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Genius Ditz

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She can power a laser, but can't be told not to lick a battery.
"I swear, I'm like, a genius."

This character would be nothing more than The Ditz, except they have one area of expertise in which no one can beat them. When that skill or talent is needed, they suddenly switch gears from airheadedness to hyper-competency. Sometimes they don't even know that they're doing it.

Genius Ditz is closely related to Idiot Savant. The main difference between that trope and the Genius Ditz is that the Genius Ditz is merely stupid outside their field of expertise while the Idiot Savant is implied to have a genuine mental disorder.

Such a character who is well respected may become a Bunny-Ears Lawyer. The academic variant is Absent-Minded Professor. Opposite of the Modern Major General, who appears to have specialised incompetence. Southern-Fried Genius may be mistaken for this, especially if the audience believes in the Half-Witted Hillbilly stereotype.

Contrast with Cloudcuckoolander. Compare Too Dumb to Fool and Book Dumb. Compare and contrast Ditzy Genius, Dumb Muscle, and Dumb Blonde. A character of this type may also be an example of Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. Some characters engaging in Obfuscating Stupidity might pretend to be this trope rather than simply stupid. Can overlap with Nerds Are Naďve if the genius character is also geeky/nerdy and their area of expertise relates to those interests.

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Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Shigeru from 7 Seeds. (Talent: Eidetic Memory) His memory is great, he can tell Ango where he put the scissors after he last used them a week ago and it's not because he was paying attention, he just "noticed" it. But in everything else, Shigeru is pretty below-average. He lacks stamina, making it difficult for him to climb, he can't get a fire properly started without using something as a kindling, and is pretty slow, often looking up words in a dictionary when he couldn't remember them... until he decided to just learn the entire dictionary by heart. When Shigeru becomes serious, though, he can prove himself to be pretty competent in various situations, it's just that his self-confidence is not the best, either.
  • The title character of Aizawa-san Multiplies is the top student in her class and an excellent athlete. She's also extremely prone to spacing out, forgetting where she is, and otherwise acting like a complete Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
  • Sheele of Akame ga Kill! is your usual airhead, clumsy and untalented on almost everything, but a highly skilled assassin, principally when wielding her Teigu.
  • Athena from ARIA is regarded as a highly respectable undine and is even known as one of the three "Water Faeries" of Neo Venezia — which is also helped by her singing abilities. Still she is prone to extremely ditzy behavior, sometimes being spaced out so much that she comes dangerously close to being a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Futoshi in Extra Chapter 3 of Assassination Classroom. Even his friends are shocked at how much he knows about the legal system!
  • In Asteroid in Love, Mira's case of Character Development is more about intelligence, rather than resolve. While she still has a ditzy aura around her, she has genuinely getting more knowledgeable in astronomy, eventually to Yuu's utter surprise after monologuing for several in-universe minutes on asteroid discovery.
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • At first, one might think Osaka is stupid, or simply slow to grasp things. But while the latter may be closer to the truth, she's surprisingly sharp when it comes to riddles and other forms of wordplay. She also notices things her classmates miss: for example, she's the only one to note that none of her friends have boyfriends to go out with on Christmas Eve (which is considered a more romantic holiday in Japan), and is also the only one who notices Kaorin's crush on Sakaki and thinks to ask if she's gay.
    • Regardless of how childish she can be, Yukari is still an English teacher, and thus she's very proficient in the subject, and language in general. This is particularly lampshaded when Yukari recites a lengthy speech in English, to the girls' amazement, while Nyamo protests that it's not that impressive because it's her job.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl with Opaque Nerd Glasses Mey-Rin from Black Butler may be a complete failure at almost everything she does, but not when she's in Cold Sniper mode.
  • Bleach: Action Girl Mashiro Kuna acts like a Womanchild and dresses up like a Kamen Rider fangirl, but she can keep her Hollow mask on for hours outside of battle. And was a Vice-Captain in the Gotei 13 before she became a Visored.
  • Lloyd from Code Geass is an airhead who doesn't seem to care about politics, the rebellion, Zero, justice, or basically anything that is not mechanical. Yet, he is a genius scientist specialized in building the most powerful war machines in the world.
  • Ed from Cowboy Bebop is a genius hacker who otherwise has trouble even communicating in normal speech, and often seems prone to wandering off to chase the most recent interesting thing that has crossed her line of vision. In "Bohemian Rhapsody", it's revealed that she is also good at chess; she is also quite dexterous.
  • Death Note:
    • Misa Amane. Boy crazy, childish, bubbly... and not only is she very competent and talented at her Idol Singer work, but she's also a devious, intelligent mass murderer. It took the world's best detective (assisted by forensics laboratories) to track down the extremely unlikely evidence that revealed her identity as the Second Kira. In this regard, she only looks like a ditz next to Light, and because her obsession with him blinds her to the rest of the world.
    • L himself could also count as a Genius Ditz (although he's more of a Ditzy Genius). He's the world's three greatest detective s. He also is constantly eating cake, sitting oddly, and being completely oblivious to conventional manners.
  • Digimon:
    • Inoue Miyako of Digimon Adventure 02 is pretty handy with computers — and for that matter, anything technological — but tends to be a fiery Genki Girl otherwise.
    • Kudou Taiki in Digimon Fusion. He not only seems, he IS an idiot. However, his strategic prowess is simply amazing, from distracting a foe by calling the wrong attack, to resist the temptation to attack from the front like any other hot blooded hero would do and instead taking an enemy vessel and blow the unsuspecting others to smithereens. AND HE'S TWELVE-YEARS-OLD.
  • Main character Nobita from Doraemon, who is bad at almost everything, however he excels at shooting as well as Cat's Cradle.
  • Son Goku of Dragon Ball is so naive he didn't know the difference between boys and girls until he was 12, and even miscounted his own age at one point. And the whole, he talks like a hick and often proves him to be overly trusting. Part of this can be justified taking into account that he grew up very far from civilization, with only his adoptive grandfather to raise him in the wilderness, and then he had to live by himself when his grandfather died. However, his brilliance is found in fighting, first and foremost. He learned how to fire his own Kamehameha wave simply by watching Muten Roshi do it (despite the fact it took Roshi fifty years to develop it), then not only took it as his signature move but created variations and enhancements of the move Roshi couldn't have possibly foreseen, proclaiming him to be a "genius". Also, learning the Kaio-ken and the Spirit Bomb not only took him less than nine months to learn, but even though with the former he's not supposed to multiply it by even beyond twice, he found a way to push it to times twenty, and with the latter he found a way to gather energy from nearby planets and collect it. He even discovered the weaknesses behind his own Super Saiyan form just by using it once, and found an effective way to use it. Not to mention that he learned the After Image technique after seeing it only once and even tricked his master with it. He also used the Solar Flare successfully against its own creator after seeing it used only twice. He also so savvy in battle that he often outsmarts fighters who are much more intelligent than him. Besides fighting, he also seems to be highly skilled at farming by the time of Dragon Ball Super, especially when it means getting his hands dirty rather than using tools and equipment. He's also gotten a lot smarter on how to play with people's personalities to get what he wants, to the point Bulma asks when he became so manipulative. Goku is also surprisingly tech savvy, being able to figure out how to ride Bulma’s motorcycle despite never ever seeing one before and much later on can operate multiple spaceships, this most impressive given the very intelligent Piccolo is Hopeless with Tech by comparison.
  • Natsuhiko Taki from Eyeshield 21 is an utter moron, plain and simple; He doesn't even know his times tables. But if a question is asked in terms of American football, no matter how complicated, he'll always answer it correctly in seconds.
  • Sheska from Fullmetal Alchemist is clumsy, daydreams, and can copy a book word for word for weeks or even months after she has read it. Just give her the book title/description, it can be anything with words, including records. This is how she lands the job recreating all the character files burned in the Central Library while being overseen by Hughes. She can also remember all the facts in said books as well at the drop of a hat!
  • Sakura Shishidou in The Girl Who Leapt Through Space is a 12-year-old Gadgeteer Genius who more frequently speaks in sound effects than with actual sentences.
  • Touga from Gravion is a brilliant mecha pilot and a skilled leader... but due to being raised by Sandman and never having left the castle, he has a loose grasp of common sense.
  • Ryuichi Sakuma from Gravitation in his spare time is a hyperactive, pun-loving kid adult who makes the Keet-like Shuichi look subdued, but on stage proves why he became Japan's most famous singer. In the manga, though, he displays insight and quick thinking even when in "ditzy" mode, which makes him more of a Bunny-Ears Lawyer in original canon.
  • Koga Haruka from the manga/anime H2. She can be a bit silly at times but her true ditziness is only her clumsiness; she even carries bandages around because she keeps hurting herself.
  • Kageyama Tobio from Haikyuu!! is a genius. In volleyball, at least. He is a prodigy setter who can analyze everything going on in the court and make pinpoint tosses into his spikers' hands; even crazy quick ones for his ever-speedy partner Hinata Shouyou. He can memorize volleyball signs in minutes and he is an overall great player with above average skills in spiking and serving too. But, to his teammates' shock, he is Book Dumb.
    • His teammate Nishinoya Yuu is also acknowledged as a genius libero in his own right. He is also Book Dumb.
    • It can also be argued for The Protagonist Hinata Shouyou who possesses great speed, jump and instincts in volleyball even though he did not get to actually play in a team till high school. While both the characters and the audience alike was shocked by Kageyama's Book Dumb, it was always expected and assumed for Hinata. At one point he admits to his teammate Suga that he never had a two digit score in his quizzes.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler: Isumi Saginomiya. Full stop. She can barely figure out how to open her cellphone, and has attempted to travel to Nagi's mansion on several occasions. Unfortunately, having zero (nay, having less than zero) sense of direction, she often finds herself on a train to Rio de Janeiro or some frozen wasteland in the middle of nowhere. The genius part comes in when confronted with something supernatural. She swiftly banishes even the most powerful of demons with incredible grace. During the Athens arc, she turned her No Sense of Direction into a Big Damn Heroes moment, while also subverting the 'defeating any powerful demon' clause.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • America lacks in geography and sometimes common sense, but he's good with technology like computers and aircrafts.
    • Italy — a total ditz, completely useless in military — but excellent in the area of the arts.
  • Hozuki's Coolheadedness: Nasubi, a ditzy and childish minion of Hell, is a highly skilled artist and, when describing a random sketch he made to Hozuki, can readily name the styles involved. Hozuki likes his work enough to commission him to decorate a wall whose mural was crumbling from age.
  • Irresponsible Captain Tylor causes ceaseless debate, in the series and amongst the fans, over whether his happy-go-lucky, lecherous, impulsive and often moronic antics are the real him and he's simply just that lucky (perhaps because he's such a moron), or if he's a Magnificent Bastard who finds Obfuscating Stupidity to be the perfect disguise. Or he could be a mixture of both; genuinely smart at core, but also either somewhat crazed or just lacking in common sense, so he isn't faking his antics in the slightest. The Journey to the Center of the Mind episode confirms that Tylor is at least aware of the image he projects. Yuriko and Azalyn are in his subconscious and are barraged with multiple conflicting thoughts, however, so debate can still rage on whether or not he intentionally cultivates it.
  • Despite her claims to how she has no outstanding skills whatsoever, as the first episode demonstrates, Cocoa of Is the Order a Rabbit? can do near-instantaneous mathematical calculations.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Okuyasu Nijimura casually states that he isn't very smart, with his only tactics for his Stand The Hand is to erase objects with said Stand or erase the air and pull him or a target closer. However, he does have a good grasp on finances, as seen when he plans on saving and investing his cut of a lottery, which in the epilogue pays off with him affording a nice lunch for himself and his father. In the epilogue, he also shows an understanding of pet care, since he is able to tame the Cat-Stand hybrid Stray Cat from Kira's attack animal to a friendly and loyal companion.
  • Yui Hirasawa from K-On! is normally air-headed and unfocused, but she can tune her guitar by ear due to possessing perfect pitch. This surprises even Azusa, who is shown to have far more musical experience by contrast. Despite not being very well-versed in musical terminology nor knowing what perfect pitch is, this contributes to her being able to pick up and play the guitar fairly well. Additionally, she can turn her usually abysmal academic grades into excellent ones whenever she actually manages to focus on studying.
  • Fujiwara from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is a Genki Girl Cloud Cuckoolander with average grades that the others don't expect much from, but it's revealed that she's a piano prodigy and fluent in five languages (ironically, Japanese is her worst subject in school) as well as a skilled manipulator.
  • Mutsumi Otohime from Love Hina is a classic example. When studying for her exams, she aces the practice tests, but in the actual exam she fails because she forgot to write her name on the paper, or how she once fainted before the test started. She also notices things the other characters don’t even pick up on, such as When the girls go to rescue Keitaro the island they where on was on the other side of the international date line she was the only one who knew and thus Keitaro’s exam was sent back in time for him to make it in to Tokyo U at last. She knew the others at the Hinata inn's names even though Keitaro and Naru didn't tell her. Tama did. But she conscientiously kept that on the down low at first. Mutsumi is the only one that could instantly tell Su’s brother (cousin) was not the real Keitaro and vise versa, etc., etc. Mutsumi becomes somewhat less ditzy but continues to affect ditziness in order to keep people around her guessing. (Talents:Super attentiveness, genius levels of intelligence, sharp senses, good luck, calm and peaceful heart.)
  • Most of the characters from Magic User's Club are Genius Ditzes of one type or another. The main character is useless at everything except her magic, which is superpowerful, and the white-haired girl is literally a complete ditz until she does magic, at which she's better than anyone else, except that she makes things spin when she affects them with magic.
  • Yurika Misumaru from Martian Successor Nadesico. (Talent: Tactical/strategic genius.) However, she takes the "ditz" part to such an extreme that she really makes a great deal more tactical/strategic blunders than she does actually intelligent moves.
  • Mazinger Z: Kouji Kabuto is mostly infamous by being an Idiot Hero (mainly due to the anime series, since in the original manga he was more careful, more tactful, and believe it or not, less sexist). But unlike many similar hot-heads, he is actually exceptionally bright when he allows himself to think things through. This is demonstrated both in the Mazinger Z series, when at least twice he had to completely disable mechanical beasts with hostages inside (one of them being Sayaka's disabled cousin, Yuri); and in the UFO Robo Grendizer series, where he builds his flying saucer all by himself and later develops the Cyclone Beam. He is also an excellent shot (demonstrated in the Mazinkaiser vs. Ankoku Daishogun movie when he shoots Archduke Gorgon in both his tiger head and human head with one shot). It should be noted that Koji is sent to America in Great Mazinger to study, so he can become a scientist since Kenzo, Koji's father mentions that he has the scientist blood of the Kabuto family inside him. So, it’s pretty much hereditary.
  • Suzu in Nagasarete Airantou. While she doesn't know a thing about math, she's very good at shogi (Japanese chess) and a first rate fighter.
    Ikuto: ...what's the total? Ahaha, you can do something as easy as this, right?
    Suzu: ...need...More...fingers...
  • The title character of Naruto may be your usual Idiot Hero, but when in battle, but he shows his ingenious talent at formulating tactics, being unpredictable and surprising his opponents. His mother, Kushina is also implied to be this as she admitted that her Ninjutsu grades in the Academy sucked, but she is apparently talented and knowledgeable in the art of Fuuinjutsu (Sealing Techniques) as it is her clan's specialty and apparently taught Minato the Uzumaki-Fuuinjutsu style which played a huge part in him becoming a legend.
  • Jack Rakan of Negima! Magister Negi Magi acts like an idiot pretty much all the time... except when you fight him, at which point he becomes invincible. Rides the line between Genius Ditz and major Obfuscating Stupidity, as whether he's that competent at anything other than fighting is up for debate.
    • This may also be the case for Konoka, who generally acts like The Ditz, even though it was established early on that she's near the top of the class. Of course, there are alternate theories about why she acts the way she does...
  • One Piece:
    • Tony Tony Chopper is an excellent doctor, and aside from being an anthropomorphic reindeer, would fit in at just about any hospital in the world. But if it doesn't have to do with medicine, he's extremely childish and naive enough to believe Usopp's stories. While he is 17 chronologically, he acts much younger than his age (though he was 8 when he consumed the Devil Fruit that granted him his human side and considering the hybrid form resembles a child, this may be the explanation.)
    • Luffy is childish and naive, but his talent is pure ass-kicking (and figuring out new applications of his Rubber Man powers). He also possesses a form of wisdom that allows him to see the simplest solution needed (such as knowing that interfering with the Alabasta army won't guarantee anything and what's needed to be done is defeating Crocodile.)
  • Tamaki Suoh in Ouran High School Host Club — crazy idiot, but can play the piano better than anyone. He also demonstrates amazing interpersonal insight from time to time, making his huge success as a host more than an Informed Ability. He's ranked second for his grade, right below Kyouya. And he apparently doesn't even study.
  • The Pet Girl of Sakurasou: Mashiro Shiina is an extremely talented artist, but utterly lacking in common sense or social skills. Sorata is assigned to be her caretaker, since she can't take care of herself.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Meowth is part of the Team Rocket trio, none of whom are the brightest crayons in the packet, but he casually designs and builds giant mecha and, on one memorable occasion, an actual functioning rocket.
    • Ash Ketchum himself certainly counts; he's not very bright when it comes to social cues, and has admitted that he's Book Dumb in the Sun and Moon seasons. That said, when he's involved in a Pokémon battle, he's among the best in the series. He's come up with some genuinely thought-out plans, but he absolutely excels in more unorthodox battle strategies (Thunder Armor and Counter Shield say hi), and he's taken on legendary Pokémon and fully-evolved pseudo-legendaries with significantly weaker 'mons and KO'd them. His Pikachu alone is a good testament to how long he's been doing this, having had its fair share of impressive victories despite its size. There's a good reason Ash has come close to winning the regional championships numerous times, and eventually finally won a league in Alola. And afterwards, he moves on to become the World Champion.
  • Jirou Akutagawa from The Prince of Tennis. Sweet-tempered, child-like, kinda dense, a practically chronic Heavy Sleeper... and a regular at Hyoutei of all schools.
  • Yomiko and, to a greater degree, the Paper Sisters of Read or Die fall into this category, generally acting as lazy, incompetent, and clumsy bibliophile Pretty Freeloaders... that is, until it's time to sharpen their index cards and head out in their true capacities as paper-wielding super-spies.
  • The title character of Saijou no Meii has some of these traits. Though he's a surgical genius with extreme spatial-awareness that allows him to perform incredible medical feats, he's also very childish, obsessed with a Captain Ersatz of Kamen Rider & yammers on about it to anybody who'll listen. The plot of one chapter revolves around him being incapable of recognizing a fellow doctor when she's in civilian clothes.
  • Minako Aino/Sailor Venus from Sailor Moon is a Genius Ditz in most adaptations (main talent: combat). She remembers more of her past life than any other Senshi, is skilled enough to fight demons with no training and no backup, and generally excels at anything she actually cares enough to try (and it's enough things to qualify her as a Renaissance Woman)... But she is also a lazy, naive teenager. This is all on top of being stronger and faster than the rest of her teammates without transforming, and often what leads her to save the day when their powers get blocked in some way.
  • Saiyuki might have the most genuinely ditzy of any ditz who ever did ditz in Koumyou Sanzo. He acts at times exactly like a valley girl, sleeps through his classes when he's in training, uses slang words he is FAR too old for, seems to misunderstand questions and situations a lot... and is also the youngest Sanzo priest ever before Ukoku and Genjo come along, was a mentor figure to both of them, and also the only person both of them actually acknowledge as worthy of respect, was so powerful they bequeathed him two sutras, something never before done, and generally is one of the biggest badasses in the series, albeit one who died before it started. Is an interesting case in that his Genius is not really divorced from his Ditziness, and a lot of his insights come from that aspect of himself.
  • The version of Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Hound is capable of devising brilliant criminal schemes and performing remarkable feats of engineering, but has trouble with common-sense issues like checking the pressure gauge on a steam press so it doesn't explode, ensuring that the river he's using for a Hostage for MacGuffin exchange is actually deep enough to be any sort of obstacle, or not following a small child out onto an aircraft wing that's made out of paper and can't possibly support his weight.
  • Slayers series:
    • Gourry Gabriev is a brilliantly talented swordsman who is otherwise about as sharp as a bag of wet sponges. In the books he's just Obfuscating Stupidity and finds great fun in irritating famously short-tempered Lina. Gourry's problem is often implied to be some rather skewed priorities more than anything else (though he obviously has some memory issues, too): the two most important things to him are fighting and food, and if it doesn't have to do with one or the other he isn't likely to remember it. Thus, he might forget the names of some of his closest friends and frequent traveling companions, but he knows right away Lina's lying when she tries to convince him that he promised to give her his prized Sword of Light and forgot about it because there's no way he'd promise that in the first place. He is also shown to be surprisingly perceptive; if you pay close attention, he's usually the first to notice when something is amiss. Hence, he picked up on Xellos' true nature early on but didn't say anything because he thought it was too obvious.
    • Naga and Martina are very inventive magic users who are crippled by being almost too crazy to live and exist as lowly Goldfish Poop Gang. Naga developed several interesting spells, but is so self-absorbed she barely manages not to walk into walls. Martina uses magic via worshipping of a Monster she admits she made up herself and it somehow works — but who living in a visual range of sanity would even try such a thing? Which she combines with being petty, clumsy and falling for anyone she deems at least 2/3 of Tall, Dark, and Handsome (until she met the real thing).
  • Patti in Soul Eater. Has martial arts skills to outdo most of her class, and is so enthusiastically destructive at a firing range that Sid gives up trying to teach her anything. Puts this to good use when acting as Liz's meister. The series is full of this sort of oddly talented character.
  • The titular character from Space☆Dandy is prone to forgetting what his objective is (usually because attractive women are involved), and he isn't the most perceptive individual, but he has moments of brilliance that seem to suggest he's more competent than he appears. Most notably, he figures out the mechanics of warping all by himself, something that his ex-girlfriend Catherine was not surprised by, and he generally comes up with some pretty off-the-wall plans that work spectacularly even when they shouldn't.
  • Shima Katase from Stellvia of the Universe, directed and produced by the same people as Nadesico. (Talent: Genius programmer.) Granted, she is not as ditzy as Yurika...
  • Tenchi Muyo!:
    • Mihoshi Kiramitsu from some of the various continuities. (Talent: Several, actually. Full eidetic memory, outrageous luck and the ability to get into places where she shouldn't — or couldn't possibly — be.) In the OVA, however, she tends more toward Bunny-Ears Lawyer. It's lightly implied in many of the continuities that Mihoshi used to be a genius cop, but she got so overstressed that she had a mental breakdown — thus becoming the way she is now and that the moments of hypercompetence are actually remnants of her former self. Word of God also has it that she's the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Washu... As in the 8th-dimensional goddess, greatest scientist in the universe, Washu. Part of her ridiculous luck/genius moments/otherworldly skill is some fraction of that sort-of-divine spark emerging within her.
    • Seina Yamada, protagonist of the Tenchi Muyo Spin-Off Tenchi Muyo! GXP: Galaxy Police Transporter, is purported to be "blessed" with the worst luck in the universe. His bad luck, however, has a tendency to land him in a number of favorable circumstances and eventually lands him his own command with the Galaxy Police. The reason for this being that he constantly automatically attracted looting or downright murderous space-pirates, across galactic distances, regardless how much they tried to avoid him. Since space is far too vast for the Galaxy Police to efficiently monitor, they finally had a way to round up the criminals, whereas Seina had so much "bad luck" that he actually started to spend it all. The bad luck also had a tendency to literally bleed onto other people. He isn't affected as much because he's used to it and, regardless of how bad his luck is, will only suffer injuries.
  • Amasawa of The Weatherman Is My Lover has weather as his only serious area of competency.
  • Kazuma Azuma from Yakitate!! Japan is skilled in three things: Bread-making, rice, and... math, for some reason.
  • Yuusha De Aru: Sonoko from Washio Sumi Is a Hero and Yuki Yuna is a Hero seems like a sleepy Cloud Cuckoo Lander but she's also very smart. She's even able to learn while half-asleep. Fu has her help study for her high school entrance exams, despite both being a year younger and having just skipped two grades ahead, because she's smarter than the tutors.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, Careless S. is the inventor of the Supermen, being very knowledgeable about how weapons work and how to assemble them. Once he ventures out of that field of specialty, however, he is a ditz who can forget anything at a moment's notice. Then again, even when he is dealing with weapons, he can still forget to load ammo into them, for example.

