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Nobody's That Dumb

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Burger King Cashier: Welcome to Burger King. May I take your order?
Hooper: We're C.I.A. agents, and we require asylum. You know, 'cause this is American soil?
Burger King Cashier: I grew up in a pile of straw. The only education I have is one week of Burger King training, and even I know that's not how the international justice system works.
American Dad!, Season 12 "CIAPow"

Just because a character is dumb doesn't mean that they don't know anything, they're completely incompetent at doing something right, they believe everything they see or hear, they're easily impressed with everything, or they can't understand how dangerous something is. Once in a while, this character will bring up their low intelligence and point out that they at least have some common sense.

This is when a character who is established to be dumb or not as smart as their colleague feels that, while they may not be all that bright, even they aren't that stupid. The character has to acknowledge their low intelligence in any shape or form. It is also okay for a character to acknowledge another character for being dumb but not that stupid. Also, the character doesn't necessarily have to be dumb, it could also be a character who just lacks the knowledge for a certain subject but has common sense about it or someone who is naive. This could also apply to someone with a disability, like blindness or a mental disorder as examples, where they point out that their disability does not affect their intelligence or common sense. This can also apply to elders who are viewed as Scatterbrained Senior but can still prove they can still understand what's going on around them.

They may say it in response to an accusation of them doing something really stupid. They may also say it when they see someone do or say something that even they think is dumb. Sometimes they might feel insulted when people would think their intelligence is that low. They might even reveal some Hidden Depths about their intelligence.

This will usually lead to Hypocrisy Nod and Self-Deprecation. Compare Too Dumb to Fool, who is dumb, but not gullible, Smarter Than You Look, for when somebody appears to be dumb but they're not, and Good Is Not Dumb, when someone who is good gets underestimated because of it. The inverse is Who Would Be Stupid Enough?, for when somebody really is that dumb. Murphy's Law (the original one) points out that you can't rely on this, because someone, somewhere is that dumb. See Dumbass Has a Point.

This is often the argument against the Idiot Plot.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, when rescuing Eren while numerous Titans are in the area, Krista insists to Connie that he leaves her behind with Ymir, who claims that her captors will kill her if she doesn't come along with them. Connie doubts the claim and even points out that an idiot like him can see how dangerous their current situation is.
    Connie: Well, I don't know how exactly Ymir is going to get killed, but you guys calm down a bit. No matter how you think about it, the chances of the both of you dying are higher if you stay here now, right? Even an idiot like me can understand that much.
  • Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire:
    • The Team Rocket trio never fails to fool Ash and company with their Paper Thin Disguises. But they push their luck too far in "Do I Hear A Ralts?" when they recycle the Kirlia and Gardevoir disguises that were exposed earlier in the same episode. Even the twerps are rather insulted by how poor this ruse is.
    • Played with in "A Double Dilemma", Team Rocket use an especially poor disguise to pose as May and Max's family (Jessie and James make a reasonable imitation of Norman and Caroline, but Meowth and Wobbuffet blatantly look nothing like their human kids). The twerps and even Team Rocket themselves lampshade this was pretty shabby even by their standards, though the residents of North Petalberg, to punctuate how especially dumb and bull-headed they are, fall for it hook, line and sinker.

  • Old joke: A man's car loses a wheel outside an insane asylum. He puts the spare wheel on but realizes he's lost the bolts. One of the inmates yells at him from a window to remove a bolt from the other three wheels and drive slowly until he finds an auto shop. The man thanks him and asks what he's doing in an asylum if he's not crazy. The inmate then says that no, he's crazy, he's just not stupid.
    • A very similar variant of the story has the driver face a bridge that is just a bit too low to drive under, to which the inmate advises to let air off the tires and pump them back on the other side.

