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Dumb Jock

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"Kurt Kelly. Quarterback. He is the smartest guy on the football team. Which is kind of like being the tallest dwarf."
Veronica, Heathers

Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

A jock isn't always a jerk. Sometimes he is instead (or as well) Book Dumb (at best) or is Too Dumb to Live at worst. Much like his girlfriend, a cheerleader of the Brainless Beauty variety, he's more concerned with his image than school work. If he's not a jerk it might be because he's too dumb to realize he's supposed to be (though the Jerk Jock can also be incredibly stupid like the caveman mentality of the Dumb Muscle). Often times the better he is at his respective sport, the dumber the jock is like a Genius Ditz and the more valued he is by his team and the facility who will make sure that he maintains his position regardless of his apparent mental incompetence.

While a cheerleader can easily be dumb, the word jock refers to a player of rather aggressive sports, primarily football.

This trope is a derivation of Brains Versus Brawn and can be rationalized in part by the idea that high school and college athletes are too busy training to do homework and talented athletes are given special treatment by the school system so that they don't need to study. There is some Truth in Television to that. This usually results in the athletes in question having A Degree in Useless. Or perhaps because the physically-intimidating bully is more likely to turn to sports than the stereotypical nerd. Or it could simply be the concept of Competitive Balance being applied to real life. This trope is almost completely restricted to team sports and boxing or wrestling. Individual sports practitioners are likely to fall on its inversion: Academic Athlete.

Can overlap with Jerk Jock, Lovable Jock and Dumb Muscle, if he's part of the 'cool kids' crowd. Also the spear counterpart to the Brainless Beauty and The Ditz when applied to a cheerleader (who's usually his girlfriend). Always Male because a girl is more likely to be somewhere between the Girl Next Door or a Lesbian Jock who, while tough, is mentally competent.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • Kagura is one of the most talented of the six main characters when it comes to athletics, but is one of the three Knuckleheads, whose combined exam scores barely exceed Chiyo's. She finds herself at odds with Sakaki, who excels in both fields without much effort.
    • Minamo, the school's gym teacher and Kagura's swim coach, is a generally intelligent woman with limited academic knowledge; she notably struggles in helping her students with their schoolwork. She claims that she was good at it when she was in school herself, but Yukari takes every opportunity she can get to play into the stereotype that gym teachers are stupid, much to her dismay.
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • Otawara is the embodiment of this trope. The guy's so dumb he forgets to wear pants on a daily basis but got a sports scholarship at Ojou by being one of the fastest and strongest nose guards in high school football.
    • To a (slightly) lesser extent there's Taki of Deimon, Kamagaruma of Taiyou, Homer of Nasa, and Achilles of Teikoku.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: Yotsuba is the most athletic among her sisters, with both the basketball and track teams wishing to recruit her full time, but she has also the worst grades of all.
  • Sailor Moon: Minako Aino. Though not exactly dumb, she is quite loopy, airheaded, and an academic underacheiver. She is also a professional volleyball player.
  • Slam Dunk: Four of the five starting players for Shohoku are of the Book Dumb variety. Ironic, considering that until that year Shohoku's basketball players were known for their respectable grades (of course until that year they had been a rather terrible team).
  • Discussed in Yo-kai Watch after Nate and co's first encounter with Gargaros when Whisper mentions he believes in the phrase "The bigger the muscle, the smaller the brain".

    Comic Books 
  • In the Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt mini-series, Slim Chance's bodyguard is a former pro linebacker named 'Roadblock' Ramsey. When Jonni sarcastically asks him if he still holds the record for the most passes intercepted with his head, he starts to reply "Well, it's not official, but...". Slim has to stop him and explain she was just joking.
  • MAD often makes jokes about this.
    • In the "Ten College Athletes" poem, it's mentioned that the athletes in question (three of whom are left as of the start of the senior year), aren't doing well in school, leading one to flunk out and stab his professor.
    • During the parody of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Draco tells Crabbe and Goyle that once the chamber is opened and the Heir of Slytherin is found, they'll enjoy unrivaled power. When Crabbe expresses excitement over the possibility of getting bigger rooms, Draco says he's a good reason not to give out too many athletic scholarships.
  • In Tintin, one of Captain Haddock's many, many technically-insults is "complete athlete!", meaning someone who practices many different sports suffers in his intellectual development.

