There's simple ignorance, when you just didn't know something. There's catching the Idiot Ball, which is a momentary lapse. There's fear and panic in a chaotic situation. All those situations are understandable reasons for making poor decisions. So far, we're at What an Idiot!
Then there's these guys. People who are so stupid that they simply do not deserve to survive.
Walking down the alley alone to tell his friend about the Serial Killer in town. Telling everybody in earshot he has vital evidence that he'll be taking to the authorities very shortly. Hovering in a known dangerous area without backup. Not telling the rest of the heroes about the upcoming trap laid out for them. Accepting food and drink from the somewhat weird stranger who lives in the seemingly abandoned house in the middle of nowhere and keeps asking odd questions in a creepy monotone voice, such as if they came to the house alone and if anybody knows where they are (and, of course, answering "yes" and "no" to these questions). Bullying a Dragon, Mugging the Monster, or whatever. Touching buttons when told not to. Juggling Loaded Guns. Throwing the pin and holding onto the grenade. Plugging in electric appliances right next to their full bath. Refusing to believe his glory days are behind him. Blackmailing someone about murder. Not only possessing Genre Blindness, but putting Zaphod Beeblebrox's Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses on over it. Even close friends have to facepalm upon hearing of his or her exploits. Who Would Be Stupid Enough? These people, that's who!
This trope is, surprisingly,note Truth in Television, as many people can attest to, although we won't.
Compare Artificial Stupidity, the video game equivalent of this which is a result of AI rather than the script being against them. Contrast Death by Pragmatism and Let's Get Dangerous!. Not to be confused with Evilutionary Biologist or The Social Darwinist, although they generally consider it a Moral Event Horizon to not kill the dumb. Also not to be confused with Driven to Suicide, which is the intentional, despair-induced taking of one's life. See also Suicidal Overconfidence, another video game version. Lethally Stupid is when someone's stupidity simply causes havoc, instead of being the cause of their demise. Unless someone reacts to their impending self-inflicted doom with extreme élan, an Undignified Death is pretty much guaranteed.
As this is a Death Trope, expect unmarked spoilers on the subpages.
For Real Life examples, see the Darwin Awards and What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?
See also Chaotic Stupid.
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- An Audi car commercial involved a party of vampires being incinerated by the bright headlights of the car being advertised. Aside from a few behind cover coming up (possibly because they didn't connect the silence with being something deadly and wanted to see what was happening), the vampire driving the car gets out...and walks into the path of the headlights. He is incinerated.
- Claude the Cat: Defied. Claude's owner often makes foolish mistakes that nearly kill him, but Claude saves him.
- The "Don't Text While Driving" PSAs invoke this, showing testimonials of families who have lost loved ones who were paying more attention to their texting than the road.
- In this Dr. Pepper commercial a man leaves the safety of his boat and dives into the waters of a murky swamp full of hungry alligators late at night. All so he can retrieve a six pack of Dr. Pepper that had fallen overboard.
- One Fruit Gushers ad campaign depicts people licking various semi-liquid material without any sort of abandon (such as squid ink, for example) and reacting in shock when, no, it doesn't taste like the fruity filling that Fruit Gushers are known for. It's very much Played for Laughs, as most of the time the person's peers look on with looks of bewilderment and/or disgust as they lick the foreign object.
- One early advertising campaign for GEICO featured something like this; each animated short had a curious man doing something really dumb (like walking up to a cannon and then pressing a button next to it, causing the cannon to fire in his face), at which point the voiceover announcer would say, "We all do dumb things. Paying too much for car insurance doesn't have to be one of them."
- Another GEICO example: "Horror Movie". Even the Killer does an eye roll and has a look on his face that simply says "Pretty sure I'm doing the genepool a favor at this point...".
Teen #1: Let's hide in the attic!
Teen #2: No, in the basement!
Teen #3: Why can't we just get in the running car?
Teen #4: Are you crazy?! Let's hide behind the wall of chainsaws!
Teen #2: HEAD FOR THE CEMETERY!!!
- The people from the Jack Links Beef Jerky "Messin' with Sasquatch" commercials. Seriously, it's not worth it for just a few laughs!
- An Australian Metro safety ad presents a three-minute song: "Dumb Ways to Die". It went viral.
- This Toshiba commercial involves a mass power outage that lasts for a few days. When one young man examines some obviously expired milk in his fridge, he drinks it anyway. Which starts a zombie apocalypse.
- A blonde having a medical examination didn't want to take her headphones off. She kept telling the doctor, "If I take them off, I'll die." Her doctor assured her she wouldn't, so she took them off. After a few minutes, she fell over dead. The doctor put the headphones to his ear to listen. It was a recorded instruction, saying, "Breathe in.... breathe out. Breathe in.... breathe out."
- A brunette, a redhead and a blonde are chased by a Serial Killer (or a police officer). They find a barn and hide in potato sacks. The killer comes and shakes the first bag. The brunette goes, "Meow! Meow!" "Just a dumb cat," says the killer while shaking the second bag. The redhead goes, "Woof! Woof!" "Just a dumb dog," he says, and then shakes the third bag. And the Dumb Blonde goes, "Potato! Potato!"
- Two men were walking through the woods when they found tracks. One said they were deer tracks, the other said they were elk tracks. They were still arguing about it when the train hit them.
- Another variant of this is three drunken men stumbling around on railroad tracks: the first one complains "these railings are way too low", the second one adds "and these steps are way too far apart" and the third one finishes with "it's OK, judging from the noise, the elevator will be here shortly".
