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Too Dumb to Fool

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"Tryin' to pull a fast one on me, eh? Well, he can't outsmart me, 'cause I'm a moron!"

A character too dumb to fool is someone who's completely immune to logic traps and fallacies because he ignores anything that he can't understand in favor of what he can. It's not his only advantage. He also doesn't manage to fool himself. If something is too simple to be seen, count on them seeing it. Cutting the Knot is frequently suggested by such a character. And it's really, really, really hard to sucker him with ideological explanations.

Trying to Break Him by Talking is a bad idea. He probably won't understand your attempts to undermine his confidence or self-esteem, or understand why he's supposed to care about what you have to say. His counterargument will be to merely tell you to Shut Up, Hannibal!, and make you Talk to the Fist. A Kansas City Shuffle won't work against him either because he doesn't pick up on the signals that are supposed to make him react the way you need him to.

Often The Fool is mentally disabled, though he may merely be Book Dumb. Children can also fall under this; when the Constantly Curious child comes up with an Armor-Piercing Question, this often comes into play. Frequently the Spanner in the Works and the Only Sane Man who can detect the Devil in Plain Sight. Sometimes he does not detect the sarcasm in the Sarcastic Confession. And Exact Words won't work with him either because he won't actually see anything but.

Sometimes produces the Fearless Fool and Achievements in Ignorance. It is not unknown for them to be able to ignore Schmuck Bait.

If a smart person is assuming this role on purpose to frustrate a would-be scammer, it's Obfuscating Stupidity, though admittedly it can be hard to distinguish the two. Often a Foil to Too Clever by Half. See also Dumbass Has a Point, Nobody's That Dumb, and Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal. Contrast with the Seemingly Profound Fool, who may seem clever partly because they are Too Dumb To Fool.

The concept derives from the idea that the simple-minded have an earthy sort of wisdom, and that the simplest solution is usually the best. In certain circumstances, especially when a Masquerade is in place, this simplicity of thought allows a Fool to see things for what they truly are, even when this really ought to require some kind of metaphysical super-senses. This is one major way in which idiocy is turned into a Disability Superpower. See also Disability Immunity for where a character is similarly unaffected, but has a physical, easier-to-recognize disability.

Not to be confused with the similarly-named Too Dumb to Live, in which a character does a suicidal thing that can get themselves killed, like Bullying a Dragon.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tomo proves to be this in Azumanga Daioh — amusingly enough, Osaka of all people is the one to run afoul of it. In an attempt to be called "Ayumu Kasuga" instead of "Osaka," she tries telling Tomo that she didn't live in Osaka for the most part, and lists several other locations she's lived. Tomo, being too stupid to remember these other places, just sticks with "Osaka" because she can remember it. If she looked at a map, though, she could just as easily point out that all of the other locations are just suburbs of Osaka.
  • Asta from Black Clover is very aware of his lack of smarts, which is why he won't consider any We Can Rule Together or I Surrender, Suckers kind of offers. When Ladros tried those, Asta refused to listen and went straight to defeat him and knock him out.
  • In Boarding School Juliet, the school is a web of politics and racial conflict in which carrying out a forbidden relationship is surprisingly easy, because there are a billion reasons why Towans would never date Westerners and such a relationship would be doomed anyway. However, Somali (who doesn't care about bigotry, or indeed anything except violence and her Love Interest) sees only two people who go to great lengths to be together, even if 'logically' they should be nemeses. note 
  • In Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Poet's Circle of Memory Destruction doesn't work on Don Patch, 'cause he's stupid!
  • In Chainsaw Man, Idiot Hero Denji manages to frequently outwit foes smarter & stronger than him by either completely blowing past their attempts to deceive him or pulling out some insane plan that's so utterly ludicrous and impractical that no sane tactician would ever expect an opponent to try it. During his fight with the Falling Devil, when she attempts to Mind Rape him he reveals that in situations like this he'll invoke this trope and give himself brain damage with his Healing Factor taking care of the rest.
  • In Darker than Black, the Wrong Genre Savvy, none-too-bright Clueless Detective is one of the only people to notice that that cute Chinese exchange student, Li, keeps showing up. Additionally, almost the only person to figure out the Black Reaper's identity was a Loony Fan who was more interested in stalking the hot guy than anything else.
  • In the Muscle Tower mini-arc of Dragon Ball, Ninja Murasaki tells Goku to close his eyes and count to thirty while he hides under a fake rock. This works... until Goku forgets what comes after seventeen, looks behind and sees Murasaki's hiding spot.
    • In the Garlic Jr. arc, Krillin's girlfriend Maron ends up playing cards with Yajirobe and Master Korin and both of them lose badly (the former has been stripped down to his underwear). When Yajirobe asks Korin why he doesn't read her mind, he replies that "there's nothing to read".
  • In Eyeshield 21, Riku of the Seibu Wild Gunmen realizes, to his horror, that Rikiya Gaoh of the Hakushu Dinosaurs is too single-minded to fall for his feint, on top of being too big and strong to have to worry about it. Although Gaoh isn't dumb at all — he's just too unsubtle, blunt and single-minded to be tricked.
  • Arthur in Fire Force is very dumb and delusional, which comes in handy when it comes to seeing through deception. He realized one of the Company 7 twins was an impostor before anyone else, even when the others tried to call him out on the supposedly baseless accusation.
  • Adachi Hana from Flunk Punk Rumble proves to be this. When a bunch of creepy monsters start scaring Student Council members while they're doing work at school overnight, and they sneak up on Adachi and Shinagawa, she simply assumes they're Shinagawa's friends because they're following him. The creatures shout "Why aren't you scared?!" and reveal themselves to be members of the Occult Club who were trying to start rumors of school hauntings to get more visitors to their presentation at the next school festival.
  • Gon Freecss from Hunter × Hunter is too childish and naive to fool. In a game where he and his opponent had to light candles and keep them burning, he was presented with two choices. Pick the long one or pick the short one. His friends speculate that the long one could be a trap but the short one could also be a trap. He picks the long one because it would obviously burn longer. However, it turns out that it doesn't burn longer because the candle he picked was special and burned three times as quickly as the shorter one. His opponent eventually reveals to us that he hid several booby-trapped candles under his shirt and would've given Gon a booby-trapped candle no matter which candle he picked. And despite all the deceptions and trap-laying, Gon realizes that his booby-trapped candle is burning so fiercely that there's no way it could be extinguished short of running out of wick. He then puts it down and uses his superior speed to move in and blow out the enemy's candle himself.
  • Okuyasu Nijimura in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is notable for being explicitly none too bright in a world where clever plans are everywhere and Genius Bruisers predominate, but he still manages to find and defeat Akira Otoishi when the guy was disguised as a Speedwagon Foundation employee by not even bothering to Spot the Impostor- he just decided to beat up both and apologize to the real one later (luckily, he got Akira first try).
    • It should probably be noted, however, that Akira had already fooled him previously in the battle by baiting him into uncovering an underground power line, enabling Red Hot Chili Pepper to get to the dock. And later on, Yoshihiro Kira tricks him into helping him escape rather easily. So he’s not consistently Too Dumb to Fool, it’s just that this particular circumstance was one where overthinking the problem wasn’t going to help.
  • In The Law of Ueki, BJ starts off trying to win fights by claiming to be Robert Haydn, which causes people to run in fear. While Mori falls for this, Ueki just remembers that BJ introduced himself as BJ earlier that day, and just can't seem to understand BJ's claims that his name is really Robert Haydn... and keeps insisting that he's really BJ. The fact that he doesn't even know who Robert Haydn is probably helps.
  • Naruto:
    • Something like this occurs during the Chunin Exam arc, when Sasuke comes up with a plan to figure out if somebody is infiltrating the group using a transformation jutsu. His plan was to come up with a very, very, long password. Later, when someone does come disguised as Naruto and gets the password right, Sasuke immediately realizes that it's an impostor because he knew Naruto would never be able to remember the whole thing.
      Sasuke: You'd have better luck teaching it to a hamster.
    • Also comes to Naruto's aid during the first part of the Chunin Exams. The ninja candidates are given an insanely difficult written test, with the implicit understanding that what's really being tested are their covert information gathering skills (i.e. being able to cheat on the test without getting caught). However, the way the test is set up (You get ten questions, the tenth of which is a "Leave Your Quest" Test. For the first nine questions, the proctors are watching like hawks and will fail you if you get caught cheating enough. Students are told that wrong answers will also lose them points, but this doesn't actually happen because if you answer the tenth question correctly, you automatically pass.) means that the only thing that will actually get you failed is getting caught cheating. Naruto manages to pass the test without doing anything at all, as he didn't know the answers to the questions, was dumb enough to miss the implication that the test was really on his cheating skills, and brave enough to pass the Secret Test of Character at the end. Sakura also never realized that she was supposed to cheat, because she didn't need to - she was smart enough to just work out the answers legitimately.
  • One Piece: Pirate Captain Monkey D. Luffy has displayed this sometimes, although he's also been fooled a lot. On one occasion his crew lamented that he was 'just the kind of idiot who would fall for that,' and were right, but when the chips are down, or just when he already knows the bad guy is a bad guy, he has used this trope. He's more often just Too Dumb To Confuse or To Distract.
  • Pokémon: In one of the Decolora Adventure episodes, everyone but Ash, Jessie, and James are hypnotized by crew of Beeheeyem. When the three eventually question why they were unaffected, the Beeheeyem state that hypnosis doesn't work on idiots.
  • Nozomi Yumehara of Yes! Pretty Cure 5 is a ditzy girl who stumbled onto the Call to Adventure due to her Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! Yet, in Pretty Cure All Stars New Stage 3, she's the first one to realize that she's trapped in a dream world and ultimately rejects it. Then again her Cure identity IS "Cure Dream". The funny thing about it and how it fits the trope is because Nozomi is Book Dumb, yet in her dream, she magically writes down the answers of the subject she is teaching, despite actually not knowing said answer. That is the moment she realizes that what she is experiencing is a dream. Because as of the way she is now, she is too dumb to be a teacher in the first place.

