret, this guy's nuts!
    Korso: I'll tell you one more, he's never wrong.
  • Wallace of Wallace & Gromit is a fairly textbook case, a Bungling Inventor who develops complex Rube Goldberg Machines in his spare time and demonstrates expertise in pest control, window cleaning, baking, and space travel. He also would rather build a mechanical foot into his motorbike to push the gas for him than move his actual foot six inches.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Beautiful Mind has John Nash, a mathematics whiz who will actually go up to a woman and say, "I don't exactly know what I am required to say in order for you to have intercourse with me. But could we assume that I said all that? I mean, essentially we are talking about fluid exchange right? So could we go just straight to the sex."
  • Rain Man: When Charlie Babbitt feels slighted after his father leaves him a 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible and his prize-winning rose bushes, so he sets out to find who has custody of the rest of the estate, where he learns he has an older brother named Raymond, who is a ward of Walbrook Psychiatric Hospital, that is named the trustee of $3 million on Raymond's behalf. Along the journey to Los Angeles, he discovers that Raymond has quite a good memory for trivia, and can count the number of toothpicks in a box, but he has virtually no social skills, and a poor grasp of everyday prices, believing that $100.00 is the price of a candy bar and a new car.
  • IQ: Catherine Boyd is a brilliant mathematician and doctoral candidate at Princeton. However, she's also absent-minded, easily distracted, and rather gullible.
  • Star Trek:
    • Brilliant physics-defying engineer in Star Trek (2009), Montgomery Scott, a man so intelligent, he came up with trans-warp beaming. A man so stupid, he decided to test the thing on Admiral Archer's dog and promptly got himself Reassigned to Delta Vega.
    • The "other" Scotty broke Kirk and McCoy out of Enterprise's brig, bragging that he knew every inch of the ship — then promptly hit a beam and knocked himself out.
  • Doctor Strange. A genius as a neurosurgeeon and a very quick study at magic, who broke his hands by speeding and texting on a narrow road at night, and who nearly summons Dormammu because he didn't read the book all the way through.

  • There is an old joke about a professor who, at a university formal dinner, helps himself to some peas using his hand. When he realizes what he's done, he excuses himself with "I'm sorry, I thought they were beans."
  • Likewise, there's the old fable about Thales of Miletus, who was so busy studying the stars that he fails to pay attention to what's around him and falls down a well.

  • Aubrey-Maturin: Both Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin have elements of this, in contrasting ways. Jack Aubrey is a highly successful naval officer (which requires technical and mathematical knowledge as well as strategic and leadership skills) as well as an amateur astronomer and musician but has a tendency to make poor choices when on land, especially in financial matters. Stephen is a physician/scientist/spy Badass Bookworm par excellence, but is utterly hapless at sea and something of an eccentric Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Leonard of Quirm is the most intelligent man on the Discworld...and has absolutely no comprehension of human nature whatsoever. The Patrician finds conversations with him a combination of relaxing (since he doesn't have to watch what he says) and frustrating (since Leonard comes up with things like "Yes, I've invented an incredibly powerful war machine, but that's okay because no-one would ever use such a thing.") Jingo has him repeatedly shocked at Nobbs and Colon's constant ideas of how to use his inventions to attack others.
  • Full Metal Panic! features captain Teresa "Tessa" Testarossa. She is a tactical and strategic genius who became a captain in the international anti-terrorist organisation MITHRIL by the age of 16 and personally designed the submersible carrier Tuatha De Danaan which she commands. She is also a lovesick teenage girl and (apart from her talent for swimming) generally clumsy and slightly awkward.
  • Nako in Genie Team G Jiken Note, whose inattentiveness is serious enough to actually mask her intelligence for years and cause her to be passed off as a troublemaking ditz.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Luna Lovegood. She is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander almost to the point of Obfuscating Stupidity, but she pulls out one genius move after another when it counts.
    • Ravenclaw House seems to favor these. The description on Pottermore states that one of its lesser-known values is eccentricity, and has graduated quite a few Ditzy Geniuses over the years.
  • The title character of Haruhi Suzumiya is brilliant at most things she does, scoring incredibly high grades in all her classes and mastering every sport she tries with minimal effort, but she utterly fails when it comes to anything that requires her to consider other people's points of view, like the movie she made. She thought it was brilliant; everyone else was... less enthused. At one point she fails to comprehend why characters always die at the climax of a story, and another time she complains that crabs didn't evolve softer shells so she could eat them easier. She also fails to realize that wearing a Playboy Bunny outfit at school would upset the teachers. And then there's her general Insane Troll Logic, such as pointing out that Tanabata wishes will take years to reach their destination due to the speed of light delay, but expecting that Orihime and Hikoboshi will be able to ignore the lightspeed barrier because they're gods.
  • Honor Harrington has a Havenite former ops and tac officer, who's shown to be a tech nerd, and put in charge of a R&D station known as Bolthole. Her name's Shannon Foraker.
  • Jakub Wędrowycz is literally a genius, but comes across as a Ditzy old bum due, in part, to poor general education (three years of elementary school back in the 1910's), though Obfuscating Stupidity also comes in play.
  • Michael Sevenson in the Knight and Rogue Series manages to be Too Dumb to Live after having gone through a university. His complete inability to tell even a partial white lie and his tendency to act without thinking (sometimes to the extent that he doesn't even that realize he's acted until after the fact), not to mention his tendency to ignore social norms, make it surprising whenever he shows that he does, in fact, possess intelligence.
  • Josh of The Magicians is just as academically brilliant as all the other student magicians at Brakebills, but in his case, it's tempered by him being lazy, careless, ignorant, and Unskilled, but Strong. In the sequel, he offers to teleport his friends from Venice to Corwall - only for a light-hearted interrogation to reveal that he believes Cornwall to be in Canada. And when he actually learns that it's in England, he doubles down and classifies it as part of Europe... only to surprise everyone with an incredibly complex discourse on the science of magnetic force and the magical art of astral folding.
  • In On the Spectrum, Clara's best friend Bree acts like a ditz, but gets straight A's in school.