    Comic Books 
  • Dr Dinosaur of Atomic Robo is capable of feats of science that astonish Robo, such as the "timevolution" of a T. rex egg into the weapon-encrusted FUTURESAURUS REX, but he's also fundamentally kind of a moron who dedicated quite some time to building a machine with the sole purpose of sending Robo unsolicited bulk email.
    Dr Dinosaur: From hell's heart I spam at thee!
  • Deadpool probably counts as one. Sure, he's certifiably insane, completely unpredictable, constantly breaks the fourth wall and never ever ever stops talking — ever — but when it comes to fighting, shooting, stabbing and generally causing mayhem, he's one of the best in the whole Marvel Universe. Suffice it to say that Deadpool is really good at his job as a mercenary. He once detected seventeen weaknesses in Shatterstar's fighting techniques just from watching him practice for a few minutes. Shatterstar is one of the best swordsmen in the entire Marvel Universe, and quite skilled at all other forms of close-range combat to boot.
  • Several Donald Duck stories had the titular duck discovering a previously unexpressed aptitude in some obscure field, like counting objects or instrument playing. Gyro Gearloose also qualifies as this.
  • In Doom Patrol, Flash Forward is The Smart Guy and a Deadpan Snarker who often shows a greater capacity for lateral or existential thought than his teammates. He's also a poor kid from rural Alabama who dropped out of school in the 7th grade.
  • Every once in a while Harley Quinn will remind you that she is a certified psychologist. Depending on the writer, she also may have even expressed the "ditzy" part of this trope even before going insane. For a long time, writers went back and forth as to whether she truly earned her degree or whether she cheated her way through school to get it, but by the 2010s, it was universally agreed to be the former.
  • Modesty Blaise's lover Dr Pennyfeather, a bungling but surprisingly efficient doctor.
  • Arsenal from Red Hood and the Outlaws. He's a cheery clown, but he's also brilliant at making weapons. This has been accentuated in Red Hood/Arsenal. Roy has become so focused on inventing new weapons that he often blows all his earned money on spare parts.
  • Marv from Sin City. Even he doesn't consider himself very smart, but he is capable of solving mysteries and forming battle plans to take down skilled opponents.
  • Miss Martian from the Teen Titans comic has pulled some rather impressive stunts like disguising herself to infiltrate an underground super fight league to free a bunch of trapped superheroes and working with a resistance cell in Final Crisis. She also threw a pie in Ravager's face and cried when Rose yelled at her.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye:
    • Spinister alternates between a Too Dumb to Live Trigger-Happy moron who Misfire once called 'the biggest idiot of the universe', or a genius surgeon.
    • Swerve is a fast-talking bartender with a sitcom obsession and no ability to aim successfully. However, before becoming that, he was a metallurgist, which for a Cybertronian made him a combination of engineer and doctor - and don't let the fact that he won't shut up about Community fool you into thinking he wasn't good at it. It's him, not Ratchet, who adapts a cybercrosis treatment from collected notes at the end of "Remain in Light".
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: "Glitch" can repair and improve just about any vehicle once they get a chance to look it over, but they also make plans with so many holes that they end up putting together a plane, while it's falling out of a spaceship while clinging to the outside. They've also taken apart at least one plane in flight without realizing why that could be a problematic at first.