  • Artemis Fowl: Opal Koboi has her none-too-bright henchmen the Brill brothers convinced to the point of paranoia that she can read minds, simply by turning on them at random and shrieking "I heard that!". Mervall Brill at one point tests her by thinking treasonous thoughts at her as loudly as possible.
  • Discworld:
    • Monstrous Regiment:
      • Shufti is the least worldly of all the characters, having disguised herself as a boy to look for her fiancé who'd left her pregnant. She's repeatedly shown to be painfully naive, like believing the guy had been mislaid when she'd given him a sixpence to split in half, or missing the Double Entendre of a Bawdy Song. However, she does get a moment once the squad is captured and accused of being soldiers disguised as women by hiking up her skirt and flashing the officer. Polly then asks the officer with icy politeness if he needs the rest of the squad to strip down as well, and they're quickly left alone out of sheer embarrassment.
        Shufti: I'm not clever, but I'm not stupid.
      • Carborundum (or rather, Jade) makes some very good points about warfare (particularly the total war that Borogravia has managed to get itself into), adding that trolls "may be slow but we ain't stoopid."
    • Lords and Ladies also has a one-off gag about a troll guarding a bridge on the border with Lancre, who is noted to be immediately, instinctively suspicious any time someone leads a billygoat across.
      "Trolls might not be all that quick on the uptake but they don't forget in a hurry either."
  • In the Xanth novel Ogre, Ogre, one of the challenges Smash faces to get in to Humfrey's castle is a basilisk which Smash recognizes and blocks the view of. The reader is told that ogres are stupid but not suicidal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Family Matters, season 6 "Midterm Crisis", when Eddie and Steve accidentally eat Waldo's gourmet cake for his mid-term, they try to cover up the situation by baking the same cake for his mid-term but ended up blowing up the oven. When Waldo arrives, they both come clean and Waldo gets upset by them and tells them off.
    Waldo: Hold the pickles. This isn't over till the fat lady takes a bath. I know what you guys are thinking. That you can walk all over me because you think I'm dumb. Well, I have feelings, too. If you cut me, do I not cough? If you hit me, do I not sneeze? And if you call me names, do I not eat?
    Steve: Oh, my God. I actually understood that.
  • In a crossover episode between Wizards of Waverly Place and The Suite Life on Deck, season 2 "Cast-Away (To Another Show)", Justin meets London by pretending that he's a doctor to gain her interest but he loses interest in her when he discovers how unintelligent she is. Even Max calls her dumb.
    Max: That girl is really dumb. And that's coming from me.
    • When Justin tells Alex about London:
      Justin: I got exactly what I wanted and now it's terrible because she's not so smart.
      Alex: What do you mean?
      Justin: Max thinks she's dumb.
      Alex: Whoa. You gotta dump her.
  • In one episode of Two and a Half Men, Alan gets audited by the IRS. After a series of misadventures between Charlie and Jake, Alan's son, Alan comes home and tells Charlie:
    Alan: You know why I was being audited? Not because I have unsubstantiated deductions, which I have. Not because I take the occasional cash payment from a client, and forget to report it, which I do. It was because no one at the IRS could believe I was paying as much alimony as I claimed. It took me three hours to convince them that, yes, I am that big a shmuck!
  • Mr. Young: Slab does this in "Mr. College" when Adam goes to a frat party wearing yellow, which is supposed to indicate a complicated relationship status.
    Derby: Why are you wearing yellow?
    Adam: Because the thing Echo and I have is... complicated.
    Slab: You and Echo don't have anything. That doesn't seem complicated at all. Even to me.
  • The Good Place: Jason is quite possibly one of the dumbest people to have ever lived, and received a lousy education on top of that. When he makes an apt reference to Romeo and Juliet, Chidi remarks he's shocked he knows that play. Jason rolls his eyes, and says, "I read some books, man. Jeez."
  • Cheers:
    • Woody may be a goofy kid from the sticks, but every now and then he shows flashes of surprising insight.
    • Post-Flanderization Rebecca at one point manages to stop Cliff inflicting his inane comedy routine on the bar by suggesting he take it to a stand-up club and inflict it on them instead, the tiniest glimpse of her original intelligence.
    Rebecca: And you people think I'm so dumb.