  • Simona Ahrnstedt gives us Beatrice Löwenström in her debut novel Överenskommelser. She's a very intelligent young woman when it comes to academical and intellectual pursuits. But man, does she make some lousy decisions! When she's bullied into an engagement with a man, who's like forty years older than her and treats women like dirt, she never asks for help from anybody, who might actually want to and be able to help her. She also gets drunk at her cousin's engagement party (which could have ended much worse than it did), trusts her sociopath cousin (she shouldn't have) and tries to seduce male protagonist Seth when she has just fallen off a horse and gotten injured (not the right time)!
  • The whole Peterkin family in the humorous children's novel The Peterkin Papers. They are well-educated, creative, and in their way, resourceful, but fail at handling mundane problems on their own due to a combination of Complexity Addiction and lack of common sense.
  • Another Swedish example is Indra Ingridsdotter, the protagonist of Röd måne by Elisabet Nemert. She's such a brilliant medicine woman that she eventually gets knighted by the queen. But she also has an extreme lack of common sense. She has casual sex with many different men...even though she lives in the 17th century when casual sex was against the law. It's not until after a scorned ex-lover has her thrown into prison that she finally realizes how stupid she had been.
  • The Greek class from The Secret History. They're all extremely intelligent (except for Bunny maybe) but they have absolutely no common sense. Especially Henry who is so secluded from society that he doesn't know how social situations work, how he should act in a police interrogation or whether it's a good idea to have a drug fueled orgy in the woods with your friends.
  • Sword Art Online: Sugou Nobuyuki is a VR genius in his own right, though falling a bit short of Akihiko Kayaba. But he's prone to very blatant Bond Villain Stupidity moments and can't anticipate very obvious consequences to his actions. Case in point: he believes that there are numerous organizations that would kill to have his research and shelter him from the law after Kirito defeats him in ALO. Instead, he's arrested and incarcerated, with RECT nearly going bankrupt as a result of his crimes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Justin Russo from Wizards of Waverly Place plays this trope pretty straight. He excels at academics, but tends to have no common sense to the point that he seems to have the Idiot Ball glued to his hands.
  • In The Big Bang Theory roughly 86% of the main cast (That's 6 out of 7) fit this trope. The initial quartet are all respected in their fields of research, but lack social skills and are unashamedly open about their love of comic books and sci-fi.
    • Sheldon Cooper may be a brilliant theoretical physicist, but he is insufferably arrogant, eternally confounded by social conventions, and almost completely ignorant of pop culture outside the sci-fi genre. He is an obsessive Rules Lawyer, writing out Roommate agreements and even Couple Agreements. He even keeps a timetable for his bowel movements.
    • Raj is a gifted Astrophysicist, whose work is featured in scientific magazines, yet has a Sickening Sweethearts relationship with his dog and in early seasons was incapable to talking to women unless he had alcohol inside him.
    • Amy is a neurobiologist, again, excellent at what she does and again, hilariously inept at socializing. In spite of speaking a very deadpan tone of voice, she gets super excited when the other girls include her in their activities. Very rarely does a woman in her late twenties get that excited about being invited to a slumber party.
    • This was Bernadette's original characterization in Season 3 and early Season 4. She's introduced as a microbiologist with an interest in physics as well (every bit Howard's intellectual equal) but also rather ditzy, seemingly oblivious, and unable to understand Howard's jokes. However the ditzy aspect of her personality was dropped, probably to differentiate her more from Penny, and was replaced by her aggressive nature and Tsundere traits.
    • Howard Wolowitz has engineered a number of devices used on the International Space Station and was even invited up into space to install one of them. He is multi-lingual, able to speak in several languages including Mandarin, Klingon, sign language and binary code... yet he still has his mother take him to the dentist, eats candy till he gets a bellyache like a nine-year-old, once spent all his food budget on Pokemon trading cards and somehow thought it was a good idea to impress a girl by taking the Mars Rover for a joyride.
    • Experimental physicist Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, has the least outlandish quirks of the initial group and has a Ph.D. from Princeton. However, his unloving upbringing has left him extremely needy for validation and affection, to the extent that the first time he and his Penny slept together he wrote her a 10-PAGE LONG "Thank You" letter.. His attempts to look cool are hilariously inept (including the backwards baseball cap) and he once used the equipment from government-funded laser experiment to build his own Bat Signal.
  • The Doctor in Doctor Who. He's eccentric, more than slightly manic, rarely compliments anyone's intelligence without mentioning his own, and has the ability to, without fail, sniff out and leap headfirst into any danger that his companion hasn't already stumbled into. Oh, and he's also a ridiculously competent Genius who's saved the Earth countless times, but that's nothing you'd be able to tell at first glance. Especially not if you're glancing at his sixth incarnation. Or the Fourth. Or the Tenth. Or...any version of him, for that matter. But Six was especially bonkers. Eight had a definite case of Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! going on, too (as did Eleven, for that matter), both in the movie and the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels:
    Eighth Doctor: A meteor storm. The sky above us was dancing with lights. Purple, green, brilliant yellow. YES!
    Grace: What?
    Eighth Doctor: These shoes! They fit perfectly!
  • Reid from Criminal Minds often qualifies, although he's working on it, in his odd Reid way. He's very good at numbers, statistics and abnormal psychology of all kinds, but no good at all, most of the time, at things like the unspoken rules of conversation and tact.
  • Bones: Bones is intelligent for solving crimes and yet clumsy with social stuff... Because her understanding of human behavior is more intellectual than intuitive, she forms conclusions that make perfect sense in theory but are flawed in practice because humans themselves are flawed. It was heartbreaking when she told Booth she was going to adopt a dog that had been trained as a killer, only for Booth to tell her that the dog had been put down because her protestations that the dog shouldn't have been blamed were right.
  • Kurt Hummel from Glee is very intelligent and a fluent French speaker, but prone to moments of ditziness, such as his belief boxes have four sides or his plan to feed the doves at Burt and Carole's wedding glitter.
  • Steve Urkel in Family Matters is a scientific genius, building all sorts of inventions. However, he is very clumsy and lacks in social skills.
  • Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties. He's a hypercompetitive straight-A student and math genius who was doing his parents' taxes when he was five years old and advised his parents on mortgage rates when they bought their house. Yet in everyday activities, he often proves completely incapable. His little sister frequently beats him in sports, he fails at things like building kites, cooking or fixing cars even with extensive directions.
  • Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air may be a book-smart and highly intelligent first-class high school (later college) preppy, but he is especially naïve and immature, especially in later seasons, and on multiple occasions seems to be Oblivious to Love. These areas are his cousin Will's expertise and he is often forced to (whether he wants to or not) bail Carlton out of social situations where such happens.
  • Sherlock from, well, Sherlock. Justified as Sherlock only keeps important information in his "hard drive", which does not include tact, common sense, or the idea of heliocentrism. John pretty much calls Sherlock this in one episode:
    John: You know, for a genius, you can be remarkably thick.
  • Lloyd Lowry from Breakout Kings has many elements of this.
  • Prof. Hamilton on Lois & Clark had discovered a way to clone dead people with all their old memories and personalities intact, as well as a way to alter personalities. So he brings back Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Bonnie and Clyde. Naturally, they all escape and wreak havoc across Metropolis. Lois even called him out on it.
    Lois: Hollywood's created a dozen versions of Frankenstein and you still didn't get the point.
  • Alli Bhandari from Degrassi is brilliant with math and science, an ace writer, and has a great memory. However, she usually gets into bad situations based on her lack of people-smarts and street-smarts.
  • Philip from Kamen Rider Double has access to all the knowledge of the earth and is quite smart in his own right, able to figure out many things that Shoutarou can't. However, due to a Mind Wipe and being trapped in a factory placidly taking orders for eleven years, he doesn't know things that most people consider rudimentary. When he happens upon a subject that he finds interesting (a place, a food, a type of dance...) he will obsessively look up everything he can about it, oftentimes dressing up in zany outfits or trying nearly-suicidal activities just because he can. Also, especially towards the beginning of the series, he has No Social Skills.
  • Recurring Character Professor Pepperwinkle in The Adventures of Superman. Example: he brought his latest invention to show Perry White. It was an (untested) time machine. Perry didn't have time to look at it because he was busy with an Important Story involving a gangster who was about to turn himself in to The Authorities, and who was in his office at the time; so the Professor turned his time machine on and sent them all (himself, the gangster, Perry, Lois, Jimmy, and Clark) to prehistoric times. Success!...then he realized he didn't bring enough fuel to make a return trip.
  • The Solomons from 3rd Rock from the Sun are all advanced aliens who could make fools out of even the smartest human beings, yet, because they have never dealt with emotions before, they come off as utterly crazy and weird to everyone around them. Dick, in particular, is a pompous manchild who can't even teach a young girl to play hopscotch without turning it into an argument.
  • Leo in Leonardo is possibly the smartest person in the world, but is incredibly easy to manipulate due to automatically believing in people, much to the despair of his Street Smart friends.
  • Star Trek:
    • Commander Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation represents the pinnacle achievement of robotics and is very likely the most intelligent officer in all of Starfleet. He is also routinely stymied by basic human interaction and language.
      Chief O'Brien: ...We'll be burning the midnight oil on this one.
      Data: That would be inadvisable...If you ignite a petroleum product on this ship at zero-hundred hours, you will activate the fire suppression system, which would seal off this entire compartment.
      O'Brien: That was just an expression.
      Data: Expression of what?
      Data: It appears we will be required to ignite the midnight petroleum, sir.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Ensign Harry Kim is a brilliant scientist and engineer, but also hopelessly inept when it comes to relationships to the point that he can't even get laid in his own holodeck simulations, and no con is so obvious that he won't fall for it hook, line, and sinker.
  • Stargate SG-1: Daniel Jackson was like this in the early seasons. One notable example was in the episode '1969', when the team went back in time to the titular year and were captured by US military. A soldier asks them (in Russian) if they are Soviet spies, and Daniel immediately replies nyet ("no" in Russian).
  • Moss from The IT Crowd is an extremely book smart technological genius, with No Social Skills and a rather absurd lack of common sense. When a fire broke out in his office, for instance, his reaction was to send a carefully worded e-mail to the fire department, then sit there and wait for them to respond.
  • The Waltons: Jim Bob. He's really smart, just lazy.
  • Lulu from True Jackson, VP.
  • Screech from Saved by the Bell is an academic genius, but can barely function in the real world. It got worse over the years.
  • Winifred "Fred" Burkle in Angel may qualify. She's a skittish, timid, socially-awkward girl, exacerbated by her imprisonment in another dimension where she was viewed as little more than cattle for several years, to the extent she verges on CloudCuckooLander (at least in earlier seasons). She also happens to be a quantum physicist of near-genius intellect.
  • Lord Edmund Blackadder from the second season of Blackadder. A transitional Blackadder, having gained a lot of cunning and suave that would grow with each of his predecessors, but still having some blithering, pitiful shades of the previous Edmund.
  • The title character of Adam Ruins Everything. He's an expert in just about every subject matter there is but is absolutely terrible at predicting how people will react to things. For instance, in "Adam Ruins Security", he needs to have it pointed out to him that going on live TV and giving serial killers advice on how to get around common security systems might have unintended negative consequences.
  • The titular character of Malcolm in the Middle maybe have an IQ of 165, but he has the judgement of a drunk squirrel. To name a few showcases: he tanked his grades and got caught trying to drink underage just to impress a rather unintelligent girl, tried to crash his mother's car into his father's car to get sent to military school after he had been embarrassed the previous day, crashed his go-kart into Reese's for revenge for stealing his birthday money causing them to get both hospitalized and grounded with Dewey getting Malcolm's only birthday present, tried to dispose of a loaded gun rather than calling the cops, and held a pair of open scissors near his face right as Reese popped a balloon.
  • Mrs. Howell from Gilligan's Island is this crossed with Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense. She's quite intelligent in a number of ways, is apparently second to the Professor in terms of formal education (though her expertise lies more in art and culture), and is a source of motherly wisdom, but lacks basic sense and can act pretty scatterbrained at times.
  • The Good Place: Chidi Anagonye is an expert in moral philosophy, but whenever he tries to actually apply his knowledge, he fails miserably and becomes incapable of making even the simplest decisions.