    Fan Works 
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità. Italy seems to be oblivious to just about everything. He also is a genius in art and literature in addition to matching Japan in swordplay.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami has Mukrezar, an example with a serious bloodthirsty streak. Unlike most examples, however, he doesn't appear to have any real mental impairment, aside from his general madness. Most of it is simply his willingness to try ridiculous schemes, despite, or perhaps because of how unlikely they are to succeed. But he's a terrible cook.
  • Lockhart in Oh God, Not Again! is interpreted like this. While he's still incompetent as a teacher, Harry admits he's a genius when it comes to anything dealing with the media.
  • In CSI: Death by Chocolate, Grissom finds that while Willy Wonka is rather childlike and whimsical, he has a mind like a steel trap and knows everything there is to know about candy.
  • In Azumanga und Panzer Osaka is the same dreamy, absent-minded girl she is in Azumanga Daioh...and a natural genius at tank gunnery. Give her the long-range firepower of the SU-100 the Azu girls are driving, and she's well able to hold off superior forces all by herself.
  • Hoops in Ask Hoops and Dumbbell is undeniably a bit of a goofball and doesn't seem to always think the same way as other ponies...but, if Dumbbell is to be believed, he's brilliant at math and apparently regularly does some pretty complex math at his job.
  • Harmony in I Wouldn't Exactly Call That Sitting is a complete idiot and flunking math, because it doesn't have any practical applications she can see. However, she figures out the size of Xander's penis to a thousandth of an inch just by the size and shape of the bulge in his underwear.
  • The premise of Lessons with Hagrid is that Hagrid is a bit dim and never finished his schooling but has written several books on the few subjects he does know, namely animal care and occlumency.
  • The Triptych Continuum provides Sizzler, a young unicorn stallion who works in the Lunar Kitchen — as the master of the meat station. Every generation will provide one pony who can work with carnivore dishes and produce amazing results they may never bring themselves to actually taste, serving proper meals to visiting dignitaries. When it comes to doing that, Sizzler's one of the most talented individuals working in the castle. For everything else? Dim. And that term might be a little too kind. On the dubious bright side, at least it's easy to talk him into joining a secret counter-revolutionary cell.
  • Naruto in Danzo's Team manages to, in ten minutes, create traps good enough that Danzo responds to them lethally.
    Danzo: How do I score "Made me think Orochimaru was coming to eat me" on a standard trap skill assessment?
  • Clopin — no, not that one, but the Touceet from Pokémon Opal and Garnet. He's usually a random Cloudcuckoolander... unless you ask him how a certain PokeLatin word (or his own name) is pronounced. Then he will be more than happy to teach you. (By the way,It Is Pronounced Kloh-PAH~n.)
  • In Victorious fic "The Bet", when Trina gives Tori and Jade surprisingly good dating advice after they experience a series of problems due to Jade's initial inability to accept her sexuality, Jade questions how Trina can be this good at dating given her own track record. To offer a suitable analogy, Tori compares Trina to Cookie Monster (Sesame Street); both can be surprisingly eloquent in the right circumstances, but put them in front of hot guys/cookies respectively and they basically lose all reasoning in favour of focusing on the thing they're obsessed with.
  • In The Last Prayer, Naruto has an instinctive grasp of seals that allows him to easily understand or create pretty much any seal he comes across. Mabui, who considers herself rather proficient at seals, has to ask him to dumb down his ideas until eventually she just asks him how beginners get their start in sealing. Notably, Naruto took a single glance at a scroll she's spent months trying to decipher and remarks that the seal would work but it'd be wonky and inefficient. Later, Naruto comments on being able to make a seal that'd heal almost any injury and admits that he doesn't remotely understand any of the parts relating to biology except that he knows the seal would work.
  • Nappa from Dragon Ball Abridged. So very, very much. On the one hand, he's an alumnus of Saiyan University, with a degree in Child Psychology and is currently a movie producer once he was resurrected. On the other hand, every other sentence to come out of his mouth. On the other other hand, his degree in Child Psychology could rest entirely on the fact that he is himself a Psychopathic Man Child, and his becoming a movie producer could well be a Take That! against the standards of current Hollywood producers, making this case a solid subversion.
  • In Lady In White, Anna Reinhert might be a clumsy student who oversleeps, unintentionally misses appointments, and has a very mismatched sense of fashion, but she earned a scholarship to Arendelle despite being a foster child, and her work on Arendelle’s mythology was enough to impress her professor to the extent that he hired her as her research assistant despite her just being a first-year student.
  • Xu Shu in Farce of the Three Kingdoms. Second only to Zhuge Liang as a military strategist, he still can't recognize that a Cut-and-Paste Note is forged and blithely reveals plans aloud in the middle of the enemy's camp.
  • Adrastia Zabini in A Discordant Note (and it's prequel For Love of Magic by extension) admits that her grasp of hard sciences is basic at best, has no combat ability or instincts, and struggles with any form of advanced magic. However, she's also The Social Expert who could attend a party full of strangers and know everything about every attendee's personalities, desires, and fears by the time the party ended.
  • Izuku in Ere We Go, Pluz Ultra! has the mentality of an ork. He talks oddly, struggles with math, fights anyone at the drop of a hat, and is a Gadgeteer Genius who can make a subspace pocket out of a bicycle light.
  • Otto in All Mixed Up! is a silly Cloudcuckoolander and chronic Big Eater who can be naive and dimwitted at times. However, when it comes to word problems, he's nearly unrivaled and is able to solve them within seconds.
  • Knight of Salem; Salem is incredibly ignorant about a lot of modern day culture and customs. But she not only has a lot of magical power at her disposal, but her past as a queen makes her very good at political games and power plays. Jaune notes she could actually be a great and popular queen.
  • Artemis in Inky Future is introduced as seemingly being not all that smart, has a tendency to goof off, and she doesn't consider hersef to be smart either. However, it turns out she has better grades than her dorm-mates and actually has a keen interest in biology in particular, it's just that she needs dedicated study sessions with her friends, and that she has severe issues with her attention span, which also causes her to not be aware of her surroundings as much as she should be in ink battles (she uses Dualies, and she has issues with rolling off stages, especially Moray Towers). Iris, her girlfriend, resolves to help her develop mental discipline, using Iris' experience as an Octarian soldier.
  • Limefrost Spiral in Manehattan's Lone Guardian is described as "forgetful and not very bright outside her element". Her first appearance has her completely forgetting the time she was supposed to meet Smooth Beat, leaving him to wait at the door while she wasted time sunbathing. She's also a fangirl towards Statuette at times that are the least appropriate. For all of her cluelessness, she's still a skilled enough artist to the point that the story's antagonist selected her to paint portraits of himself and his grandchildren, so she's got that going for her at the very least.

    Films — Animation 
  • Subverted with Vector from Despicable Me. He seems like an example at first because he's a successful Diabolical Mastermind in spite of appearing like a goofy, nerdy wannabe with dumb inventions, as he's the one who stole the Great Pyramid of Giza and his defense systems make it almost impossible for Gru to get the best of him. However, once it's revealed that Perkins, the head of the Bank of Evil, is his father, it becomes more likely that his success is due to unlimited funding on Perkins' part. Outside of relying on his defense systems, Vector is not very good at anything he tries on-screen.
  • Even though Dory from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory is a bit forgetful and tends to get distracted now and then, she's able to read English and communicate with whales, in spite of Marlin's skeptical attitude of Dory's whale-talking ability.
  • Mr. Ping in Kung Fu Panda would in most senses be only The Ditz — as Word of God puts it, "he's got a tiny little head, and there's nothing in it except noodles. And love for Po." However, not only is his knowledge of noodles and cooking in general something he is obviously very skilled at, since he teaches Po everything he knows and the Furious Five (almost) unanimously declare the panda's cooking sensational, but the end credits reveal he has another hidden talent: to judge by Shifu's horrified expression, Mr. Ping is apparently a stellar player of Mahjong.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: Downplayed with "Big" Jack Horner, who's a Stupid Evil villain to the bone and prefers to use brute force in fights, but is also a successful businessman running a large pie factory. Even if he inherited it, it would still take a lot of work to keep such a factory running and successful, and Jack personally makes sure the pies it produces are top-quality.
  • Linguini from Ratatouille is first shown as gangly, clumsy, dorky, fluent in Buffy Speak, and utterly useless at cooking, ruining a soup so badly he caused himself to throw up upon tasting. Then he discovers that it's legal to wait tables on roller-skates, and becomes a Super Waiter.
    Linguini: [zoom]
  • Dopey of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney didn't want him to be a complete idiot, so they let him do some pretty impressive drumming during the dance sequence.
  • Toy Story 3:
    • Barbie, aside from being more of an Action Girl than you might expect, seems to have a bit of a knack for political science when the heroes confront the Big Bad.
      Barbie: Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from threat of force!
    • There was also outsmarting Ken to get the manual for Buzz.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All of the Three Stooges have had moments of unexpected brilliance. Moe identifies an experimental atomic bomb by its AEG imprint standing for Atomic Energy Commission in "In Orbit"; in "Fuelin' Around" Larry points out the chemicals they haphazardly mixed together burned a hole in the table, therefore it should burn a hole in the floor for their escape; Curly mentions their fish business would make more money if they caught the fish themselves. In "All Gummed Up" Shemp and the others are depicted as competent pharmacists and business-owners.
  • Brick turns out to be one in Wake Up Ron Burgundy (a "film" made from deleted scenes from Anchorman).
    Ron Burgundy: All right, gang, it's real simple. Just like when we were back together in 'Nam in '64. I'll take the point...
    Brick: Stand down, Corporal Burgundy. I'm running this show now. Affirmative, a-ffir-ma-tive?—Affirmative. I'll take point. Champ, right flank. Gator Dirty Teacup. We will fan out to a cobra double-helix formation. If we encounter any hostiles, silent throat cuts only. On my...mark.
    Ron Burgundy: Looks like the captain's back.
  • Bill & Ted are so ditsy, they are in danger of failing a course in a class seemingly full of dimwitted students, but are naturally adept at figuring out the causal and paradoxical effects of time travel. And they also must have some vast philosophical bent, as their music eventually creates a utopian society.
  • Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic, who is genuinely ditzy but (to her own surprise) proves brilliant at explaining prudent finance to lay people through shopping analogies.
  • Ashley J. "Ash" Williams of the Evil Dead series is a stubborn knucklehead who makes stupid decisions and rarely pays much attention to important information. That said, he's incredibly wise when it comes to dealing with the supernatural and he knows enough about chemistry and mechanical engineering to make an entire army of Deadites his bitch, using 14th-Century technology.
  • Cleverly played with in the film Fool's Gold with the character of dim heiress Gemma. The female lead has been (impatiently) coaching Gemma to be smarter than she acts, so when Gemma has a sudden brainwave as the heroes return to their yacht, the audience naturally expects some amazing insight that will find the treasure they have been searching for while confirming Gemma is more than just an airhead. Actually, Gemma has only just realized that the name of her father's ship ("The Precious Gem") is, get this, similar to her name.
  • Forrest Gump seems pretty adept at disassembling and reassembling firearms, as well as countless other skills.
  • Lorelei Lee from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is the stereotypical Dumb Blonde (she is played by Marilyn Monroe in the movie version) but she's an expert on diamonds and is able to come up with plenty of well-thought-out plans to solve some of the problems she gets herself into. She also manages to convince her fiancee's father exactly why his son should marry her, stunning him with her knowledge and then saying that his son loves her for her brains. Her namesake in Superman III shares the same qualities, and is smart enough to pretend to be a Dumb Blonde.
  • The 2008 movie version of Get Smart casts Maxwell Smart as something like this: while he's notably clumsy and overconfident as a field agent, his abilities as an intelligence analyst are noted by many characters to be the finest in the agency. They also come in handy in the field; his in-depth understanding of and empathy with a Punch-Clock Villain enables Smart to give him some relationship advice — in return, the henchman spares Max and 99 and later tips Max off about a bomb in Los Angeles. Smart is also presented as being surprisingly cunning, resourceful, and a crack shot, proving his usefulness to Agent 99.
  • Holmes comes across as this about half the time in Holmes & Watson (such as being able to calculate the exact amount of force needed to squash a mosquito with shattering a pane of glass). The rest of the time, he is more of a Clueless Detective.
  • Elle Woods of Legally Blonde maintained a 4.0 GPA (albeit as a fashion major), frequently came up with rather "creative" events for her sorority, and got a 179 (out of a possible 180) on her LSATs. And while still a law student, she literally wore Bunny Ears to what she'd been told was a costume party. Her encyclopedic knowledge of hair care saved her first client from death. (Based on a True Story or something; the author of the original semi-autobiographical book admitted she picked Stanford Law School [the film relocated the story to Harvard] because it was close to her favorite national mall.) No matter what your major is, you still have to take math, science, history and English classes unless you are at a tech school or attending either Amherst or Brown. Smart and shallow are not mutually exclusive.
  • The Steve Martin reboot of The Pink Panther and its sequel portrays Inspector Clouseau as a clumsy Small Name, Big Ego prone to brilliant strokes of inspiration.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Ragetti is illiterate and lacking in common sense, but behind that wooden eye lies the brain of a philosopher, scholar, and man who knows the original Scandinavian pronunciation of "kraken". He's also the one who figures out how to free Calypso.
    • Will was one of these in the first movie: though not a complete moron, he's pretty slow on the uptake and in way over his head. Until it's time for a sword fight, in which case your ass is grass.
  • Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers tended to play this character. Despite communicating in honks and generally acting like he's from another planet, he was a brilliant harpist and not at all afraid to show it off.
  • In Monster Trucks, while Trip needs tutoring in biology, he has a sufficiently detailed understanding of physics and mechanics to adapt his truck to allow the 'monster' he comes to call Creach to basically act as the truck's engine in one night, and is able to teach others how to adapt two more trucks in the same manner in another night.
  • RocketMan (1997): The titular character is a complete moron with anything that isn't related to aeronautics or astronautics. He's also pretty good at holding his breath.
  • In the post-credits scene of Women in Trouble, Holly Rocket turns out to be pretty good at trigonometry. It's not a perfect example of this trope, since the question she answers is really just a pretty conventional high school math problem, but in the context, it works.