  • Cabin Pressure:
    • One episode has Martin and Douglas quizzing Arthur on the phonetic alphabet to pass time on a long flight, and Arthur is terrible at it, often requiring them to drop hints or just outright tell him the answer (for "b" he gets stuck on "bag"). So they're quite surprised when he gets one correct on the first try.
      Arthur: Well, obviously I know some of them.
    • In "Timbuktu", Carolyn explains that Birling Day (in which they fly Mr Birling to the big rugby match and he gives them a massive tip) won't be happening, because the match is not only in England this year, but closer to Mr Birling's house than the airport, and not even he has that much more money than sense.

    Video Games 
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, when CJ learns that Woozie is really blind, he assumes that Woozie doesn't know what's really going on around his surroundings, which he sometimes does. So after Woozie reveals to CJ that he's blind:
    CJ: Uh... Woozie... You do know I'm black, right? And not Chinese?
    Woozie: I'm blind, Carl, not stupid.
  • In South Park: The Stick of Truth, after you complete the side quest for Mr. Hankey, he will help the New Kid where you can summon him, but not for boss fights.
    Mr. Hankey: Anytime you need my help, you just call on me and I'll be there sure as a shit on a Sunday! Howwwwdy Ho! Except against bosses of course. I might have shit for brains, but I'm not stupid.
  • In Dragon Age 2, Fenris had a hard time understanding that Emile De Launcet is dumb enough to tell everyone he's a Blood Mage... in a city full of templars. Even Meredith realized that his stupidity was genuine.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
    • During the fifth trial, the students are discussing why the most recent corpse exploded when they tried to run the usual autopsy. Resident Cloudcuckoolander Hagakure gives his take, and the normally ditzy Asahina calls him out on it.
      Hagakure: I'll tell ya! I bet some unknown quantum particle caused an atomic-level spontaneous combustion!
      Asahina: I might be dumb, but even I'm not dumb enough to believe that!
    • At one point, Hagakure tries to invoke this when he gets called stupid, only to prove it further.
      Asahina: I'm starting to worry about you, Hiro. Can you tell me what ten plus ten is?
      Hagakure: Hey, come on! You don't ALWAYS have to call me dumb! I may have been held back three times, but that doesn't make me stupid! But if it'll make you happy, I'll answer your dumb question...! So! Um... what was the question again?
      Asahina: Don't worry. You just answered it...