    Board Games 
  • Many a chess grand-master has lost games to beginners in simultaneous exhibitions (that is, when they're playing against several people at the same time) by setting traps whose bait goes unnoticed.

    Card Games 
  • In Poker, there's the saying "Never bluff a donkey." While experienced players will fold if they think their hand isn't strong enough to call a high bet, a beginner will call almost any bet with a hand he likes, even if this hand is just strong enough to beat a bluff, if nothing else.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, a player keeping two Islands untapped implies that they have a Counterspell in their hand. Similarly, a player tapping all of their Forests except one implies that they are holding a Giant Growth. Sometimes, players will attempt to bluff their opponents by keeping those lands untapped even when they don't have the necessary cards in hand. This tactic works best against intermediate players, because beginners don't yet know enough about the game to know what two untapped Islands or one untapped Forest signifies, and expert players are usually able to see through their opponents' bluffs. Many a Magic : The Gathering player has seen a bluff fail completely because they didn't realize that their opponents were, ironically, too inexperienced to fall for it.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: In one comic, there was a charismatic Con Man who could convince people to buy anything he wanted them to by putting ideas in their heads. He tries this on Moose, but it doesn't work as he doesn't process ideas very well. He does know when he is being insulted, however, and promptly decks the guy for calling him a stupid lard bucket, depriving him of his charming voice.
  • Nextwave has Forbush Man trap the team in illusionary realities that exist entirely within their own minds... only to realize too late that Tabitha escaped the ploy because she has no mind to control. One explosion later, Tabitha claims she got out of it because she's "clever."
  • Groo the Wanderer has had his bacon saved by this on several occasions. In The Life of Groo, a comic special that covered his early years and first adventure, he was facing an evil sorcerer-king who had imprisoned his parents; the sorcerer-king tried to read Groo's mind, only to recoil in horror, screaming "There is nothing to read!" Since this same sorcerer had been the one to make Groo mindless through a curse on his father, this was poetic justice. And who could forget his immortal line "Trying to fool Groo is like trying to freeze Ice!"
  • In Wild C.A.T.s (WildStorm), Tao (the Tactical Augmented Organism) is the ultimate manipulator, capable of bending anyone to his will with time. However, when he tries his tricks on Ladytron, they simply don't work. She spells it out for him: He can influence the way rational people think, but she's a violent, stupid criminal — anything but rational. It's then immediately subverted when he switches tactics and uses effective emotional manipulation on her just long enough to take her out. Tao gets Hoisted by His Own Petard in this fashion again in an issue of Genął, when he is able to manipulate all of the kids (and Helspont), but not Grunge.
  • In the Age of Apocalypse. The extremely dimwitted Sunder is the only member of Forge's resistance trope to realize the "new guy" is actually the horseman Mr. Sinister.
  • Dumb Bunny of The Inferior Five. "I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid!"
  • Justified in Big Trouble in Little China, this is the reason why only Jack can face the Seven-Faced Widow. Anyone more knowledgeable in Chinese mythology would have heard all the stories about her vast prophetic powers and be too afraid of her to call her bluffs, thus would quickly fall into her mind games and be driven mad. Since Jack only knows what he's seen, he quickly realizes she's full of crap and absconds with the MacGuffins she's holding in short order.
  • Goofy. Most famously shown in a story by Floyd Gottfredson, where he remained immune from being hypnotized when everyone else fell for the trick (the Villain of the Week was a hypnotizer, playing his tricks on everyone, including Mickey. Goofy, on the other hand, lived up to this trope, naturally).

    Comic Strips 

    Fairy Tales 
  • In The Emperor's New Clothes, all the adults in the crowd convince themselves that they can see the Emperor's non-existent outfit because it's claimed that only those worthy of their position can see it. Only one child is simple and uninhibited enough to realize, "The Emperor has no clothes!"
  • A staple of fairy tales is that the youngest son of the family is also considered a complete idiot, yet he still is able to solve the puzzles or win the contests that his older brothers can't.
  • The archetype of "The Wise Fool" comes from this. The Fool is too dense or deranged to follow social convention or worldly matters, but his harmlessness also allows him to say or see things the more conventional members of society would not.