  • Alliance/Union: Paul Dekker from Heavy Time and Hellburner has basically no sense of time, routinely forgetting which year it is and vividly hallucinating past traumatic events. The other side of the coin is his ability to hyperfocus (concentrating very deeply, improving his reaction times), which allows him to fly space fighters moving at significant fractions of lightspeed.
  • A Most Unlikely Hero: Gabrielle is an even better scientist than not only Alex, but also most other aliens with similar scientific backgrounds. The problem is that her knowledge is incredibly lacking in other matters such as sex or even basic social interaction. This is due to Gabrielle and her sisters apparently being allowed to be educated solely in subjects that interested them.
  • Aubrey-Maturin:
    • Jack Aubrey himself is a highly skilled sailor and capable personal combatant. He has also become so good at the mathematics and astronomy needed to navigate he has come to the attention of the Royal Society, he builds his own telescopes, and is an accomplished violinist. He is also dreadful at languages, dispenses wisdom like "they have made their cake, and must now lie in it" and firmly believes the sons of Noah were named Cain, Abel and Moses.
    • Although Dr. Stephen Maturin is a well-respected physician and natural philosopher, after having been at sea for nearly 20 years, he can barely row a boat and still doesn't understand basic nautical terminology.
  • Cat's Cradle: Dr. Felix Heonikker is a genius inventor and an expert at weapons development, having created the world-destroying Ice-9. He's also scatterbrained enough that on the day he received a Nobel Prize, he forgot that he wasn't in a restaurant and left a tip for his wife after breakfast.
  • In Georgette Heyer's novel Cotillion, Freddy Standen is generally (if fondly) regarded as a complete idiot by most of his family. However, he has impeccable manners and his shrewd knowledge of social niceties makes him extremely competent at dealing with the situations the heroine finds herself in. As she notes, Freddy may not have brains, but he does have address, which is far more useful.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • Despite his idiocy and cluelessness, Greg can come up with good plans. Notable examples include in The Third Wheel, where he comes up with a plan to get Rowley into the student council and get himself to help Rowley make decisions and also comes up with a secret stall to hide his toilet paper, and in Double Down, where he plans to join the band to get invited to a party and makes a two-headed monster to get in when he realizes his section wasn't invited.
    • Manny has No Social Skills and other unspecified mental issues, but he's implied to be quite smart for his age. He seems to have extensive knowledge of computers, being that he messed up Greg's Net Kritterz account password in Cabin Fever and changed the settings on the TV. Manny is also shown to pick things up quickly, as he becomes highly fluent in Spanish in The Long Haul from a few CD lessons.
  • Discworld:
    • Fred Colon of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, a long-time copper (who is in fact at the age he should have retired but has decided he doesn't want to) who is not very intelligent, but has peerless instincts as a Watchman.
    • Stanley from Going Postal appears to have been Raised by Wolves (actually peas) but has an encyclopedic knowledge of pins and, later, postage stamps.
    • Monstrous Regiment:
      • Lofty silently shuns everything and everyone except one longtime 'friend', right up until there is a pressing need to have something burnt, blown up, or otherwise combusted.
      • Lieutenant Blouse repeatedly shows himself to be a useless, incompetent officer who exasperates the experienced Sergeant Jackrum in every scene, yet astounds William De Worde by extrapolating the mechanics of the Clacks system without even seeing them up close and coming up with ideas for algorithms that the Clacks' inventors are only just beginning to explore. He starts to become a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass when it turns out that he can disguise a captured 'light-clacks' used to send Morse code messages at night (again, which he'd never encountered before) to make it look like it's further away and make up a false message (in code) that sends half the Zlobenian army on a wild goose chase into the mountains. He's also surprisingly good at passing for female — his acting doesn't fool any women, but it does fool the men, as it plays into their assumptions — and he's excellent at cleaning and laundry as his old batman refused to do it for religious reasons.
    • Mr. Tulip in The Truth is a hulking bruiser who could probably be outsmarted by Detritus on a warm day. He's so dumb, in fact, that his efforts to cultivate a drug habit have resulted in him snorting baking soda, washing powder, powdered chalk, etc. and never knowing the difference. He doesn't even swear properly; he just drops an "-ing" three times in the average sentence, and it's not a euphemism for anything. Show the man a work of art or a jewel, however, and you'll suddenly have a giant, slurry-mouthed, red-nostriled expert on your hands.
    • Owlswick Jenkins in Making Money is clearly suffering from some sort of mental illness, including paranoid delusions of being followed by "Them", and so removed from reality that he can't even comprehend the illegality of forging government stamps. But put him in front of a canvas and hand him some paints and he'll produce artwork so intricate that it's impossible to forge. Igor tries to fix him by transferring his insanity into a turnip, but he loses his artistic abilities in the process and is forced to switch back.
    • Leonard of Quirm shows flashes of this in his appearances. He's not so much "pure ditz" as he is absent-minded and unbelievably naïve, but he's also probably the most brilliant, and potentially dangerous, inventor on the Disc. For the good of everybody, Lord Vetinari keeps him locked away. Not that he minds; his prison is comfortable, airy, comes with a housekeeper and plenty of craft supplies, and he finds the rest of the world somewhat bewildering and discomforting, enough that he returns to his prison and locks up behind himself at the end of Jingo. It helps that he's described as having the kind of mind that it's impossible to truly imprison (in the very literal sense, he designed pretty much all the security measures himself).
  • Don Quixote: Despite his reputation as a madman, Don Quixote is highly intelligent, and several characters who come across him note that he occasionally sounds rational and sane before going off tangent on his chivalric ideals. Several characters who later trick him note that he's fairly astute about the minor points that concern a given situation, but neglects the bigger picture altogether.
  • Don't Call Me Ishmael!: Even though Razz gets terrible grades at school, he is a genius at anything related to sports and a very competent coach as well.
  • In Douluo Dalu, Tang Wulin is a cheerful, happy-go-lucky kid obsessed with eating and making money. He's so straightforward and honest that it's easy to mistake him for a Kindhearted Simpleton... until he reveals that he's a prodigious blacksmith who swings around 150 kg hammers around like toys and is a ruthless strategist who seeks nothing but complete and utter victory.
  • Fearless: Zolov is an old Russian man with whom Gaia frequently plays chess. He suffers from Alzheimer's disease and is stubbornly convinced that Gaia's name is Cindy (she's long since given up trying to convince him otherwise). He also beats her every time they play, which is an impressive feat, considering that Gaia's skill level is equivalent to that of an internationally-ranked grandmaster.
  • Good Omens: In an order of Satanist nuns who have taken the opposite of a vow of silence, Sister Mary Loquacious appears to be the epitome of a scatterbrain who says everything that comes into her head because so little does. Released from her vows and other people's assumptions about her, she abandons magazines that talk about knitting and baking in favour of ones that talk about computers and mergers, and becomes a very successful businesswoman.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Neville Longbottom can't seem to cast even the simplest spell without a critical fumble...until he discovers that he's crazy skilled at Herbology. And then Took a Level in Badass around the 5th book. Word of God says that he was performing accidental magic almost from birth, swaddling himself tighter to stay warm. His lack of skill for most of the series is implied to be down to childhood trauma (from his parents being tortured into insanity and his family's attempts to force accidental magic), horrible self-esteem issues down to being raised by a domineering grandmother in the shadow of his parents and said attempts to force accidental magic, and spending his first five years at Hogwarts being made to use his dad's old wand — which, since he didn't win it, and it didn't choose him, doesn't suit him at all.
    • Professor Sybil Trelawney is both this trope and its inverse: she is apparently utterly incompetent at Divination, her own field of study. However, on occasion, she is capable of oracular predictions about the future, which, due to happening in a trance, she knows nothing about, and refuses to believe in when she is told what it was that she predicted. While her normal predictions are about as reliable as a take-out Chinese restaurant's fortune cookies, anything she says in her trances will come true... though, again, it's implied that she's actually very accurate even with her standard predictions, it's just that she's very bad at interpreting them. The alcoholism from the fifth book onwards does not help.
    • Ron is Book Dumb (or at least plays up his distaste of studying in this way, as he actually tests quite well) but amazing at... chess. At least he gets a Plot Tailored to the Party for it. Mostly, though, he acts as the Only Sane Man, which the Trio badly needs — Hermione's head is usually in a book and Harry has no self-preservation instincts whatsoever.
    • Harry himself is borderline: he's no ditz, but is implied average at best in most of his studies and would be worse if he didn't have Hermione to help him out. He has two areas of expertise: flying (he was the only one in his class to successfully command a broomstick on his first try), and Defence Against The Dark Arts. A lot of the latter comes from his unrivaled experience and the borderline super-reflexes that make him excellent at both flying and duelling. The start of the 6th book reveals, when he gets his OWL results back, that he's actually well above average in most of his classes, and when he's got a better (or at least, nicer) Potions teacher, he's actually pretty good at Potions — not as naturally talented as his mother or Snape (though using Snape's old book, complete with personal notes, makes him come off that way), but more than competent. More generally, he comes off as someone who learns better by doing than reading.
  • Quite a lot of characters from The Heroes of Olympus and prequel series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, including but not limited to Leo, Frank, Percy, Clarisse, and Ella.
  • The Hermit in Hieroglypkics. Despite being well-read, he forgets Machen's name 3 times in their first meeting; Machen says that he would repeat this "feat" many times throughout their acquaintance.
  • Hilary Tamar: Julia Larwood is presented as a highly skilled tax barrister who, apart from regularly getting lost in the city she lives in, completely forgets to pay her own taxes.
  • Honor Harrington: Shannon Foraker loses her wristcom twice a week while in charge of Bolthole, and is also a tactical witch who runs R&D.
  • The Infernal Devices: Henry Branwell is as absent-minded as they come, but when it comes to mechanical stuff, he's your guy.
  • I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level: Halkara is a competent businesswoman who owns a large energy-drink business, but she's an impulsive klutz at everything else.
  • Bertie Wooster may come off as an idiot, but anyone who's a fan of Jeeves and Wooster knows that he's got some serious writing chops.
  • Bigmac in the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy is mostly portrayed as a bit of an idiot; a well-meaning soul who's trapped in the life of a skinhead car thief, and is not only too clueless to get out of this, but actually too clueless to be any good at it either. The sort of guy who wears swastikas but doesn't understand what they mean. He's also very Good with Numbers, although he's still failing maths class because he can't show his working — it's just obvious to him what the answers are.
  • In The Kind Death God, Ah Dai is considered brain damaged and is very much a Kindhearted Simpleton... until you learn that he's also the inheritor of the deadliest assassination art in the world.
  • Freddy Arbuthnot from Lord Peter Wimsey is a classic example, with his talent being in finance. Lord Peter himself comes across as this, though that is explicitly stated to be a coping strategy for the post-traumatic stress he acquired in the Great War.
  • Malory Towers has Irene and Belinda. Both are very scatterbrained, and would often forget or lose their stuff. But Belinda is a very talented artist, while Irene is a genius in music and maths.
  • In one Miss Marple short story, the guests at a dinner party take turns to tell mysteries for the others to solve. A famous but ditzy actress starts off her tale saying that it happened to a friend of hers. Immediately, it is lampshaded that the others are certain it actually happened to her, and it isn't long before she accidentally admits it. However, afterwards, when she is privately talking to the hostess, she tells her that she is the culprit of her tale. It is not something that happened in the past but a future plan. She may not be bright, but she is an excellent actress to be able to tell her tale in such a manner that she doesn't give herself away (except to Miss Marple).
  • Modesty Blaise: Recurring character Dr Giles Pennyfeather is the male equivalent of a Cute Clumsy Girl, with no grace or style, no tact or ability at dissimulation. He has two saving graces: the fact that he's genuinely a Nice Guy, and the fact that, even though you wouldn't think it to watch him, he's a really very effective doctor.
  • The Murderbot Diaries: Miki the companion bot definitely isn't running a high-wattage Idea Bulb, but it is exceptionally perceptive. It notices Murderbot watching it via remote surveillance and even picks up on Murderbot's emotional state through a communication channel when Murderbot isn't actively communicating anything, feats that nobody else in the series can manage.
  • Newsflesh: Georgette "Buffy" Messonier from Feed is a dreamy space case who makes her living writing zombie romance and poetry, but her technological genius is eclipsed only by her paranoia — she managed to successfully bug pretty much every government office she ever set foot in, and, given that she was part of a news team embedded with Senator Ryman's presidential campaign, she spent time in a lot of Super Secret locations. Some of her public persona may have been Obfuscating Stupidity, but she was still pretty ditzy.
  • Överenskommelser: While you can't call Sofia Löwenström stupid, she still comes across as a fragile pretty-face who never could manage in the world on her own. But at least she's really good at playing the piano (which ironically seems to be the only thing that her otherwise super-competent cousin Beatrice can't do).
  • Prospero's Daughter: Mephisto from Prospero Regained, so crazy as to earn the nickname "Harebrain", nevertheless manages to persuade his brothers and sisters to let him lead them — and then does it.
  • Scavenger Alliance: Tad lurches between moments of blinding capability and baffling incompetence. Raised from childhood to be humanity's last hope of reinventing interstellar portals, he's the last man ever to be "webbed", i.e., have his brain wired with advanced technology that allows him to manipulate the Earth data net with his thoughts. He can learn anything just by wondering about it, use any technology on the planet just by thinking about it and hack just about anything with his family's superuser access. He also has No Social Skills and manages to destroy his own airplane by leaving it in the lee of a ruined building to be hit by falling debris.
  • Seraphina: Goreddi Princess Glisselda is giggly, silly, spoiled, scarily misinformed about the dragons her country is no longer at war with... and a highly capable leader when it comes to the crunch.
  • Star Wars Legends: In "The Essential Guide to Droids", the boxy EG-6 Power droid is described as having been programmed this way. It's outfitted with an incredible grasp of engineering diagnostics, making it capable of running a remarkably detailed safety check on anything it's asked to fuel... but if told to walk in a straight line, it will dutifully march off a cliff (although, since a fusion reactor is a thing wise designers are careful with, it's probably durable enough to survive doing so).
  • Unavoidable Family Outing: Despite believing that bacon is made from the nice pigs who consciously choose to be bacon (other pork products are made from "loser pigs"), Jess has a mental encyclopaedia of boy band facts. This becomes useful in two major plot points in the series — when they have to disguise BRAD as Brandon Brenton Brantly, and when they're trying to work out the pattern of attacks on BRAD.
    Sal: Wow. Jess's knowledge of all things boy band is quite disturbing.
    Narrator: It's no wonder she doesn't have any room inside her head for anything else.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Enrique Borgos from A Civil Campaign is brilliant at biochemistry, but the man lacks knowledge of economics, social interaction, plumbing, personal hygiene, and can barely tie his own shoes.
  • Warrior Cats: While she spaces out a lot, leading to some near-death situations, Mothflight is an expert in herbs and healing.
  • While My Pretty One Sleeps: Ethel Lambston could often come off as scatterbrained and disorganised, but she was actually a lot shrewder and more observant than many people realised, and she was a meticulous researcher. Notably, she was the first person to realise that Anthony della Salva lied about creating the famous Pacific Reef look; it started out with her simply noticing some seemingly anachronistic fashion sketches in a cookbook, before she swiftly pieced together the truth.
  • White Crow: Baltazar Casaubon is decidedly eccentric, a bit of a slob, and more than a bit of a flake; however, he's definitely a sharp cookie, and always an absolute prodigy in his field (which changes from book to book).