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Birth of a Salesman", this exchange occurs when Scratch and Grounder actually manage to catch Sonic and Tails in a gravity-stopper ray:
    Sonic: Just turn off that gravity stopper ray, and we're yours!
    [Scratch and Grounder laugh evilly, then stop]
    Grounder: What's so funny?
    Scratch: We're dumb, but we're not that dumb!
    Grounder: That's right! We're not that dumb! We're not?
    Scratch: Of course not! If we shut off the gravity stopper machine, Sonic will fall back to the ground, and run away!
    Grounder: Oh yeah, I knew that!
  • American Dad!:
    • In Season 11 "CIAPow", when Stan and his friends are trying to avoid the police in Thailand, Hooper's idea of a safehouse is taking refuge in a Burger King-restaurant, arguing that since BK's an American-corporation, the restaurant's property counts as American-soil. Despite the Burger King cashier's lack of education, even he pointed out Hooper's flawed logic.
    • In Season 12 "Criss-Cross Applesauce: The Ballad of Billy Jesusworth", after Francine convinces Stan to be nicer to Roger when they play basketball so he can boost his confidence:
      Stan: Fine. I'll take him back to the game and I'll play nice. But if I get the ball behind the arc and I'm open, I'm gonna drill threes over him. I'm a shooter, and a shooter gotta shoot.
      Francine: Stan, I don't know basketball, but I can tell by the way you're talking that you're not good at it.
  • From Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    Meatwad: Please do not insult what little intelligence I have.
  • Near the end of the Grand Finale of Codename: Kids Next Door, "Operation: I.N.T.E.R.V.I.E.W.S.", when Numbuh One is saying goodbye to his crew before he leaves Earth to join the Galactic Kids Next Door, he talks with Numbuh Three:
    Numbuh Three: Soooo, what we gonna do tomorrow, Numbuh One?
    Numbuh One: Ahh, yeah, I'm not going to be here Numbuh 3.
    Numbuh Three: Oh... And what about the day after that?
    Numbuh One: Oh, let me explain, Kuki...
    Numbuh Three: Oh, I know you're leaving, silly. What do you think I am, an airhead or something?
    Numbuh One: Never for a second.
  • DuckTales (1987), "Time is Money". After the triplets and Mrs. Beakley have both taken turns watching Bubba (and chaos has ensued), Scrooge tries to dump him off on Launchpad. The pilot initially refuses, saying that he's dumb but not crazy.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy season 4 episode, "Here's Mud in Your Ed", after Eddy realizes that Rolf and Jimmy scammed him with a fake money tree seed and bangs on Rolf's front door demanding he get his stuff back, Rolf offers that he will give Eddy the "real" money tree seed if he stops. Edd tells Rolf that Eddy, as blinded by greed as he can be, wouldn't fall for the same trick twice, only to be proven wrong when Eddy immediately agrees to it. He fails to notice that the "real" money tree seed he's now eagerly planting is just an old metal bolt. The episode ends with Ed of all characters smugly commenting that even he isn't that gullible as he and Edd look on.
  • In House of Mouse:
    • "Super Goof", after eating some contaminated peanuts, Goofy becomes a superhero named "Super Goof". When Clarabelle thinks she figures out who Super Goof is after finding a contaminated peanut shell, she thinks it's Dumbo despite Goofy's superhero costume being just him wearing a red jumpsuit and a blue cape with nothing obscuring his face. Goofy was not amused by this.
    Goofy: Oh, come on. I may be Goofy but even I'm not that stupid.
    • "Max's New Car", Max asks Goofy to get him a car but Goofy doesn't think he's responsible enough, but promises he'll think about it. Later, Max get in a car crash and Mickey and Minnie help him hide the wreckage. When Goofy comes in, they try to hide it behind their backs and act like nothing's wrong. Goofy doesn't buy it and tells them that he sees the wrecked car and figured out Max was responsible.
  • In Justice League, season 1 "Injustice For All", when Lex Luthor and the Injustice Gang capture Batman, the Joker insists to Luthor that they kill Batman, knowing full well what he's capable of but Luthor ignores him.
    Joker: Lex, Lex, listen to someone who knows: [whispered] don't wait, do it now.
    Luthor: You don't like my decisions? Leave.
    Joker: [walking off] And they say I'm crazy...
  • In the My Life as a Teenage Robot episode "Killgore", a tiny robot by the title's name intends to become a huge supervillain by capturing Jenny and handing her over to the Cluster. Unfortunately, he's a 1-foot toy fueled by a wind-up key. Naturally, for all his loud talk, he isn't able to take Jenny by force. But he never gives up, to the point where Jenny and her friends hatch a plan to get him to go away. Jenny promises to surrender herself to the Cluster, who are actually her friends Brad and Tuck in Paper-Thin Disguise. Too bad for her, her plan backfires spectacularly when the real Cluster show up as Killgore contacted them in advance. For a wind-up toy with absurd goals, he's pretty sharp.
