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Dumb Muscle

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The multiplication table of 2? Hulk not sure... two... four... five...? HULK SMASH!!!
Image by GauntNoir. Used with permission.

If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough
When you get knocked down, you gotta get back up
I ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer but I know enough, to know
If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough!
Roger Alan Wade

The tendency for strength and intellect to be inversely proportional. The Big Guy and The Brute are usually slightly dim at the very least (with The Smart Guy and The Evil Genius at the opposite end of the scale; incredibly intelligent, but knocked over by a stiff breeze). Typically afflicted with a form of Hulk Speak. This is a common assumption: there's a reason Genius Bruiser is meant to be a shocker, even though there's no real reason brains and brawn should be mutually exclusive to begin with in Real Life. Overlaps with Gentle Giant in some cases, as well as Tiny-Headed Behemoth. A Sub-Trope of Personality Powers. Often Played for Laughs.

Almost Always Male; only in ultra-rare cases will you see very strong female characters be portrayed as lacking in brains. He might be only Book Dumb but Street Smart. Note that this also does not always apply to tactics; a character with this trope might know how to use every weapon he picks up, but if that is true, he will still lack intelligence outside that specialty (in which case he is shown as a Genius Ditz). When this character causes injuries and property damage due to being clumsy with his immense strength, he is Lethally Stupid. If he’s an athlete, he’s probably a Dumb Jock.


Compare Smash Mook. Contrast the Genius Bruiser and the Badass Bookworm. May overlap with Powerful, but Incompetent. These types are frequently, but not always, a Top-Heavy Guy. When this sort of character is paired with its opposite — someone who's very clever but runty and weak — it will form one half of Brains and Brawn.

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    Asian Animation 
  • In Motu Patlu, what Motu lacks in intelligence, he makes up for in strength, especially if he eats a samosa. Even Boxer, who is usually the strongest person in Furfuri Nagar, is unable to withstand Motu's muscle power if he eats a samosa.

    Comic Strips 
  • Moe from Calvin and Hobbes fits this nicely; Calvin relies on the fact that Moe will not understand any of the florid insults that he (Calvin) heaps upon the bully. Though it doesn't prevent Moe from messing up Calvin's face on numerous occasions.

    Fan Works 
  • The Wyrmspawn is this in The Dark Lords Ascendant. It's incredibly powerful, capable of decimating an entire city with the mere shockwaves caused by its breath attacks. However, killing is the only thing it knows: if its senses are blocked off to the point where it can't detect anyone, it thinks everyone around it is dead and settles back down to wait.
  • In Avenger of Steel, this is a perfect description of Solomon Grundy; an undead entity controlled by the Hand that can apparently bring himself back to life if killed, Grundy is capable of engaging Superman in a fight, but all he can apparently do is roar and hit things.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Heracles from Greek Mythology was stereotypically portrayed this way in Attic comedy (for example in Aristophanes' The Birds). In the "canonical" version of the myths, despite being prone to fits of irrational rage, he is not dumb, and occasionally pretty sharp — one of his most famous stories is the Twelve Labors, in which he is forced to find clever solutions to twelve seemingly impossible tasks.
  • The titan Atlas. After getting Heracles to take over holding up the sky (heavens) for him while Atlas did him a favor, Atlas decides not to take it back as he likes his freedom. Heracles admits defeat then asks for Atlas to take the sky back long enough for Heracles to put his lion skin on his shoulders as a pad. Atlas agrees, and Heracles walks away. This was the guy the other Titans picked to lead them against the Olympians after Cronus fell out of favor with the rest of them. No wonder they lost. Averted in an alternate version of the myth, in which Heracles and Atlas simply came to a mutually beneficial arrangement in which Atlas did the favor and Heracles built the Pillars of Hercules to carry Atlas's load forever. This version was less common as Atlas was an unpopular character and the ancient Greeks enjoyed making him out to be both a villain and a moron.
  • In The Bible's Book of Judges can be found the story of Samson, a man with the strength to kill a hundred men with a donkey's jawbone yet lacking in pattern recognition skills to the point that he doesn't realize his girlfriend is actively betraying him to his enemies. For those unfamiliar with the story, the source of his strength was his long, uncut hair. When she asked about the source, he twice lied to her (first saying he needed to be bound with ribbon, then with rope) and was immediately afterward attacked by men attempting to restrain him using the method he had confided in her. He finally confessed the true source of his strength when she confronted him, accusing him of not trusting her.

  • Dice Funk: As the party's fighter, this is Rinaldo's role, although his frequently poor dice rolls make it easy to forget.

  • The radio show Duffy's Tavern featured the character of Finnegan, who would enter with a long "dyuuuuhhh, Hehllo, Awrch" at an appropriately funny time. Typical jokes included, "Archie's dead? Well, that's life."

  • All computers and calculators are is dumb muscle, doing calculations and rendering but not really understanding what they are doing, or even understanding anything.

  • Ida's brothers in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Princess Ida are described as being "not intelligent" in their song "We are warriors three". They also make the mistake of removing their armor before fighting Hilarion and co., finding it too cumbersome to move in. (They lose the battle.)

    • Krekka, whose speech is not too far off from Hulk Speak and forgets about his own powers. He relies on the much smarter Nidhiki to tell him what to do.
    • Reidak loves to play the role because he honestly finds breaking things to be more fun than actually thinking tactically, but can be surprisingly cognizant when the situation calls for it.
    • Nocturn, who is the deadliest warrior in the Barraki's employ, but his mind is only slightly more advanced than a beast's with thoughts mostly devoted to killing and was imprisoned for accidentally destroying an entire island.
    • Carapar has shown shades of this due to the effects of being regularly hypnotized by Takadox for centuries, especially in contrast with the tactician he used to be as a warlord. He's probably still smarter than Krekka and Nocturn though.

    Web Animation 
  • Strong Mad from Homestar Runner. His idea of reading is looking at a waffle with "BUG" written on it in syrup. "THIS BOOK IS TOO LONG!"
  • In The Fear Hole episode "All Hallows Adam," the character antagonizer is a parody on Nemesis with the brain and personality of a small child. And he is adorable. Too bad about what happens to him though...
  • James Hetfield is depicted this way in Napster Bad — as a gorilla-like Neanderthal who talks in Hulk Speak. In "Metallica Millionaire", he's shown as being too stupid to answer a game show question about what band he plays in, even though every one of the available answers is "Metallica" and the host outright tells him to pick anything.
  • Dreamscape: Vampire Lord describes Boru as "One of those strong, yet stupid, types."


Video Example(s):


Tokka and Rahzar

When he's kidnapped and forced by Shredder to mutate the two animals, TGRI Professor Jordan Perry alters the mutagen a little so that their intelligence would not increase.

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