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock:
    • Tracy Jordan is usually a volatile Cloudcuckoolander Manchild, but occasionally surprises his colleagues with a brilliant idea or observation. It happens enough that they suspect him of Obfuscating Stupidity to keep expectations low and preserve his Brilliant, but Lazy lifestyle. However, his ditzy side seems genuine.
    • Kenneth usually seems a gullible doofus Butt-Monkey who handles thankless tasks. Only a few occasions prove him capable of creative, clever and shrewd action.
  • Fletcher from A.N.T. Farm skipped several grades due to his artistic ability, but he thinks snow angels are dead snowmen.
  • Arrested Development:
    • Buster, who, in spite of being a dependent manchild, has a great deal of knowledge in several fields (although most of them are fairly useless), and proves to be highly adept after his army training.
      Lucille: And I'm putting Buster in charge.
      Michael: Buster? You mean the one who thought the blue on the map was land?
      Lucille: Buster can do it. He's had business classes.
      Buster: Wait, 18th-century agrarian business. But I guess it's all the same principles. Let me ask you, are you at all concerned about an uprising?
    • Tobias Fünke is clueless about pretty much anything that doesn't involve psychology. He often becomes mistaken about just about anything.
  • Black Books:
    • Manny is the kind of man who forgets a password after being distracted by a little toy in someone’s hair, gets confused by a light switch and uses the hair dryer in the bath. But he’s also a expert pianist, can figure out where a book is from by tasting one of its pages and can make a tower of soup.
    • Bernard likewise isn’t a very smart man who uses belt and pieces of his own oven to cook and can’t do his own taxes. However at the same time he can write a 1030 page masterpiece novel in a few minutes (his attempt at a children’s book) and whip up make a substitute wine in half a hour with a fraction of nature’s resources.
  • In Boy Meets World, after spending the first couple of seasons as Brilliant, but Lazy Eric took over the role of Cloudcuckoolander, with shades of this, Fun Personified, and The Woobie.
  • Amber, the intern at Red, White & Blue in Brothers & Sisters. A ditz and fairly excitable, she is a genius when it comes to politics and research.
  • Cordelia in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is often vacuous, insensitive, and viewed as an airhead by others — but she was declared "a brain" by Xander after he saw her SAT scores, got into numerous Ivy League Universities, and was in the top 10% of her year at school. Her insensitive comments often portray that she is actually a shrewd observer of human nature.
    Cordelia: You're really campaigning for Bitch of the Year, aren't you?
    Buffy: As defending champion, you nervous?
    Cordelia: I can hold my own. You know, we've never really been close, which is nice, 'cause I don't really like you that much, but you have, on occasion, saved the world and stuff, so I'm gonna do you a favor.
    Buffy: And this great favor is?
    Cordelia: I'm gonna give you some advice: get over it.
    Buffy: Excuse me?
    Cordelia: Whatever is causing the Joan Collins 'tude, deal with it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it. 'Cause, pretty soon, you're not even gonna have the loser friends you've got now.
  • Community:
    • Troy Barnes may be dumb in the most lovable way, but he's still pretty dumb; except for his incredible natural talent as a repairman. He even gets coerced into joining the cult-like Air Conditioning Repair Annex because of his abilities. Cranked Up to Eleven when it's revealed he's the One True Repairman.
    • Pierce Hawthorne is a ditz through and through, but is also hinted to be a competent businessman and a skilled orator.
    • Chang is generally incompetent to the point of insanity, but he's a top-notch actor.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Donna Noble was constantly self-defeating her own brilliance, yet her training as a temp got her out of more than one scrape.
    • Jo Grant. She's a plucky, skilled escapologist who once managed to dig her way out of her cell with a spoon. She's also thicker than a plank. She's also possibly the only character in the entire series (at least out of the Jon Pertwee era) to resist being hypnotized by The Master through sheer willpower alone. Jo can be said to have "matured" over the course of the series, starting off as this before gradually getting smarter.
    • Zoe Heriot, who was a whiz at physics—but didn't know her history (c.f. The Wheel in Space part 6, "The Stolen Earth") and had a hard time disregarding what she saw when she needed to (c.f. The Mind Robber).
    • Melanie Bush, companion to the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, came across as being rather ditzy and naive but she was also a computer programmer and could be quite on the ball at times. Mel's Genius Ditz status is best exemplified during this exchange from "Flip Flop":
      Mel: But, Doctor, we know they can't change history because we've seen the future already.
      Seventh Doctor: No. Unfortunately there is an awkward thing called "free will".
      Mel: Oh. You mean that pre-determinism is merely a philosophical abstract and that the physical reality of the universe is the one in which all potential actions are permitted, including those whose effect cancel out their own logical cause?
      Seventh Doctor: ... Yes, Mel.
  • Constable Turnbull of Due South is eccentric even compared to Fraser (the Bunny-Ears Lawyer series lead), is easily flustered, sometimes clearly isn't operating on the same wavelength as the rest of the cast, and doesn't perform very impressively at his actual job most of the time, but shows skill at cooking, art, and country music trivia.
  • The Electric Company (1971): Fargo North, Decoder is clumsy, egotistical, and obsessed with sandwiches. However, as his name implies, he is a great decoder...well, actually, sometimes he isn't even good at that. Sometimes he forgets where the period goes, for example (this is deliberately done so that the kids at home have a chance to figure it out themselves). Nevertheless, the rest of the characters always turn to him for all their decoding needs.
  • Waldo of Family Matters. After spending a couple seasons as The Ditz bordering on the Cloudcuckoolander, he surprises everyone when he takes a home economics course and proves a natural genius as a chef, to such an extent that in one episode he reveals he was trading recipes with Wolfgang Puck. His mom is a lousy cook, so he had to fend for himself.
  • Father Dougal McGuire of Father Ted is usually so dim that he completely loses track of a conversation and sometimes forgets where he is, even if it’s on a plane. So it’s always very surprising (especially to Ted) when Dougal brilliantly figures out a solution to the trouble he and Ted have found themselves in.
  • Brittany Pierce in Glee may think the square root of four is rainbows, but put the girl on a dance floor and prepare to be blown away. Also, she knows an unbelievable amount about feline diseases. In the Season 4 finale, it is revealed that she was admitted to MIT because the doodles she made on the back of a test paper turned out to be a revolutionary new way to look at mathematics. In the final season, it's explained that Brittany's mom had a one-night stand years before and her true father is...Stephen Hawking. It makes more sense given the man Brittany thought was her father had an IQ in the low double digits and often seems to not even know his own name.
  • In one episode of The Golden Girls, the girls are having a discussion and Rose suddenly chimes in with a high-level psychological analysis. When Blanche and Dorothy are shocked, Rose casually remarks that she reads psychology journals, which Blanche refuses to believe. Although not referenced in this scene, it makes sense in Fridge Logic — Rose did spend most of the series working as a grief counselor, after all.
  • In Hawaii Five-0, Danny's nephew Eric is a goofball and casual misogynist, but inexplicably brilliant when it comes to science. Danny gets him a job at the morgue and he excels at it while still managing to annoy everyone he comes into contact with.
  • Carter from Hogan's Heroes is enthusiastic but generally oblivious and he tends to get teased for his cluelessness — until they need something blown up. Or Hitler impersonated. He's scarily good at impersonating angry German officers of various calibers, despite his puppy-esque normal demeanor.
  • Amber on House of Anubis. While she isn't shown to be very smart overall, she does have many moments of genius and is very skilled at fashion. In the original Dutch version, she's more Spoiled Sweet with some ditzy moments.
  • The (radio) newsreader in In the Red is invariably stoned and away with the fairies — right up to the second she goes on air, when she suddenly turns completely sane and professional.
  • Charlie in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the resident moron of the group, but he's taught himself to play piano, saying, "Keyboards just make sense to me." His most stand-out display of intelligence to date was in Episode 4 of Season 10, "Charlie Work," where he manages to get the rest of the Gang to work together without them even realizing it, keep the health inspector fooled into passing Paddy's Pub, get Dennis and Mac's harebrained moneymaking scam to actually succeed, all while he continues intermittently loosening a stool so that Dee would fall when she sat in it. The fact that nearly the entire episode is filmed to look like it's one long shot just helps further add to the panicked hurriedness of it all.
  • In Jeeves and Wooster, Bertie is an Upper-Class Twit...but he sure can play the piano.
  • While not terribly bright, Coover Bennett in Justified is very skilled at creating new cultivars of marijuana, according to Hotrod.
  • Perceval on Kaamelott can barely form proper sentences but he is a genius at mathematics. His friend Karadoc is barely more intelligent, but is an expert in everything related to food.
  • In Kenan & Kel, one episode had Kel scoring 98/100 on an IQ test, despite him being fairly dumb most of the time. The score was originally thought to be 96/100, to the shock of Kenan, his parents and Chris. After Kenan demanded a recount, it turned out that Kel's score was actually slightly higher, and just two points under a perfect score.
  • Kingdom Adventure: Gorf is Dumb Muscle and generally bumbling, but has surprising artistic talent and is an excellent dancer. He also figures out before Pitts does that it takes a pure heart to grow a trilly.
  • Reese from Malcolm in the Middle is almost Too Dumb to Live, but an amazing cook.
  • Kelly Bundy from Married... with Children has, on a couple of occasions, shown herself to have a few shining moments of competence. Some instances include figuring out the correct way to assemble a work desk that her father and neighbor had worked on for a day in a matter of seconds, and piercing an apple off the head of her brother with a bow and arrow when angered by her competitor. She was also capable of learning a huge amount of sports trivia in 48 hours, and was also proven to be exceptionally proficient at pool. After several seasons of Flanderization where she became more and more stupid, there was a flashback showing Kelly as a bright, polite, bookish girl...until Al slammed on the brakes and she hit her head on the back of the seat in front of her, and when asked if she was okay only responded with "Shiny, shiny shoes!" Cue Oh, Crap! look from the parents.
  • In Merlin, the title character is a servant who has trouble cleaning his own room, let alone Arthur's, manages to trip over nearly anything you put in front of him, is a horrible liar (about the little things), gets things thrown at him all the time by the prince, doesn't respect royalty and gets put in the stocks all the time, can barely hold his liquor, rarely varies between the social extremes of over-affectionate and sarcastically aggressive, has a weird penchant for awkward situations... and also happens to be the most powerful, badass warlock the world has ever known.
  • Skull from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is incredibly stupid/lacking in basic common sense; among other things, he's been shown opening a shaken can of soda directly into his face and having a difficult time pronouncing simple words like "fourth". In Power Rangers Zeo, he is revealed to be an incredibly talented, classically-trained pianist. Obviously he's got some smarts in his head, since when he reunites with Bulk at the end of Power Rangers Samurai he arrives in a limo wearing a nice suit.
  • Kelly from Misfits obtains a superpower of "being a rocket scientist". As opposed to making her generally smart, as she hoped, it imbues her with expertise in designing rockets while doing nothing to her low-brow trashy disposition. As a result, she fails to capitalize on her abilities due to her utter lack of social skills and manners necessary to market her designs to the potential buyers or even convince them she's the real deal.
  • King Nikolai in the Mission: Impossible three-parter "The Falcon" is not the true power. He'd have been much happier as a clock manufacturer — because that's his one big talent.
  • Mr. Bean from Mr. Bean on some occasions — but most of the time, he comes across as just The Ditz. "Mr. Bean's Diary" includes the character's school certificate on which, among others, the following marks are given:
    Chemistry—53%—He is inventive. As a result, form. SB is lucky to be alive.
    Physics—65%—Very encouraging. A boy died when co-operating with his lie-detector experiment, as you know, but nevertheless the exam results are excellent.
    Geography—54%—A surprisingly good result considering he only succeeded in finding the classroom twice this term.
    Art—58%—He draws well, but has difficulty with nudes (looking at them).
    [and finally]
    Mathematics—94%—An obnoxious, self-satisfied, self-centered, shabby, dribbling, bone-idle, toadying cow-put of a pupil; his most revolting quality being that he is quite, quite brilliant.
  • Joel Robinson from Mystery Science Theater 3000 spends most of the time acting like a harmless Cloud Cuckoo Lander, but he's still a Gadgeteer Genius capable of making Ridiculously Human Robots.
  • Junior from My Wife and Kids. He's stupid, but he has proven himself to be smart when necessary, and he's a great cartoonist.
  • Super-goofy and clumsy Matthew is an incompetent radio station cub reporter and office boy in NewsRadio, then he got fired during two episodes revealing to have a degree in dentistry (which he detested) and actually finding a job as a highly skilled and competent dentist, only to revert to his usual state after being rehired at his old job.
  • Bull Shannon, Bailiff of Night Court, is another prime example. Although he is very naive and clueless at most times, there are times where he shows very good examples of being intelligent such as spouting out definitions for words his coworkers don’t understand. His IQ was even revealed in one episode to be 181, much to the surprise of his friends.
  • Oscar from Odd Squad is an absolute klutz and is often on the receiving end of criticism and complaint from Olive, Otto and Oprah. However, he has an innate talent for creating gadgets of all shapes and sizes, having the Science department be created just for him and eventually extending to other precincts. He's also skilled in the realms of electrical work and hypnotism.
    • Oona, Oscar's apprentice in the beginning of Season 2, is Cute and Psycho and, much like Oscar, can be awkward. However, she is very proficient at repairing gadgets, and in "Oscar Strikes Back" she manages to stop President Obbs' plan to take over Odd Squad, being the only agent not brainwashed by him.
  • Michael Scott, from the American version of The Office is childish, selfish, egotistical, deeply insecure and lonely, and an all around buffoon with no managerial skills whatsoever. He also demonstrates on occasion that he is a superb salesman who is roundly beloved by his clients, which is what got him promoted in the first place. He also occasionally demonstrates a certain cunning streak, such as when he tricked Dwight (who had been gunning for his job) into thinking he had been promoted in order to tear it away from him in a manner which would ensure that he would never try such a thing again and when he bluffed David Wallace into buying out his worthless and bankrupt company by hiring back himself, Pam and Ryan.
  • On The Orville, Lt. Gordon Malloy is an Ace Pilot and also seems to have a pretty good understanding of starship engineering. He is otherwise rather ignorant of most things unrelated to pop culture. Until Captain Mercer recruited him to be the Orville's helmsman he was sidelined by the Fleet due to his immature antics.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • Andy Dwyer is a loveable ditz (after Season 2) and a not-so-successful musician, but proves to have some Hidden Depths. A perfect example is when he scores a 100 on the written part of his Police Academy exam (a feat that's never happened before), but completely fails his personality test.
    • Jerry is a complete screw-up and perennial Butt-Monkey at work, but he's repeatedly shown to have a flawless home life, with a beautiful and loving family and a wide range of classy hobbies and talents.
  • Chumlee from Pawn Stars isn't allowed to handle any money in the store, is referred to as the "village idiot" and only has any useful knowledge in a few specific areas. Yet when it comes those areas, such as tennis shoes and pinball machines, he knows more than everyone else there.
  • Gem and Gemma from Power Rangers RPM act like 5-year-old psychopaths, but they're geniuses when it comes to advanced physics and technology.
  • Pretty Little Liars: Hanna has a sharp mind, particularly with regards to fashion, but an incredibly clumsy tongue. Just ask Spencer.
  • Shawn Spencer of Psych tends to be immature and goofy and annoys the heck out of everyone he works with, but they put up with him because, underneath all the psychic hoopla, his Hyper-Awareness makes him a brilliant detective.
  • Red Dwarf: Cat is easily the dumbest member of the crew, not understanding how a yo-yo works, rationales a hole in space-time as a magic door and thinks gangrene is a colour. Yet at the same time he’s also shown to be exceptionally quick-witted when things are serious trapping two heat seeking rockets in a sealed room, is able to understand complex situations and philosophies, can fly spaceships and even come up with the solution in the Darkest Hour. As seen in "The Beginning Rimmer" when unable to come up with a strategy to defeat the simulants, Cat suggests that the memory of his father and desire to win his fathers approval is preventing Rimmer from being able to come up with a strategy.
  • Schitt's Creek has Alexis Rose who is book dumb, didn't graduate high school until her late twenties and something of a Cloud Cuckoolander, but she has an extensive history of escaping kidnappings and is very cool under pressure. She displays these skills in front of her family when they visit an escape room. She takes the lead and solves the various puzzles quickly and efficiently, allowing them to escape.
  • Doug from Scrubs. Bonus points because it's his inadequacy (in being a doctor) that makes him such a genius in the morgue at figuring out what killed patients.
  • Kramer on Seinfeld is a prime example of the character whose life is a complete shambles (no job, no source of income, no sense of stability or direction, and no clue how or if his situation is ever going to change) and who would seem to be a perfect male incarnation of The Ditz (as he doesn't really appear to be concerned about any of the above), were it not for the fact that, as at least one major character has remarked, his "...whole life is a fantasy camp. People should plunk down $2000 to live like him for a week. Sleep, do nothing, fall ass-backwards into money, mooch food off your neighbors and have sex without dating...that's a fantasy camp". He might also be considered an example of an Idiot Savant.
  • Rom, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, appears to be a total idiot in the first seasons — until he reveals a hidden borderline-savant talent for engineering, a field Ferengi have little respect for. His son Nog (introduced as a petty thief with no respect for women or education) proves to have some of his uncle's business acumen, a knack for engineering, and in one potential future becomes a respected Starfleet captain. Nog's acheivements as the first Ferengi Starfleet officer are such that the Federation eventually names a starship after him.
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: London Tipton is an illiterate Upper-Class Twit but in one episode it turns out that she's good at playing chess. Much better than Maddie who is pissed off because only Smart People Play Chess.
    London: Why is it so important for you to beat me?
    Maddie: Because if I'm not the smart one, then who am I?
    London: That's easy— you're Maddie, the smart one who stinks at chess. You're still good at reading and numbers and all that useless stuff. I mean, why can't you just accept that there are different kinds of smarts?
    Maddie: You're right. And clearly, I'm not as smart as you in this one particular trivial game.
  • In Survivor's 21st season, Nicaragua, contestant Jud Fabio Birza is revealed to be this. The early episodes show him doing some unbelievably stupid things like getting the fishing hook caught in his thumb, apparently not knowing crabs can pinch, annoying the hell out of other contestants, and asking Kelly B if she can move her prosthetic leg. He revealed later on that, while he honestly is kind of this way in real life, he pretty much exaggerated this in the show specifically so people would underestimate him and he could pull a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. And, boy, did it work, as he won the season.
  • Lydia Martin and Stiles Stilinski both display signs of this on Teen Wolf. Lydia is a vacant Alpha Bitch. You wouldn't know it from her fashionable exterior or Jerk Jock boyfriend, but she has a 5.0 GPA and a brilliant scientific mind capable of coming up with self-igniting Molotov cocktails using the materials available in a high school chem lab. Stiles talks. A lot. But he also has perfect grades, despite having ADHD severe enough that he wrote an essay detailing the history of male circumcision on his econ midterm. He's an amazing investigator and a brilliant researcher, but no one who just looked at him would tell you he was competent.
  • Ricky in the Canadian comedy series Trailer Park Boys is an absolute moron most of the time, but whenever he and best friend Julian are at risk of being arrested by the police, he suddenly becomes a tactical genius, able to generate fake evidence and alibis that get them off the hook 99% of the time. Nevertheless, almost every season ends with the pair being arrested and sent to jail. Ricky's also an expert when it comes to growing marijuana and converting it to hashish. He and Julian make an effective team when it comes to dealing drugs — Julian handles the business side of the operation, while Ricky grows and harvests the dope crop.
  • In Up the Women, Margaret, the wannabe suffragette, is shown to be very clever, writing love letters to Ovid and able to give complex explanations about how electricity works...but she thinks you can get a degree in common sense.
  • Lord John Marbury from The West Wing is a specialist on India and Pakistan who is prone to great insight on the subject. Too bad that the rest of the time, he's a pompous Cloud Cuckoo Lander who can't even keep Leo's name straight. Then again, this may be more Obfuscating Stupidity/Obfuscating Insanity, coupled with a mischievous desire to needle Leo (he also frequently claims to have mistaken Leo for the White House butler) than anything that belongs on this page. His persona does seem to radically shift when he gets serious, including getting people's names right, making it seem at least partly a strategy.
  • Herb Tarlek, the unlikable, tasteless ad salesman from WKRP in Cincinnati was considered a stooge by his coworkers because of his abrasive personality and atrocious wardrobe. However when they "fixed" him in one episode by changing his look, it became apparent that the low rent clientele of such a low-rated radio station no longer felt welcomed by Herb's new "upscale" persona. As horrible as he was, he was perfect for the job he had.