    Fan Works 
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, the Lemony Narrator claims that the earth ponies didn't fall for "Celestia's lies" like the pegasi because they were too busy being amazed by the working outhouses. The narrator, being an earth pony herself, believes this is a sign of her race's superiority.
  • In Christian Grey vs. Pepper Potts, this is essentially the entire reason Christian is able to evade the Avengers and other superheroes for as long as he does. They're so used to using advanced tactics to track down evil geniuses and cunning villains that they're not at all prepared for an idiotic spoiled brat.
  • In one Ranma ˝ fan fiction, Ukyō tries to keep Ryōga from a certain location by giving him a map. Of a different city. However, Ryōga's No Sense of Direction is so bad that the inaccurate map actually helps him get to where he wants to go, to Ukyō's bewildered confusion.
  • Actually lampshaded by the author in Dark Studios Kids Next Door when Numbuh Three is the only member of Sector V to be unaffected by the boogeyman's nightmares in Operation N.I.G.H.T. His attempts to frighten her completely fail because she can tell they're just bad dreams.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug fanfic Fox Rain, Zoe Chevalot, better known as Zoe the Fangirl due her obsession with Adrien, knows he's actually Chat Noir because it would be cool if he were a superhero.
  • In Miraculous: The Phoenix Rises, during Mayor Joe Biden's emergency meeting, a horde of protestors chant Let's Go Brandon from below. The mayor himself not only misses the insult but is convinced they are cheering him on despite not knowing who "Brandon" is.
  • In To Undo it All, when Berenice used her power "The Question" on Kenpachi in the original timeline, her attempts to confuse him and leave him unable to fight caused him to kill her because his mentality is to attack things that confuse him.
  • In this Ducktales 2017 fancomic, Gosalyn is trying to trick Drake and Launchpad to say Penis by getting them to say Peanuts without the "T". She's less successful with Launchpad.
    Gosalyn: Hey Launchpad, can you say the word peanuts without the "T"?
    Launchpad: "The word peanuts without the T"
    Gosalyn: >:v
  • Harry's baby sister in The Rigel Black Chronicles always recognises her, even when she's being "Rigel".
    Addy: Hawee.
    Harry: No, Addy, it's Archie. Ar-chie.
    Addy: Hawee!
  • In Daily Equestria Life with Monster Girl, everypony knows that earth pony magic is limited to the Cornucopia Effect and enhanced strength... due to the fact that the entire earth pony tribe is engaged in a massive conspiracy to cover up the true extent of their powers. Cerea, however, is from another planet and doesn't know even the most basic things about how Menajeria works... and as such, is able to immediately figure out the real extent of earth magic, because she never learned that earth ponies have no true magic.
  • In Scarlet Lady, when Chloé complains about not being able to go to New York because she has to stay to protect Paris, Tikki suggests her to leave the Ladybug earrings with Chat Noir or Marigold so she can leave. Chloé doesn't fall for it, not because she realizes the other heroes wouldn't return the earrings, but because she's so egotistical that she doesn't want someone else to steal the glory and believes the others wouldn't succeed without her.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Addams Family Values, the main villain Debbie Jellinsky professes her love for Fester Addams through Blatant Lies about her past (like saying she is a virgin while revealing her cleavage provokingly) and compliments about his sexiness, but Fester is too slow on the uptake to understand most of it until she just tells him she loves him.
  • Fletch. When he's caught red-handed trespassing by a guard with a shotgun, the title character tries to bamboozle him with a line of patter: claiming to be Don Corleone, saying he's with the mattress police, etc. The guard (who's obviously not too bright) isn't impressed, and insists on calling the cops. Since it's one of the few times where Fletch's wit fails him, it takes a well-timed Groin Attack to get him out of hot water.
  • Star Wars: The Jedi Mind Trick doesn't work on four groups of sentient beings: skilled Force users, species that are naturally immune (including Droids, but their sentience is debatable), exceptionally smart individuals, and exceptionally dumb ones.
    • In The Phantom Menace Qui-Gon attempts to disable a group of droids by using a Logic Bomb and although the droid is briefly confused by it, its AI isn't exactly super advanced so it doesn't overthink the paradox and simply attempts to arrest them anyway.
    • Star Wars Legends explains that one of the main reason Hutts tend to hire Gamorreans as guards is that the males are too stupid and too stubborn to take bribes.
  • Good Burger; Roxanne's attempts to seduce Ed into giving her the secret sauce fails because he is too dumb to realize she's hitting on him. He's also too dumb and goofy to understand when he's being insulted or provoked. Subverted, however, when Dexter robs him blind in a terrible business deal because Dexter knows Ed doesn't understand basic arithmetic.
  • The title character of Forrest Gump- a combination of being mentally disadvantaged, very swift on his feet, and plain dumb luck not only keep him out of trouble (like drug addiction that Jenny and Lieutenant Dan suffered), but enable him to try strange, but ultimately successful, ideas that end up making him a very wealthy and mostly happy man.
  • Played with in the 2007 adaptation of Hairspray, when Velma Von Tussle tries to seduce Wilbur Turnblad. She assumes that he is not responding to her advances because he's an idiot, but it's implied that he knows what she's trying and is deliberately ignoring her.
  • In baseball tearjerker Bang the Drum Slowly, Robert De Niro's character is described as "too dumb to play a joke on." This prevents him from being part of tegwar, a card game with ever-changing rules which the ballplayers use to scam money from passersby.
  • In the film adaptation of Wit, Susie the nurse is uneducated and simple in comparison to her brilliant colleagues and patient, but she alone understands human dignity, and no amount of philosophizing or cynical research or even inevitable death will take that from her.
  • In a deleted extension of the scene in X-Men: First Class where the team is infiltrating a base in Soviet Russia, the search dog that the checkpoint guards have still sensed that something was amiss in the seemingly empty truck. Charles says that the reason is that his telepathic power doesn't work well on dogs.
  • In Valkyrie, the plotters use the fact that General Fromm is inevitably doomed if the Nazi regime continues (due to not having reported their plot despite having known about it) to attempt to win his (crucial) support. Fromm however is too proud to admit this and therefore opposes the plotters, causing them to fail and him to lose his only chance at survival.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Working-class Muggle Jacob Kowalski doesn't question or argue much when he stumbles into the Wizarding world and all the odd stuff he encounters, bluntly telling Newt "I ain't got the brains to make this up!"
  • In the Tremors series, the Graboids and their other stages zig-zag on this Trope. They can learn how to solve problems, yeah, but for the most part they are a race of Super-Persistent Predators that will attack anything that they perceive as food and anything that gets in the way of getting said food—and in doing so, they systematically destroy everything the humans can use to get away from them, lure them into a trap, ask for help, or fight back. In the second film, for instance, the Shriekers keep attacking crucial targets like vehicles and the radio tower, but eventually the cast learns that the monsters hunt by heat and were just drawn to anything warm.
    Grady: You're telling me that they act smart because they're stupid?
  • The ogre in Tale of Tales, albeit only in his first scene. Everyone's trying to guess what animal a hide is from — because the one who guesses it gets to marry the princess — but they can't, because it's from a giant flea, and nobody can guess a flea could be that big. The ogre just smells that it smells like a flea.
  • An interesting variation in Cabin In The Woods: The teenagers that go to the titular cabin are all pretty well-adjusted and smart college students, with the possible exception of Marty who is always high as a kite. But as time passes, everyone starts acting like stereotypes of horror movies and taking very dumb and counterproductive choices, except for Marty, who keeps pointing out something is wrong and who keeps hearing voices whispering orders to the group. This is because the organization controlling the ritual is pumping them with airborne chemicals in order to make them easily manipulable into following the instructions of the ritual, but Marty's constant consumption of weed has basically made him immune to the chemicals, which ends turning him into the Spanner in the Works.