     Fan Works 
  • Bradley from Glee Reprise is on the football team and doesn't have much capacity past that.
    Tony: Yeah he doesn't have much of an...awareness of anything, but he's a good dude.
  • Total Drama Legacy: Wayne, a Lovable Jock whose idiocy is his primary character trait. You can tell he's the son of Lindsay. In "A Dark and Storm-y Night", he reveals that he has 3 brain cells.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Monsters University, Sulley is talented at Scaring but starts out incompetent in actual performance.
  • While decidedly a nice guy, Mitch of ParaNorman is not the brightest bulb in the box. Throughout the film, he remains utterly oblivious ti the affections of Norman's sister. Of course, this might also be because he has a boyfriend.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Blind Side is an example of the teachers helping Michael Oher pass his classes so he can play football. To his credit, the real Oher wasn't happy with the way the film, and the book it was based on for that matter, portrayed his high school career (both on and off the field). He responded by writing a memoir to set the record straight.
  • Wes in The Duff, whose football scholarship will be lost if he doesn't pass chemistry. He doesn't seem to have a very good grasp on any intellectual activity or even the English language but is very competent in a field of popularity.
  • Paul in The Half of It is a downplayed example. He's a popular football player and doesn't seem very bright. But his main problem is that he's inexperienced and out of his depth when it comes to talking to Aster, the girl he has a crush on. That's why he hires Ellie to write love letters to her. But even he quickly realizes that Ellie also has a crush on Aster, resulting in an awkward friendship/Love Triangle.
  • Lump Hudson in the Coen brothers' remake of The Ladykillers (2004). His Establishing Character Moment is what ends his football career.
  • In the Canadian TV movie Net Worth, Gordie Howe is the best player in the NHL and not too bright. This is played both for laughs (Comically Missing the Point several times) and for drama (being manipulated into betraying a players union). Apparently, the real Gordie Howe was not very happy with the film for that reason.
  • Daniel, Adrian, and Paul in Pain & Gain are three bodybuilders who are also incredibly stupid, which ends up being the main reason their plot falls apart.

  • Harry of The Dresden Files believes Hendricks, Gentleman Johnny Marcone's primary enforcer, to be one of these. He fits all the stereotypes: large, no neck, close-cropped haircut, speaks mainly in grunts and intimidating glares, and used to play football in high school. However, it's later revealed that he's actually quite intelligent, just The Stoic, and is at one point seen working on his Master's thesis.
  • P. G. Wodehouse's character Mike Jackson, who appeared in the Psmith series. He's more Book Dumb than anything else, but his parents and teachers blame his failing grades on his passion for cricket, at which he excels.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blue Mountain State: Most of the football team is barely literate and only pass classes because arrangements have been made for better students to do their classwork for them. When the nerds go on strike, the team finds themselves in serious academic trouble.
  • Letterkenny has Riley and Jonesy, two incompetent hockey players who always get blasted with insults by Wayne and Daryl that often go over their heads.
  • Our Miss Brooks has Stretch Snodgrass. Snodgrass is a basketball, baseball, and football star. He's good-natured but dimwitted to the point of being Too Dumb to Live.
    Miss Brooks: Stretch has always been a puzzle to me. I've never understood how a mind that can remember so many complicated football plays has so much such trouble spelling the word cat!
  • There is an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch where Sabrina writes an article for the school paper exposing the preferential treatment given to school athletes and gets the star pitcher for the baseball team benched until he finishes his assignments. She goes to help him and he has doodled that he hates her and wrote her names with three "n"s.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Peppermint Patty from Peanuts often found herself here. Her report card was often full of D-'s, is prone to incredibly boneheaded misunderstandings, and was clearly the most athletic and athletically inclined of the cast; one TV special had her plan most of the football team's offense as 'hand me the ball as I run up the middle'...and it worked.

  • The Party Zone includes a wayward football player on the playfield. He also shows up periodically in the animations.

  • Frank Stone from the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town. In his first appearance, he confuses forceps for a scalpel. He admits that he was just hired to lift heavy stuff. He also hesitates when Stacey asks if anyone is a ghost, and the others accept the possibility that he doesn't know if he is.
    • Ethan Wright falls under this as well, though he's not quite as dumb as Frank and also nicer than him.
  • Khabriel from the D&D Quest Laid Plans. Incredibly buff and incredibly stupid, he tries to hug the druid Aveline's familiar that is made out of fire on one of his first appearances.
    Aveline: All the time, touching fire? You're touching fire a lot when it's not shaped like a cute animal?
    Khabriel: Um, other people are usually around and remind me not to, but sometimes when I'm alone I forget, you know, because there's like a lot going on.

  • Carlie from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues. Like her mother, Carlie has taken an interest in wrestling and general sportsmanship. She's also incredibly dumb, flunking so badly in school that she had to retake a year.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Implied in Die Laughing with "The Jock" character sheet having a Brains stat of 4 (the stat referring to the minimum number of successful rolls on a number of dice for the stat check to be successful).

  • In "Pass the Football" from Wonderful Town, the Wreck claims to be a literally monumental college football star, despite having bad manners and worse grades.
    Couldn't write my name,
    Couldn't translate "je vous aime,"
    Never learned to read
    Mother Goose or André Gide,
    But I could pass that football
    Like nothin' you have ever seen.

