Follow TV Tropes


Improbably Low IQ

Go To

Goodvibes: I have Billy's IQ test right here. I'm afraid Billy only scored a negative 5.
Hoss: What's wrong with -5?
Goodvibes: Well, we gave the same test to a shovel and two candy bracelets, they each scored a positive 17.

Your typical dunce (at least in fiction) has the intellect of a snail. But attaching numbers to everything is fun, so why not stick him or her with a lower IQ score to prove his or her stupidity?


Unlike the opposite end of the spectrum, it's much more rare to see one of these scores reach ridiculous levels that don't match up with real world IQ testing. Of course, when it does get ridiculous (to the point of giving negative scores), it's much more jarring. On the other hand, most really ridiculously low IQs - single digits, or negative numbers - are found in comedies, where the Rule of Funny can be blamed, or in-character hyperbole.

See Idiot Hero, The Ditz, and The Fool for character concepts that may invoke this. If the character isn't managed properly, this may be an Informed Flaw and result in fans calling Obfuscating Stupidity.

Contrast Improbably High I.Q..

For more information about IQ testing, go here. For numerical stats, see the analysis page.



    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • The French comic Les Blondes had a strip with a pretty but dim blonde discussing her employee evaluation results with her boss.
    Employee: "The test said I had an IQ of 27. I don't understand..."
    Boss: "With an IQ of 27 it is normal you don't understand."

  • Brick Tamland from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy has an IQ of 48.
  • In Forrest Gump, Forrest has a somewhat more probable IQ of about 75, which is considered the lowest for "normal" intelligence, or mildly retarded. While low, someone with an IQ of 75 could still go to school, get a job, get married, etc., just as Forrest did. It's notable that in the old days with harsher (or one might say different) terminology, one wasn't considered a "moron" until an IQ of 70, psychologically speaking.
  • Alien³ also averts this. Aaron, Superintendent Andrews' assistant, is commonly known by the nickname "85", which is his IQ. He demonstrates some noticeably stupid behavior, but manages to avoid lapsing into complete idiot territory.
  • Idiocracy demonstrates this. The two intelligent people who never bred had a believable IQ of about 130, while the football player and the trailer park people, had scores in seventies and eighties, which are believably low-average. However, five hundred years later, the average score was five. Granted these people were so stupid that their society was collapsing around them and most of them probably would qualify as retarded, but given how IQ is defined, it's impossible for the average IQ to be anything other than 100, since the norms are adjusted to ensure that average. Justified, as they may be too stupid to realize that, or it may be scaling to modern-day IQ as a Translation Convention - if they all truly had an IQ of 5 by the modern scale, these people would be unable to even talk or walk unassisted.
  • In one of the spoof trailers for Tropic Thunder, the main character of Simple Jack is stated to have an IQ of five.
  • From Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:
    What do you get from a glut of TV?
    A pain in the neck and an IQ of 3

  • In the Discworld novel Thud!, the rather drug addled troll named Brick is described at one point as having a possibly negative IQ for comedic effect. Sergeant Detritus is at least once jokingly commented to have a room temperature IQ, but in fact he is no fool and an excellent policeman, if not especially bright. Also subverted in that the comment can be taken literally, as Troll's brains in Discworld work faster in low temperatures, so his intelligence really is likely to be affected by the room temperature.
    • However, with trolls, there's an inverse relationship between temperature and intelligence. Detritus is brilliant when he's about to freeze to death in the Pork Futures Warehouse, and Mr. Shine is considerably sharper than the run-of-the-mill Discworldian even in "normal" temperatures, being composed of stuff that naturally refracts light instead of absorbing it.
    • It has been theorized that if a troll would actually sit down in a chair and take an IQ test, it would score lower than the chair it was sitting in.
    • The Tsumi wrestlers in "Interesting Times" are apparently chosen in part for their savage lack of intelligence; One Big River (a guard who is dim but functional) supposedly failed the application test when he didn't try to eat the table.
    • Note to American readers: the UK uses the Celsius scale, not Fahrenheit. "Room temperature" therefore means about 20, not 70.
  • In The Westing Game, in Sandy's notes of the other heirs to Westing's will, a note on Otis Joseph Amber is that his I.Q is 50 (Mild to moderate mental retardation, depending on the scale you're looking at). A person with this I.Q would have difficulties on their own, but it's stated that Amber is a delivery boy and even marries Berthe Erica Crowe after the contest ends. When he's around, he acts more nutty yet competent than mentally impaired. There is a reason for this.
    • Upon finding this out, Sandy McSouthers jokes (somewhat mean-spiritedly) that he always suspected that Otis had an IQ of -10.
  • In C. M. Kornbluth's The Marching Morons, a character states that "the average IQ is now 45". As The Other Wiki (and our Useful Notes page) point out, this is nonsense.
    • Less so if it's interpreted as a shorthand way of saying "the average (contemporary for the speaker) person would, on a (contemporary for the protagonist) Stanford-Binet IQ test, score somewhere around the point at which the results become too low to be reliable, say 45." This still seems awfully low, though.
  • The narrator of Stuck in Neutral has no conscious control of his muscles, and is typically assumed to be mindless, so his IQ was once measured at 3. (From his narration, he seems to be of above-average intelligence—he's just completely uneducated.)