  • Aziraphale in Good Omens: Clever enough to track down the Antichrist by deciphering the words of a notoriously eccentric prophetess, and takes on the assembled armies of Heaven and Hell with strategic Rules Lawyering via Exact Words. Foolish enough to visit Paris during the Reign of Terror while dressed in obviously expensive (and presumably aristocratic) high fashion because he missed French food. Crowley best sums it up with his exasperated shout of "You're so clever! How can someone as clever as you be so stupid?!" during his unsuccessful attempt to convince Aziraphale that his plan to get Heaven to call off the Apocalypse isn't going to work.
  • Breaking Bad: This is Hank's opinion of "Heisenberg" when he views security footage of Heisenberg breaking into a chemical warehouse with homemade thermite... and then struggles to carry a barrel out to his getaway car.
    Hank: Look at this, they're smart enough to use thermite to cut through the lock, but they didn't think to bring a handcart? Try rolling it, morons! It's a barrel! It rolls!
    • This ends up being true of Hank's assessment of Walt in Ozymandias telling him, "You're the smartest guy I ever met and yet you're too stupid to see, he made up his mind 10 minutes ago.
  • In one episode of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer goes to save a bar called Paladino's, which has two owners, John and Jonathan, who are both scientists by day, but seem to have trouble running the bar. This comes to a head during the stress test when they can't figure out if they got an order of pizza right.
    Jon: John and Jonathan are book brilliant, but they're common sense ignorant. They can't get a slice of pizza to a table without a ten-minute discussion.
    Jonathan: Jon Taffer called us morons, and he's absolutely right.


  • Dr. Shaw in Dino Attack RPG is a very intelligent and capable surgeon and even shows some talent as a counselor. On the other hand, she's extremely unstable psychologically and spends a lot of time praying to a being she only half-believes in.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: This trope pretty much defines Tinker Gnomes, an offshoot of gnomes who appeared in the Dragonlance and Spelljammer settings. They're curious creatures who love to build, study, and improve mechanical devices, but ar often careless and foolhardy, and often go way overboard, creating weird and nutty inventions (or blowing themselves up). Justified, of course, because they are a divinely created species cursed with Science-Related Memetic Disorder, which outright compels them to go about creating devices in the most ridiculously complicated and unlikely manners possible, to the point they are the number one cause of Fantasy Gun Control in-setting. (Game-wise, Tinker Gnome PCs start with a +2 bonus to Intelligence Scores but a -2 penalty to Wisdom, making them smart, but lacking common sense.)
  • Warhammer 40,000: Orks as a species tend towards the extremely stupid and have no fear of death, with only their physical resistance and numbers keeping them from dying out. Every once in a while comes an ork smarter than the rest, be it a Gadgeteer Genius, a kommando who knows how to sneak up or a warboss with a sense of strategy who are a nightmare to their enemies, but are still fundamentally orks, so they commit the same kinds of mistakes (such as blowing themselves up, rushing out of stealth too early, getting into personal combat instead of directing the strategy, etc.).
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Master Engineers are eccentric individuals prone to being sucked into projects that they focus on to the exclusion of everything else, forgetting to eat or sleep, and muttering incomprehensible nonsense to themselves as they tinker with bizarre contraptions. Most other Imperials think that they're quite made, but they're also unquestionably geniuses in matters dealing with machinery, and their inventions have often proved instrumental to securing the Empire's safety.

    Video Games 
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Johnny Silverhand is one of the prime examples of the difference between being well-educated and erudite and actually being smart. While he is clearly well-read on a number of subjects, including topics like art history, political theory, cryptography, and computer science, he is also incapable of interacting with the world through methods other than violence, insults, and drug abuse, completely willing to alienate people he can't afford to alienate in the long-term for short-term gratification or amusement, and unrelenting in his hatred of corporations to the point where he would gladly let Saburo Arasaka break his nose, as long as Saburo walked away with a bruised knuckle.
  • Measurehead in Disco Elysium is a Genius Bruiser who works as The Dragon for the local Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters. A large Scary Black Man, who despite being eloquent and well-read, utilizes Insane Troll Logic to defend his Boomerang Bigot ideology based in anthropometric-based racism, to the point he has phrenology charts tattooed all over his body. He's also astute enough to be one of the only two characters in the game capable of convincing Harry that alcoholism is ruining his life and helping him quit, and also shares with him the only good piece of advice that he gets about his goal to return to the past — that he doesn't want to, and should embrace the freedom and opportunities of the modern world instead of retreating inwards in failure.
  • Dragon Age II: Merrill is a brilliant mage and historian well noted for her talents. She's also extremely naïve, very socially awkward, has little in the way of common sense (for some time she considered muggings to be some form of greeting), and an absolutely abysmal sense of direction. This is both played for laughs and treated seriously.
  • The Sophons of Endless Space, they're just as likely to run away screaming from a planetary anomaly or study it despite being irradiated. Endless Space 2 reveals their rapid advances (they were the first to use nuclear power, mine asteroids, and so on) came with similar amounts of catastrophic SCIENCE-induced cock-ups (they were also the first to crash their test rockets, set off artificial earthquakes on their homeworld, and accidentally blow up their own moon).
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the Warrior of Light is The Ace and an Instant Expert at nearly every craft they put their mind to, be it battling Physical Gods or becoming an artisan. But several of their dialogue options and journal entries make them come across as a Cloudcuckoolander. For instance, when looking for an object at the bottom of an ice-cold, murky pond, they can offer to try and drink the pond dry to get to the thing they're looking for. They can also be a Supreme Chef but completely fail to register that the "squishy" spices they just retrieved from a shipwreck are rancid and moldy.
  • Morgan from Fire Emblem: Awakening is the player character's son/daughter and, much like their parent, is a Badass Bookworm with a love for tactics and Easy Amnesia. While it's clear from Morgan's thought processes that they're very intelligent, the issue is that, despite appearing to be anywhere from fifteen to their early twenties, Morgan spends a lot of time literally bashing their head against posts, asking bandits if their mother would be proud of them for their actions (it doesn't work), and other similar actions. It becomes obvious Morgan lacks a lot of common sense and is very naïve, and their amnesia probably doesn't help matters, either.
