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Straw Vulcan

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"A mind all logic is like a knife all blade: it makes the hand bleed that wields it."

A Straw Vulcan is a straw man that is used to show that emotion is better than logic.

It starts by having characters who think "logically" try to solve a problem—and they can't. Either they can't find any answer, or they're caught in some kind of standoff, or every answer they can think of has some tradeoff that's unacceptable to the other characters, or they're even stuck in a Logic Bomb–type loop. Once this is established, someone who uses good old human emotion comes up with a solution that the logical thinker can't. This provides An Aesop that emotion is superior and that the logical thinker shouldn't trust logic so much.

Fiction often gets the concept of logic wrong in a number of ways.

The most common mistake is to assume that logic and emotion are somehow naturally opposed and that employing one means you can't have the other note . Excluding emotion doesn't make your reasoning logical, however, and it certainly doesn't cause your answer to be automatically true. Likewise, an emotional response doesn't preclude logical thinking—although it may prevent you from thinking in the first place—and if a plan someone defended for emotional reasons is successful, that doesn't make logic somehow wrong.

The word "emotion" is often used here in places where "intuition" or "instinct" might be more accurate: i.e., instances where the subconscious mind reaches a correct answer faster than the conscious mind can perform a step-by-step reasoned analysis (such as, "Run!" or "Shoot!" or "I get a trustworthy vibe from this stranger,"); or feats of lateral thinking that involve bypassing the sort of rigid categorization systems that western philosophy traditionally favors. This sort of thing is a perfectly legitimate dichotomy, but the issue is rarely described this way, instead calling it "logic vs. emotion," which is probably less accurate.

Because the writers are more concerned with setting up their straw man than in handling logic correctly, they will often misuse and distort the concept to create contrived examples where what they're calling "logic" doesn't work. Common situations include:

  • The Straw Vulcan is Literal-Minded. Note that the idea that an "intelligent" character wouldn't "get" the concept of metaphors, idioms or sarcasm isn't very logical.
  • The Straw Vulcan cannot believe in the paranormal. Logical enough in Real Life, where the existence of such forces is debated and unproven scientifically (often becoming quackery), but this can lead to such characters coming off as being blind or in denial if they live in a universe where such things are shown to be real. Such a portrait of blindness then might delegitimize skepticism in general towards the paranormal, by association of ideas.
  • The Straw Vulcan will often commit the Fallacy Fallacy, dismissing a conclusion simply because it was based on invalid logic or on emotion. The fact that an argument contains a fallacy does not prove that the conclusion is wrong.
  • The Straw Vulcan will proceed to disturb everyone with doomsaying that their current plan "only has a 10% chance for us to succeed", and then the emotional protagonist proceeds to disprove him by saying "Never Tell Me the Odds!" and succeeding. Actually, when all other options are depleted, the plan that has a 10% chance of success is logically superior to other courses of action that have less chance of success. (And presumably doing nothing means a 0% chance.) Bothering people with remarks about low chances of success in critical situations may degrade their morale and thus further diminish said chances, so it doesn't make logical sense to quote poor odds unless there's a better option that can be taken.note  Pessimism for pessimism's sake in a time of need simply isn't logical, no need to be the sensitive guy of the cast to figure that out.
  • In general, Straw Vulcans will often act as The Cynic and consider the more idealistic choice as illogical and improbable, even though there's no direct logical connection between logic and pessimism. While being logical can sometimes come off as pessimistic or cynical—such as pointing out how crying isn't going to help a situation (because it usually really doesn't)—logic itself does not lean on either side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
  • There's also the case where the emotional person suggests a course that shouldn't work, period, but the Straw Vulcan's ideas all involve some aspect that the "non-logical" character find cynical or objectionable. So Straw Vulcan is outvoted, they go with the dumb emotional plan, and lo, it works... due to sheer dumb luck. This is then lauded as a victory for emotion, when in fact it's a victory for the Million to One Chance principle.
  • The story assumes a "logical" plan is one where every step makes the goal visibly closer, and accepting a short-term disadvantage for a long-term advantage is not "logical". There's nothing inherently illogical in accepting a short-term set-back if it makes the long-term success more likely. (This is in fact studied in algorithmics: a step that visibly takes you closer to the goal may eventually run you into a dead end if you don't consider alternatives.).
  • The Straw Vulcan is also cold-hearted and merciless. When they (for whatever reason) calculate that some people have to die (or suffer in another way) because The Needs of the Many require it, they just have to, and there's nothing you can do about it (and expect them to toss those people to the wolves at the earliest possible time). Enter the emotional man to show pity and protect them from the evil intellectual.
  • The Straw Vulcan is an intellectual Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy. If, for example, his calculations showcase that there is a 98.99% chance of success in a plan and another scientist proves that there is a 100% chance of success in the same plan (and they both reach the same conclusions using the same data and using the same calculation methods, but the Straw Vulcan is not discovered until later that he forgot to Carry the One), the Straw Vulcan will simply clamp down on that 1.01% chance of failure as an absolute probability of failure and drag his feet into helping as a result (at best) rather than admit the infinitesimally small chance that he's wrong.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism is a hat that he keeps at hand all of the time. Even if the character has encountered every single damn weird thing under the sun and then some, it is impossible for him to accept the appearance of something new that doesn't fits within the rules of Magic A Is Magic A or the other kinds of Phlebotinum du Jour in the series because as far as he knows, those rules supposedly say that this weird thing cannot happen, and so logically it is not happening, period (so he can accept Faster-Than-Light Travel, aliens, Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!, telepathy, telekinesis, the existence of Atlantis, alternate dimensions, ghosts, and even the theory of all of these together somehow were involved in the assassination of JFK, but cats and dogs living together? Nope). Any scientist worth their salt is always (and must always be) open to the possibility that there is always stuff that has not been encountered, and if that phenomenon exists, then what does that says about the laws that have been theorized (not that they are wrong, maybe, just that whoever made them hadn't encountered this particular situation), and is it possible to replicate the results? A lot of the time this is tied to the above bullet point, doubly so if the Straw Vulcan is the one who discovered whatever the phenomenon is putting under question. Sometimes this applies to the paranormal, but if a writer decides to do stuff like add Time Travel to his show, then obviously the Straw Vulcan will be the first to call it hogwash.
  • As a result of many items above, expect the Straw Vulcan to be a Flat-Earth Atheist and running on the fallacy that either gods don't exist because their influence cannot be proven and if it is possible to prove it, well then, that means they aren't "gods", right? Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, maybe, and that's being generous.

Note that the application of some of these does not inherently make a character a Straw Vulcan. If a logical thinker finds it difficult to predict the actions of irrational people, and it is portrayed as a character flaw or limitation, then it is not this trope. It is only this trope if this is treated as a problem of logical thinking itself, rather than as a character-specific problem.

This trope was explored (and TV Tropes namechecked) in a speech by Julia Galef at Skepticon 4 in 2011.