  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: The protagonist eventually gains a bodyguard who hates using her head, but is extremely loyal to her. Some incidents have shown part of that loyalty to come from the fact that any third-party attempts to make the bodyguard act otherwise requires the latter to think, which is something she's very rarely willing to do. This is slightly zig-zagged in that she reamains easily lured away by the prospect of an interesting activity if her charge is left in the same room as other people who are able and willing to protect her.
  • In the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series, specifically Callahan's Lady, Tony Donuts (don't ask) is a grade-A imbecile who is simply too violent for most people to even try to scam, and too stupid for nearly anyone - even the Professor - to scam successfully. When the Professor states he's made his plan foolproof, Mary points out that he did not make it moron-proof. This worry is proven justified when they rob a bank to pay Tony Donuts with real money instead of returning his counterfeit bills: a bank would certainly give them numbers in sequence, but Tony, being too dumb to use the printing press correctly, made his counterfeit money all with the same serial number.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court has the king and titular protagonist being chased by an angry mob. They cross a stream and then climb a tree to avoid pursuit, then Hank realizes someone might figure out what they did, so they climb into a neighboring tree. Cue the mob sending someone to climb the first tree...who accidentally climbs the second one instead and discovers them.
    The narrator: The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second-best swordsman in the world, no; what he needs to fear is an ignorant antagonist who's never held a sword in his hand before, because he doesn't do the thing he ought to do; he does the thing he ought not to do, and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.
  • Terry Pratchett likes to describe characters this way in Discworld. Detritus the troll, Fred Colon, and the Palace Guards in Guards! Guards! have all been characterized this way at some point.
    • Commander Vimes takes advantage of Detritus' nature to prevent people getting where he doesn't want them.
    • The Palace Guards have been stated to be hired for precisely this trait.
    • Thief of Time, where the story of the Emperor's New Clothes is mentioned, and the book then points out that the story ended before it got to the bit where the kid was beaten for being rude to royalty.
    • Also seen in Making Money, where Moist tests his paper currency on particularly "slow" shopkeepers (although he does distinguish between "slow" and "stupid", with the implication he can persuade a stupid man of anything). If he can convince them, he can convince anyone. "Slow" here refers to mental inertia. These are men to whom new ideas are very dodgy. Not stupid (they can make wrong change as quick as you can blink), but set in their ways.
    • A related concept is that children on the Discworld don't have a Weirdness Censor, because they don't know they're not supposed to be able to see the Grim Reaper.
    • An especially terrifying example is the Hiver in A Hat Full of Sky. It cannot be tricked, it's too stupid.
    • In The Fifth Elephant, it is suggested that one reason the Clacks is so efficient that it can function as a Bamboo Internet is that it employs Discworld's gargoyles, who are good at watching and too uncreative to make mistakes.
    • The picture taking imps are the same way; they're only intelligent enough to paint what they see, very fast. They can't paint what isn't there.
    • Banjo from Hogfather is far too clueless to follow the criminal gang's plotting, yet he notices that the bar suddenly has a waiter (actually, Mr. Teatime). He also proves Too Dumb to Corrupt, as he loves Santa the Hogfather as much as a child would, so doesn't listen to offers of wealth that would make Hogswatch presents unnecessary.
    • Throughout Interesting Times, whenever someone says they would rather die than betray the Emperor, Cohen kills them. When the Silver Horde encounters a guard by the name of One Big River and ask him whether he'd rather die than betray the Emperor, One Big River (who isn't bright enough to see in terms of metaphor) answers, "I tink I rather live." The Horde, seeing value in a man too dumb to think in the empire's strict mental paths, bring him along.
    • Apparently, it takes at least five minutes to explain anything to Mustrum Ridcully. His subordinates consider this an advantage, because it means that people will only ever bother him with really important matters. Of course, there are many hints in the books that this may be Obfuscating Stupidity, so it might be deliberate on his part for the very same reason... It's been stated that Ridcully doesn't start paying attention for a few minutes, because if someone's still trying to explain something to him after that long, it must be worth listening to.
      • Reaper Man provides a possible explanation: it's not so much that Ridcully is stupid, but that his mind is like an old locomotive; it takes a while for it to get up to speed...but once it's at speed, it's going at a pretty good clip. It just can't be steered.
      • Note that it is for this precise reason he gets on with Ponder Stibbons: the young lad is always trying to explain stuff to him. So Ridcully will often listen to Stibbons more often than not.
      • Stibbons is also smart enough to know when to stop trying to explain and just say, basically, "it's magic". They're wizards, and magic is what they're highly trained to avoid doingnote . So this explanation usually satisfies Ridcully.
    • The Orgy of Evidence double-bluff in Jingo fails to fool Nobby and Colon, who see stereotypical Klatchian signs and think the culprit must be Klatchian.
    • Carpe Jugulum highlights a "Too Singleminded to Fool" aspect of Hodgesaargh, Lancre's falconer. It's not that he's dumb, exactly, more that his thoughts are pretty much entirely oriented around birds — with the result that when the Count, the villain of the story, takes a look into Hodgesaargh's mind, the Count concludes he doesn't need to influence a mind "crammed end to end with hawks", but isn't certain he could.
  • In Durarara!!, manipulative sociopath Izaya names this as the reason why he hates Heiwajima Shizuo — the guy is just too thick (and too angry) to fall prey to Izaya's mind games. The fact that Shizuo returns the sentiment (so every time he believes he is stuck in a mind game, his first strategy always is "find Izaya and bludgeon him to a bloody pulp", which turns out to be a pretty effective counter) is only icing on the cake.
  • In Sandy Mitchell's For the Emperor, Ciaphas Cain, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, is trying to deliver tau envoys to their embassy. Having gotten through the hostile city, they find it surrounded by crowds. His aide Jurgen points out that the crowds are not hostile to Tau, so they could just have the xenos ask them to move and go in the front door.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts series, "Try Again" Bragg seems like this at times, once replying that he would go over a cliff if ordered by Gaunt, and asking if it was supposed to be a trick question. For this reason, Gaunt points out that Bragg may actually be the smartest of the Ghosts.
  • In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, Ctesibius observes that the Savants had a plan that the Giants weren't smart enough to stop. Unfortunately, they were stupid enough.
    • Menelaus observes at one point that his superhuman intellect makes him easier to fool, because he's more easily distracted.
  • Ford Prefect tries to con the Vogon Guard in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by appealing to his pride. The guard is too dimwitted to fall for it and is perfectly happy being a low-level grunt, stomping around, shouting and tossing people out of airlocks. He hopes one day to be promoted to "Senior Shouting Officer".
  • Katanagatari:
    • Yasuri Shichika isn't exactly dumb — but he has No Social Skills, with his only human interaction being his father and his sister until Togame came along and the series started. As such, he is barely able to distinguish between people, and when a ninja used an impressive technique to impersonate Togame, Shichika immediately punched him even when he didn't know who it was yet.
    • Shichika has been on the receiving end of this as well. His first major defeat was against a super-strong little girl named Konayuki who had no understanding of combat and who just swung her sword around wildly. Shichika practices a martial art that focuses heavily on feinting and predicting your opponent’s moves, neither of which worked on her.
  • In Avram Davidson's "The King Across the Mountains", the fugitive Crown Princeling of Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania tries to cover his identity with "diplomatic immunity" based on a seal filched from the Delegate of the Grand Mogul. This backfires with the rural constables of the Hyperthracian Hills, who are not letting any Mongols get past them.
  • A sufficiently talented Illusion Weaver in Kroniki Drugiego Kręgu can convince someone's body that it was stabbed or burned, but most animals (like frogs) are too stupid to fall for this, so they don't really react even if you use the power to make them appear to be on fire.
  • Heinrich von Kleist's essay On the Marionette Theater: A top class fencer finds his master in a bear. The bear parries all the fencers thrusts because it cannot be fooled by feints and tricks due to its lack of consciousness and understanding. In a number of similar examples, the essay laments human consciousness (a consequence of the Fall of Man) as imperfect - as opposed to the perfect consciousness of God and the nonexistent consciousness of animals. The imperfect consciousness stands in Mankind's way to beauty, grace and happiness, which both God and the Animal can achieve (for different reasons).
  • The Seiren race from No Game No Life are stupid notorious enough for other races to use their name as an insult synonymous with idiot. To quote how they're depicted in this series, Seiren only know how to sleep, eat, have sex, and play. The majority of them don't even realize or understand they're on the verge of extinction. Their temporary representative, Amira, is formidable simply because she knows and acknowledges she is dumb, unlike the rest of her race. Thus she manages to outplay a Dhampir with more brains than her simply because the opponent didn't think her capable of it.
  • Catherine Morland of Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey. Catherine is probably the least clever of the protagonists, but she quickly realizes that her brother's friend John Thorpe is untrustworthy. Unlike other Austen protagonists who allow their perceptions to be skewed and use their cleverness to justify what they want to be true (allowing Willoughby and Wickham to pull the wool over their eyes), Catherine only sees what is right in front of her—which is dishonesty and boastfulness.
  • The paladin Remedios in Overlord (2012) is too lacking in patience, intelligence and leadership abilities to accomplish much despite being the leader of the Holy Kingdom's paladins. She's aggressive, reckless and has poor judgment except in one respect: Unlike everyone else around her, she never forgets even for a second that Ainz is an undead abomination and therefore cannot possibly be motivated by genuine altruism and concern for human life like he claims. During one particular scene he saves her from an enemy demihuman and is met only with seething resentment. He assumes she's just being an Ungrateful Bastard and never considers for a moment that she's angry because she can see right through his calculated PR campaign just by virtue of keeping in mind that he is undead. But in the end it doesn't matter because she's also too dumb (and mean) to convince anyone and too weak to stop him.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, Caliban receives the staff with the spirit of evil wisdom in it because he's too stupid to be corrupted by it; it only manages to raise him to a high normal intelligence.
  • The revelation that Xellos from Slayers is a Mazoku comes as a shock to everyone — except Idiot Hero Gourry, who noticed from the beginning and didn't say anything because he thought it was so obvious, surely everyone else had noticed too.
  • In Space Marine Battles novel Siege of Castellax, the Iron Warriors plan to slow the Ork assault down with a minefield full of converted nuclear warheads, hoping that detonating one will make them stop and think. However, rather than stop and wonder where the other "mines" may be, the Orks simply charge into five-miles-across crater left by the one they've blown up.
  • In the Sienkiewicz Trilogy's Potop, Roch Kowalski was tasked with guarding the good guys specifically because he's too much of a Dumb Muscle to be convinced by Zagloba to change sides or let them go. But Zagłoba manages to muddle his brain even more - and he changes sides!
  • Tom Cullen from The Stand is mentally handicapped, which makes him immune to the villain's array of mind powers.
    • For example, Cullen has a catchphrase where he says, "M-O-O-N spells X," where X is important to the current topic and might provide a clue. When trying to find him with Tom Cullen, Randall Flagg can only sense the thought, "M-O-O-N, that spells moon." Flagg specifically has some sort of aspect of the old order - our world, reason, and civilization - while Cullen is an innocent child-man full of faith.
  • In Toradora!, Ryuuji's mother Yasuko is a Hard-Drinking Party Girl who tends to be rather immature, but she often says or does exactly the right thing to make people feel better or understand each other without even realizing it.
  • In David Brin's The Uplift War, a subplot has one alien ambassador trying to scam another by faking evidence of a massive coverup. The victim appears too simple-minded to spot the planted clues, (and too stolidly indifferent to be psychically induced to be curious), causing the hoaxer to wonder whether this is true idiocy, or a sign of deep wisdom. However, the target of the scam does pick up on the evidence that someone else seems to be shadowing their movements: the ambassador's confederate who is planting the false clues.