    Video Games 
  • Gary in Escape From St. Mary's has trouble remembering the injuries he experienced just minutes ago, among other intellectual shortcomings.
  • In Half-Life, the graffiti the Marines leave on the walls to intimidate Gordon is full of misspellings.
  • Monster Prom: The whole football team seems to be composed of these, with Scott being the most dimwitted Love Interest of the game, albeit also the nicest, while his cousins that make up for the rest of the team, The Wolfpack are as dumb as him, but much more mean.
  • Mr. Massagy has you play as Johnny, who definitely as more muscles than brains, while he attempts to get a massage.
  • Alex from Stardew Valley isn't the most scholarly guy around, and turns out to have a bit of a complex about it.
  • Twisted Wonderland: Deuce Spade is in the school track club and is a motorbike enthusiast, but not very bright in terms of academics.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Aoi Asahina not only is the Ultimate Swimmer but also performs in five other sports. Unfortunately, she's also one of the less intelligent students, such as being the only one to honestly believe the culprit's attempt to frame Yasuhiro in Chapter 3. Leon also doesn't come off as very intelligent, either, especially considering all the holes in his plan to cover up his murder.

    Web Animation 

  • Subverted by early years antagonist Vin Vulpen in Kevin & Kell, he's (usually) a muscle-bound athlete but is also a genius programmer and biochemist. Of course, his muscles were initially caused by steroids.

    Web Original 
  • In Danganronpa Abridged Thing, Leon, as in canon, is described as fairly stupid, and in the first trial, Makoto says that he's the only one dumb enough to do such a sloppy job of covering up his own crime.

    Western Animation 
  • Daria's Kevin Thompson is easily a finalist for the dumbest living organism in Lawndale. While not a bully, he's a little narcissistic, dumb as a box of rocks, wears his uniform everywhere, and is generally bad at everything that isn't football. At least he's sweet to his head Cheerleader girlfriend, Brittany, genuinely friendly to his teammates, and amicable towards everyone else, even the unpopulars.
  • Galaxy High: Doyle excels at numerous sports, but has such bad grades that attending Galaxy High is the only way he can get a diploma.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Defied in an episode where a star high school football player is given a pass on all his classes just so he can play; it's taken as a given that he couldn't pass the classes on his own merits. He doesn't realize that this is happening though, and once he finds out, he's upset and offended that nobody aside from Peggy had any faith in his learning abilities — including his own mother, who played him off as developmentally disabled to trick Peggy and Hank. He then tries to succeed on his own with their help and proves himself to be a perfectly capable student.
  • The Loud House: Lynn is the sports star of the Louds. In "The Butterfly Effect" Lincoln predicts that if Lisa doesn't tutor Lynn, she'll flunk miserably in all her classes. She also misspells "trophy" as "trofy" in "Really Loud Music".
  • In Nerds and Monsters, Stan - the only kid who is not a nerd - is the linebacker on the Beaverton Bulldogs team and stereotypical dumb jock. He has been known to put his pants on his head by mistake while getting dressed.
  • In the Watsamatta U arc of Rocky and Bullwinkle, upon learning that Bullwinkle is at college to play on the football team, his faculty advisor changes his course load so that his literature class features such classics as "Dick and Jane at the Seashore", and the most difficult course he has to take involves crotcheting. Of course, Bullwinkle was naturally that dumb even before he was recruited as an athlete.
  • Total Drama
    • Tyler. Although he's not as good as sports as he fancies himself, he still qualifies as a Lovable Jock for his enthusiasm for them. Regardless, he's not very bright; he thought "jerk" was spelled with a "g", climbed an electric fence when There Was a Door, and once said that he didn't have a pen when told to make a mental note.
    • Jerk Jock Lightning is much better at sports than Tyler but even stupider than him. He repeatedly misidentifies the genders of his fellow contestants (like calling Cameron a girl and Jo a boy), is unable to count to 10, thought steak came from trees, once attempted to shovel water, and believes Paris is in Germany.
    • Wayne and Raj from the 2023 soft reboot are both hockey players who, while capable strategists due to their sports experience, are hilariously Book Dumb such as thinking cabbages are fruit and maple syrup comes from bees. At one point, it had to be explained to them that not everything they see on TV is real which causes the two to have an existential crisis since they're currently on a TV show.

    Real Life 
  • Has a tendency to become Truth in Television due to the fact that the human brain is a rather delicate instrument that can only take so many blows (after all, there's a reason it's tucked away inside a hard skull). When your sport involves a lot of ramming, bashing, punching, or sudden starts and stops, all that violent pounding on your head can start to take a toll on the number of healthy neurons in there. The number of concussions over a lifetime can also result in a downward-trending IQ, and so retired athletes from sports like football, boxing, or hockey are often a touch less smart than they were when they started - of course, don't try to tell them that their favorite sport and lifeblood has made them dumb.
    • Due to the sheer amount of time spent training for their sport of choice, especially on the professional (and high collegiate) level, it can leave very little time to pursue intellectual interests, while simultaneously ignoring them (mostly) in their field of work to begin with.
    • Additionally, the popularity and support of athletic endeavors in many schools is extreme enough to lead some teachers to either "help" athletes out or feel uneasy about giving bad marks when earned, thus eliminating the apparent negative impact of focusing on the game. In extreme cases, good players have "passed" classes despite being functionally illiterate.
  • Not to mention in America, many athletes only go to college because they're required by the leagues. No professor wants to be the guy to fail the guy that essentially pays his salary.
  • As Charles Barkley once said: "How am I gonna lead the SEC in rebounding if I was in class?"