  • 2D of the Gorillaz seems to be something like this, being known to compose beautiful melodies and vivid lyrics, as well as playing multiple instruments professionally, yet failing to wrap his head around... most everything else. Ninety percent of the time he's The Ditz or even Too Dumb to Live, but he'll occasionally say something shockingly deep or philosophical. Some people feel that he's not unintelligent at all, just lazy and eccentric.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D has "That Boy Could Dance", a song featuring Jimmy the Geek, a smelly nerd with a bad case of acne and poor fashion taste, who never got his driver's license. His one claim to fame: he's an awesome dancer. Later on in the song when he's older, he has his own dance studio, fan club, and TV show, and he owns half of Montana.
  • A number of rock and pop musicians are very talented despite being unable to read music.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • Bucky Katt of Get Fuzzy thinks monkeys are a food, picks fights with a neighboring ferret, and is overall a kooky creature. But when Satchel's watch got smashed in one strip (not Bucky's fault, for once), Bucky returned it to him a week later in perfect working order, having repaired the watch himself, and having no idea how exactly he knew how to do it.

  • Gracie Allen's character on The Burns and Allen Show was very much this trope, although you might not think so at first glance. On the surface, she appeared to be a ditz, but she had a real talent for getting her way in most situations.

  • Keiji Tanaka of Survival of the Fittest is firmly established to be an utter moron within moments of his entry into V3. However, he has an almost unparalleled skill handling a sword (due to years of practice), to the point where he comes close to defeating an axe-wielding opponent with a broken sabre whilst bleeding to death.