See Dumb Is Good, Logical Fallacies, Giving Up on Logic, Simpleminded Wisdom, Don't Think, Feel, and Measuring the Marigolds. Compare Straw Hypocrite. The existence of this character means that the writer falls on the Romanticist side of Romanticism Versus Enlightenment. Contrast to Emotions vs. Stoicism. Opposite trope to Strawman Emotional.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
    • Rossiu touches on this after the time-skip; when the citizens are rioting over the destruction caused by the Anti-Spirals, he tries to placate the populace by having Simon arrested and scheduled for execution, since Simon is technically responsible for the actions that led to the villain's attacking them (even though everyone else did just as much) and caused a lot of property damage by destroying an enemy in a populated area. He also wants to have the Gunmen and Lagann destroyed because they're outdated technology, and tries to save humanity by having them hide underground or evacuate on a spaceship. When this turns out to be futile, Simon saves the day by riding on Gurren Lagann (with Kinon piloting Gurren) and wiping out the invasion.
    • That being said, Simon credits him for doing what he thought was best and making painfully hard decisions. Rossiu meanwhile is so overwhelmed by guilt over his miscalculations that he attempts suicide, only for Simon to punch sense back into him like Kamina did for him years earlier.
    • Oddly, the leader of Rossiu's old village was an aversion: since it was a small village they wanted to avoid overpopulation and any time there were more than fifty people there they would draw lots to exile the extra people. However, he isn't needlessly antagonized because of this, and the ending even suggests he was doing the right thing (it helped that he left Gimmy and Darry with Team Gurren instead of just throwing them out).
  • Digimon:
    • Thomas Norstein from Digimon Data Squad often turns into one, though Masaru's abuse of Dumb Is Good doesn't help.
    • Takeru Takaishi was occasionally treated like this, mostly because he had to serve as the foil to the resident gogglehead. The idea that a temporary retreat could lead to a future victory seemed abhorrent to The Determinator. It should be noted, however, that unlike most examples of this trope Takeru actually has rather poignant emotional outbursts of his own. Related mostly to seeing his Digimon die in the previous season.
  • Kyoya from Ouran High School Host Club averts this to a degree; his actions are based purely upon what he can gain, and he acts exactly as a truly logical person would. In one manga chapter, Haruhi hypothesizes that emotional gains might be part of these. Kyoya is intrigued.
  • Stein Heigar from Infinite Ryvius. He starts out as one of the most competent members of the Zwei, but as things get worse his inability to control the situation leads him to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and eventually having a total breakdown.
  • Taiki may count as this in episode 177 of Sailor Moon Sailor Stars. In this episode, Taiki looks down on Ami for believing that dreams and romance are needed in academics, and when the prospect of rain clouds the possibility of seeing a waited-for comet, he challenges her with "can your dreams and romance beat the rain?" This being Sailor Moon, the rain stops in time for the girls and Taiki to view the comet, and Taiki concedes that he can see the dreams and romance while viewing the comet.
  • In Darker than Black, Contractors are perfectly logical and steered by self-interest rather than emotion, but it's played with. They are logical, for a given value of logical. They base their "logic" entirely off of what benefits themselves (and is most likely to keep them alive longest) the most, and every action they take in some way serves that (although sometimes you have to think about it for a while to see how their actions are self-preservation motivated). However, it is stated that this cruelly rational mindset degrades over time, and most contractors we see have been so for years, given the sociopathy plenty of time to begin to fade. The "new" contractors we do see act exactly as the stereotype claims. Tania from season 2 goes from a giggling, bubbly girl to an emotionless, amoral sociopath overnight. She even breaks up with her boyfriend solely because she doesn't see the need for children (they're fifteen).
  • The Incubators in Puella Magi Madoka Magica regard human emotion as nothing more than an energy source, and often fail to understand why Madoka and the rest of the cast get sad or angry at how the Incubators are using mankind. The entire conflict is due to Incubators believing the energy release gained from a magical girl turning into a witch is far more valuable to a greater amount of people than one person's happiness, and go so far as to compare Incubators use of humans to how humans raise cows for milk and beef. They believe there's a fair trade in the wishes and technology the Incubators have provided humans for their actions, and refute any claims they've lied or tricked the rest of the characters, since the Incubators never directly lied and only omitted details about the contract the magical girls make. That's if you're willing to take their own word for it, of course; they present no evidence whatsoever for these claims, and have proven themselves completely untrustworthy. Kyubey goes considerably out of his way to never directly deny tricking the girls, instead saying it's their fault for trusting him. In particular, he knowingly misleads Kyoko with Exact Words into thinking she can rescue Sayaka from being a witch, admitting later to Homura that he knew she couldn't but deliberately misled Kyoko to further his own ends...but also insists that Kyoko should have known not to trust him. Even more horrible in The Movie, when the Incubators are wiling to pull a Happy Ending Override because they believe Madoka's wish has created an "inefficient" system.
  • Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove it has Yukimura and Himuro, who conduct experiment after experiment to try to prove that they are in love with each other, all of which fail or otherwise turn out to be fruitless so that they can learn the lesson that feelings like love aren't bound by logic or reason.

  • On The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a logician starts out pointing out incongruities in the witch-burning scene before he goes off on a tangent about his sexually unsatisfied wife. He finishes with the unproven conclusion that sex is more fun than logic.

    Comic Books 
  • In Logicomix, Ferge is totally honest and devoted to truth & logic. Sadly, this devotion combined with Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance leads to Black-and-White Insanity in the form of a Straw Vulcan despise for women and jews. On the whole, this make him a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot who is desperately trying to do the right thing.
  • One of Brainiac 5's roles in the Legion of Super-Heroes is to be a Straw Vulcan for the more emotional superheroes, like Dream Girl and Bouncing Boy.
  • Transformers:
    • Oddly enough, averted in the comics with regard to Shockwave. Shockwave is a cold, calculating Decepticon warrior who embraces pure logic... but his definition of logic is, in fact correct—"the course of action with the highest possibility of victory." In the old Marvel Transformers comics, he once ceded leadership of the Decepticons to Megatron, convinced that Megatron's logic was superior. In IDW's early comics, the trope is played with when he's confronted with the raw, animal fury of the Dynobots (known in most other continuities as the Dinobots); his usual cold, calculating strategy was unable to stand up against their savage assault, and he decides to think like the enemy... and goes berserk simply to match their brutality pound-for-pound, allowing an emotion to become a factor in his logic. That emotion was rage, and it served Shockwave well, winning him the fight. An unforeseen weapon on the Dynobots' ship incapacitated him by causing a volcanic eruption once he'd switched off his anger program, but note that he gave in to emotion simply because it was logical to leave cold reasoning behind and embrace fury.
    • Prowl plays the trope in a more straight-forward way. He is logical to a fault. This is presented like something good, since he is one of the best Autobot tacticians... and like something bad, since Prowl is downright unable to stand illogical things or let himself deal with their existence. He is capable of staying paralyzed in the heat of a battle as he tries making sense out of whatever has got him perplexed. The Autobot's first bout against the Decepticons in the Marvel comics is a good example of it. As the Decepticons were shooting at them and its squad was scrambling around, Prowl remained still as he tried to understand why the nearby cars (they were in a parking) were not running away.
  • The Guardians of the Universe have been made into Straw Vulcans more and more with each writer. They did always have a stoic and cold sense to them, but recent story arcs put great emphasis on their hatred of all emotion, even from those within their own Corps, all while they become less competent and trustworthy. In the Blackest Night Crisis Crossover one of the Guardians, when asked why his people chose to defend the cosmos, replied "I don't remember," in spite of their motivations having been well-established for some time. This is given an in-universe expalantion; namely that early on, they were focused on using all emotions, but early setbacks and concerns had them focused on Willpower and little else, slowly degrading them into what we see them as. Contrast this with their White Light of Life comrades who were sealed away for millennia until they were unsealed. They were not happy with what their comrades degraded into.
  • The conclusion to the very first Dan Dare story was based on this trope. The logical Treens of North Venus had long ago destroyed their beasts of burden which they regarded as useless in a mechanical age. Then they ended up at war with the equally advanced Therons of the South, and each side rendered all the other's weapons useless. Stalemate. Then Dan realised that the Earth habit of enjoying things just for their own sake, such as archery, horse riding, canoeing and glider flying meant that Earth had exactly what was needed to break the deadlock. A volley of arrows followed by a thunderous cavalry charge won the decisive battle.
  • Tom Strong: Averted by Quetzalcoatl-9, a supercomputer created by parallel-universe Aztecs. He states straight-up that he is trusting Tom because it's the logical thing to do; they're in a textbook Prisoner's Dilemma, and trust, on average, yields slightly better results.

    Fan Works 
  • True Potential: Misora, the blind Kiri kunoichi, who believes all ninja should be ruled by logic and discard emotions. Dosu, however, points out that, if she followed logic like that she should never had become a ninja in the first place due to her blindness, yet she defied logic and trained in order to develop chakra sense fine enough to replace her lack of sight.
  • Averted in classic Spock fashion by T'Var in The Wrong Reflection. She calmly decides that achieving the mission objective to get the USS Bajor into the Mirror Universe is more important than her life, and so uses her ship to block a ramming attack against the Bajor. The other screening vessels were out of position and both ships' weapons were damaged, so it was really the only option.