- Lenny, a deeply religious man, lives by a river. He prays every day, reads the Bible from cover to cover, and does nothing but good works. One day, there's a massive storm. and Lenny hears a news report on the radio that due to the rains a nearby dam up-river is going to burst and flood the town. So Lenny thinks "It'll be okay, the Bible says that God loves me and will watch over me."
Sure enough, the dam bursts, the river breaks its banks, and Lenny's house begins to flood. When he goes up to the next floor, he sees a friend in a rowboat. "Lenny," the friend calls out, "the whole house will be underwater soon. Get in my boat, I'll take us to higher land." "No need," Lenny calls back, "God loves me and will watch over me."
The rains keep coming and the waters keep getting higher, however, eventually forcing Lenny to get onto his roof. A rescue helicopter flies overhead. "You down there," the pilot shouts through the loudspeaker, "the entire town's gonna be completely under water soon. Grab the rope ladder and I'll fly you out." "No need," Lenny yells back, "God loves me and will watch over me."
But the rains keep coming, the waters get higher, and Lenny has nowhere else to go. He drowns. When he gets to the Pearly Gates, Lenny is absolutely pissed, and demands an audience with God. When God shows up, Lenny yells "God, I prayed to you every day. I lived a good life and did nothing but good works, and in the Bible it said you would watch over me if I did. How could you just let me drown like that?"
And God replies "Lenny, I sent you a radio report, a boat, and a helicopter. What the hell else do you want from me?"
- A family in a flood is being rescued from a window on the second floor of their house when one of the crew notices a hat somehow floating upstream. As he watches, the hat turns and floats downstream, then begins floating upstream again.
The oldest daughter notices his confusion, then rolls her eyes. "That's Dad. He said he was gonna mow today come hell or high water."
- "Tsarevitch Ivan, the Fire Bird and the Gray Wolf." Subverted. Ivan repeatedly touches things he's been specifically told not to while trying to steal the Firebird etc., trips magical burglar alarms, and gets sent on one Fetch Quest after another as a consequence (and he keeps getting told that he wouldn't have had to resort to burglary if he'd just asked). However, the wolf keeps bailing him out, even after he actually dies.
- Alexander Afanasyev's "Kolobok": The titular little bread bun is about to get away from the female fox after distracting it with a song when the animal asks it to come closer and sing again, claiming to be somewhat deaf. Kolobok obliges the fox and is promptly devoured.
- In "Morozko", the old woman's daughter finds herself in the middle of a snowed forest, at night, without more company than an ancient but powerful elemental spirit, and she starts insulting him and berating him. Eventually, Father Frost gets really pissed off and freezes her to death.
- In "The Three Little Men in the Wood", the girl who has been abused by her stepmother becomes the king's wife. Rather than ingratiating herself with her stepdaughter and enjoying the perks of becoming the king's mother-in-law, the stepmother murders and tries to replace the queen with her own birth daughter. Of course, the king discovers their ridiculously transparent hoax before long, and both women are sentenced to death.
- "The Goose Girl": The King asks the impostor what would be the fair punishment for someone who commits identity theft and generic bastardness on a princess, and she doesn't recognize her own story and suggests to strip the perpetrator naked, put him into a barrel with sharp nails and roll him from the hill into the river. Her wish is granted.
- "Little Red Riding Hood": The titular character can't tell the difference between a wolf and her grandmother, and ends up eaten. Averted in the original tales, wherein Riding Hood realizes she is talking to a wolf and manages to outwit him.
- Miserable: The band is walking all over the body of a bikini-clad giantess and they eventually wind up on her face while she's lying on her back. While everybody else is standing on her forehead, the bassist, Kevin Baldes, is standing on her lips. With one foot on each lip. As a result, when she has a sudden Face–Heel Turn and starts gobbling up the band members, all she has to do is open up and let him fall into her mouth in order to snap him up.
- The Adventure Zone: Balance has Boyland, who dies when he takes his helmet off and opens the window in an incredibly dangerous lab being encased in viral crystal, all for a smoke break.
- Katie from the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town thinks that the first several murders are fake and that she's being pranked, so she gets fed up with everything that's happening and tries to walk out of the room backwards while ranting at the others... directly into a meat hook.
- The Bob & Tom Show: The caller in the Mr. Obvious sketches. In one the caller thinks there is a "critter" in the pipes under his sink and when his wife turns on a light switch it makes it madder than anything. He even tried to get it out once. The sketch lives on this trope. Many either end with bodily injury or came close to it. Others include: Driving a boat down a ski slope (confusing water skiing and snow skiing), Driving with the car sun shade up (not making the connection of needing to remove it), and more.
- Ideas: A show about warning future people about buried radioactive waste features a story where future archaeologists trek for days to find a facility containing a legendary treasure, despite all the warnings. The "treasure" is a gigantic underground vault filled with thousands of leaking metal objects. They die horribly on the way back, still not knowing what killed them.
- Murder U: In the second game, after Kai has recovered from being poisoned and Kellensea has admitted to doing it (counting on there being no punishment since Kai survived), Ranma takes out a rag collected during the investigation, covered in what is probably the same poison, and licks it. To nobody's surprise but his own, he collapses swiftly, and only survives because he gets immediate medical attention.
- Crops up from time to time in Survival of the Fittest. One of the most notable examples was the very first death in v4. Danya tooks pains to tell the students that the collars were more sensitive this time, and not as prone to tampering. This does not stop Remi Pierce from attempting to slice off his collar with a knife the second he woke up on the island, with expected results.