  • Voridus in the Awakening the Nightmare DLC for Halo Wars 2, who is surprisingly adept with Forerunner technology and successfully experiments with Covenant technology. He's also a competent fighter. But he is so eager to prove himself to Atriox that he inevitably keeps failing him, and despite repeated warnings from both Atriox and his brother Pavium, he breaches the energy shield around the ruins of High Charity and releases the Flood, almost dooming the galaxy.
  • In the Kingdom Hearts series, particularly high magic potential seems to be tied to intelligence, with characters like Zexion and Aqua showing high aptitude in magic. The character with the highest magical potential in the series? Donald Duck, who isn't just a mage, but also a powerful wizard. He's also, well, Donald Duck, with all his usual stubbornness and lack of common sense.
  • Yukiko Amagi of Persona 4 has a bit of this. Intelligence-wise, she's very smart, as her best friend Chie remarks that Yukiko always ranks near the top of the school charts when it comes to exams, and she's also often the one to make important deductions about the murder case the group is working on (up until Naoto joins the group, anyway). On the other hand, she's capable of being very air-headed too, often displaying a remarkable ability to miss the entire point of a conversation (for instance, not knowing that a guy asking her to "go somewhere" with him was asking her out on a date, or thinking Yosuke is making a dirty remark when he suggests Yukiko give him some "private lessons" during a conversation about studying), and occasionally spaces out completely when others are talking to her.
  • Kiel of Rune Factory 4 takes great joy in reading books and learning about all sorts of things. However, he apparently failed to grasp the basic concepts of secrecy, deceit, or even just being a prankster, because he takes everyone's words at face value and can't keep anything in confidence—not that he deliberately goes around telling people, mind you; he just tends to let things slip when he shouldn't. He's also naïve and inexperienced in the real world, despite his vast reading list.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik is a genius who has an IQ of 300, capable of singlehandedly building entire fleets of airships and space stations as well as armies of killer robots. However, he usually dresses his machines in garish colors, tends to throw temper tantrums whenever he's on the losing side and has a tendency to paste his face on everything. In addition to almost always including an incredibly obvious weak point in all of his robots (which is not unusual or unexpected for video game villains), special mention must be made of the Egg Dealer—a slot machine robot that had a random chance of attacking himself or even giving Shadow immediate access to his ultimate technique. Got to wonder what he was thinking when he programmed those particular features in.
  • Luigi, of Super Mario Bros.. When he's turned evil in Super Paper Mario, he manages to build a giant killer robot that takes over two hundred hits with an alien space laser to go down in a couple of hours, owns his own airship (that he's implied to have built himself), is a master at card games, is explicitly stated to be the brains of the brothers, when Mario has a job which already requires someone to be very smart, and, yet, acts extremely childish when he's on adventures.
  • Lamia Loveless in Super Robot Wars Advance is a completely competent Super Robot pilot - calm, analytical and deadly in battle. During her normal life, however, she tends to act ditzy. This is justified since she is a Ridiculously Human Robot who was created mere years ago and had only recently discovered what it felt like to be human.
    • Yong Gebana of Super Robot Wars: Original Generation: Dark Prison has a seemingly serious personality when it counts and apparently operates "by the book" most of the time. She has a slight obsession with data, which is represented by how she acquires and utilizes data constantly when in actual combat (Her debut chapter is called "Auditor Girl", referencing this). She has some slight "ditz" moments at times and we are usually shown her self monologues on which she usually "assorts" the current situation when she doesn't get something.
  • Tales Series:
    • Harold from Tales of Destiny 2 is an eccentric, unpredictable, childish and sometimes downright psychotic young lady; yet, she is the genius behind the creation of the Swordians, and a magic expert. The writers of Vesperia seem to have taken a bit of her when making Rita; theory supported by a Harold mask usable by her (as an Attachment) and her Miska Doctoral Degree costume title, very reminiscent of Harold's garment.
    • Rita Mordio in Tales of Vesperia. A prodigy mage at the age of fifteen, but possessing absolutely no social skills. She's rude, direct, violently assaults those who bother her and cares nothing for other people. This can be chalked up to her young age and that she was raised (as an orphan) in a university town filled with self-absorbed scientists.
    • Pascal in Tales of Graces is a lot more sociable than Rita, but she's so energetic that she's nigh-incomprehensible when she gets excited, and she can't read social situations: she doesn't so much break the tension in a room as much as crash through it head-first. She also has no concept of personal space.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The Medic may look like he has it fairly together on the field, but look a little closer and you'll find out otherwise. For example, he apparently believes that the best way to talk to a patient during surgery (the patient being his Heterosexual Life-Partner, no less) is to regale him with the story of how he lost his medical license (it involved removing the entire skeleton from a man who lived to tell the tale). It's fairly obvious that the man is both socially inept and generally round the twist.
    • Australium poisoning has this and Testosterone Poisoning as its main effects. Radigan Conagher (Engie's grandfather), after working with australium for years, became intelligent enough to make a fully functional prosthetic limb, and dumb enough to saw his hand off to be able to use it, and Australia, the main source of this metal, is the most advanced country in the entire world, yet they elect their king by kangaroo boxing.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

  • Fortiscue from Commander Kitty has shades of this. He has numerous amazing scientific accomplishments to his name, but between insisting that only the portable hard drive can be moved and mistaking CK for a janitor after a costume change even though they've been talking for the last few pages, one has to wonder where exactly the little sheep's head is...
  • Girl Genius: Count Wolkerstorfer manages to be ditzy even by Spark standards given how distractible he is and how often he will completely lose his train of thought and forget what he's doing mid rant, but he's a genius even by their standards too having done some of his most notable and impressive work with magnetism.
  • Molly in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is an Omnidisciplinary Scientist with the personality of a child. Also Galatea, although these days Golly does a better job of at least looking worldly-wise, even if she's still incredibly naïve.
  • Otacon from The Last Days of Foxhound, in a Flanderization of his original appearance in Metal Gear Solid. An engineering genius who designs and builds a walking stealth deathtank capable of firing untraceable projectiles from almost any location, but so naïve that he believes it'll be used solely as a missile defense platform.