  • Not even Robot Monster could calculate love...
  • I, Robot:
    • An example that may or may not be an aversion: Part of the backstory of the protagonist is that earlier in his life, a robot was faced with a choice of saving him or a young girl. He had a 45% chance of survival, and she had a 11% percent chance of survival, so the robot chose to save him. His complaint is that the wrong kind of logic was applied; he viewed her life as being worth more than his, so, to him, she should have been saved. This became the main reason for the protagonist's hatred of robots. In the commentary, the director said that the robot who saved Smith did the right thing, and that Smith was bothered by that knowledge.
    • V.I.K.I.'s motivations are entirely rooted in logical thought. Sonny even comments that he can understand the logic behind the plan perfectly, "but it just seems too... heartless." V.I.K.I.'s motivations are logical for her premise, it's her premise/goal that is wrong. She is looking to save lives at all costs, but one could argue there was a much better way to go about the coup that wouldn't set up an us-vs-them mentality that would encourage humans to fight to the death. The problem is that humans want more than just personal survival. We would rather accept small risk if it means enjoyment or a meaning in life, and would be inadvertently encouraged to die for freedom when it's an And I Must Scream world dictated by robots. If she had started out with the premise of "I must preserve human happiness" instead of "I must preserve human life" things would have been far different. Of course, life, unlike happiness, can be quantified, and even logic based on preserving and maximizing happiness can become something horrific when pushed to its logical conclusions.
  • Star Trek:
    • Used in Star Trek (2009) (probably as an intentional Shout-Out) when Spock seeks to regroup with the rest of the surviving fleet, yet the seemingly invincible Narada is headed to destroy Earth; Kirk takes the opposing emotional side, notes the Earth will be doomed while the fleet rallies, and opts to face the Narada in a head on, likely suicidal confrontation. This time, however, Spock is captain, and outranks Kirk. Later Kirk shows that Spock is emotionally compromised and takes command after proving to everyone (including Spock himself) that Spock is not in the best shape of mind. In both instances we are talking about the young Spock from the alternate timeline created by the Narada at the beginning of the film.
    • Both subverted and played out straight in Star Trek VI. At one point Spock answers an appeal to logic from his protege Valeris by saying, "Logic, logic, logic. Logic is the beginning of wisdom, Valeris, not the end." During the remainder of the film, Spock is often telling outright lies or asking crewmembers to do so (acts that certainly go against what Vulcans traditionally consider logical) and describing the lies as "a miscommunication" and other euphemisms...anything but "a lie." But in the end, we find that for reasons she considers "logical," Valeris has conspired to assassinate Klingon Chancellor Gorkon and frame Kirk for his murder. When she says she doesn't recall the names of her fellow conspirators, Spock asks, "A lie?" She replies, "A choice."
    • Averted in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where Spock sacrifices himself by exposing himself to lethal doses of radiation to save the Enterprise, and justifies his actions on the basis of logic. While McCoy and Kirk both hate Spock's actions on emotional grounds, Spock's cold logic saves the ship and is held up as one of the most awesome and heroic moments in the entire franchise.
      • His plan is logical, but is poorly explained. He states "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one". Considering that he was going to die anyway if he *didn't* try his plan, it's absolutely logical for him to do so. Note also that this quote is a basic philosophical tenet of Utilitarianism, and is *not* considered an uncontroversial, absolute truth. Those who follow more Deontological philosophies would heartily disagree.
      • In the same film, Spock argues that Kirk accepting promotion is illogical ("a waste of material") because he makes a better starship captain than an admiral. In most scenarios, choosing to do what one loves over accepting a higher rank is presented as the "emotional" response.
  • The computer in WarGames is supposed to have mastered all sorts of game theory, without ever having realized that there could possibly be a game in which neither player could win (until, of course at the end, they introduce it to Tic-Tac-Toe, and have it play against itself). The message isn't so much that you can't win a nuclear war, but that the correct move is not to "play the game" at all. At least that seems to be the Aesop. In any case, WOPPER's "logic" is sound and subverts the notion that one can rationally plan a nuclear war, so this may count as a subversion of the trope.
    • There IS a flaw in the use of Tic-Tac-Toe as an example: as a "solved" game there actually is a correct move for every board state, and since the first move is what directs the flow of the game the message is more like "go first and hope your opponent makes a mistake".
  • Dr. Ellie Arroway in Contact is a SETI researcher who argues that Occam's Razor makes it more likely that humans invented the idea of God rather than God creating the world without a shred of proof pointing to his existence. During the hearing in which Ellie claimed she had a trip through the Stargate and encountered an alien (when all the witnesses and recorded data indicates the Stargate was a complete failure and nothing happened), Occam's Razor is flung back in her face: is it more likely that she hallucinated the journey or that the aliens sent her through the Stargate without leaving a shred of proof? Ellie concedes this but refuses to withdraw her position because her experience was too monumental for humanity's future to dismiss on logic alone. The kicker: the Christian philosopher whose personal religious awakening she (politely) dismissed as a psychological phenomenon is the first person to believe her: not because If Jesus, Then Aliens but because they're both committed to the truth. She ultimately continues her SETI research in hopes of finding more signs of extra-terrestrial life, proving that (at least where aliens are concerned) faith and logic can coexist.
  • Scarlett in GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra: ("Emotions are not based in science. And if you can't quantify or prove something exists, well, in my mind, it doesn't.") Subsequently somewhat parodied by Ripcord, paraphrasing Scarlett's line while doing a (bad) Spock voice.
  • The Phantom Menace: Qui-Gon's actions on Tatooine. Supposedly, the mystical and mysterious Force leads him to bet everything on the performance of an unknown boy in a dangerous pod race—a convoluted gambit that only a fellow Jedi can understand. The truth is much simpler: the situation is so dire (marooned on a remote planet with no comm, no FTL drive, no money to repair it, no ability to use a Jedi Mind Trick on the one person who has a replacement drive, a moral code that won't let him steal it, and a high degree of urgency) that the strange bet is the best available option. Fridge Logic: Qui-Gon would rather pretend that he's being guided by the ineffable, infallible Force than admit to Queen Amidala that he's making a desperate gamble because he's run out of alternatives. He also neglects the obvious path of trading the disabled ship for a smaller working one, or just finding someone willing to do a currency exchange.
  • Delacourt from Elysium, though she's a crafty enough operator that she has no problem invoking emotion to make a point. But the slightly-robotic way she does it (and everything else, for that matter) indicates that she probably doesn't actually feel it, but is simply just that bigoted.
  • The Mist: Norton and his group of skeptics who leave the store because they don't believe there are any monsters in the mist. Lets back up a step. If the skeptics are right about the mist being natural and stay in the store then the weather will blow over in a few hours to a day or someone will come by looking for the grocery store and update them on the situation. They are on their way after a short delay, at most a major inconvenience, or loss of jobs or other personal commitments. If the other groups are right about the mist and there are monsters outside the best bet for survival is not to go outside to be picked off by monsters. The risk analysis of the situation, however low the probability of lethal monsters, would point to staying in the well stocked grocery store and not wandering off. So of course they choose the 'rational choice' after concluding there are no monsters and immediately decide to leave. Norton tells David right before he leaves that if he's wrong the joke will be on him. Poor decision or not, he is at least willing to admit that much. In the novella, David thinks that Norton is, at some level, committing deliberate suicide. It's worth noting other characters also choose to enter the mist early and end up surviving, and are better-off than those who chose to remain.
  • 1408: Subverted. Enslin presents himself, to himself and to others, as an atheist with a skeptical, highly rationalistic perspective on the world, but his true hamartia is his arrogance; he dismisses Olin's warnings without really considering them because his preconceptions make them sound to him like superstitious nonsense, i.e., ghost stories. A genuine skeptical rationalist would consider that Olin's experience as the hotel manager gives him a better claim to authority on the subject of the titular room than anyone who hasn't spent a night in it—and, if nothing else, a genuine skeptical rationalist would consider that $800 worth of XO cognac is a hell of a long way to go to put over a ghost story. Enslin does suspect that Olin is hyping the story for financial gain, but Olin points out that the hotel is always nearly booked to capacity regardless of any publicity stunt; yet Enslin still refuses to take him seriously.