    Video Games 
  • Andy from Advance Wars, the only mechanical genius who doesn't know that there's more than one continent! Or what an airport is, apparently. It's more that, for the sake of the tutorial, they superglued an Idiot Ball to him. Unfortunately, perhaps they forgot to take it off him again for the rest of the game.
  • Alan Probe, the star of Amateur Surgeon. While he's an incredibly talented surgeon capable of performing complicated operations in mere minutes with the simplest of tools (like a pizza cutter and a stapler), and eventually became globally famous and wealthy because of his tremendous skill (with feats such as operating on a Superman Substitute and somehow operating on a car that suddenly arrived from the past), the Distant Finale Christmas edition is quick to remind the player that he's still an utter moron. In the sequel, he quickly gets his bearings back despite being a senile 70-year old man. Truly the guy is the world's greatest Back-Alley Doctor. Somewhat averted by Ophelia Payne of the third game, who is the Only Sane Man.
  • Isabelle, your eager mayoral assistant in Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a bit scatterbrained, but a conversation with Digby in Happy Home Designer reveals that despite being ditzy, she has degrees from 19 different universities.
  • Makoto Nanaya of BlazBlue is a silly, friendly, whimsical and simple-minded squirrel beastkin girl who eats a lot of food and climbs trees for exercise and fun. She also attended the prestigious NOL military academy on scholarship, despite beastkin being looked down upon by society, found work in the NOL Intelligence Division, and works as a double agent for Sector Seven.
  • Scooter from the Borderlands series is, for the most part, a dumb as bricks redneck stereotype, with limited grasp of social interaction, and a crush on his sister note . However, he also happens to be a brilliant mechanic. He's able to build and maintain cars ant teleporters using only the kinds of junk and scrap metal available on the hell-hole that is Pandora. The sequel shows that he comes from the Hodunk clan, who are all stereotypical rednecks with a talent for mechanical engineering, particularly when it comes to vehicles, as they have their own racetrack.
    • Mr. Torgue is an explosion-obsessed moron who does things like attempt to blow up a planet while he's standing on it and selling his company for chump change and a high-five. He is also a weapons design genius on the condition that the weapon you want has bullets that explode. As it happens, a lot of Borderlands characters, especially ones who like powerful shotguns and don't mind low muzzle velocity, do want bullets that explode.
  • City of Villains has Dr. Aeon. He would be a serious threat, if he weren't so scatter-brained. As it is, he usually ends up fouling up his own plots. Plus, he gave us the Mission Editor. You have to like him for that.
  • Rookie from Club Penguin is the most absent-minded out of the secret agents and is prone to Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments. But in one of the mini-games, it's revealed he can speak and understand crab language and can communicate with Klutzy through a typewriter. And that's the same mini-game where he released the computer bugs because he confused them for computer hugs.
  • Coco Bandicoot of the Crash Bandicoot series went in a similar manner to Tails, albeit in an opposite evolution, being an advanced technowiz, but evolving into a ditzy Bratty Half-Pint.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Johnny Silverhand can appear as either this trope or Ditzy Genius depending upon what he does or is going to do when a person first meets him. On the genius side of the trope, one only needs to talk to him to know that he is well-read in a variety of topics including art history, political theory, cryptography, and computer science. On The Ditz side, however, he is someone who fully embraces the destructive nature of the Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll lifestyle without fear and then ups it by joining a terrorist group. In addition, he is seemingly incapable of interacting with the world without insults or violence, destroys long-term relationships for short-term gratification, and hates corporations so much that he allows Saburo Arasaka to punch him in the nose if it results in him getting a bruised knuckle. In short, he is the epitome of an Erudite Stoner who speaks in a Sophisticated as Hell manner, is impulsive, and has a short attention span as well as a shorter temper.
  • Sandal, from Dragon Age: Origins, is explicitly identified as a savant. He barely talks (only saying "enchantment"), and mostly just stands around looking dopey, but he's a highly skilled enchanter. Also, at one point, he and his father get attacked. When you arrive on the scene, every mook around him is dead, and when you ask him what happened, he just says "Enchantment!". And again in Dragon Age II, during the Deep Roads expedition, Sandal's adoptive father notices he's missing and asks Hawke to find him. Upon locating the boy, the party sees a bunch of dead darkspawn, including a frozen ogre, with Sandal looking at Hawke innocently.
    Hawke: I'd really like to know how you managed to kill all of them?
    Sandal: [holds up an enchanted rune] Boom!
    Hawke: [points to the Ogre] And how did you do that?
    Sandal: NOT enchantment!
  • The eponymous protagonist of Dropsy. He's a Non-Ironic Clown who looks like a Monster Clown and was falsely accused of starting the fire that burned down his circus five years ago. He has a vaguely defined mental condition that leaves him mute, childishly trusting, and unable to understand why people don't immediately want to hug him. He's also, like any Adventure Game protagonist, incredibly good at solving problems and getting into places he shouldn't be, including breaking into a pharmaceutical company's lab to steal an experimental treatment for his father.
  • While Nanashi in Duel Savior Destiny is very ditzy indeed, she shows surprising aptitude for herbalism, alchemy, magic and even direct fighting when she manages to beat first Lily and then Taiga in straight duels essentially unharmed. This is because she's a thousand-year-old necromancer. Once she gets her brain "fixed" in either her route or the harem one, she throws away the ditz part.
  • The Hat of the Sophons from the Endless Space series. They're the oldest and most technologically advanced race in the setting and have the sleek white ships to show for it, but they once blew up one of their moons by accident. D'oh!
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, the difference between Luck and Intelligence is described as this. Having a high Luck means that you are able to calculate variables, odds, percentages, and basically do highly advanced mathematics in your head in situations. And get critical hits. Intelligence is similar, though more closely relates to wit, raw intellect, and technical, scientific, and medical ability. So this means that if you have a high Luck character with very low Intelligence, you'll be robbing casinos blind, bumble through the wasteland without any problems, and perform brain surgery just because you thought you could.
    • It's also possible to max out your skill in Science or Medicine while still having very low Intelligence, so you can end up with a master computer programmer or a doctor skilled enough to cure any disease... who is dumb as a rock and can only have a conversation in Hulk Speak, even having an erudite conversation with the fellow idiot Torr Buckner in Klammath Falls. In New Vegas, at least, this mostly due to the Courier thinking it's funny to talk like that to smart people, like Arcade Gannon, as they have normal conversations with everyone else.
    • The Think Tank of the Fallout: New Vegas add-on "Old World Blues" are drug-addicted, disembodied brains who have long since forgotten the most basic facts of humanity (they mistake your fingers for penises). They are also the most brilliant minds of the pre-War world, responsible for game-breaking technologies and many of the Mojave's most horrifying mutant creatures. A good portion of New Vegas' DLC couldn't have happened without them, and other characters make it clear that they are no less dangerous for their deteriorating sanity.
  • Takes a dark turn in Fallout 4, where The Institute is revealed as a post-apocalypse beacon of genuine scientific progress, but because of the plain LACK of diplomats, engineers, and psychologists (low charisma and luck stats), all that science is dedicated solely to the suffering of Boston — and the Institute personnel don't realize it.
    • Sending an army of disposable, soulless robots to rule over Boston with an iron fist? Smart. Sending dopplegangers to murder and replace parts of families just to get a few measly parts and intel? PR went down the drain when they did enough of this to turn the Commonwealth into pure trigger-happy paranoia.
    • They hired Kellogg. As in, "Kellogg the guy who butchered the entire Sha dynasty down to raping and murdering their children". Then augmented him with outdone cyborg organs so he could torment them LONGER. That says more than enough.
    • They even have a redundant, zero-scientific profit Super Mutant factory! Seriously, the director doesn't know why they're still churning out mutants without even simple observation, but he does it anyway because his science brain literally can't figure out what it does to the commonwealth so he refuses to change the status quo, despite multiple suggestions that "putting violent sociopaths in the commonwealth does bad things to the commonwealth". This coming from the guy whose multiple Ph.Ds got him in charge. Leadership is THAT ditzy.
    • Thankfully, you can get hired as a mediator. Unless you ALSO have a high intelligence stat and low charisma / luck stats.
    PC: What's next, a secret decoder ring?
    Institute Scientist: A secret... decoder ring? Fascinating, I'll get right on that!
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Both Zell Dincht and Selphie Tilmitt of Final Fantasy VIII come across as being not quite the brightest bulbs, or at least having very short attention spans, but the two of them turn out to be the most technologically savvy characters in the player's party and the designated pilots of the Cool Ship (after the party runs off with it courtesy of Selphie sitting down at the controls: "It just kind of took off!"). Neither of them are actually unintelligent though. Zell is quite smart and full of information, even having the nickname Mr.-Know-It-All-Zell. All SeeDs must pass rigorous mental and physical training before even being allowed to take the field exams to join the group. They just have a few personality quirks that make them seem like they wouldn't be smart.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • Rikku, often clumsy (More so in X-2), can mix items to create deadly weapons. She's also a talented thief. This is almost assuredly obfuscating stupidity, since she's also a skilled mechanic and expresses pretty deep insight into matters on several occasions. Her brother, named oddly 'Brother', is a better example, as he's a total social inept, can barely speak the common language on the planet (granted, he didn't even know it till two years ago, but he's the only bilingual member of his people to have speaking problems), and oftentimes he just misses the point entirely, but he nearly singlehandedly excavated and repaired the airship he's letting you tool around in the second game.
      • In the case of Tidus the term 'genius' applies only very loosely. But his ditziness becomes the deciding plot point when only because of his ignorance and complete disregard about the customs and traditions of Spira, he is the first person to ask some very good question about some beliefs that had been unchallenged for a thousand years. It then falls to Yuna and Lulu to figure out that the entire cult of Yevon is just a massive scam to keep the people in line, but it's only Tidus's refusal to adapt to the local customs that get them to question the traditions in the first place.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • Missile the Pomeranian from Ghost Trick is, for the most part about as knowledgeable about things as you'd expect a small, sheltered dog to be. Despite this, he is incredibly smart, being able to save his owner Kamila from a death without having his ghost trick powers explained, provides the main character Sissel with assistance every now and again, and in the timeline that happens before the game, gets all the way to the very end of the story without assistance or the ability to travel through phone lines. He's also responsible for things going the way they did, as Sissel wouldn't be interested in helping him without a little manipulation.
  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery: Despite the fact that the creators and/or writers keep insisting that Barnaby Lee is not gifted academically, he is most certainly this trope when one compares his O.W.L. scores to Hermione Granger’s O.W.L. results. While the audience doesn’t get to see the specific scores he earned, it is shown that he managed to pass all ten as he continued to take all of them to the N.E.W.T. level. A particular impressive one to note is that he managed to continue Potions which requires nothing less than the highest grade with Professor Snape as the teacher. Outside of his academic courses, he is noted to be the strongest duellist of his year by his peers as he was able to take on two opponents at once, able to fly a broomstick to the Forbidden Forest in his fourth year while staying undetected from the staff of Hogwarts cementing himself as an accomplished broomstick flyer, shown to have some skill as a Healer when he performs the healing spell Episkey, knowledgeable about various Dark Charms from jinxes like the Knockback Jinx to curses like the Full Body-Bind Curse as well as the Ear-Shrivelling Curse, and acknowledged as a good singer by none other than the famous singer Celestina Warbeck herself.
  • Kang the Mad from Jade Empire is brilliant when it comes to making things fly and explode. In his own words, "The things he flies tend to survive! The things he explodes... not so much." Go to him for anything else, and he's pretty well useless.
  • Tess from Jak and Daxter seems like a typical Dumb Blonde... until you need a BFG. Then she'll whip out her newest model, regaling you with all its cool features.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Goofy tends to be one of the more observant of the group, albeit speaking as if it's entirely obvious to everyone else. For example, he's the only one that picks up that Mulan is female at first. He's also oddly philosophical, assuring a worrying Sora that they would end up somewhere, even if The End Of The World disappeared, at the end of the first game.
  • Ezreal from League of Legends has many talents, being academically gifted, a Bold Explorer with extensive knowledge of Runeterra, and equipped with a magic gauntlet that gives him the free ability to teleport. But also, on top of being a little too big for his boots, he's a bit of a klutz who prioritizes packing pomade for expeditions over food, packs a single rope he doesn't even know the length of, and casually leaves incredibly dangerous artifacts out for civilians to touch.
  • Ellis, of Left 4 Dead 2 fame. He acts like a borderline Cloudcuckoolander and never stops talking, but he's hinted to be the smartest Survivor. Ellis is most often the one to come up with the plan in Dead Center to use the stock car as their escape vehicle, then shows that he is familiar with this type of thing by mentioning that they don't fill up the tanks at car shows, so they need to find gas before they go. This is along with the same campaign, occasionally, Ellis will mention that when this whole thing started he had built an armored car, which he claimed was 99% zombie proof. (the other 1% tore it all to shit though.) While this may not make him the smartest, it does fit the trope.
  • Dekar from Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals and its remake Curse of the Sinistrals. He claims to be the greatest warrior in the world, and may just be correct despite being a Badass Normal (in the original, anyway). But when a defeated villain promises to have a "special gift" in store for the next time they meet, Dekar asks for a new coat. When not having Success Through Insanity or being crazy stupid (or both), however, he can be surprisingly insightful about things such as relationships and the importance of backing up confidence with genuine strength.
  • Nikolai from Luminous Arc is more of a Genius Ditz, but it's worth noting that his character class is actually listed as "Savant".
  • Levi the Slasher in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny is a Boisterous Bruiser Genki Girl who is very simple-minded, a fact immediately obvious to anyone who speaks with her for the first time. So when she suddenly starts explaining the Materials' goals in Techno Babble, Fate is naturally quite shocked. Levi annoyedly reminded her that, despite her airheadedness, she is still a Material (i.e. a Humanoid Abomination that's also some sort of sentient Magitek program).
  • Fawful Talks like a Simile and makes bizarre food metaphors, but he is still a formidable inventor who manages to take over Bowser's Koopa Troop by Mario and Luigi Bowser's Inside Story.
  • Mass Effect 3 reveals that Conrad Verner, a recurring character who tries to emulate Shepard without success and will get himself killed stupidly if dealt with in an incorrect fashion actually has a doctorate in xenoscience and wrote a dissertation on dark energy.
  • Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island series has a fair share of wit and an uncanny ability to craft incredibly convoluted and improbable solutions to almost any problem he is faced with. He's also so ditzy he regularly makes other characters wonder how he can function in everyday life. He can also hold his breath for ten minutes. Which happens to come in handy on many occasions, given the man is a pirate.
  • From The Neverhood, another Point-and-Click Game, we have Klaymen. He is a Cute Mute and a rather goofy one at that, but he's quite adept at solving difficult puzzles.
  • Chaz of Phantasy Star IV. Pretty much anything technical needs to be explained to him and he's absolutely hopeless when it comes to grasping how Algo's technology works, but when it comes to people and emotions, he's quicker on the draw than anyone else in the group. His ability to draw parallels and understand the situations of others is actually a major plot point later on.
  • Emilia Percival of Phantasy Star Universe is incapable of fighting (or so the character says). She turns out to be one of the smartest characters in the series at seventeen.
  • Wigglytuff from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers. Nobody (probably not even himself) ever knows what the hell he's talking about but he is apparently an exploring prodigy.
  • Sheegor from Psychonauts is a grown woman who acts and sounds like a little girl most of the time, but apparently is an expert on neurology, since Sasha says that recranializing adults is extremely difficult without surgery. This is probably why Dr. Loboto enslaved her.
  • Ratchet & Clank: A Downplayed Trope with the titular character Ratchet. Compared to Clank, he is the more Street Smart of the duo, but at the same time he is not Book Dumb like Qwark, as he is a skilled engineer and inventor who learned the craft through work. However, his invention themselves show him to not only be a Bungling Inventor but also a ditz, as they include a nuclear-powered rocket sled, bathrooms toys made out of antimatter, and electro-shock undergarments, with the last one even being noted by him that it was a bestseller on Umbris.
  • Hibari from Senran Kagura doesn't really have the brains to possess great fighting capabilities of a standard shinobi, nor is she very mature for someone her age; however, if there's one thing she is exceptionally good at it's espionage. This is especially evident when she uses said skills to gather information while acting as a Hebijo shinobi.
  • Team Fortress 2: Prolonged exposure to Australium can not only lead to Testosterone Poisoning of muscle growth, women growing facial hair, and men growing chest hair in the shape of a country or state connected to them, but also increases intelligence while lowering common sense leading to this trope. The Engineer’s grandfather Radigan Conagher was once tasked by the U.S. government to work with it, which eventually increased his intelligence to the point of being able to create a fully functional prosthetic limb but also lead him to decide to saw off his own hand so that he could use it. Australia’s population as a result of working with the metal has lead it to become the most technologically advanced nation, but it also uses the technology for the most ridiculous of reasons and they decide their king through kangaroo boxing.
    • The Soldier is considered the dumbest person on the team, which is saying quite a lot. His accomplishments have included infiltrating a robot base while disguised with a cardboard Halloween costume (which worked), spending three entire days doing nothing but putting bread in the teleporter, and at least one source suggests he may have lead poisoning. He's also an absolute combat monster, a master with several different kinds of weapons, and strong enough to Neck Snap a bear cub the size of full grown grizzly bear with his bare hands. While naked, covered in honey, and suffering from hypothermia and/or frostbite.
  • Utsuho Reiuji of the Touhou Project games fits this trope, especially in the fighting game Touhou Hisoutensoku. She's a literal birdbrain (a hell raven) who seems to forget what she was thinking after a few seconds (admittedly after being knocked out) and acts like a total airhead, yet she seems to have a vast knowledge of nuclear physics. She's been doing an excellent job of keeping the nuclear reactor that the Moriya shrine has set up from exploding, at least.
  • Touka of Utawarerumono is apparently an incredibly competent fighter who can run rings around Oboro and Kouro. She's also a rather goofy airhead who's even denser than Hakuoro and a little too eager to be a bodyguard.
  • Xenosaga has Miyuki, in contrast to Shion. She designs Shion's weapons and they're incredibly powerful and well-made. She's also a dribbling absent-minded airhead. However, this may just be due to Flanderization; her nature to make mistakes and screw up constantly is shoved into the light in Episode III.

    Visual Novels 
  • Larry Butz from the Ace Attorney has been The Friend Nobody Likes since elementary school — bumbling, ineffectual, annoying, refuses to stick to a single job, and falls in love with every attractive woman he sees, even if she's not quite old enough for him. But surprisingly, he's a very talented artist. In Bridge To The Turnabout the sketch he made of Dusky Bridge on fire not only proves to be crucial evidence, but it's pretty nice to look at, and some characters even say so. In the Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth case The Inherited Turnabout, he makes sketches of some of the female characters, and they're remarkably detailed and accurate, not to mention beautiful, which is even more impressive when he says that he spent less than a few minutes on the lot.
  • Danganronpa:
  • Although Lily from Daughter for Dessert has few academic or real-world skills, she can come with deep-sounding philosophical sayings about living life to the fullest. Subverted, as her sayings only make sense for someone without any responsibilities (and Lily herself comes to realize this, coming to the diner to ask for a job).
  • Henry from Double Homework is unbelievably stupid, but he is very good at playing Gather: The Magicking, coming up with lots of strategies for this purpose.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend, Cloudcuckoolander Oko San is significantly less mentally developed than the other birds, talks only in 'coo's and is looked upon with disdain as a 'feral' or a 'throwback' to before birds were uplifted. He is also a brilliant athlete and can run faster than he can fly, apparently with enough stamina to beat the human girl in a marathon race.
    • The player character herself can qualify. She's a Hot-Blooded cave-dwelling barbarian who couldn't finish the summer reading assignment, and her starting stats show it... but she demonstrates a startling understanding of diplomacy and politics expressed in erudite vocabulary, and if the player makes the correct choices, she can earn the top grades in the class and become a star student, geek out over books in the library, or even become a Teen Superspy. It's explained in the "Bad Boys Love" route that she actually does have a background in politics: her late parents were diplomats negotiating for peace during the fractious aftermath of the human-bird wars.
  • Komari Kamikita from Little Busters! isn't a very quick thinker in normal situations, but in terms of academics she's actually a very good student.
  • Arcueid of Tsukihime, even if nobody realizes until Shiki gets involved with her. She has No Social Skills due to her upbringing and Ciel is even astonished that she can actually speak. Apart from her super strength, Marble Phantasm and knowledge of the occult she's a Cloudcuckoolander with no life experience. Actual intelligence is pretty difficult to pin down because of how, well, ditzy she is. If she's not killing vampires, she's somewhere between a hyperactive six-year-old and someone a year or three older than Shiki.