    Killgore: Killgore is small. Killgore is not stupid.
  • In The Simpsons:
    • "Kamp Krusty" has Homer note to Bart upon looking at his "all A+'s" report card, "You don't think very highly of me, do you, boy?"
      Homer: You know, a "D" turns into a "B" so easily. You just got greedy.
    • In season 14, "The Dad Who Knew Too Little", when Lisa is framed for a crime she didn't commit and the cops sees her and Homer flees when they arrive to arrest her, Chief Wiggum said something that even his own son, Ralph, knew the answer to:
      Chief Wiggum: [to Marge] Would an innocent person flee?
      Chief Wiggum: No, really. Tell me. I honestly don't know.
      Lou: Chief, no.
      Ralph: Even I knew that.
      Chief Wiggum: Yeah, yeah, I'm not... I'm not good.
    • In season 23 "At Long Last Leave", after the Simpsons were banished from Springfield, Homer and Marge sneak back into Springfield under the disguise of Mr. Burns and Smithers. When Chief Wiggum first spots them, it appears that he fell for it but it's later revealed that he had seen through their disguises and only pretended to be fooled in order to have time to rally the people to arrest Homer and Marge.
      Chief Wiggum: You really thought you could fool me with that Burns and Smithers getup? I mean, I'm not the sharpest pencil in the pencil thing, but I'm at least as smart as a cat. Right, Lou?
      Lou: Uh, what breed, Chief? I mean, I saw an Abyssinian once who could change channels.
      Chief Wiggum: Eh, that is pretty smart.
  • In Sonic Boom, "Beyond the Valley of the Cubots", when Orbot and Cubot meet several prototypes of Cubots, they see how dumb they are that even Cubot thinks they're dumb. When Eggman attacks the prototype Cubots, Cubot tells them to run away but they just stand there.
    Cubot: When I told you to follow me you all ran off, now I tell you to run and you just stand there?! What's wrong with you guys?!
  • In "To the Moon, Baboon" of Donkey Kong Country, the Crystal Coconut goes missing, and Diddy and Cranky think DK put it in a time capsule that is to be sent to the moon since he was the last person watching it and had been trying to think up a contribution. At the end, when they fail to stop the rocket launch and everyone (including the villains) angrily yell at him for doing this, DK explains in confusion that he didn't; his contribution was a song, and he hid the Coconut somewhere safe so he could focus on writing it.
    Cranky: So, it wasn't in the rocket ship?
    DK: No, why would I send the Crystal Coconut to the moon?
  • In Castlevania (2017) season 2, one of Dracula's vampire generals is a boisterous Viking vampire named Godbrand. This general is a brute who, to quote another general, has "never met anything [Godbrand] didn't instantly kill, fuck, or make a boat out of." Godbrand's only complaint is he finds the comment confusing as he is a Viking. He likes making boats out of things. He wonders why it is prudent to send forces to watch the Belmont estate when word reaches them one might be alive. A reminder is given that the Belmonts have hunted vampires for "fucking centuries" and have amassed God knows how much information on the vampires and Dracula. If one is alive, he could prove a nasty thorn in their plans. And Godbrand still has a hard time understanding these facts. Dracula himself accuses Godbrand of being more bark than bite. That said, Godbrand is the only vampire general who directly questions where the vampires would get food if Dracula succeeds in killing all of humanity. He also realizes Dracula hasn't been feeding for a while and isn't as strong as he used to be, having lost himself and his will to live with the death of his human wife. Even sensing this weakness, Godbrand refuses to directly challenge Dracula in combat because he knows, weakened or not, he wouldn't survive the fight.
  • A Running Gag in Garfield and Friends involves Garfield commenting on how someone would have to be really stupid to do X, cue Odie doing said action. However one time while a snow storm is going on, Garfield comments how you would have to be stupid to be out outside. He then glances over to Odie who is standing three feet away from him and says that even Odie isn't that stupid.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In "Joker's Millions", the guards search for Harley Quinn after finding her cell empty. One guard suggests that might have gone down the laundry chute; another declares that none of the inmates are that crazy. Poison Ivy, overhearing, snorts "Ha!". Cut to Harley stuck in a washing machine yelling for help.


Video Example(s):


Harley in the laundry chute

Harley escapes Arkham by going through the laundry chute, something the guards dismiss as being too crazy even for the inmates. We soon see why.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhoWouldBeStupidEnough

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