The Idiot Hero is a common character in action series. Often, they are both The Protagonist and the central character of the narrative. They will frequently use the Indy Ploy, will be too stupid to be afraid of imminent peril, and will often have a short memory span. Despite all of this, they are the most effective member of the cast at fighting. They will also usually be the leader of a tight-knit group of characters, despite the fact they don't have the brains to lead a cat out of a paper bag. This is because they are so stupid as to be incorruptible, and has the ability to maintain a childlike innocence and faith in people that inspires those around them.
The Idiot Hero comes in many breeds, like The Fool. The most common variation, known as the Stock Shōnen Hero, usually has some idealistic goal in mind. It is usually becoming the "best warrior ever", and is usually much more aggressive when irked. Such a hero usually enjoys fighting, and is always looking for a challenge. The only way to actually anger this kind of Idiot Hero will be inevitably to hurt one of their friends, or Innocent Bystanders. In some cases, their idiocy may become the best weapon to ruin an evil plan inadvertently.
Tends to overlap with Small Steps Hero, being too lacking in ambition or easily distracted to plan anything truly long-term. In their early stages, they may be little more than an Invincible Incompetent; however, with Character Development, the Idiot Hero may mature into a Messianic Archetype. The Idiot Hero is usually opposed or rivaled by The Stoic or the Aloof Big Brother or Sister. If the Idiot Hero is not nearly as aloof when things get serious, then their stupidity is actually an Obfuscating Stupidity.
The Lancer to the Idiot Hero takes two common forms: either a Hero-Worshipper willing to look past their obvious drawbacks, or a Sour Supporter who acts as their Foil. In either case, they often act as a source of exposition, explaining things to the hero that they really ought to already know. Their other True Companions will usually get annoyed or even outright be embarrassed by their presence — but deep down, they know they can depend on the hero to protect them from the evils of the world.
Compare All-Loving Hero, Failure Hero, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, Hero with an F in Good, Good Is Dumb, Stupid Good, Butt-Monkey. Contrast Pragmatic Hero, Guile Hero, and Byronic Hero. Will frequently be a Manchild (or Womanchild) — or even a Psychopathic Manchild (or Womanchild) if crossed with Sociopathic Hero; though that would border on an outright Deconstruction of the archetype. Can also result in the Idiot Hero being Unintentionally Karmic to the villain if the villainous plans are foiled because of the ill-fated results of their attempts to give the bad guy friendship or Unwanted Assistance. Genuine competency over standing idiocy makes a Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Live-Action TV
- Mythology & Religion
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Bananaman is the Super-Powered Alter Ego of schoolboy Eric Wimp. He's a Flying Brick with "the muscles of twenty men" but also "the brains of twenty mussels".
- Beetle of Beetle Bailey is probably one of the best examples every of an Idiot Anti-Hero.
- Spider-Man's newspaper incarnation is most generously described as a bumbling slapstick character who isn't very good at his job. One memorable arc with Ant-Man has him shrunk down to bug-size. When a tarantula about ten times his size shows up, Spidey charges ahead because he's "got the proportionate strength of a spider."◊ It takes another character to point out that the spider also has the proportionate strength of a spider, and since it's bigger it's "got a lot more of it." By this time Spider-Man is basically in the tarantula's chompers.
Spider-Man: "Yeah, guess I should have figured that out — for myself!"
- In Your Human And You, the main character, Max, is a prime example of this.
- For the most part, this trope is often averted when possible in fanfiction for a variety of reasons Depending on the Writer.
- In The Sparkle In His Eye, this trope is taken to the extreme, as Captain Quark has the ability of being so stupid, he changes reality. As in, if you told him the door could be blown up by throwing a rock at it, it could actually happen.
- Deconstructed in-universe in Stallion of the Line: Ranma Saotome is recruited by Urd and Belldandy to replace Monkey D. Luffy's original soul. They do this because the original Luffy's inability to learn that he needed to think instead of just relying on guts, brawn and luck caused him to inevitably fail his quest to reach the One Piece, no matter how they tried to manipulate fate in his advantage. And every time Luffy failed, it brought disaster to the world.
- A Certain Droll Hivemind: Referenced; the Network, despite respecting Kamijou Touma deeply for his heroism in rescuing them, wonders if he's not very bright. Whether this is true in the source material is up for debate due to several instances of Obfuscating Stupidity and Smarter Than You Look, but in the fic they think this because he fails to understand a complex relay chain that they find perfectly clear.
- Lord Vidar in ElvenQuest.
- Neddie Seagoon in The Goon Show. Well, at least Bluebottle and Eccles look up to him as a hero. Most of the other characters look on him as just an idiot or an easy mark.
- Captain Kremmen from the radio series of that name.
"I shall break out of this cell using the hardest substance known to Mankind! MY HEAD!"
- Interstitial: Our Hearts Intertwined: If a character takes "Taps My Head Three Times" from The Chosen playbook, they are deemed "not smart enough to be manipulated it" and can easily be interpreted as this.
- Shirou, the protagonist of Fate/stay night has been known to cause large red spots to appear on the foreheads of viewers of the anime from facepalming so much. In a war involving ancient epic heroes and massive magical powers, Shirou is absolutely and completely determined to not let his fighting companion get hurt (even though she is infinitely more competent at fighting other servants than he is).
- This is actually justified. Shirou has a spiritual disorder that causes him to place no value on his own life, and he is incapable of being happy except when he is helping others, so he tends to take suicidal risks at the slightest provocation, and generally does everything in his power to prevent other people from getting hurt. It only really gets explained in the visual novel, though.
- Battler Ushiromiya from Umineko: When They Cry, at least until he wisens up.
- Homestar Runner 20X6:
- Stinkoman, can be seen as a parody of this character type.
- It's entirely possible that Homestar Runner himself started off as one of these when he was first created. However, Character Development exaggerated the idiot part while diminishing the "Hero" part. He's still a well-meaning guy, if thoughtless.
- Jaune Arc of RWBY is this compared to his more educated and better-trained peers. However, he's aware of it and it causes him great distress for a while, until he decides to start training with Pyrrha to overcome it.
- Lumpy, Pop, and Splendid in Happy Tree Friends. Despite having good intentions, most of their attempts to save their friends often result into them getting severely harmed or killed.
- Taco-Man has served as a superhero in both his world and the video game world, despite suffering from a lack of focus and poor video game skills.
- X-Ray & Vav. "Sometimes you gotta do something stupid to get results!"
- All three of the protagonists of The Adventure Zone. Especially Magnus, who is the most heroic and also the dumbest.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged turned Goku into a major idiot hero. It's implied that Goku's status was caused by brain damage from his fights coupled by moments of Goku being unable to breathe (Freeza trying to drown him and Goku's inability to stop screaming in abject pain when the heart disease hits).
- Sparadrap from Noob moves from The Fool to this over the course of the story. The earliest signs appear in the webseries when he gets angry over enemies threatening to hurt his friends and his idealistic goal emerges when some of the friends in question leave the guild and he gets obsessed with Putting The Band Back Together. The power vacuum caused by the departures has also made him master of what's left of the guild.
- Tobuscus in the Wizards Game. In fact, if he animated it, you can be reasonably sure of this.
- Wayne from Vigilant is a failure in every aspect of his life, repeatedly testing fate. And yet, he is the central protagonist of the show.