  • Palma from Mushroom Go. She's an immature, loud-mouthed teenager with a short attention span and poor grammar. She may also be the smartest Pianta in the world and has spent most of her life lost in books.
  • Link is this in Nintendo Acres: Competent at being the hero of The Legend of Zelda games, has an incredible knowledge of literature, and can't open a door without using a bomb or boomerang.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Celia unites the Azure City resistance, saves Haley from murderous rogues twice using only words and quick thinking, and even wins a complicated albeit rigged court case while still a law student, but lacks basic knowledge of how humans work and doesn't suspect that someone dragging a corpse through a Wretched Hive might not have pure intentions.
    • The elf priestess Veldrina is a personable, articulate, Magi Babble-spouting genius. She's also completely trusting of strangers, bewilderingly Literal-Minded, and so bereft of common sense as to tickle a vampire's chin.
  • The Petri Dish: The protagonist, Dr. Thaddeus Euphemism, can create life and do other amazing things, yet he's also really incompetent.
  • Brian Fitzpatrick in Rhapsodies is a gifted polymath, economist, and accountant who can pretty much make numbers do what he wants. He is however impulsive with an extremely abrasive personality and is so socially clueless most people think he's an idiot.
  • In Sakana, Taisei is incredibly smart and a talented salaryman. He's also incredibly silly and childish (but well-meaning).
  • Brandi of Wapsi Square is beyond brilliant when it comes to planning, to the point where any unusual coincidence that worked to the favor of the protagonists can be attributed to her manipulations. She also fails to realize that flies drown when she flushes them down the toilet (she couldn't just shoo them outside because it was winter in Minnesota, and they would quickly freeze to death).

    Web Original 
  • Tiberius Stormwind from the Critical Role D&D show is played like this, fitting for a character with a very high Intelligence stat but a Wisdom of 4. (To put that in perspective, the team's Dumb Muscle has an Intelligence of 6) As a result, Tiberius is a brilliant spellcaster and a genius in all arcane matters but has zero common sense. In one episode, he responds to an account of someone "stepping on a few toes" with "Oh, was she clumsy?" He's essentially the magical equivalent of an Absent-Minded Professor.
  • Gordon Freeman as depicted in Freeman's Mind is a narcissistic, bumbling, lazy, and overall bizarre human being who, among other things, built pillow forts out of plaster when he was a kid, got mad at zombies for not answering his questions, thought his mailman was spying on him, and stayed up for three days straight when he thought his house was being invaded by frog people. Some of his interactions with the scientists also show him to pretty inept and overall dickish socially, and he's implied to go on drinking binges regularly as well as get high on whatever's available. However, his inner monologues show that, despite all of this, he's quite competent in combat, is actually very knowledgeable about theoretical physics, speaks at least five languages (Haitian Creole, Spanish, German, Hindi and English), and has proven consistently more competent both physically and mentally than anyone else in Black Mesa (though Gordon at one point notes that his competence isn't so much him being smarter than everyone else but the rest being so stupid it veers into Too Dumb to Live).
  • SCP Foundation: The Person of Interest currently known as dado handily qualifies. He's genuinely a brilliant parapharmacologist, with his creations working exactly as he intended and achieving things like a pill that puts people in suspended animation impossible to current technology or paranormal means available to the Foundation. However, his English and communication capabilities in general are terrible, not to mention he's overly literal (the suspended animation pills came to be because he was asked for pills that "put people to sleep" from someone who actually wanted an euthanasia pill), and he gets some weird ideas as to how to carry things out or generally overengineers things as what he thinks is a nice feature (he "improved" a perfectly good laxative by making it so the individual also "outsourced" evacuation and started pooping out others' waste too, because he thought with so many people saying the world is shit he might do his part to clean up all the shit). As a crowning example of both skill and ditziness, when asked for a radioactive, discreet pill to kill someone, he suggested using Potassium from bananas as the source of radiation because Plutonium wasn't discreet enough, and when he stumbled into the problem that you'd need several hundred tons of bananas to get that much radiation he just packed them into the pills anyways, with the end result that the target dies not of radiation, but because his stomach suddenly had hundreds of tons of bananas inside it and exploded, not to mention he was crushed to death as they kept coming out.
  • SF Debris: Parody Janeway. On the one hand, she's a brilliant if malevolent engineer with a gift for mad biology; on the other, she is remarkably prone to blundering into obvious danger and otherwise making disastrously bad decisions.
  • Delta Spike from the Whateley Universe is a prime example: a Gadgeteer Genius who is especially well known on campus for the catastrophic explosions her devises cause when they inevitably fail, she tends to assume that everything will work perfectly and doesn't consider consequences. As one character put it, "She knows A plus B will equal C, but she fails to consider that there's a D, E, and F."

    Western Animation 
  • Jeanette from Alvin and the Chipmunks. She's very well-read and book-smart, but otherwise lacks common sense and general intelligence, such as putting her shoes on the wrong feet, holding signs upside-down, walking into doors or walls, tripping over untied shoelaces, falling down the stairs, etc.
  • Camp Lazlo: Although Clam is able to create an exact copy of the Mona Lisa in 30 seconds, play an entire symphony by blowing across the top of a bottle, and construct a gigantic Segway-like machine out of a tree trunk, it's quite evident his worldview is very odd. Most of the cast does not recognize his genius at all, usually passing him off as The Ditz due to said oddness.
  • Gadget from Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. She can make almost everything from almost anything, including rebuilding a plane out of garbage, but she simply does not register that in certain circumstances, certain behaviors are socially necessary or unusual.
  • Philly Phil from Class of 3000 is capable of building high-tech machinery in minutes and is a genius on the bass guitar, but he also has No Social Skills and displays a lack of common sense.
  • Dr. Crumhorn from Danger Mouse is the smartest villain on the show, able to make sharks that swim through concrete. However, he's very ditzy, and has no common sense. He mixes up his cough drops and his transformation pills without fail, he's also just not very subtle. He's also come the closest to defeating Danger Mouse, only foiled by his own ignorance to the flaws in his plans.