  • One of the murder victims in "East is East" by Emma Lathen qualifies. He can't understand the details of Midland Research's financials, set up to hide the money MR's founder is stealing from the company, so he just looks at the bottom line. Getting his head smashed in because he asked said founder to explain the financials to him is a different trope.
  • A pretty grim version of this appears (and is discussed) on World War Z by Todd Wainio as he's retelling the Battle Of Yonkers. He explains that the Battle was just a display of Hollywood Tactics that would have scared off a more conventional enemy through "shock and awe", but the zombies (being literally brain-dead) only saw a huge amount of humans to eat and kept on coming regardless of losses and ignoring the massive explosions and gunfire that was going on around them. As a result, because the higher-ups decided to use weapons that were highly intimidating but lacked anti-personnel power and hadn't arrayed the defenses better to suit the enemy (among other stupid decisions); the Battle instead became a massacre.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of All in the Family has most of the group stumped by Gloria's riddle of "A father and son go driving. There's an accident. The father is killed instantly, the son is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The surgeon walks in, takes one look at the patient and says, 'I can't operate on this boy. He's my son.'" While Archie and Meathead quibble over trying to find some manner of Technical Truth like "the father was a stepdad and the surgeon was the biological father" to explain it, because their sexism won't even allow them to consider the doctor isn't male, Edith is too thick to consider this and suggests the doctor is the child's mother. She's right.
  • This is essentially the premise of the show Eureka. Jack Carter is a regular guy surrounded by super-geniuses, some of them a little evil. However, even when the bad guys have the entire town fooled, Carter always spots the detail that they missed. Carter also likes to apply common sense solutions to uncommon problems. And he isn't afraid of using SCIENCE! to get it done.
    Jack Carter: I pay attention sometimes!
    • In this case it's somewhat of a deliberate Obfuscating Stupidity. He's not smart enough to understand most of the super science principles at work in most of his cases, but he's still a competent investigator who can make logical connections between cause and effect. The fact that he's not AS smart as the rest of the town also means that the villains tend to underestimate him and spend most of their efforts trying to undermine the scientists rather than the "dumb" cop who ultimately ends up foiling them.
  • Subverted in The 10th Kingdom. The village idiot repeatedly mentions that the dog Prince reminds him of someone, implying that he can sense the dog is actually the shape-shifted prince. Later when Tony asks him, it turns out he was thinking of a dog he knew when he was a kid, completely unrelated to the prince.
  • In an episode of 30 Rock, Kenneth turns out to be an ace poker player; "you can't read his thoughts 'cause he doesn't have any."
  • In The Office (US), Kevin, who had made it to the world series of poker, correctly infers when they are playing poker that Phyllis thinks her hand isn't great, but loses because she had a flush she didn't notice.
    • In another episode, Michael Scott proves he's too dumb to fool when Andy is trying to convince Michael that Dwight is an incompetent boob. Every time Andy makes an attempt to talk negatively about Dwight, it goes right over Michael's head, including when Andy says that when someone does something dumb in the office, they say they "Schruted it." When Michael doesn't catch on, Andy points out that this is probably because of Dwight Schrute. Michael disagrees and says they're probably unrelated.
      • Subverted when Michael clearly states in his interview at the end of the show that he prefers Dwight to Andy because Andy is just a general suck-up while Dwight sucks up because he really believes Michael is special.
    • Comes up for Michael again in the episode "Did I Stutter?". Early in the episode, Dwight strong-arms Andy into selling him his car for an absurdly low price. He tries the same thing on Michael later on to convince him to give Dwight "emergency power" over everyone in the office; the attempt completely goes over Michael's head.
  • The "Know Your Stars" segment of All That features a cast member or celebrity guest getting mocked, slandered and degraded by an unseen announcer, usually quite successfully. However in one episode, the announcer has a hilarious Villainous Breakdown when the featured guest is so stupid, they never realize they're being insulted.
    "Know Your Stars" guy: I'M TRYING TO TORMENT YOU!!!!!! DON'T YOU WATCH THE SHOW!!??!???!
  • In the parody wuxia Once Upon A Time In Lingjian Mountain, one of the characters (Xiaoliuli) is dumb as a post. She can be bribed or distracted with corn, to give you an idea. At one point, a character creates infinite coin copies for a challenge, but she just manages to ignore the illusion and pick the coins.
  • In an episode of Smart Guy, T.J. loses a game of chess to a computer. Marcus, feeling bad that he bet against his brother, does his best to help him practice for a rematch despite only knowing how the pieces move. Marcus is limited to moves that are so stupid T.J. doesn't know how to respond to them, and in the middle of telling Marcus this, he realizes he's found his strategy.
  • In The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret , a terrorist family tries to con Todd into refusing payment for a large purchase by implying that it won't leave them with enough money for the mother's medication. They all turn to Todd expectantly, waiting for him to suggest that he accept payment later, but he just stares blankly back at them, too socially inept to read the unspoken request. After an awkward pause, they give up and try a second tack, which Todd is dumb enough to fall for.
  • Gentaro Kisaragi, the protagonist of Kamen Rider Fourze, is a self-admitted Idiot Hero who tries to befriend everyone. However, when Ryusei Sakuta tries to join the Kamen Rider Club, Gentaro shocks everyone by refusing. He says that Ryusei isn't showing his real face, and he doesn't want to be friends with someone who can't be honest — and he's 100% correct. Later on, Ryusei becomes enraged with Gentaro and punches him, nearly breaking his cover, but Gentaro just smiles and says now they can be friends because that punch gave him a glimpse of the real Ryusei.
  • Babylon 5: in the episode "Between the Darkness and the Light", when Garibaldi, Lyta, and Franklin attempt to gain access to the cell where is being held in order to rescue him, Garibaldi (having Heel Face Turned after Face Heel Turning) uses the fact that he was a recent hero to the Clark regime for turning in in the first place, to gain the guards' trust. He asks them "Don't you watch TV?" (i.e. don't you recognize me), to which one of the guards responds in a sort of programmed, deadpan-rote fashion: "I don't watch TV. It's a cultural wasteland filled with inappropriate metaphors and an unrealistic portrayal of life created by the liberal media elite."
  • House of Anubis gives us Alfie. While he is more of the class clown than a complete fool, he is rarely taken seriously by the others. However, he usually solves problems and figures things out much quicker than anyone else in Sibuna, mostly in season 3. The others tend to shoot down his ideas, only to find out later that he was correct.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Day of the Doctor", three incarnations of the Doctor devise a way to open a lock using a My Future Self and Me setup. The War Doctor (the incarnation between Eight and Nine) records the information in his sonic screwdriver, which decodes the lock over the centuries between the Doctor's incarnations so that Eleven can open the lock with the data the screwdriver has already figured out by the time he meets his past selves... while Clara (who's not unintelligent by any means, but merely isn't as intelligent as the superhuman Doctor) just decides to open the door, which was unlocked the whole time.
    • In "Flatline", the psychic paper, which has fooled everyone except super geniuses, is defeated by Fenton, the supervisor of a community service program. This is possible because he has so little imagination that his brain can't picture anything on the paper.
    • Classic Series Companion Peri Brown was usually depicted as The Ditz and a Ms. Fanservice, especially when compared to brainier companions like Sarah Jane Smith. However, she's one of the only humans who was ever able to completely No-Sell The Master's extremely powerful hypnosis. For perspective, the Master (in disguise as a politician) was able to brainwash the entirety of England into voting for him in the Revival, but Peri simply ignored his attempts and blew him off.
  • Seinfeld: Discussed in "The Checks" where George hires the cult Sunshine Carpet Cleaners to clean his carpet.
    Jerry: So you're angry that this bizarre carpet cabal made no attempt to abduct you?
    George: They could've at least tried!
    Jerry: You know, maybe they thought you looked too smart to be brainwashed?
    George: Please.
    Jerry: Too dumb?
  • The usual role of Alan Davies on QI is to be the Butt-Monkey who always rings in the obvious, well-known, but incorrect answer. However, in later seasons, the show has taken to giving questions that are double-bluffs: the obvious answer is correct, but everyone expects it to be wrong, so only Alan rings it in.
  • Jimmy Bond in The Lone Gunmen has the personality and intellect of a Golden Retriever in a man's body, but he's also amazingly good when it comes to reading people's motives and being too dense to misdirect, skills that are more useful than they look in The X-Files universe.
  • Ben the Soldier from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of the few completely nice and good characters on the show who hasn't had his life wrecked by the gang; any attempts to sucker him backfire because he can't follow along with the explanation for their scheme, so he'll just politely say no and walk away.
  • In an early episode of Cheers, Harry claims to be able to levitate a coin. Norm doesn't believe him. Harry bluffs Norm into taking the wrong side of a bet about the truth of the claim. After the coin falls to the floor, Harry takes Norm's money and leaves. Norm then tries the same trick on Coach, who merely accepts the claim without comment.
    • A cold open of a later episode has a prank caller trying the "is your refrigerator running" joke on Woody, who rather than fall for it instead lectures them on the grammatical structure of the joke. That Lilith apparently tried explaining the joke to her would-be victim apparently didn't help.
  • Whenever Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump appear on Saturday Night Live, Eric will inevitably end up saying something embarrassing/incriminating as his brother tries to downplay whatever the Trump scandal of the week is, at which point Don Jr. will typically distract Eric with something, like a fidget spinner or candy.
  • This creates a lot of problems in Better Call Saul, when Nacho decides to rob the drug thief Daniel Wormald. Nacho surmises, having ripped off many a petty criminal, that Daniel won't go to the cops, because while Nacho might get busted, Daniel is also going to be under suspicion because the cops will want to know what Nacho stole and what his motive was, and the answer is "he wanted the thousands of dollars of drug money I used to buy the ludicrously expensive car sitting in front of my one-bedroom flat." Unfortunately, Nacho's gambit falls apart because Daniel is too much of an idiot to realize he shouldn't go to the cops and reports the theft instead, which necessitates Mike and Jimmy to step in before everyone involved goes to prison or worse.
  • Jam has a sketch revolving around an agency that hires out stupid people for tasks for which they are particularly suited - especially arguments, which the agency's boss states they're especially good at because "they're too thick to realise that they've lost". The example shown is a woman getting a man's parking fine waived simply through being so obnoxiously stupid she provokes the cashier into a bellowing fit that gets his supervisor to let her off.
  • Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation. In the second and third seasons, April's attempts at Operation: Jealousy fail because he's too naive to be tricked and too nice to really be outwardly malicious towards anyone. More specifically, in the episode "Jerry's Retirement", after the resident Butt-Monkey Jerry retires from his job at the Parks Department, Tom becomes the new designated punching bag of the department (which also functions as Laser-Guided Karma for him, as he's often the most outwardly antagonistic towards Jerry). Tom desperately tries to make Andy the new "Jerry" by making him undergo humiliating things, but it doesn't work because while Andy is a clumsy and slovenly idiot, he also lacks any sense of shame and is sincerely comfortable in his own skin, meaning that people laugh with him rather than at him whenever he screws up.
  • The X-Files: In the latter-series episode "Scary Monsters", a kid with uncontrolled psychic powers starts hurting people because he manifests illusions of a variety of monsters and threats and they hurt or kill themselves trying to fight them off. Agent Doggett, however, is able to fend off the illusions because he is a hard-core Agent Scully (to Agent Scully - he is clever, just not "Mulder and Scully" clever) and scares the kid into submission by applying Thought-Aversion Failure (he tosses water all over the room and lights up a match and tells the kid to not think he is setting the room on fire, and sure enough, the kid imagines an inferno and knocks himself out).