    Live Action Television 
  • Hazel Wassername of 30 Rock has an IQ of 70 - which she seems to think is pretty high.
  • Red Dwarf: Holly the computer, once said to have an IQ of 6000 (equivalent to that of 6000 P.E. teachers or 12000 car-park attendants), has succumbed to computer senility. While trying to prove he's not completely gone, he he fabricates a back-up computer program called Queeg, who "takes over" Red Dwarf in the episode "Queeg". Queeg claims that Holly's IQ was actually 6. ("It's got a six in it, but it's not six thousand...") Holly points out that 6 would be "a bad IQ for a glass of water."
  • On the Israeli sitcom Shemesh, the eponymous lead character asks Sasi, the cook in his restaurant, if he knows what ‘ICQ’ is.note  Sasi answers, ‘Of course I do, it’s what I have 12 of!’
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus presents a documentary on penguins and a graph displaying the results of an IQ test taken by the penguins against two other demographic groups. The penguins were inferior to the bushmen of the Kalahari but fared better than BBC programme planners.
    Prof. Passeral: The BBC programme planners' surprisingly high total here can be explained away as being within the ordinary limits of statistical error. One particularly dim programme planner can cock the whole thing up.
    Title card: You can say that again!

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield once gave us this list of beings, in order of intelligence (from 0 to 1000): Amoeba - slug - dog - stone - ape - human - kitchen machine - cat.
    • Even further, a special anniversary edition printing of Garfield told us that Odie's IQ is so low, "you can't test it, you have to dig for it." Despite these claims, Odie actually HAS beaten Garfield on rare occasions.
  • In the Dutch comic Dirkjan an extra has this to say about Marini: "You gotta keep an eye on that one. He has an IQ in negative numbers"
  • One story arc in Zits involved Jeremy and Hector trying out an online IQ test, with Hector getting a score of 162, while Jeremy gets 32.
    Hector: Wait, is that your IQ or the outside temperature?
    • Subverted when Connie tells Jeremy to embrace any hint that the test may be inaccurate. Walt then comes in and says he got a score of 176, causing Jeremy to embrace him.

    Video Games 
  • Averted in Tropico. Having certain hindrances puts El Presidente's IQ at "just below room temperature", which, if one measures temperature on the Fahrenheit scale, puts him near the cutoff for "profound retardation".
    • In a tropical banana republic, room temperature sans air conditioning could well be around 90 to 95, so the implied IQ of 85 to 90 is really just.. kind of dumb.
    • Played straight, if the country measures in Celsius, though (likely around 20-25).
  • Awesomenauts has Derpl Zork, a character so dumb he scored lower than plankton on a galactic IQ test.


    Web Original 
  • The animation "Tramps Just Wanna Have Fun" reveals "an IQ of 1".
  • Suzaku from Code MENT scored negative on his IQ test and is surprised when Lelouch tells him that´s a bad thing.

    Web Video 
  • In a parody of Iggy Azalea's song "Fancy" by Bart Baker, Iggy spells her name as Iccy, Iegi, and HRT5, because she "can't spell because her IQ is negative ten"

     Western Animation  
  • Homer Simpson of The Simpsons has an IQ of 55 (taking a crayon out of his brain raised it 50 points to 105), but lives in a normal (not really, but within the show, yes) suburban home without any assistance. (The writers have claimed they started him as average, but he loses about 5 IQ points a year from radiation, and now he's basically "a dog who can talk"). Interestingly, his 105 IQ is portrayed as ungodly high—not just in comparison to his piers, but objectively, to the point where he devises a mathematical equation that flawlessly disproves the existence of God.
  • Billy of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy has an IQ of -5.
    We gave the same test to a shovel and two candy bracelets... They scored a positive 17.
  • Elmyra Duff of Tiny Toon Adventures has "no detectable IQ" (presumed to mean an IQ of 0). This in comparison with a jar of mayonnaise, which is stated to have an IQ of 1.
  • As identified on the wiki, Scratch and Grounder of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog have IQs of 40 and 25, respectively.
  • Peter Griffin of Family Guy has an IQ of 40. (The episode "Petarded" puts him on a graph below both normal people and the line for retarded, but above creationists.) The episode in which this is revealed blatantly said Peter was retarded, and he can't live without assistance, temporarily losing custody of his kids after Lois was injured. However, he still does a little more than he should be able to. While his job performance is very poor, he apparently is good enough to keep it. Also, he's legally allowed to drive and consent to major surgery, even though his "informed consent" to the latter is complete guesswork.