  • Daria character Ted fits this trope. He was homeschooled for most of his life, which gave him both an Encyclopedic Knowledge of everything and a ditzy lack of social skills.
  • Dick Dastardly from Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: He's skilled at mechanics and can build almost anything. But that's about all. He never plans ahead and spends his whole life trying to catch that pigeon.
  • Child Prodigy Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory definitely fits the bill. He's able to time-travel, create robots and build portals to other dimensions, but is utterly incapable of taking care of himself for a single day when his mom is sick. He doesn't know how to cook (having never heard of "flour"), and when he cleans, is amazed at the sight of dust particles. He's also very gullible and doesn't even know what chickenpox is. In general, what he has in scientific smarts, he lacks in common sense.
  • On The Fairly OddParents, AJ could occasionally dip into this. Most notable in "Hex Games", where he shows an absolute inability to use slang or communicate like a normal kid, or the third Jimmy Timmy Power Hour, where he spends the whole special believing he's in the future.
  • The third season of Generator Rex gives us Cesar Salazar, the formerly absent older brother of the eponymous Rex. Among his many achievements are: Working on the nanite project alongside his and Rex's parents, building a mobile lab capable of traveling at relativistic speeds, sauntering into Providence and casually neutralizing everyone between him and his kid brother, and creating the insane AI, ZAG-RS, which has nearly succeeded several times in destroying all life on Earth. When not performing feats of scientific awesomeness, however, it's clear that, against all logic, Rex, not known for being the smoothest guy around, got all the social skills in the family.
  • Gravity Falls has Stanford Pines, a brilliant inventor and scientist who was capable of constructing a dimensional portal in his basement, but is also sorely lacking in any sort of common sense. He hands lethal weapons over to children without a second thought, and made a deal with a demon he summoned after being specifically warned against summoning it, all because it flattered him with praise. This is in contrast with his brother, Stanley Pines, who's a street-smart Con Man with common sense enough to drive a successfull business and take care of his family for thirty years.
  • Kin Kujira from Grojband is the band's tech guy and a Gadgeteer Genius able to constuct inventions ranging from working hologram duplicates to time machines, but he's also a goofball Cloud Cuckoolander often crossing over into Mad Scientist territory. Interestingly, his brother Kon is instead a Genius Ditz.
  • Zim from Invader Zim is a scientific genius among races of scientific genius. He can build time machines, enhance elite positioning systems (to the point that GIR could point out individual exoplanets while indoors), mutate small house pets into kaiju-like monsters, slow down objects (including explosions) in time and space, hack into the Massive, and much more. However, he is still one of the least competent Invaders. Zim has little enough common sense to attack his own planet with a battle mech, commandeer a gargantuan maimbot to break open a faulty vending machine, accelerate a temporally slowed explosion before the Almighty Tallest would examine his operation (even GIR realized that this was a bad idea), and uses paper-thin disguises for himself, GIR, and his base. He's lucky that most humans are too idiotic to notice that he's an alien, or else he would have been discovered literally minutes after arriving on Earth.
  • Jellystone!: Cindy is smarter than the average bear (more so than Yogi), but not above wacky shenanigans that Yogi and Boo Boo commit. Plus, some of her best solutions are not always the most well-thought-out.
  • Quack Quack from Kaeloo. When it comes to science, math and the like, he's absolutely brilliant. And yet, he couldn't figure out that a picture of himself with Stumpy's head taped onto it wasn't a picture of Stumpy.
    • Olaf the emperor penguin counts as well, as he has built his own Do-Anything Robot, an army of Mecha-Mooks, a freeze ray, and turned Stumpy into a Cyborg, but he is otherwise a complete idiot.
  • Dr. Drakken and Professor Dementor from Kim Possible constantly produce spectacular world-menacing gadgets, but can't stop a couple of teenagers from foiling their schemes.
  • The Loud House: Among the eleven kids, we have second youngest child (and daughter) Lisa Loud — at only four years old, she's already finished school up through getting a PhD, she gives university lectures, she has at least one Nobel prize and she also helps her parents do taxes and pay bills. But for all her accomplishment in book smarts, she's a bit lacking in mundane sense. She fails to see why experimenting on a fifteen-month-old baby would be a bad idea and very few of her experiments have actually worked without ultimately failing and/or having some kind of weird side effect. She's basically a female Dexter in this regard.
  • The Mighty B!: Bessie Higgenbottom can do anything that will earn her a badge — including creating cold fusion or building a working robot with limited A.I. — but that doesn't make her any less of a ditz.
  • Kevin French in Mission Hill is this. He's absolutely brilliant in school, but so socially inept that it does him little to no good. Ironically he's forced to rely on his Street Smart but Book Dumb older brother to deal with pretty much any real-life scenario.
  • Jenny (XJ9) from My Life as a Teenage Robot is a highly advanced and intelligent combat android. But she's pretty clueless and naïve when it comes to mingling with non-robotic teens (other Brad or Sheldon).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Twilight Sparkle: A unicorn so smart, she knows most of the constellations by heart and is able to finish a race fifth place, ahead of a few dozen other, more athletic ponies, simply by using her book smarts. She's also a filly so silly, she needs to consult a reference book on something as simple as a sleepover. She even reads the book to find out what to do when a tree falls into her house instead of just getting up and helping move it. There's also the fact that her dragon roommate, Spike, does most of the housework (he loves his job, though, so he's not complaining too much). While Twilight is able to take care of her own for short periods, Spike is way better than her at it and a few episodes imply that Twilight would be completely screwed if Spike wasn't involved in her life.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Heinz Doofenshmirtz. He's a genius when it comes to science, technology, math, and engineering, but he lacks just about everything else such as social skills and common sense. He puts self-destruct buttons in a convenient location on just about every invention he builds, and he's never even recognized his nemesis, Perry the Platypus, in even the most transparent of disguises, and tends to assume Perry is just an ordinary platypus if he's not wearing his trademark fedora. To put all this into perspective, take his scheme in the episode "Fireside Girl Jamboree": He was smart enough to build a machine that is capable of transforming metal into broccoli (A mineral into living matter), but decided to make it out of metal.