  • Invoked in-universe by Taako of The Adventure Zone: Balance; apparently the reason he was able to resist the temptation to claim and use the Artifact of Doom is because he's simply too stupid to be tempted. Ultimately subverted when it's revealed that the real reason he, Magnus, and Merle can resist the temptation is that they're their creators.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In Muppets Most Wanted, Animal is the only one not fooled by the impostor Constantine's Kermit impression. Apparently it's because he doesn't smell like Kermit.

  • Invoked by Bobby Clarke prior to an exhibition game between his Philadelphia Flyers and the Red Army hockey team in 1976. Clarke is said to have claimed of his Soviet opposition: "They're always trying to play with our minds. But that won't work with our club. We've got 20 guys with no brains."

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS has the disadvantage Clueless, which (as well as, naturally, some flaws) gives you bonuses against attempts to seduce you, among other things.
  • Rogue Trader's Navigators all have a power called The Lidless Stare. If mastered, it can instantly kill people who look into the Navigator's Warp Eye — unless they have less than Intelligence 20...
    • Note that the lowest human intelligence possible during character generation is 27, but that's only the player character minimum, and the PCs are high-powered in Rogue Trader.
  • Exalted has Paralyzing Contradiction, a spell in which caster tells a Koan, and everyone nearby who hears it has to come up with a personal interpretation before they do anything. Unless they have intelligence 1 or less, in which case they're too stupid to realize there's a puzzle.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Some compulsion spells have as a condition that the target must have a minimum amount of Intelligence (usually 3) to understand what you're trying to compel them to do. However, that isn't quite this trope because less than that is animal intelligence. It'd be like trying to hypnotize a cat.
    • Though some other powers will affect only a stricter range of intelligence, sparing those who are either too smart or too stupid. For example, the 2nd Edition psionic devotion "post-hypnotic suggestion" only works on a subject with a score between 7 and 17.
    • All compulsion and most illusion spells have an intelligence requirement of "some". Many creatures, such as undead and constructs (fantasy robots) can solve logical problems but lack a conscious intellect and are thus immune to mental manipulation, including bluffs and feints in combat.
    • And, obviously, anything that involves manipulating a creature in a specific way (giving orders, etc.) usually requires that it be smart enough to know your language... which can be an issue for perfectly intelligent, say, goblins or giants who simply aren't multilingual and don't get the common language by default. This applies to both mundane social skills and spells; a caster with powerful mind-affecting magic or insanely good social stats can be paralyzed by sharing no languages with a weak-willed creature that should be their plaything.
    • Planescape also has the Clueless — basically the assumption that anyone from the Prime Material Plane is an idiot who doesn't understand how the planes work. There is a running theme in most supplementary materials, however, that point out that this can make primes the most unpredictably dangerous beings to deal with, especially from some worlds (like Krynn) where the lack of planar contact may mean they assume any planar is automatically a demon. There's also the fact that while planar factions engage in ideological struggles, it is the Prime where most of the belief that shaped the plane come from. The player guide in the campaign setting also notes that Clueless make popular mercenaries, since they don't have any factional loyalties.
    • Zigzagged with the Fast Talking proficiency from the second edition's Complete Thief's Handbook. Any attempt to use said proficiency against someone with an Intelligence score of 3 or less automatically fails; the text explains anyone with that low a score can't understand one's fast talking. The same text though points out that such stupid characters can be fooled in other ways.
  • The Orks of Warhammer 40,000 fit this trope. They cannot be fooled with a cunning tactical ruse, they won't attack an enemy's command structure or supply chains, they'll simply charge at whatever is right in front of them. This causes no shortage of headaches for many of the setting's centuries-old commanders, who can't break out of the deceptive warfare habit. It doesn't help that they sometimes mix it up with completely random tactics on a whim, which frequently results in Achievements in Ignorance or a case of "Who Would Be Stupid Enough?". It makes sense considering the Orks' two deities, Gork and Mork, embody brutal cunning (hits you even harder when you're looking) and cunning brutality (hits you when you're not looking) respectively. It's a tossup which Ork deity's philosophy an Ork considers the best. The most dangerous Orks are the ones who are brutally cunning and cunningly brutal.
  • In Call of Cthulhu, losing a certain amount of sanity in one go - as caused by say, seeing an Eldritch Abomination or reading a Mythos book can cause temporary insanity... unless the Investigator fails an Idea roll... essentially, meaning they're too dumb to realize the full enormity of what they're just experienced and are thus saved some of its horror.
  • In Numenera (and its attached Cypher System), one of the descriptors a character can get is "Scatter-Brained". The disadvantage of getting this descriptor is a strong penalty to logic-based rolls (and the note that the character is plagued with Attention Deficit... Oh, Shiny!), but as a bonus the character is pretty much immune to people trying to swindle him.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: One of the NPCs mentioned in the book Denizens of the Empire is Hansup the Ogre, an officer of the Nuln City Watch, so named because he says it all the time and who taught himself to read by reading the town charter (and even then he is dumb even by Ogre standards). The description then goes on to say that Hansup has become the terror of the city's criminals because he is virtually implacable, incorruptibly diligent, and his standard method of dealing with anything that looks suspicious is "arrest 'em all and let my boss sort it out".

  • Anything Goes: Due to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh being engaged to the love of his life, Billy spends a decent amount of the show either messing with him, trying to frame him, or just insulting him. Fortunately for Evelyn, he’s such a Nice Guy that he never even suspects he’s being played at any moment, which causes him to not only remain almost completely unharmed in the face of Billy’s plotting, but he even winds up benefitting big time from one of them.