    Web Animation 
  • Manel Muzas/Muzamán from Cálico Electrónico can be really absent-minded at times, but he owns an electronic gadget store, and it's implied that most of the stuff he sells is made by himself.
  • Homestar Runner is a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander, refers to the star on his trademark shirt as "a pointy duck" and his supreme honesty makes him somewhat naive, but he is the star (no pun intended) athlete on Coach Z's team. He's also pulled a fast one on Strong Bad at least once, and recited Coulomb's law correctly when asked what 2+2 was. He then said 2+2 was 22. Strong Bad himself theorizes Homestar is just so idiotic he sometimes performs an Overflow Error back to smart.
  • Huehuecoyotl/Huey of No Evil is irresponsible, prone to acting without thinking, notoriously irrational and lacking in general respect for other people's belongings and personal space (to the extent of having a giant pile of stolen scarecrows). Despite this, he is also a talented craftsman and the most adept tracker in the group.
    Kitty: If you were to pick someone to help find somethin', who would it be?
    Calamity: Huey.
    Kitty: Never have I so immediately regretted givin' advice.
  • The Show Within a Show Teen Girl Squad has So-and-So, whose ditzy lack of common sense masks quite a bit of book smarts and a desire to overachieve. Cheerleader may be the one forcing her to repress this.
  • The new series version of Sir Schmoopy, in Unforgotten Realms. In particular, he is a strategic (and loophole-finding) genius, who has, for example, figured out a way to survive blowing himself into a billion pieces. On purpose.

  • Fighter in 8-Bit Theater often displays a childish stupidity of sorts as well as immense naïveté. However, he is at times capable of making comments and having thoughts that suggest a higher intellect than one would believe. And as his name suggests, he's a master of armed combat, capable of safely wielding ludicrous numbers of swords at once, including the normally impossible to wield swordchucks. Fighter was a genius for a few comics but then Black Mage stabbed him in the head. He actually managed to store his genius persona in a part of his brain, unfortunately he stored it next to the part that knows everything about swords. The problem being that he really, really, really likes swords.
  • Gawaine in Arthur, King of Time and Space seems to be the classic Dumb Warrior in the Fairytale Arc, but in the Space Arc, he's the ship's engineer ... and still often comes across as a Dumb Warrior. According to Fairytale!Arthur "Gawaine's not stupid. He just hasn't any retention for what's outside his field of interest." This is engineering in the Space Arc, the roll of arms in the Fairytale Arc, and computer science in the Contemporary Arc.
  • Awkward Zombie's version of Link is a total idiot and Dumb Blonde... unless you show him a puzzle.
  • Similarly, Mega Man in Bob and George is an idiot most of the time, but when he's fighting a Robot Master (or even thinks he is), he comes up with effective winning strategies. This can be explained in that his functions are 1. defeat the robot master and 2. be an idiot, so he always does the second except when he can't since he has to do the first.
  • Yatta-ta in The Challenges of Zona came off as a Small Name, Big Ego version of a Blood Knight at first but has turned out to be an excellent swordsman.
  • Jo Starr from Cheer! is a Cloudcuckoolander who talks to squirrels. She's also an absolute genius when it comes to analyzing motives and relationships.
  • Commander Kitty: Mr. Socks the ferret from is the ship's engineer. He speaks in unintelligible nonsense but is good enough at his job to keep CK's ship spaceworthy.
  • Gordon Frohman, the literally Too Dumb to Live main character of Concerned, once built a fully functional, biomechanical Strider out of spare parts, solely because he missed the dystopia of City 17.
  • Jim from Darths & Droids acts like an idiot most of the time in his portrayal of Qui-Gon. As it turns out, he's taking a Ph.D. in Geophysics, and simply acts stupid because he roleplays in his downtime and "He likes to turn his brain off."
  • Eerie Cuties/Magick Chicks: Make no mistake, Tiffany is a goofball and a ditz, but she's amazingly sharp-witted when the situation calls for it.
    TCampbell: "Now that said, it is definitely not Faith's finest hour. She was too focused on her little experiment to be alert to Tiff's shenanigans until way too late. But then, one of Tiff's few advantages in their conflict is that Tiff can be just the kind of crazy that a master planner like Faith can't always anticipate."
  • Sam Starfall from Freefall has no knowledge of physics and is the laziest sqid you will ever meet...but is unmatched in the art of thievery and picking locks. Prisons won't take him any more because he stole the cell doors the the last time he was there. He's also a master improviser — Got the Mayor to say "This is a direct order. Hit me with a pie." in the presence of no less than 4 A.I.s, then on a later scam got one of the said A.I.s off scot-free by Playing Possum in their arms.
  • Jiminez Hoffmann from Girl Genius is a Spark, but he is also a hyperactive adventure loving space cadet, and also apparently can't tell the difference between "invincible" and "invisible".
  • Homestuck:
    • John Egbert. In the beginning he was always goofing off, pulling pranks and acting like a kid, but he used his knowledge of programming and data structure to figure out the alchemization system very quickly, and at this point is easily the strongest of the protagonists... though he came into that status unintentionally and pretty much by accident. Similarly, his sister Jade Harley is a Cloudcuckoolander ... who happens to have a working knowledge of robotics and nuclear technology, is successful at selectively cloning and breeding frogs to create a perfect god-frog in less than 24 hours, and is the one who both formulated and executed a plan that saved both the kids and the trolls from their impending doom.
    • Jade has likely since passed John as strongest character, now being a combination of an entity with deep knowledge of the game world, an omnipotent dog, and and a God with powers over space itself.
  • Housepets!:
  • Molly in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is tremendously knowledgeable on a vast array of subjects. She's just less than a year old and has very little common sense. Combine this naivete with being a Gadgeteer Genius and wacky hijinks ensue.
  • Lackadaisy: Rocky Rickaby is a rambling, poetic Cloud Cuckoolander who makes impulsive decisions and rarely thinks an idea all the way through, or any of the way through for that matter, and for bonus points is both a poor artist and not exactly an amazing speller (rendering one state he was working in as "Oklerhomey"). However, paying attention to his poetic ramblings and bouts of logorrhoea reveal that he's surprisingly well-read for a cat whose attempt to hold down a job as a line cook involved setting himself on fire twice: he seems at least somewhat familiar with Einstein, his description of Viktor's Death Glare predicts the invention of the laser, and he's constantly dropping references to Greek mythology. Also, while his timing for when to play it isn't great, he's still pretty darn good on his beloved violin.
  • The Last Days of Foxhound: Mei Ling is portrayed this way. Otacon is even worse, spending the entirety of the comic thinking the nuclear equipped walking death-mobile he's building is actually a missile defense system. All the while laughing at GIFs of Penguins falling into water, believing everything his Corrupt Corporate Executive boss tells him, trying to rationalize the need for making a stealth missile for his pet project, playing with action figures on the job, and misplacing his instruction manual for the aforementioned Death-Mobile.
  • The Law of Purple: Lynnah comes off as this at first, though she proves to have a much more developed personality later on. Her genius ability to is be a Bad Ass Normal Action Girl. A more recently-introduced minor character, Kitty, seems to fit the trope much better, though she does get annoyed when her coworkers at NASA don't always take her seriously as a result.
  • Clau from M9 Girls! seems to manage her lab job without completely understanding the science behind it. She is shown to be very intuitive, being the first one to command her cosmic powers by simply concentrating on yoga fashion.
  • Jet from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things is a genius animal trainer who has trained his flock of Velociraptors to be able to ride bicycles. He has also hand-built suits of armour for them. However, he misses out on basic stuff like not bringing the velociraptor squad (who are afraid of fireworks) to contemporary America on the fourth of July.
  • MegaTokyo:
    • Largo is a pretty good example. He has, at best, a tenuous hold on reality, but he's a genius when it comes to assembling and programming computers.
    • Ping also qualifies, being an incredibly complex artificial intelligence system, combat droid and medical diagnosis unit that has been programmed to be a dizzy Satellite Love Interest. The other characters continue to express surprise when she suddenly displays detailed knowledge of her internal make up, no matter how often it happens.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Elan, who is so Genre Savvy that he could probably recite the entire rest of the comic's plot if he focused hard enough on it. Of course he can't, as Intelligence was his dump stat. When they get horses, they are shocked to learn that Elan is the best horseman among them. Generally, he has low intelligence (having been a dumpstat, though leveled up some now) but is more than capable with his bard skills and maxed charisma. Since he literally Took a Level in Badass, he's even a capable Dashing Swordsman.
    • The Monster in the Dark is obviously as dumb as toast, Except that here, it instantly sees that she's working with only half a ritual. Or here, where he not only recognizes Roy, he comes up with a plan to keep Xykon and Redcloak from instantly splatting the Order. Of course, considering where the bad guys head next, it's not a perfect plan.
  • Herman Beckett from Out at Home is, by most measurements, an idiot, but a major plot point is that he was apparently the greatest baseball player who ever lived.
  • Doug from Phil Likes Tacos is a computer genius, to the point that the FBI were after him. If it wern't for his immaturity, he could get a job in tech field.
  • Raven from Questionable Content seems to be written for this trope. She may be an absolute social ditz, but she's all too manipulative at times, knows applied calculus and is going for a doctorate in physics.
    • Emily is another. When another character asks her to not tell anyone about a gift Emily had made for her, Emily says "I'm really good at keeping secrets.For instance, the government said I couldn't make any more because the algorithms I used were too similar to the ones they use when they make ..." At which point she slaps her hand across her own mouth.
  • Several RPG-based comics seem to use a combination of Fighter and Gourry as a template: Hero of RPG World and Karn of Adventurers! come to mind.
  • Captain Kaff Tagon of Schlock Mercenary is a complete idiot regarding most things, misunderstanding matters social and scientific, and letting his greed get the better of him on numerous occasions. However, when it regards matters of the military or combat, he's at least highly competent, and perhaps a minor genius. The extensive differences between his aptitudes led to this memorable strip. He's also fair at contract negotiations, as far as they concern getting as much money as possible for the job. His idiocy has been toned down, and he is being shown to be more cunning in various matters. For example, he identifies the planet of origin and likely personality traits of one client just from his accent. A bit less impressive given that Tagon was from the planet in question, but still.
    • Schlock himself has claimed that sixteen is a number he can just about count to and generally behaves like a Psychopathic Manchild with no self-control or fire discipline, but he is a very talented soldier, at least when he's not eating people or firing wildly, adept at coming up with an Indy Ploy when the situation calls for it (turning a potential problem into a solution with one minute's actual thought, a fistful of cash, and a couple of amorph biology quirks), and has reached status as the second highest ranking NCO in the company.
    • "Pi" Pibald has the kind of psychological makeup that draws unkind comparisons to almonds, Snickers bars, fruitcakes, March hares and latrine-dwelling rats, and is completely incapable of functioning in society or comprehending that normal people don't want their fellow passengers to engage in demolitions drills. However, when it comes to weapons he is a phenomenal genius, doing everything from modifying a pistol to be capable of punching through tank armour (or the shell of a space station) with just a dash of fullerened anti-matter, to figuring out the true nature of Credomar and creating a logical explanation behind his conclusions, to working out the reasons a nano-hacked waldo operator turned super-soldier is going straight for head injuries.
  • Scarlett from Sequential Art is a ditz who has the amazing capability to build Death Rays. She's also easily distracted by watching the washing machine spin round and round and round, and anything shiny. She is part squirrel after all. Turns out she gets less ditzy and more genius when she's near her "sisters" Amber, Jade, and Violet — she used to be a part of "Think Tank" Hive Mind.
  • Sluggy Freelance
    • Torg keeps sliding between Genius and Ditz. Lampshaded here. He prefers not to think, so he acts like an idiot unless he has to think. Some of the things he's done when he was thinking include being one of only three people ever to outwit a certain Jerkass Genie — to give you an idea of how difficult this was, the same genie interpreted "Oh good bloody hell!" as the wish "Turn me into chocolate" — and acting as The Man Behind the Man in a game of intrigue between Diabolical Masterminds.
    • Arminius Vambrey is a very competent Vampire Hunter. Unfortunately, if there are no vampires in sight, well, he probably won't believe there aren't, making him act crazy in normal situations and proving that just because they're really out to get you doesn't mean you can't still be paranoid.

    Web Videos 
  • AttackingTucans spends all his LP's being silly and talking about the most profound of things, yet he scored a 4.0 in high school and his official IQ test came back as 142, GENIUS LEVEL. 18 POINTS LOWER THAN STEPHAN HAWKING. HOW.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Son Goku's tendency towards this is played up for comedy. Normally he's a Dumb Muscle Cloud Cuckoolander who can't do basic math, but whenever combat is involved his IQ seems to spontaneously increase by 50.
  • Clara of The Guild is beginning to show a streak of this. In Season 5, Episode 4, she says in response to Tink's complaining that no one will let them use their booth to sell T shirts, "Well, it really doesn't make sense for these vendors to cut in a middleman, Tink. Their profit margin barely covers their booth rental and travel cost so they'd have to charge 90% of our wholesale to justify a partnership — ah! Shiny!" Lampshaded by Tink's immediate response, "Wait, you sounded smart for a minute."
  • The Nostalgia Critic can be very silly and not all there, shows a profound knowledge of various topics, in particularly film and comedy, as shown in his editorial videos.
  • A bizarre example in The Time... Guys. Doc has no clue what he's doing most of the time, but is great at inventing TIME... machines. Just TIME... machines.
  • Oxventure: While the Oxventurers as a group tend towards "dysfunctional with occasional spikes of hypercompetency", the extremes are the most obvious with Dob: a Cloud Cuckoolander of the first order who adopts random NPCs as his new children, stores all his money in a lake (with a map thrown into a different lake), rarely comes up with more than half of a plan and has been known to cast AOE spells without checking whether any of his allies are within the blast radius, but he's also a Master Swordsman and Master of Disguise whose antics regularly save the party's collective backsides.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Crouching Moron Hidden Genius


Pinkie Pie

How the heck did Pinkie immediately look up the book on the Elements of Harmony? It was under E!

How well does it match the trope?

4 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / GeniusDitz

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