  • Throughout the entirety of The Twilight Saga, Bella Swan openly admits that she is being stupid and irrational and flat out refuses to think logically because she believes that the fact that she's in love relieves her of that obligation. In the end all of her decisions are proven correct and she lives happily ever after.
  • Lady Peril from Constance Verity Saves the World views some of her less evil traits, like her maternal instincts towards Larry, as an unfortunate genetic defect on her part. She even shrugs at her desire for revenge against Connie (who she blames for his death since she was there to protect him) as another unfortunate side-effect at her emotional imperative.
  • Dune:
    • The series plays with this a lot, especially considering that almost all the characters are highly intelligent and rational. Then there are the Mentats, whose job is to think logically.
    • The Mentat Piter makes several correct predictions of Duke Leto Atreides' actions, but wrongly predicts that his Bene Gesserit concubine Jessica will have a daughter rather than a son; his logic was actually correct (this was the Bene Gesserit plan), but he (and they) failed to take into consideration the possibility that Jessica would defy her orders out of love for her husband.
    • Duke Leto, on the other hand, tries to go up against Baron Harkonnen's Evil Plan head on instead of swallowing his pride and going into exile, which, while perhaps cowardly, would ensure the safety of his family. However, the Duke is being logical by his own system of logic, as he's willing to take a risk of death against a prize of greatly increasing his family fortunes, as opposed to accepting a certainty of exile and mediocrity in return for a guarantee of life. Accepting a risk as counterbalanced against a higher future gain is not automatically illogical—the Duke's error was not in taking the gamble, but in not having accurate knowledge of just how risky a gamble he was taking.
    • Paul's final plan against the Emperor and Space Guild is a hefty subversion of the first example in that it is risky and could have possibly resulted in the stagnation of their civilization; Paul himself calls out the Space Guild in that they chose the safe course and never took a chance at taking control of the spice like he did.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • The Last Continent could provide a nice page quote, but it must be pointed out that the Discworld is a place where million to one chances crop up nine times out of ten. Logic really can only take you so far in that world.
    • Parodied in The Wee Free Men. Tiffany Aching, having gone to enormous trouble to get into fairyland to bring her brother home, finds him sitting in a pile of candy, wailing his head off, because he has arrived at the conclusion that he cannot eat any of it based on Buridan's Ass logic: he can grab any piece of candy he wants, and eat it, but if he chooses any one piece to eat, it would mean that he's letting other pieces of candy go uneaten, which is something he cannot bear to do. Justified in that A) he's approximately three, and B) it's implied he's been fed so much candy, the sugar rush has addled his little three-year-old brain already.
    • Tiffany herself is a subversion; she's accused of this by the Queen and by herself when she chooses to save the prince, who's nearby, rather than try to grab her brother and be caught in a tidal wave. It was the decision that made sense, but she imagines her parents won't give her any prizes for cleverness. The Queen tries giving her a Breaking Speech along these lines, about how she's so logical and "sensible" that she really doesn't feel anything. But Tiffany eventually decides it's okay that she wants to get things right and designating things as "mine" means she's going to protect them, and the Queen can stuff it.
    • Ponder Stibbons in Terry Pratchett's books that involve wizards is often assigned this role, and gets to express frustration because he lives in a world where thunderbolts really are signs of gods' annoyance instead of massive bursts of static electricity. He doesn't take it too far, though, because he also wanted to power a device with electricity by strapping dozens of cats to a big wheel and rotating it to rub them against an amber rod and was annoyed when the idea was turned down for being too noisy.
    • In Jingo, Carrot displays the perfect balance between logic and emotion. Declining to go and rescue Angua who is being held prisoner on a Klatchian ship, he points out his presence is needed elsewhere where he can accomplish more.
      Carrot: Personal's not the same as important, sir.
    • Death occasionally shows signs of this as well, since he doesn't really understand life in general. He'll often take things one step at a time, with each step being logical, but the end result being ridiculous. For example, when he made a swing for his grand-daughter. He attached the swing to the strongest branch of the tree. Then he attached it to the second-strongest branch as well, for stability. These branches were on opposite sides of the trunk, so the swing wouldn't swing. So he removed the trunk.
      Death: Makes perfect sense to me.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 novel Soul Drinkers features a version in which an Adeptus Mechanicus Archmagos steals the holiest relic of the eponymous Space Marines, then expects them to do the logical thing and back down when threatened with a floating space artillery piece. Two things went wrong:
  • Possible example in E. E. Cummings's poem since feeling is first, although it doesn't say logic is wrong per se, simply that it's less important than love.
  • Subverted by Paul Redeker in World War Z. While his rather amoral plans to save parts of the white population of South Africa during a black uprising make him universally despised, these plans end up saving millions. It's theorized in-universe that he had to force himself to think this way to prevent a mental breakdown due to being naturally over-empathetic, and this theory being advanced by the alternate personality he adapted after his plan going into action caused him a total psychotic breakdown gives it some credence.
  • Dagny Taggart and the other protagonists of Atlas Shrugged are repeatedly accused of being this by the Strawman Emotional antagonists.
  • Used in the second Little Fuzzy book in the character of Jan Christiaan Hoenveld. It's pointed out that this is why he doesn't make a very good scientist.
  • In The Stormlight Archive King Taravangian is under a curse/blessing that causes his intelligence to fluctuate and he becomes less compassionate and moral the smarter he gets, with the result that every morning he takes an intelligence test of his own devising. His ability to change policy is dependent on the results of the test, and becomes restricted if he's too stupid or too smart. Fortunately, this precaution was put in place before he came up with that plan to make everyone below a certain level of intelligence kill themselves. He does note that the inverse relationship between intelligence and emotion isn't how it works for most people, it's part of his condition.
  • A Wolf in the Soul plays it straight with Professor Toledano, who Greg says "couldn't step out of his rational ideology" and therefore "could hardly even feel the pain in another person's heart". Greg wasn't able to bring himself to show his pain to Toledano at all, so this complaint feels hollow. The book subverts it later, though, with Hakham Dawid, who says many of the exact same "overly rational" things Toledano said earlier in the book, but imbues them with more meaning.
  • The Houyhnhnms in Gulliver's Travels, who use down-to-Earth logic to dictate everything and tend to look down on any one of their Yahoos (A term they use for the uncivilized humans living on their island) when they form an emotional bond with Gulliver.
  • Although various adaptations have tended to play this straight, Sherlock Holmes was originally a highly emotional man and a heroin addict. He was definitely the Trope Codifier for the Great Detective and Awesomeness by Analysis, but was also always affectionate with Watson and decided how he would answer his deductions with emotion and morality, rather than cold calculation. His various spin-offs and adaptations can go either way Depending on the Writer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Kendra. Buffy eventually taught her that human emotion wasn’t necessarily a hindrance to being a Slayer.
  • Star Trek:
    • Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series flip-flops between playing this straight and averting it.
      • Played straight in a scene of "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Spock and Kirk play 3D chess. Spock is about to win, but Kirk makes an "illogical move" and wins. It'd perhaps be more accurate though to say Kirk used Confusion Fu and made an unexpected move.
      • In "The Galileo Seven", we're shown Spock's first command, as the shuttle he is in charge of crashes on a desolate planet filled with savage aliens. Spock determines that a display of superior force will logically frighten away these aliens while the crew make repairs to the shuttle. Instead, as Dr. McCoy points out, the aliens have an emotional reaction and become angry and attack, something Spock did not anticipate. In the end, Spock's desperate act of igniting the fuel from the shuttle to create a beacon proves to be the correct action since it gets the attention of the Enterprise and allows for a rescue. When called on this "emotional" act, Spock replies that the only logical course of action in that instance was one of desperation. The most irritating part of their razzing on him about it was that, even by the narrow definition of "logic" in said episode, that was in fact the most logical choice. The two options were drift and conserve fuel for as long as possible despite a remote chance of being seen and found ultimately and dying anyway, or ignite the fuel source, which might lead to a quicker death from lack of power but would far increase visibility and the chances of being found. The latter of the two choices is smugly called "emotional" despite still being perfectly logical. The part with the aliens doesn't really make sense either. Everyone, including Spock himself, comes down hard on him when his plan doesn't work, but what did he do that was so wrong? He wanted the aliens to leave them alone and hoped to avoid unnecessary bloodshed in the process. The aliens were enraged rather than frightened, and quickly renewed their attack, but no one could have known that would happen. He made a mistake; it happens.note 
      • Averted in "Space Seed", where we see fairly clearly from early on the episode that Kirk, Scotty, and (worst of all) Marla McGivers are looking at Khan through various sorts of romanticized shades, reading things into him that were never really there and deceiving themselves about who and what he really is. Spock, on the other hand, clearly recognizes that Khan is, fundamentally, just a mass murderer and a power-hungry egotistical thug who escaped from the catastrophe he helped create and is now potentially dangerous.
      • Averted in "The City on the Edge of Forever" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before". In the first, Spock's cold, clear-eyed logic reveals to him what the choices before Kirk and himself in the time-trip into the 1930s are, and that Kirk's love for Edith Keeler is beside the point of those choices. He is not unsympathetic, as we see in his quiet words: "He knows, Doctor." after Kirk prevents McCoy from saving Edith. In "WNMHGB", Spock analyzes the necessary implications of the changes in Kirk's then-best-friend Gary Mitchell, and the trend of where those changes are taking Mitchell, and knows that there is no way out: either Mitchell dies or catastrophe follows, and subsequent events prove him right; Kirk very nearly does wait too long out of sentiment, even after Mitchell himself affirms that Spock is right. In both cases, cold logic is revealing a painful truth that emotion and sentiment can cloud but not change.
      • Subverted in "A Piece of the Action".
        Spock: It would seem that logic does not apply here.
        McCoy: You admit that?
        Spock: To deny the obvious would be illogical.
      • Averted in "Court Martial", when the ship's computer's records make it appear as though Kirk murdered another officer. Despite not being able to (initially) find any evidence of malfunctioning in the computer, Spock steadfastly maintains his confidence in Kirk's innocence, and is ultimately proven right. Spock knows from extensive personal experience that Kirk is a noble man who is consistently able to keep his cool in life-or-death situations; in his view, believing that Kirk killed someone out of panic or spite is as illogical as expecting a hammer not to fall when dropped.