    Video Games 
  • The Wizardry series of RPGs uses this trope with characters of low intelligence (like Lizardmen). Characters with low intelligence aren't as prone to mental conditions or psionic (mind-based) attacks and effects.
  • The World Ends with You:
    • Beat is like this. He doesn't get offended when people make fun of him... because he's too stupid to realize he's being insulted.
      Konishi: No analysis could ever plumb the depths of your fatuity.
      Beat: Heh heh. Damn right!
      Neku: Uh, dude... She's making fun of you.
      Beat: WHAT!?
    • He's also the Spanner in the Works that causes Kitanji's careful and perfectly laid plans to fall apart, right when Neku seems to be doomed.
      Neku: ... you thought you could predict what he does?!
  • Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn:
  • In Portal 2, GLaDOS attempts to kill Wheatley with a Logic Bomb. ("!")note  Wheatley, however, is too obtuse to recognize it as a paradox. ("Uh...true. I'll go true. Well, that was easy.") In comparison, the frankenturrets, Wheatley's own creations, a combination of turret guns and boxes, seize up and start groaning in agony upon hearing the same statement, and they're not supposed to even be fully sentient. This makes sense when you realize that Wheatley was specifically designed to be as stupid as possible.
    GLaDOS: It's a paradox! There IS no answer!
  • In Orcs Must Die!, the Apprentice is the only war-mage left because he was the only one too stupid to realize how hopeless the conflict really is and too obtuse to give in to the Sorceress' offers. It's a bad thing that he becomes wiser as the game progresses, because with wisdom comes the realization that he and the rest of the world is pretty much doomed. He's so stupid that he's the only one to come up with the one guaranteed way to stop the Orcs: just close the gates that supply the magic.
  • Pokémon with the Unaware ability ignore their opponents' stat changes, by simply not noticing that those stat changes happened.
  • Goofy falls under this in Kingdom Hearts II. Upon encountering Mulan for the first time, it takes him a bit before he announces, "Oh, you're pretending to be a boy!" He not only saw through the disguise effortlessly, it took him extra time to realize it was there in the first place. It should be noted that of the three protagonists, for some odd reason Goofy is portrayed as the smartest, whether or not this was intentional is unknown, but Goofy seems to be both the Voice of Reason of the group and the one who notices when things are amiss. Given how he was in various other media, this makes his actions in the Kingdom Hearts games rather jarring.
    • In Chain of Memories, even after realizing his mind is being actively rewritten, Sora decides to charge straight ahead, beat up bad guys, and hope for the best... and Organization XIII's duplicity and infighting ruin all their plans from within by the time he gets there.
  • In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift the resident Big Bad has Trolled part of the cast into such frustration that they've been unable to do anything about his evil master plan; he has verbally Mind Raped another part of the cast as a part of said evil master plan and he has manipulated the rest of the cast into playing him straight into his hands... When Taokaka enters the frame, however, he finds that she's not only too stupid to notice that he insults her and too shallow and carefree to be lectured, she also has a three second/three steps attention span/memory combo, making any attempts at manipulating her a crash course in futility. Consequently, the Big Bad quickly decides that, in this situation, Murder Is the Best Solution... Luckily, Taokaka's Cool Big Sis busts her out. Later, in Central Fiction, Izanami fails to manipulate Tao as she has most of the other chosen - when shown a vision of her perfect world, and then told that another person is preventing it from being created, Tao realizes that she would rather have the world she has now due to it being authentic and having the memories she cherishes with her village mates. Therefore, if someone is maintaining that world, she should protect them - exactly the opposite of what Izanami was intending.
  • If you read the long, and highly extensive Wall in The Neverhood, you'll find a story about Willie Trombone, who is found by some monsters. The monsters assume that Willie is no fool, and that they'll have to trick him before eating him. Of course, Willie is a fool among fools, and each attempt to trick him gave Big Robot Bil more time to come to the rescue.
  • Chattur'gha in Eternal Darkness (who is essentially Dumb Muscle incarnate) has the advantage over Xel'lotath (whose entire MO involves illusions and trickery) because of this.
  • The Soldier of Team Fortress 2 is a weird example of being both Too Dumb to Fool and Dumb Enough to Fool Everyone Else. A Cloudcuckoolander bar none, he often sees through deceptions and disguises (well, most of the time) in the supplemental comics, once sussing out Miss Pauling when she's in disguise when everyone else, including Merasmus, was taken in by it. At the same time, he's managed to disguise himself as a robot and eavesdrop on secret robot meetings as well as misleading them into attacking incredibly obviously fake Mann Co sites he built. He's also completely immune to logical fallacies. In the video "Expiration Date", the Medic and Engineer reveal that the base's teleporters, teleporters that the whole team has been using for ages, have been filling the bread they send through it with tumors. They then ask if everyone else realizes what that means. The Soldier, extremely upset, screams that they "cannot teleport bread anymore". And while initially he seems to be Comically Missing the Point, it turns out that he was absolutely correct, because the obvious (and wrong) implication everyone else noticed never even occurred to him. Everyone else was jumping to conclusions, because, yes, that was all the Medic and Engineer's experiments proved: that putting bread through teleporters gives bread tumors. None of them even bothered to check if it actually gave tumors to anything else. And it turned out that it doesn't.
    • The Soldier could be said to be exactly the right kind of dumb for the world of TF2, where everyone is a little bit stupid/insane in their own way, and his own brand of insanity manages to perfectly tap into those blind spots by accident.
  • The protagonists of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies come to the conclusion that Detective Fulbright was put in charge of Blackquill because he's too dumb to fall for his mind games. This is very much not the case.
  • Space Quest: Roger Wilco gets himself out of (and into) trouble because he's often not bright enough to lie, and prone to childish pranks and laziness. The people he opposes, like Sludge Vohaul, are usually Too Clever by Half and tend to forget key details when running their big plans.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns: Donkey Kong himself appears to be capable of resisting Kalimba's hypnosis (which had taken over most of the other inhabitants of DK Island by then), most likely due to his thick-headedness and scrap-happy nature.
  • The main character of Octodad wears a very Paper-Thin Disguise that fools everyone except experts on fish (Like the Sushi Chef or the Aquarium Scientists ). However, by the end of the second game, when he has to present himself to his kidnapped (human) family, his younger daughter immediately calls out "Daddy!". When everyone turns to look at her, she immediately quips "What? Am I the only one who noticed?"
  • A trend developed in competitive PvP online games with experienced players facing beginners on smurf accounts to see how it would happen to record and post their matches on the Internet, and sometimes failing miserably at mind games due to their opponents not reacting as intended, or getting caught off-guard by moves they didn't see coming at all because they didn't imagine anyone trying them.
  • Implied in BioShock, where Fontaine gloats that Rapture was an easy target for him precisely because everyone there was very intelligent and overconfident because of it.
    Fontaine: Give me a smart mark over a dumb one every time!
  • In EarthBound (1994) and Mother 3, if any of the protagonists or enemies has a low enough IQ stat, PK Brainshock will have a chance to fail on the target.
  • In Twisted Metal Head-On, Cousin Eddy is one of the few contestants who manages to avoid being screwed over by Jackass Genie Calypso. This is because he's a simple-minded man with simple-minded desires. He simply points to his RV and demands that Calypso "Make. It. Better". There's no real way to twist a wish like that, much to Calypso's annoyance.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: The Riddler attributes Batman continuing to solve his riddles to this (it can't possibly be that Batman is smarter than him after all). In particular, if you solve a colored switch riddle note , he'll conclude that Batman can't read. He'll later make comments about underestimating Batman's stupidity, and forgetting to treat his stupidity and incompetence as separate factors.
  • In Super Robot Wars 30, Swaile Qujuppat is using his Geass to confuse Kallen Kozuki into attacking her friends Sayoko and Lloyd, thinking they're him. Enter Van of the Dawn, who is equally Geass'd but for some reason just decides to keep swinging his sword at everyone – Qujappat included. To Qujuppat's horror (and even C.C. suggests similarly), Van is just too dense for his strategy to work, forcing him to retreat.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • It is revealed that Homestar is the only character that realizes that The Thnikkaman is just Bubs in a Paper-Thin Disguise... although this doesn't stop him from inexplicably idolizing him like everyone else.
    • The email "secret recipe" is basically about this, with Strong Bad's attempts to disgust other characters backfiring because they either like his concoctions or end up doing something even more disgusting. For instance, his plan to eat white chocolate while pretending it to be deodorant fails when he walks in on the King of Town eating deodorant. It concludes with Strong Bad tricking Homestar into eating a pinecone, at which he declares "So long, suckers!" and walks off looking pleased with himself. Making it even dumber, Homestar was the one who tried to trick Strong Bad into eating the pinecone in the first place, meaning he fell for his own trick.
      Strong Bad: It's like, even when we win, he wins.
  • Hadouken Dude's Four Swords Misadventures 6 had a moment in which Green Link and a drunken Red are attempting to answer a series of questions. The last one, 'What's the quickest way to a man's heart?' was answered by Red as 'Chuck Norris's fist' Surprise surprise, it's the right answer! When Green asked him how he came up with the answer, Red replied 'Dude, Chuck Norris is everywhere...'