    • To a lesser extent, Phineas himself. His brilliance with science and technology is nearly unparalleled, but he's also very naive and completely fails to pick up on things like Isabella's obvious crush on him or Candace's disapproval of his inventions.
  • Brain from Pinky and the Brain/Animaniacs regularly produces plans that are ingenious and lack any kind of common sense. He also often screws up his own plans when he lets his anger at Pinky distract him and forgets some essential part of his plan.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • Mojo Jojo lives and breathes this trope far too often. Despite his high intelligence, Mojo is extremely inept at planning his schemes with major detail and they predictably end in failure. A blatant example of this is in the episode "Monkey See, Doggy Two" where Mojo shows the girls the video of how his plan to turn every citizen in Townsville into dogs failed. So after turning the girls into dogs, the dog-transformed Buttercup runs around and bites him from behind, causing him to drop the Anubis (which he used to transform dogs) onto his head, breaking it. He tells the girls than his plan won't fail this time because he won't turn them into dogs, neither of them will bite him (since he has his rear covered with steel), and he won't drop the Anubis. All this and he forgets the fact that the girls can still beat him up, which they predictably do, causing his plan to fail even worse than it did before.
    • Professor Utonium is also like this to a certain degree. Pretty much everything useful he's invented, including the girls themselves, he's done so by accident. If that's not enough, whatever he set his mind to do something intentionally, he tends to create disasters. (The episode "Uh Oh, Dynamo" is the best example.)
  • Roba from The Problem Solverz. He's the smartest member of the team, is knowledgeable about many subjects, and has built his own radar scanner. However, he's also very socially inept and childish.
  • Jet Propulsion from Ready Jet Go!. He is an expert mechanic and can name every single one of Jupiter's moons, yet he is incredibly naïve about Earth culture and can't keep his alien identity a secret.
  • The nerd in Robot Chicken is meant to be quite intelligent, yet one skit has him unintentionally hack into the US government's database and end up nuking Canada. He doesn't even realise he hacked into the database until a SWAT force sent by the government breaks into his house and arrests him.
  • Entrapta in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a technological genius, genuinely a very nice person, and near-terminally devoid of common sense or self-awareness. At one point, she keeps Scorpia and Catra in a polar hellscape for multiple unnecessary days after finding the actual objective of the dig because she thought they were having fun. The mission then dissolves into chaos because after her first experiment with a virus-spreading First One artifact went catastrophically haywire and nearly killed multiple people, including her, she decided to not only repair the artifact, but carry it around in case she had the time to experiment with it again.
  • Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons—cunning, cultured, ruthless, and an expert manipulator, he's nonetheless a hapless victim of highly-avoidable slapstick and of anyone who can successfully appeal to his pride, with the result that grade-schoolers and garden rakes get the better of him on a regular basis. On one occasion he publicly confessed to his entire (up to that point, roaringly successful) evil plan of the moment and handed over detailed records of his involvement, simply because he'd been accused of being a pawn in someone else's scheme and couldn't bear to be thought of as anything less than a mastermind.
  • Plankton in SpongeBob SquarePants. Despite being an evil genius, he tends to overlook simple things, which his computer wife Karen has to point out. Like that the alphabet ends with "Z", and he doesn't remember how to blink. He's able to make so many amazing inventions that not even humans can come up with, yet how does he decide to get money? By selling human resources at a dingy restaurant. And in "Goo-Goo Gas", he thought that baby powder was actually made from babies.
  • The Transformers: Starscream is a former scientist and his scientific aptitude comes up in several situations, though it's not as prominent a trait as his backstabbing, at which he is majorly incompetent. Despite being scientifically knowledgeable, his schemes to overthrow Megatron are often poorly thought out and make him come across as an idiot.
  • In a milder version of the trope, Chloe Park from We Bare Bears is a child prodigy who is grade-school aged but attending college. She has shown to be pretty smart and self-sufficient, but still takes rash decisions that can land her in dangerous situations (entering the cave of the titular bears to get information for a report or climbing into the habitat of an albino alligator because she promised Ice Bear they would see it).
  • Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner: Wile E. Coyote is a genius capable of building roadrunner traps, but, if you think about it, wouldn't it be much easier if he just ordered food instead of ordering a bunch of supplies from ACME? Alas (for him, at least), he's simply too stubborn to give up.
    • In comics, it's revealed that he's actually ordering food and capturing roadrunner is just his hobby.
  • Tecna from Winx Club. She's the smartest of the group when it comes to technology and science, but she can be absolutely clueless when it comes to anything unrelated. Early on in the show, she referred to a mop and bucket as "primitive devices". Flora had to guide her in using them, but wasn't specific enough, which made Tecna utilize the bucket as a helmet and the broom as an elongated feather duster.
  • X-Men:
    • Forge is portrayed this way in both X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men (2009), though in the latter it's more a case of Brilliant, but Lazy, while in Evolution he's energetic and brilliant, but somewhat foolish and lacking in foresight.
    • Shadowcat from X-Men: Evolution also qualifies. She's portrayed as a very intelligent student, but could be easily excited over "typical" teenage topics (driver's license) and early on had the tendency to use the word "like" so much in a single sentence, Shaggy Rogers would probably take notice.
  • Jack Spicer from Xiaolin Showdown is incredibly incompetent not only as a villain but also virtually everything he had done to the extent that the other characters tend to forget that he really is a genius who can create robots from scratch.


Video Example(s):


Kevin fixes Dr. Wily's plans

Kevin is portrayed as a down-to-earth and heavily logical assistant towards mostly talented villains in the "If Every Villain Had An Assistant" mini-series. And while there are some villains' plans have stupider reasons for letting their heroes get away with defeating them. Some villains such as Dr. Robotnik and Dr. Wily (who is revealed to be a gynecologist) are villainous scientists that are highly intelligent and talented villains with engineering robots & mechanical work because of their scientific passions with hatching plans to defeat their arch-nemeses, but they mostly lack common sense, logic and tact in their strategies since they were simply flawed and this is a prime of how Kevin's hyper competence enhanced his boss's plans at defeating the heroes and/or villains on occasion because of doing his job properly.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / DitzyGenius

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