      • Infamously played straight in "The Apple", in which Kirk and McCoy try to destroy the machine that keeps the native civilization of the paradise planet alive, in order to show them the value of love and freedom. Spock points out to them that Starfleet officers are not permitted to interfere in the politics of primitive alien civilizations, that they have no way to predict the consequences of such a drastic interference in the evolution of a species they just discovered earlier that day, and that the natives lead long, happy lives under the existing system, even if a human in the same situation might be less content. Kirk retorts that he owes it to the natives to give them the freedom to choose how to live and think for themselves—even though, so far as is shown, the natives' service to the machine is entirely voluntary. The episode doesn't show us the aftermath of Kirk's decision, but when Spock attempts to discuss them in the final scene using an admittedly bizarre argument, Kirk and McCoy just mock his physical appearance and ignore everything he says.
    • The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Magicks of Megas-Tu" neatly subverts or perhaps averts this. In a parallel universe where magic works, McCoy scoffs at Spock's attempt to perform a magical ritual. His reply? "It must work, Doctor. It is logical—here."
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • In early episodes of both The Original Series and The Next Generation, humans who have uploaded their minds into android bodies discover that they have lost some ineffable, illogical, human quality in the transfer. Despairing at this loss, they choose to terminate their existence—a strangely emotional reaction for beings which now supposedly have none. Ironically, this is referenced and deconstructed by Data, of all people, in the episode of "The Measure of a Man"; a scientist wants to disassemble him and dump his memory into a computer so he could study him and learn how to create more like him, and Data refuses, fully believing in that same ineffable quality to memory and believing he, himself would lose it in the transfer, despite himself being an android. In an attempt to explain this, he compares it to how learning how to play poker from a book isn't the same as actually playing the game, in person, implying that the "ineffable quality" being lost is the personal importance and significance of those experiences, the context which makes the event special for that individual, which—when read out of that context as a mere descriptive text readout—cannot be fully understood or appreciated—an actually logical argument when you think about it.
      • This is also the episode in which Data claims to have "read and absorbed every treatise and textbook on the subject" of poker, but was completely surprised by the existence of bluffing. What kind of poker textbook doesn't discuss bluffing?
      • Troi beats Data at chess. She then explains to him that chess isn't just a game of logic, but also intuition. As the Nitpicker's Guide puts it, "Try playing 'intuitive' chess against a computer and you'll lose in no time flat" (and then suggests that perhaps she had his Difficulty Level set to "below novice"). Shown for laughs in xkcd #232. Great chess masters can play via intuition (and indeed, when playing speed chess, it's a necessity), however, intuition when playing a game such as chess is merely the player's experience in playing the game allowing them to make strong plays without thinking too much. Ultimately, that intuition comes FROM logic, as the player has enough experience to recognize generally favorable moves and positions on sight. The Troi example is particularly egregious because she really just reverses the correct terms. Her move was unintuitive, but was entirely logical because it immediately led to victory.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • In "The Maquis", Sarkona, a Vulcan, joins the Maquis because she agrees with their position and believes their rather crude and barbaric actions to achieve "peace" to be logical... but she's called out by Quark, locked in the brig with her after her plans are exposed, noting that, as the Federation had caught the Cardassians (the Maquis' enemies) supplying their people with weapons to fight against the Maquis, sitting down with them and hammering out an arrangement would bring the peace better and "at a bargain price" compared to continuing the fight.
      • In "Take Me Out to the Holosuite", Captain Solok has been hassling Benjamin Sisko across the known galaxy for the past two decades, all in the name of proving that emotional, illogical humans (like Sisko) are inferior to emotionless, logical Vulcans (like himself). Somewhat subverted by the end of the episode, when the Deep Space Nine crew successfully goad Solok into losing his temper, and it's generally implied that Solok is by no means representative of Vulcans, and is really just kind of a jerk.
      • Deconstructed in the episode "Field of Fire", in which a serial killer is on the loose, killing Starfleet officers seemingly at random. The killer turns out to be a Vulcan suffering from his species' version of PTSD, courtesy of the Dominion War, and was being emotionally triggered by his victims' laughter. When asked why he did it, all he can say is "because logic demanded it".
    • Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager often acts as a Straw Vulcan.
      • Played with in this dialogue (when captured):
        Tuvok: Resistance is illogical.
        Seven: Logic is irrelevant.
      • At least the writers seem to acknowledge that Tuvok is a tightass even by Vulcan standards. From the episode "Flashback":
        Sulu: Mr. Tuvok, if you're going to remain on my ship, you're going to have learn how to appreciate a joke. And don't tell me Vulcans don't have a sense of humor, because I know better.
      • The above (obviously a reference to Spock) might also be a specific nod to a scene in the original series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver", which Sulu himself witnessed (and was quite amused by):
        Bailey: Raising my voice back there doesn't mean I was scared or couldn't do my job. It means I happen to have a human thing called an adrenaline gland.
        Spock: It does sound most inconvenient, however. Have you considered having it removed? [Spock leaves]
        Bailey: [to Sulu, who is grinning] Very funny.
        Sulu: You try to cross brains with Spock, he'll cut you to pieces every time.
      • Played with when Janeway replicates a cupcake for Tuvok on his birthday, complete with a single birthday candle. He initially refuses to play along with such a silly ritual, but when Janeway turns her back, he blows out the candle. He replies that it was a fire hazard, but it's implied that he did it to make Janeway happy, which is a perfectly logical decision, since while he saw no point in the ritual, he knew it would please his friend and captain, and so did it anyway.
      • Tuvok had occasionally had the opportunity to avert this, as in one episode where a seemingly unstoppable energy field is slowly enveloping the ship, and after all their attempts to prevent it fail, he suggests simply waiting for it to consume them and seeing what happens. The rest of the crew objects, but he counters that they don't actually know what the energy field is, and given that all their other options have been exhausted, inaction is the only logical choice left to make, even if the odds of survival are low.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise:
      • Over the course of four years T'Pol undergoes a Mind Rape that brings up traumatic memories of losing her emotional control in a jazz nightclub, remembers repressed memories of a line-of-duty killing (that also led to a loss of emotional control), suffers from Pa'nar Syndrome that degrades her neural pathways (leading to a loss of emotional control), becomes addicted to Trellium-D (which causes a loss of emotional control), and is infected by a microbe that makes her undergo a premature pon farr (leading to a loss of emotional control and clothing). It seems that the writers believed that the only way T'Pol's character could develop was to take away the characteristics that made her different from humans.
      • While T'Pol is probably the queen of all Straw Vulcans, she's also often proven completely right for all of the wrong reasons. For example, in an early episode, the crew discovers an uncharted Earth-like planet. T'Pol mentions that standard Vulcan protocol for such an event is to scan the planet from orbit for a week before sending people down in person. Archer basically ignores her, because he wants to go down and explore in person, and immediately sends a team down that isn't equipped with any kind of protective suits. The entire conflict of the episode (which almost results in deaths) comes from the fact that the air contains hallucinogens, which is something that would have been discovered if they spent time scanning the planet first.
      • That said, in the episode "Fusion" the crew met an offshoot culture of Vulcans who ate meat and believed that emotion in moderation was not harmful in the slightest; as long as you had control over your emotions, there was no reason you couldn't allow yourself to feel and express that emotion. They were sort of an exploration of what would happen if you had Vulcans who weren't straw.
      • One of the plans for the fifth season (had there been one), was to reveal that T'Pol's father was a Romulan spy, which would go a long way towards explaining her Straw Vulcan tendencies in the earlier seasons.
    • Star Trek: Discovery: Michael Burnham's insistence that her viewpoint is logical (she was raised by Vulcans despite being human), when in reality she tends to badly misread situations, results in her becoming one of these on many occasions, and a large part of her arc in the first season revolves around her trying to overcome this tendency. For example, she insisted in the pilot episodes "The Vulcan Hello/Battle at the Binary Stars" that the only logical opening communication to the Klingons was a show of force instead of the standard Starfleet "we come in peace" line. Whether it would have worked or not is up for debate, but the way she tried to enforce that view (try to convince Captain Georgiou, then nerve-pinch her into unconsciousness when that failed and try to convince the rest of the crew before she woke up) backfired dramatically, resulting in a Federation/Klingon war and Michael being court-martialed and sent to prison.
    • Although widely used and occasionally subverted or lampshaded in Star Trek, as noted in the many examples above, the trope is notably averted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Redemption, Part II". In an operation involving a large number of ships and not enough captains to go around, a number of senior officers, including Data, are given command of various ships. Data's first officer repeatedly questions Data's orders and the fitness of an android to command a ship, until Data (seemingly) angrily tells him, "Mr. Hobson! You will carry out my orders or I will relieve you of duty!" Data correctly realizes that the emotional response is the logical one, necessary in order to motivate Hobson.
  • Joan of Arcadia defeated the best chess player in the school, despite not knowing how to play chess. Apparently, logic and order is unable to detect a potential checkmate from chaos that does unpredictable moves.
  • Farscape:
    • The series takes delight in simultaneously subverting and playing this trope straight whenever a protagonist's crazy plan works despite the logical objections of others, but also leads to lasting consequences which always come back to bite them in the arse. Characters will continually point out this trend, but usually concede to the fact that they're screwed either way and really don't have a choice.
    • Played painfully straight in the episode "My Three Crichtons", in which the three Crichtons in question are the original, a primitive caveman-like creature, and an advanced version with a brain so big it has distended his skull. The advanced Crichton is explicitly stated at several points to run on pure logic, which in practice means that he's a gigantic, backstabbing Jerkass. Notably, the "pure logic" claim is only made by him; everyone else just thinks he's an arrogant prick with a high opinion of himself.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Ice Warriors" features a completely logical computer that the scientists are dependent on, that is completely useless once the Outside-Context Problem shows up as there is no perfect solution and it has not been programmed to anticipate this sort of thing. Everyone else in the setting is completely aware that the computer is useless, except for, unfortunately, the person actually in charge who remains slavishly devoted to it.
    • "Destiny of the Daleks" has the Daleks and Movellans, two "perfectly logical" races, at war in a perpetual stalemate because neither of them, each knowing the other will anticipate and compensate for their logical strategies, can find the best time to attack. This is possible if there's a Cold War-type mutually assured destruction, but it's written as Straw Vulcan "logic", including the "logical" computers not accepting short term losses (losing some soldiers) and not accepting other than a guaranteed success. The groups want Davros and the Doctor respectively to use illogic to help them win, and Davros eventually orders some Daleks to sacrifice themselves to destroy the Movellan ship. The story ends with An Aesop about making mistakes leading to winning. This one is especially weird because the Daleks are shown elsewhere to be anything but a "perfectly logical" race, being very emotional indeed (albeit the usual emotion being hate). And they don't even have the excuse, such as it is, of falling into research failure; this story was written by Terry Nation, the Daleks' creator and the writer of over half the other Dalek stories to this point. For that matter, script editor Douglas Adams is usually very good about avoiding this trope too.
    • The later episode "Evolution of the Daleks" works the logic/emotion debate more realistically, as Sec's newly acquired ability to feel emotions other than hate makes him far more "logical". This is a genuine Heel–Face Turn (considering his Heroic Sacrifice), but there was pragmatism here, as the recurring flaw of the Daleks, especially in the post-time-war era, is their tendency to let genocidal xenophobia trump their logic. Sec reasoned, quite logically, that the best way to ensure the survival of your race was not to carry the Villain Ball everywhere. The prime turning point being that as Sec starts to let go of said genocidal xenophobia, he's able to ask the other Daleks the obvious question "If we're so superior, why are we the last survivors?" while turning to humanity and recognizing that for all their short comings, they always survive and continue.
    • The Cybermen in particular suffer from this trope:
      • They've removed all of their emotions and are supposed to function completely by logic, as according to them, emotion is weakness; the fact that they don't have any emotions often completely scuttles them, because their logic is thus totally flawed.
      • It's subverted, however, in a Doctor Who comic strip, in which an army of invading Cybermen are confronted by a military leader who tells them that, for all their claims of logical superiority, the emotional strength of the humans they are facing will defeat them. The Cyberleader's response is to douse everyone present with a hallucinogenic agent that sends all of the humans into complete emotional breakdown. Completely crushed and driven half-insane, the humans present beg to be converted into Cybermen; against such a weapon, emotion really is a weakness.
      • In most of their '80s appearances, it was heavily implied that they hadn't been entirely successful with the removal of emotion. While this was never used to its full extent, it was recurring enough to not just feel like bad writing, and some of their defeats can, partially, be attributed to emotional Cyber Leaders. Excellent, indeed. In "Earthshock" in particular, the Cyber Leader takes a curiously gloating pleasure in Tegan's pain at the possibility of her planet's entire destruction for a supposedly 'emotionless' being.
    • The effect of this trope on the viewer was made visible with the "new" Cybermen in "Doomsday": when the Cybermen propose an alliance with the Daleks, they claim to bring "elegance" of design to the table, and manage a subtle dig about the lack of it in the Dalek physical form. As noted above, logic is about how to achieve goals, not about what those goals are, so there's nothing illogical about the Cybermen prizing "elegance", as they pursue it in a logical fashion. This did not stop a number of fans from shouting "That's not logical!" about the exchange. In fact, "Elegance is good. Cybermen are elegant. Therefore, making more Cybermen makes more elegance, and, by extension, more goodness" is actually a far more logical motive for their actions than the traditional Cyberman strategy of "Survival is good. Therefore let's send our entire race off on incredibly risky invasions of Earth following pretty much the same strategy that has failed and led us to near extinction several times already" used repeatedly through the classic series. Just after the Cybermen have boasted of elegance, we see the procedure they go through to fire their built-in weapons. The Dalek's simple point-and-exterminate is far more elegant—and effective.
  • In Super Sentai, The Hero is almost always a loudmouth with more adrenaline than brains (similar to the Digimon franchise's goggle-wearer). In an episode of Magiranger in which The Hero and his mentor switch roles, the Aesop was to not waste your time thinking, and just charge in yelling as The Hero does. Right Makes Might, and thinking only gets in the way. This exact plot was copied over in Power Rangers Mystic Force, the Americanized version of Magiranger.
  • Bones:
    • The series lives on the Odd Couple relationship between emotional and intuitive Booth and logical and rational Brennan: she's frequently shown as being wrong in the end, or being right for the wrong reasons. It gets really jarring when you consider that Bones is very rarely rational or logical at all. In one episode, Angela pointed out that one of Brennan's skills is not being rational, but rationalizing her actions.
    • When Brennan lost her memory of the last couple days and was framed for murder; she argued in favor of her own guilt as the most logical conclusion even though the police had no motive whatsoever and Booth pointed out she was not capable of murder.
    • This is even more noticeable in the last two seasons where Bones did THE EXACT SAME THING her father did to her FOR THE EXACT SAME REASON then comes back and acts like she’s done nothing wrong, to the point of wondering why Booth is so upset. What’s more jarring is that before this happened there was yet another episode dedicated to her abandonment issues with her father.
    • Perhaps the best evidence of this is when she first met Jared; everybody tried to get her to realize that he was bad news. Her response was that they had no evidence, but at the same time she believed a virtual stranger when he told him that Booth was a loser despite knowing him for years
    • Speaking of Bones, Zack's decision to work for a cannibalistic serial killer because "his logic is unassailable". Really? Even accepting all his premises, where exactly does eating people and making a skeleton from their remains fit into this plan? Of course, the ADA then dismisses the entire logic argument by saying this happened "the same way it always happens. A strong personality meets a weak one and decides to take advantage."
  • Stargate SG-1: the hyper-logical Asgard, on the verge of defeat in their war against the Replicators, come to Earth seeking ideas from a more primitive, more savage race. Immediately averted by Jack saying "You're actually saying you need someone dumber than you are?" Carter, as it turns out, is indeed dumb enough to win that battle. The fact that the Asgard, practically alone among Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, are able to acknowledge they are not perfect and, more importantly, humanity and Earth in particular actually have something to contribute is one reason they are such great guys. Of course, the Asgard's main reason for coming is that they are so advanced they have trouble coming up with low-tech solutions (for example, launching pieces of metal at a high speed using a small explosive to deal with targets that have shielding against energy weapons) or solutions to problem their technology can't solve. Which makes sense, as similar things happen IRL. People living in the 21st century would often not think (or even be aware) of several tricks and trades used centuries prior—and not think of using such tricks when they might again be useful (see the Real Life section of Rock Beats Laser for example). The Asgard's previous tactic of throwing more-and-more advanced technological weapons and spaceships against the Replicators was disastrous in particular because the Replicators would assimilate their tech and grow more powerful each time.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • Averted in one episode; there's a Ticking Time Bomb scenario, and one of a daunting number of identical circuits will save the day. Since there's no penalty for guessing, The Smart Guy is methodically trying each one, but there won't be time for all of them, so a more empathic, intuitive type tells him to start trying them at random. Smart Guy, quite sensibly, points out that that would mean a chance of trying some of them twice, thus wasting precious seconds.
    • Played straight in the first meeting with the Genii. While infiltrating a Wraith Hiveship, Teyla discovers some human prisoners. She becomes emotionally moved and stays behind (with one of the Genii) to free them... except that the success of the mission crucially depends on the Wraith not realizing that it ever took place. After pointing this out to Teyla and being subsequently ignored, the Genii, as the Straw Vulcan of the day, "logically" shoots down the prisoner with his unsilenced firearm. This, of course, instantly alerts the Wraith; the Genii is shot and paralyzed just after, and Teyla leaves him to die, despite the fact that he's an old friend of hers and the show typically operates on a No One Gets Left Behind premise. But hey, that's the price you pay for being logical and trying to avoid the deaths of many of your people.
    • It's hard to say whether the Genii are meant to be jerkasses or Jerkass Straw Vulcans. While they may be said to be overly pragmatic (they do believe in the importance of the Genii people and society over individuals, to rather harsh, but somewhat justified means and ends), they aren't paragons of wisdom, nor are ever said to be logical.
  • Parodied by The Colbert Report, where Stephen Colbert's character often sets up the "liberal elite" as a Straw Vulcan. We aren't supposed to agree with Colbert's character; the character himself is the real Stephen's Strawman Political. The fallacy of using a straw vulcan highlights both his own lack of logic and the brilliance of the supposed straw vulcan, which means that by lampshading it, he's both averted and inverted the trope.
  • Nick Stokes of CSI can make his co-workers look like Straw Vulcans as he is generally more concerned than his co-workers with establishing rapport with the victim's family and keeping the human dynamics of a case in mind. He's not a better CSI per se because of this but he's more suited to the parts of the job the police academy doesn't train you for; giving reassurance to the victim's family and reaching out to reluctant witnesses.
  • The Professor from Gilligan's Island although it's more "imagination is better than logic." Honestly, after all the stuff that goes on on that island you'd think the Professor would EVENTUALLY realize that science isn't going to work there. Then again, you would think he would come to the logical conclusion to keep Gilligan far away from any experiment or device he is building. By force, if necessary.
  • One episode of M*A*S*H featured a logistics expert who was treated as little more than a cold and calculating monster because he projected casualties before a battle in order to make preparations for receiving them. By the end of the episode, of course, Hawkeye had taught him the "error" of his ways. Also overlaps, as these things often do, with Strawman Has A Point.
  • In the Modern Family episode "Lifetime Supply", Jay and Manny go the horse track with Manny's father, Javier (Benjamin Bratt). Jay chooses his horses based on the information in the Daily Racing Form. Javier bets on a horse because "I looked him in the eyes, and he told me this would be his day". Guess who wins? To add insult to injury, Jay chooses a horse this way and it wins ... only to be disqualified.
  • White Christmas: Choi Chi Hun is the detached genius who admits to having trouble understanding emotions and empathy. However, the trope is consistently averted as he remains the smartest and most rational of the students. When the mysterious letters have the characters almost come to blows, Chi Hun figures out the sender sits him down and they have a private civil chat about why the sender did it. When they're held hostage, he calmly takes the situation in and tries collaborating with the others to find a way out. When he get's into a conflict with the more emotional character Park Moo Yul because Moo Yul gave the killer's unloaded gun to his girlfriend, Chi Hun is portrayed in the right, as Mo Yul has endangered all of them by leaving the gun and the ammunition in the same location where some one can turn them into a threat. Kang Mi Reu, one of the most emotional characters, was the one who took the bullets out in the first place so something like that wouldn't happen. This of course allows the killer and his accomplice to regain control of the school.
  • Averted in Quark, a parody of Star Trek. A Running Gag involves Quark trying to argue with Ficus that Humans Are Superior due to their emotions. Ficus always ends up pointing out how Quark's reasoning is Insane Troll Logic.


    Role-Playing Games 
  • Michelle Glados of Dino Attack RPG considers herself to be the perfect scientist because she does not dilute her "logic" with "weaknesses" such as emotion, allowing Rex to deliver a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how Glados's lack of emotion is a weakness in itself.
    Michelle Glados: "I do not feel disturbed at all. I do not feel remorse, I do not feel pity, I do not feel compassion. I feel... nothing. I am the perfect scientist, you see, because I have the clearest mind of all, for my judgment and my actions are never hindered by weaknesses such as emotion."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Tech-Priests in Warhammer 40,000. Given how often they schism over what's "logical" and how often other characters call them on it it's more of a Running Gag than anything.
  • A variation of this can happen to Alchemicals in Exalted—as they grow into cities, install Exemplar charms, or go long periods without human interaction, they accumulate Clarity. The sourcebook for Alchemicals goes out of its way to point out that this means they focus on efficiency and do not become needlessly cruel.
  • In Genius: The Transgression, we have Atomists, the Lemurian technocrats. They believe every problem can be solved with technology... including social ones. When you combine this with their literal insanity it has predictable results.

    Video Games 
  • Averted with First Lieutenant Lin from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (AKA "Dark Conflict", in Europe and Australia), a highly logical tactician who nevertheless concedes command of the army to Ed (Will in Days of Ruin), on the grounds that he is better respected by the troops and civilians and will therefore be a more effective leader. At one point, she even commends Ed for giving an emotional speech to motivate the troops. There's also the scene where she had Greyfield/Sigismundo at her mercy, and he tries to save himself by pointing out that she'd be doing the same thing he did. She agrees... and shoots him anyway.
  • The New Enlightenment in the Interactive Fiction Square Circle embodies this.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy: Onion Knight gets this, spelled out in that story's ending narration: "He thought that avoiding mistakes and making decisions based on logic—instead of emotion—was the only way to reach the truth. But the boy has learned ... that he can tap into immeasurable strength when he searches deep inside his heart."
  • Everyone in the Junkyard in Digital Devil Saga starts as one, though with less straw than most. Some change almost immediately upon infection with the demon virus while others take a long time. Gale is the longest hold-out and actively resists the mental changes. Gale's plans are always direct and effective if occasionally callous—he proposes making and betraying an alliance almost right away, and offhandedly suggests massive destruction to take down the Chronic Backstabber. He also doesn't understand things such as Argilla's anguish after Jinana dies, nor why Lupa vows upon his honor, but he still respects the emotional factor in others' decisions and concedes after voicing his concerns. Noticeably, after he awakens his emotions he remains The Stoic, but notably stops suggesting things that are shot down for moral reasons and displays a lot more tact, implying that his newfound intuition actually doesn't prevent his abilities as a planner, but he's far more careful and less ruthless.
  • Played truly bizarrely in one route of Zero Escape Virtue's Last Reward, where Phi, in discussing the Prisoner's Dilemma and Ambidex Game, continually refers to "Betray" as the "logical" and "rational" decision... despite going in depth on how it's sub-optimal for both the group and the individual, meaning that it's illogical and irrational by real-world rather than Straw Vulcan definitions of logic, unless for some reason you were applying logic with the goal of "Make the least advantageous decision."
    • If you don't know what decision the other player will make, it is the most logical choice. If they chose to ally, then you're better off if you betray than if you ally. If they choose to betray, then you're still better off if you betray than if you ally (at least in the standard version—there's supposed to be a motivation to betray if you know your opponent will do the same, forming a Nash equilibrium at betray/betray).
  • Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins has this role in your party. The most striking example being her objection to help out with the situation in Redcliffe, because it presents a huge delay in your quest to stop the Darkspawn, despite the fact that helping them would get the Grey Wardens some crucial allies for their fight against the Darkspawn. It turns out later that she was deliberately conditioned to not want to help people while growing up, and her arguments are rationalizations.
  • Racter from Shadowrun: Hong Kong firmly believes that humanity can only reach true transcendence via complete cyberization. This is in the face of the fact that cybernetics in the Shadowrun universe are known to literally eat your soul and have in the past turned people who put a bit too many cybernetics into themselves into crazed, emotionless psychopaths, but Racter actually believes that emotions are what is holding humanity back from transcendence anyways. Racter himself is half cybernetic, but he doesn't experience the side effects (or so he says) because he was already diagnosed with sociopathy as a young child. Thus, his belief is that the one thing that prevents humanity from reaching its true potential is its capacity for emotions.
  • Deconstructed in You Find Yourself In A Room. The AI running the game continually mocks and demeans you while holding itself up as an example of pure, emotionless perfection. Its guise steadily slips over the course of the game as its sheer disgust of you becomes ever more apparent. At the end, it taunts you by asking you to name a "useless human emotion". If you say "hate" or "anger", the AI realizes that it feels those emotions, causing its entire worldview to collapse. Utterly broken, it surrenders and allows you to finish the game.

  • This episode of Bob the Angry Flower exhibits typical straw logic. Meanwhile acting extremely emotional. "Stop trying to control me!" indeed.
  • Parodied in Fans!, where one of the Big Bad's plots was to go back in time and insert more instances of this trope into fiction—thus making all of humanity stupider as a whole.
  • Shortpacked! parodies an instance of this from GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra in this strip. Willis labeled the strip "Is this something already covered by TV Tropes? I haven't checked yet." in his update blog.

    Western Animation 
  • Sokka of Avatar: The Last Airbender is often put in this position when the Gaang is trying to help people. However, it's subverted in "The Fortuneteller", where they have to convince the people that the volcano will erupt. Although a lot of times Sokka will act on instinct and emotion, oftentimes, he is actually very practical and logical in the non-straw sense. Over the course of the series though, he grows out of it. By the time of Legend Of Korra, when Sokka is a judge, his response to a crime-boss being accused of blood-bending without a full moon, is more or less, "Yes, it's supposed to be impossible, but I've seen a lot of weird, seemingly-impossible crap in my life, and a lot of victims have come forth, so let's discuss it."
  • Squidward Tentacles of Spongebob Squarepants is frequently put as a Straw Vulcan counterpart to Spongebob and Patrick. Sometimes he's perfectly logical and the universe screws him over just 'cos.
  • Averted in, of all places, The Replacements. One episode revolves around the problems of Riley displaying some "Straw Vulcan" behavior.... however, it's never labeled as "logical", and in the end, it's determined that it's not innately inferior to more impulsive behavior... but just that each is better-suited to certain problems and situations.
  • Albert in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is a genius mousekid who repeatedly expresses disbelief in Santa, and refuses to think with his heart. Even when Santa is literally real, with an actual postal address on the South Pole and everything. Every single fact he says about why he doesn't believes in Santa is Instantly Proven Wrong (for example, he states it as a hard-core fact that grown-ups don't believe in Santa, when not a single adult in the whole film acts that way and even go a long distance in trying to make things right). The calamity of the story happens because he decides to send a letter to Santa where he says he isn't real and he stupidly signs it "all of us"—meaning Santa believes that all of the people in town told him to get lost and nearly decides not to give them presents.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, research magician Twilight Sparkle disregards repeated observational evidence of Pinkie Pie's "Pinkie Sense" because it's not Sufficiently Analyzed Magic. Then, under the influence of severe repeated head trauma and possible stress-induced brain aneurysm, she concludes that it "just makes sense," and that you "just have to choose to believe" in things you don't understand. After the inevitable backlash, the creator of the show, Lauren Faust, apologized, saying that that wasn't meant to be the moral to take away from the episode.
  • The original Prowl from The Transformers was described as being logical to the point of shutting down when faced with an unexpectedly crazy situation. In the cartoon, this wasn't really touched on and he was portrayed more as a just-the-facts-ma'am style military policeman.
  • Taken to its logical extreme in the Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 episode wej Duj. The crew of the Vulcan ship Sh'vhal are very rigid. So rigid that T'Lyn, a crewmember onboard the ship, is looked down upon by the crew because she uses intuition and instinct in her reasoning. Later, Captain Sokel "thanks" T'Lyn for saving the Sh'Vhal and U.S.S. Cerritos by transfering her to a Starfleet ship (later known to be the U.S.S. Cerritos) because of her supposedly emotional "outbursts".
    • The illogic of T'Lyn's "punishment" is called out by Lt. Jg. Mariner in the T'Lyn-centered Season 4 episode Empathalogical Fallacies.


Video Example(s):


Typical Vulcans

Exaggerated. The crew of the Sh'vhal are very rigid, even by Vulcan standards, treating any perceived deviation by T'Lyn as an emotional outburst and showing her little if any gratitude after her shield enhancements save the ship.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / StrawVulcan

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