    Web Comics 
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal almost uses the trope name verbatim in this comic, where an alien species attempts to destabilize human governments by generating fake-but-perfectly-realistic footage of world leaders performing Satanic rites and eating babies. Turns out that the people who opposed those world leaders already saw them that way and weren't surprised, and the people who supported them quickly rationalized it as something we shouldn't rush to judge. The aliens decided that no attempt to fool humanity with fake information could possibly equal the fake information that humanity gives itself.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    Horribus: Why can't we use his fears against him?
    Psyk: The long of it is, he does not explore consequences in depth, so he has no unknown fears to confront. And his memories are limited, so he has no fears from his past. The only things he seems to "fear" stem from simpler things we would not ever regard.
    Torg: Hey, are you saying I'm too stupid to be afraid?
    Psyk: That's the short of it.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Elan is a somewhat complicated example. He's pretty dumb, but he's also highly Genre Savvy. This makes trying to predict what he'd do in any given situation a crapshoot, because he could be too dumb to fall for the trick, too dumb to fall for it but decide that, for example, stripping off his armor before the big fight would be a good idea anyway, Genre Savvy enough to see and avoid the trick, or Contractually Genre Blind enough to see the trick but choose to fall for it. The one thing Elan can always be counted on to do is whatever's funniest. To whit, he once broke Nale's brain through his abuse of a trope, claiming that he knows about it but knows that he couldn't know about it in order to preserve the trope's existence.
    • The Lotus-Eater Machine plotline is sort of an example of this trope plus Character Development. No one else realizes what's going on because they see themselves fulfilling goals that are both plausible and beneficial (stopping the Big Bad, getting rich, etc.) Elan's greatest dreams, however, are implausible and ultimately childish (for example, his parents remarrying), and this clues his higher brain functions on to the fact that something is amiss.
  • The title character in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is made of this. Perhaps most notably here.
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Bikke has earned this title. When Sarda tries to taunt the Dark Warriors with the fact they don't know how to actually use the Orbs, Bikke responds by chucking his at Sarda's head. Mind you, this does end up working in his favor. Sarda is so amused by his pluck that he promises You Will Be Spared. Or at least suggests it...
    • Similar thing occurred when Black Mage tries to use his hypno-vision on Fighter. It doesn't work, and Fighter hardly notices that he attempted it. Fighter comments that trying to hypnotize him won't work because he isn't smart enough to be hypnotized. Fighter even says at one point, "It may not be possible to fool me, 'cause of how smart I am." While his teammates discuss how best to fool him. And succeed. With the plan that he was listening to.
  • Minmax of Goblins has his moments. It's especially funny when his teammates are trying to confuse him (It Makes Sense in Context) and failing.
    Forgath: Minmax, look up.
    Minmax: Okay. [looks up]
    Forgath: No, no, the other up.
    Minmax: Sorry. [looks down]
    Forgath: [Beat] We're going to die because he's too dumb to outsmart!
  • This trope takes a serious turn with Izza from Elijah and Azuu, who is too stupid to understand the concept of lying (despite being a demon), and as such is wholly immune to optical illusions.
  • In Surviving Romance, when Seyeong tries to manipulate Rina into helping her isolate Chaerin from the rest of the class, it fails completely due to Rina's simple-mindedness. As the spectating Chaerin puts it, you can always win an argument against Seyeong, if you don't have any logic in the first place.
  • In Zombie Roomie, George and Hunter try to infiltrate an Anti-Zombie group to save Robert. George pretends he's his own twin brother, Lucas and that he hates zombies because they turned George into one. The rednecks however think that he's one in disguise because Lucas and the zombie!George look the same (clearly not understanding the concept of twins) and throws them in a cell.
  • A Cardboard Crack strip shows a Magic: The Gathering player trying to make a subtle bluff and failing miserably because his opponent doesn't even know the basic rules of the game.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • In The Guild, Mr. Wiggly is admitted into the Knights of Good only because they need one more player and he is Clara's husband. He manages to beat a powerful member of a rival group only because he does things so stupid that the enemy didn't think to defend against them. As he says "Sheer idiocy is my gaming specialty."
  • In Critical Role, this trope is the reason Craven Edge is safer in Grog's hands than anywhere else. He doesn't even know that it's trying to manipulate him, and just treats it like a Cool Sword that happens to talk to him.
  • Kitboga (like some other scambaiters) adopts the persona of characters who seem like they should be easy targets for scammers, yet somehow they can never manage to follow the scammers’ instructions well enough to be successfully fleeced, stringing the scammers along for hours and frustrating them to no end. Of course, this is all fully intentional.

    Western Animation 

  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears: In "Music Hath Charms", Duke Igthorn orders a magicial bagpipe that hypnotizes people, but it only works on intelligent creatures, which leaves out his dimwitted ogre henchmen.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Shake creates multiple Meatwads everytime he cuts one in half. Carl decides to scamming them by teaching them poker and making up the rules while using flashcards. When Carl collects the pot, he realizes the Meatwards have been using fake bills from a board game, rending the victory moot.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: In one episode, when the duo harasses a man named Harry Sachz with prank calls one too many times, he gets Caller ID to trace the call back and calls them pretending to be a pizza delivery man. The only problem is that the two are too stupid to even know their own address, so they instead give him Stewart's address from some mail they took from him.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In "The Secret Origin of Denzel Crocker", it's revealed that March 15th is the day Crocker is more of a Sadist Teacher than the rest of the year, torturing all students in specific ways. While wondering what to do with Timmy Turner, he decides against using rhetorical questions (like he did with A.J.) because Turner isn't intelligent enough to get frustrated by them.
  • Family Guy: In one episode, Peter is able to realize a records store employee is Jesus, despite Jesus's disguise never having been broken before in 2,000 years.
  • Futurama: Fry is immune to the effects of the Brain Spawn because of his "special" mind. Special because he's his own grandfather, thanks to Time Travel shenanigans.
    Leela: Now when you say "special"...
  • Inside Job (2021): Cognito, Inc. has to create a robot replica of the president because the one they backed in the last election turned out to be too stupid to manipulate.
  • King of the Hill: In "Fun With Jane And Jane", Luanne joins the Omega House sorority, unaware that they're actually part of a cult. However, Luanne's ditziness make her practically immune to their programming. Meanwhile, her aunt, the Know-Nothing Know-It-All Peggy, not only encourages her to go back to the cult after she escapes, but falls under their sway almost effortlessly.
  • Looney Tunes: "Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk" has an instance where Bugs Bunny tricks the Giant into a duel at twenty paces, counting on the latter's giant steps to take him far away. Instead, the Giant's steps take him all the way around the cloud they're on, putting Bugs right back where he started.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "For Bros About to Rock", Lincoln and Clyde are arrested and thrown in mall jail, and Lincoln's sister Luna comes to bail them out while disguised as their mother Rita. Unfortunately, ditzy Bobby Santiago is working at the mall, and he isn't fooled by the disguise one bit, even blowing Luna's cover and getting her arrested.
    • In "Grub Snub", Lincoln's friends attempt to stop his ditzy sister Leni and her posse from hanging out at Gus's Games and Grub by placing caution tape near the games. Leni ends up thinking the tape means they're VIP.
  • During the "Brainwashed" multi-parter near the end of Pinky and the Brain, the mice are captured and, appropriately enough, brainwashed. Or, at least, Brain is. Pinky is entirely unaffected due to his low intelligence. Later, as Brain starts to return to normal, he manages to Logic Bomb the brainwashing computer by introducing it to the concept of "Narf", which Pinky cannot help but "define" when the computer derides it as a non-word.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle:
    • Bullwinkle's own natural stupidity makes him immune to "Goof Gas", an IQ-lowering drug. Later in the same arc, Boris and Natasha attempt to use it to attack the US Congress, but the inanity of the politician's political debates cause them to think someone already "goofed" congress.
      Congressman: We need to get government out of government!
    • Another Bullwinkle example when he enters an elevator that says "out of order" only to fall in the empty shaft, but happened to contain the hidden stash of counterfeit boxtops.
    • Also in "Missouri Mish Mash", Bullwinkle is taken in by Boris and the Hatfuls to be brainwashed, but they can't do it because "not enough brain to wash".
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Joy of Sect", Homer resists the most powerful persuasion techniques of the Movementarian cult thanks to his negligible IQ and attention span. They eventually succeed when they use a technique that's as stupid as he is: change the lyrics to the 1960's Batman (1966) theme song from "Batman" to "Leader".
    • In "Last Exit to Springfield", there was also Mr. Burns' numerous attempts to negotiate with Homer when he became head of the union for the Power Plant. Homer being Homer, he mistakes the innuendo Mr. Burns is using to offer Homer a bribe for sexual innuendo, and leaves thinking Mr. Burns is coming on to him. Lampshaded at the end of the episode when Homer celebrates his victory for the union with an extended Three Stooges esque "woop woop woop woop" leading Mr. Burns to comment that Homer might not be the master negotiator that he'd taken him to be.
    • In "Homer's Enemy", Frank Grimes, who is frustrated by Homer's dumb luck, attempts to show the power plant the follies of putting a complete idiot in charge of plant safety by tricking Homer into entering a "Design Your Own Power Plant" contest meant for elementary school age students. Homer enters a power plant with aerodynamic wings to lower wind resistance and a racing stripe, and even after Grimes tells Homer that the contest was meant for school-age children, Mr. Burns and the plant employees still give him a standing ovation, much to Frank Grimes' chagrin.
    • In "Homer the Moe", Homer took over Moe's duties as bar tender. When Bart tried his usual Prank Call, Homer immediately recognizes that it is Bart pranking him but is eager to go along. He doesn't get the joke however, even after Bart explains it to him, so Bart just hangs up in disgust.
    • In "Dead Putting Society", Lisa tries to deliver the classic Koan of "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" to Bart. He simply slaps the fingers and palm of one hand together. Lisa has better luck with "If a tree falls in a forest and no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound?". Bart initially gives the technical answer that yes it does, until Lisa points out "how can sound exist if no one can hear it?"
  • From Squidbillies, when Early walks in on his wife naked with the band .38 Special, and they try to convince him nothing is going on:
    Early: .38 Special? How the hell you boys doin'!
    Larry: Uh, we're just hanging out...
    Early: Well, it says here on this shirt you're supposed to be playing up in Pittsburgh tonight.
    Don: That shirt's from 1984.
    [long pause]
    Early: Hell, that ain't this year! What's goin' on here?!
  • In an episode of The Weekenders, dimwitted Bluke figures out the answers to the clues for the scavenger hunt because he doesn't bother to think they're cryptic and complicated, as the main cast assumes... and nets them second place and a pizza — which he similarly correctly realizes is a better prize than the first-place pool table, since the game was played by five-person teams, and you can't "split" a pool table.
  • In the VeggieTales episode "Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed," Larry's scatterbrained nature makes him totally disinterested in listening to the titular character's lies.


Video Example(s):


Stu's wishes

The Genie tries to trick Stu into wishing for something that will backfire, but it doesn't work.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / TooDumbToFool

Media sources: