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What An Idiot / Literature

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A number of books have characters who do such stupid things that you'd wish you could rewrite the story so they would act more sensibly.

Literature series that have their own pages:

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    Literature A-F 
  • The Aeneid: Aeneas makes a pitstop on the road to his destiny to fool around with Queen Dido. The gods give him a wake-up call and tell him to get the lead out.
    You'd Expect: Aeneas to explain to Dido "It's not you, baby, it's my destiny. If it were up to me, I would stick around, but the gods told me I have to go, so I don't have a choice."
    Instead: He wants to deliver the news when the time is right, so he has his men prepare the ships ahead of time, while he's waiting for the opportune moment. She catches him, and he tells her about what he has to do... and tells her to stop bitching and deal with it. Thereby creating the very Woman Scorned he was trying to avoid. Not only that, but instead of saying "If it were up to me, I'd stick around," he says "If it were up to me, I'd still be in Troy, tending graves!"
  • Aesop's Fables:
    • There is a well-known fable about a hare who bullies a tortoise. Why? The hare is faster than the tortoise. Eventually, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race. The hare accepts, and during the race, gains a solid lead.
      You'd Expect: The hare keeps going and wins the race.
      Instead: The hare falls asleep halfway, hubris telling him he can win this way. It actually makes him lose, because the tortoise is already at the line by the time he arrives.
    • Another fable has a dog who is carrying something. It can be a bone it stole or even a piece of meat, take what you will. The dog comes to a stream and looks down, seeing something in the water. It's its reflection.
      You'd Expect: The dog to know what a reflection is, and move on.
      Instead: It automatically thinks the reflection is another dog carrying a better item. It moves to bark at it and drops its item.
    • Another fable has a boy who's watching sheep. The boy gets bored.
      You'd Expect: He'd kill time playing with the lambs or something.
      Instead: He decides to trick the local villagers into believing there are wolves attacking the sheep. It works when it's all Blatant Lies, but when the situation is real... well, you probably get it by now.
    • The Fox and the Stork
      • The fox invites the stork to dinner, but serves soup in shallow dishes the stork can't easily drink from.
        You'd Expect: The stork to point out that she can't eat her soup, forcing the fox to find her a bowl or jug for her or seem unnecessarily rude.
        Instead: The stork doesn't eat her soup, and the fox pretends to believe she doesn't like it so he gets a second portion.
      • In return, the stork invites the fox to dinner, but serves her soup in tall jugs the fox can't drink from.
        You'd Expect: The fox to tip the jug towards himself so he can drink the soup. If the stork objects to this, he can reasonably point out that she's provided him with a jug he can't drink from. If she says that he did the same thing to her, he can say that since she never complained, he assumed there was no problem.
        Instead: The fox doesn't get any soup.
  • Alex Rider:
    • In the third book, Alex is given a mission to accompany CIA agents Turner and Troy as they sneak onto the island of Skeleton Key, which happens to belong to Cuba. They plan to go through a heavily-policed airport, and it's very likely that their belongings will be searched.
      You'd Expect: Turner and Troy to have made sure that nothing in their luggage suggests that they're American spies.
      Instead: There's a receipt from the same location as the CIA's main headquarters in one of Turner's shirt pockets. As a result, the disguise is quickly blown.
    • Crocodile Tears has Journalist Harry Bulman planning to do an exposé about MI6's use of a teenage spy. He goes to Alex's house to try and persuade him to co-operate, despite not really caring about what Alex wants in the matter. Alex refuses to take part, not wanting to endure the media attention that would inevitably result.
      You'd Expect: Bulman to assure Alex that he'll respect his wishes, and go ahead and make the story public once he gets the chance. By the time Alex or MI6 realize what's happened, it'll be too late for them to do anything about it.
      Instead: He flat-out tells Alex that he'll run the story anyway, prompting Alex to turn to MI6, who ensure that Bulman's story will never see the light of day.
    • In Russian Roulette, a 14 year old Yassen Gregorovitch arrives at Moscow station. A guy called Dimitri wanders over and starts talking to him, giving him directions and acting really friendly towards him, despite the two boys never meeting before now. Dimitri then decides to go with Yassen to the subway station, and puts his arm around his shoulders.
      You'd Expect: Yassen to realise that with the way Dimitri, a complete stranger, is acting towards him, something's probably up, and politely thank him for his help and leave his company as soon as possible.
      Instead: He lets Dimitri accompany him, and is subsequently pickpocketed.
  • Alice, Girl from the Future.
    • In The Voyage of Alice, Bluk is a planet whose capital city hosts a gigantic weekly fair, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the galaxy.
      You’d Expect: A proper system of border and customs control on the cosmodromes.
      Instead: There’s no control at all, and a space pirate is able to smuggle air-consuming worms that nearly destroy the planet’s atmosphere.
      Even Worse: After it happens, no additional security measures are taken. The officers at the border threaten to search the heroes’ ship but never proceed with it.
    • Another jewel of wisdom and common sense from Bluk. Mother Volga, a hotel for humans and humanoid aliens, has a guest who smashes their robots and boils sausages on his bed.
      You’d Expect: The hotel staff to give him a warning at once, then demand he leaves, and, even better, notify the police. Most machines in this universe are Ridiculously Human Robots, so a guy who is violent towards them might just be dangerous for people.
      Instead: The staff put up with him. He turns out to be a space pirate – the same one who has nearly destroyed the very same planet!
    • In One Hundred Years Ahead, Alice is entrusted with a mielophone, a priceless thought-reading machine (there are only twenty-six of them in the world and new ones can’t be made in the foreseeable future).
      You'd Expect: Her to be careful and never let it out of her sight.
      Instead: She leaves it lying on a path in a public zoo. Of course, it promptly gets stolen.
    • Continuing from the above. Alice figures out that the mielophone is now in the possession of a guest from the past, and said guest is running to the Institute of Time. She has contacts at that Institute and at the Intergalactic Police.
      You’d Expect: Her to alert the authorities at once.
      Instead: She is ashamed to admit her previous mistake and decides to catch the boy herself. She ends up leading pirates to the time machine, suffering a concussion after hitting her head on a trolleybus during her chase, and getting stuck in the past for a long while. She realizes pretty soon she has been foolish.
    • Later on, stuck in the 20th century, Alice befriends one of the boy's classmates and goes to her school, pretending to be her distant relative, to find out which of the boys has the mielophone (she hasn't seen his face and only knows he's called Kolya because he wrote his name on a zoo bench, but there are three Kolyas in the class and she can't guarantee the boy wrote his real name).
      You'd Expect: Her to keep a low profile. Since she's just recovered from a concussion and pretends to have amnesia, the teachers aren't going to demand any noticeable results from her, and she can quietly figure out how to approach the boys about the mielophone.
      Instead: She stands out (not to show off deliberately, though, but because it's hard for her to lie) at practically every possible moment, using advanced mathematics in algebra class, saying she speaks eight languages, blurting out names of yet-nonexistent cities at geography, and beating a grandmaster at chess. As a result, everyone sees she's no usual girl and it's very easy for the pirates to track her down.
    • In the same book, Mila, a twelve-year-old girl (a model student, by the way), is walking to school when she meets two people claiming to be psychiatrists and saying her new classmate Alice ran away from a high-security ward.
      You'd Expect: Mila to pretend she doesn’t know anything about it, make an excuse and leave as quickly as possible, or at the very least ask for the doctors’ identification and some written proof of Alice’s diagnosis.
      Instead: Mila believes them right away and leads them to the school. They turn out to be space pirates from the future, and it leads to one of Mila’s classmates being kidnapped and tortured, and the rest just barely making it out alive.
    • The space pirates aren’t immune to that either. Continuing from the above, after sneaking into the school with Mila’s help. Rat shape-shifts into the English teacher while Jolly U distracts the real one. He keeps an extremely thin and long snake trained specifically for pickpocketing.
      You’d Expect: Rat to at least try to act the part. He might not know 20th-century English, but he can order the class to do writing exercises or read a text. In the meantime, he can use the snake to fish out the mielophone from whatever bag it’s in and leave the room. This way, he and Jolly U will be on their way to the future before the class even realizes what happened.
      Instead: He reveals himself as an impostor immediately, Alice gets suspicious and alert at once, and the whole class chases the pirates.
    • Rat has the children cornered in an empty, abandoned house. Among the children, there is Alice, who has the mielophone. Bonus points: they don’t notice Rat until he speaks out and he has a soporific gas gun with him.
      You’d Expect: Him to immediately shoot Alice with the soporific gas, grab the mielophone and run. The kids will be too stunned to react.
      Instead: He threatens Alice with the gun but doesn’t use it. Alice gets over the initial shock and plays for time, allowing herself and her friends to prepare to attack Rat.
    • Continuing from the previous scene. In the ensuing fight, Alice manages to grab Rat’s soporific gas gun.
      You'd Expect: Her to use it at once. All right, her principles don’t allow her to do serious harm to anyone, but she has seen what the gun does: the gas simply causes one to fall instantly asleep, with no ensuing side effects. Rat might still manage to overpower the children and/or run away, and Jolly U might return to help him (the latter is unconscious outside, but Alice doesn’t know that for sure).
      Instead: Like Rat before her, she doesn’t go beyond threats. Hasn’t it been for The Cavalry, he could have slipped away.
    • In A Million Adventures, Arkasha decides to use a portable time machine that would rewind the time to the moment when the weeds in his vegetable patch were barely grown, enabling him to get rid of them. This time machine is brought and managed by a technician who has never been to that biological research station before.
      You'd Expect: Arkasha to warn the technician that the station is home to several friendly tropical animals, as well as a pithecanthropus.
      Instead: Arkasha forgets to do it. The technician gets scared by a python, falls into a pool, and accidentally hits a button on the time machine, setting the rewind speed at maximum level. Mayhem ensues.
    • A Million Adventures again. The space pirates have successfully captured Alice, along with her friend Rrrr and the rest of La Résistance, and have no intentions to spare them.
      You'd Expect: Them to just kill the captives on the spot.
      Instead: They throw the captives in prison, planning to have them all shot on the following morning. Moreover, the prison only has a single guard. Alice and her friends, feeling they have nothing to lose, outsmart the guard and make a daring escape.
      Even Worse: Among the pirates, there is Rat, who has already encountered Alice and knows she has a tendency to escape from captivity. So either other pirates don't consult him while thinking up this brilliant plan (which makes them twice the idiots, because he doesn't hide the fact Alice is known to him) or he decides she won't be able to run away this time (which makes him twice the idiot, because he doesn't even bother to at least upgrade the prison's security).
    • In The City Without Memory, two Nouveau Riche brothers, hated by everyone already, quarrel for a petty reason with a highborn noble during a truce. Later on, they notice him and his men in the street ahead of them. Their servant notes that they really shouldn't attack, as he has far too many connections and they're lowborn.
      You'd Expect: Them to agree and just take a different road to avoid any new fighting.
      Instead: They ambush the party and kill the enemy noble. The ruler of the country and all of his courtiers take the latter's side, and the brothers are sentenced to death.
    • In the same novel, Squirrel is a Rebellious Baroness in hiding with undercover enemies of the feudal lord. In the middle of the night, she gets a message that someone wants to talk to her outdoors.
      You’d Expect: Her to be suspicious and refuse to go outside. Practically everyone in the house is wanted for some reason or other. Bonus point: her friends tell her it is probably a trap.
      Instead: Squirrel immediately jumps to the conclusion that it’s a messenger from Brook, the young man she loves. Big surprise, it’s not – it turns out to be the local Double Reverse Quadruple Agent who also wants to marry her. The ensuing fight leaves many people dead, and Squirrel escapes only narrowly.
  • The Amelia Bedelia books center around a maid who is frequently given instructions that she screws up as a result of her tendency to take things literally.
    You’d Expect: Her employers would learn to phrase things literally after she screwed up the first few times.
    Instead: They continue to use figures of speech, and she continues to take instructions wrong. They actually did learn to do that at the end of the first book, but they obviously forgot to in later books.
  • In Angels & Demons, Langdon has figured out where the assassin is going to murder Cardinal Number 4, and actually beats him to the spot.
    You'd Expect: He'd shoot the tires of the van, or wait until the assassin removes the Cardinal, and then shoot him in the leg, incapacitating him.
    Instead: He climbs into the fountain, waits until the Assassin is right up against the fountain, and then says "You, stop." The Assassin mocks him and kicks the Cardinal into the fountain. The end result: The Cardinal drowns, and Langdon only succeeds in shooting the assassin's toe.
  • Animorphs: In one book, Jake is taken over by a Yeerk. The rest of the Five-Man Band figures this out pretty quickly, so they put him under lock and key in a remote cabin for the three days it takes for the Yeerk to starve without its Kandrona rays, and keep him under constant guard.
    You'd Expect: The Yeerk turns Jake into a housefly and escapes. The Yeerk had full access to Jake's memories, and so would know that this is one of the morphs Jake possesses. A fly would have been small enough to avoid attracting attention, and in the two hours before he has to change back, he could have been several miles away, even at a fly's average speed of 3-4 mph.
    Instead: He attempts to escape as a tiger, but gets lost. He tries a wolf morph, but gets stopped by a rival pack. He tries an ant, but gets thwarted by an enemy colony. He threatens to escape as a flea, but the others point out that he couldn't travel very far as a flea before he had to change back. He never even attempts the fly.
    • In a later book the Animorphs take on a new member, David. Unfortunately, his father has just become a Controller and knows his son knows about Yeerks, so David needs a place to stay where his father can't find him.
      You'd Expect: That David would stay with the Chee, who have a big well-furnished home with lots of dogs. Everyone loves dogs. (Note that in a later book where Marco's dad learns the truth, he does move in with the Chee.)
      Instead: He's told to sleep in Cassie's barn, fueling his resentment against the Animorphs for causing the circumstances that orphaned him.
  • Anna and the French Kiss: Anna is upset about her father forcing her to leave Atlanta for an elite Parisian school. It means she also leaves behind her best friend Bridgette, who is a drummer, and her crush Toph. She recommends that Bridgette audition for Toph's band. This leads to Toph and Bridgette becoming a couple, even though Bridgette knows about Anna's crush. Bridgette also feels resentful about Anna getting to leave Atlanta and have an adventure abroad..
    You'd Expect: Bridgette to have broken the new gently to Anna months ago that she and Toph have hooked up, to apologize for the break in social boundaries, and talk out any issues they may have.
    Instead: Bridgette doesn't. Toph does when Anna visits home for Christmas, the night of one of their concerts. Anna understandably makes a scene on learning her best friend got together with her crush.
    You'd Then Expect: Bridgette to stop the show for a bit, pull Anna offstage, and have an argument there. The Show Must Go On and Anna looks like a typical heckler.
    Instead: Bridgette is the most unprofessional musician ever. As Anna confronts her, Bridgette stays on stage with her goes on a rant about how Anna left her in "Shitlanta". Anna then shouts back that her brother, whom Bridgette is babysitting, already likes Bridgette better, and Anna storms off in tears, calling her friend Etienne St. Clair from the Parisian school.
    The Result: Some instruments get damaged due to their fight, and both girls make utter fools of themselves. By the time Bridgette cools down, what she has said and done sinks in hard, but Anna has cut her out of her life and refuses to accept any apology in person, by phone or by email. She also puts away the model train she was going to gift her ex-best friend. Anna's brother also gets angry on hearing Bridgette made her cry, and Anna has to make him promise that he won't turn Bridgette into a Badly Battered Babysitter. It's not until months later that Anna breaks up Etienne and Ellie's relationship that she's able to write back to Bridgette, and it's unclear if they are able to mend ties.
  • Artemis Fowl:
    • In The Eternity Code, Artemis uses stolen fairy technology to construct the C Cube, a miniature supercomputer decades ahead of anything on the human market. He invites Jon Spiro, an American tech billionaire thought to have made his money off the back of stolen research, to a demonstration of the C Cube at a Knightsbridge café.
      You'd Expect: Artemis to offer Spiro some kind of partnership - Artemis gets access to Spiro's manufacturing facilities to mass-produce the C Cube, Spiro gets a share of the C Cube's profits and access to its hyper-advanced tech, and both men get filthy rich as the C Cube makes every other computer system in the world obsolete overnight.
      Instead: Artemis offers Spiro eighteen months to pull his company out of the tech market and get his affairs in order, before Artemis releases the C Cube to market and bankrupts him along with every other tech giant on the planet. All the while, he rubs the C Cube's advanced capabilities in Spiro's face, and expects him to take all this lying down. Remember, Spiro is thought to have made his fortune by stealing others' research.
      The Result: Spiro steals the C Cube (surprise, surprise), and Butler is mortally wounded in a Heroic Sacrifice to save Artemis from Spiro's right-hand man.
    • In The Atlantis Complex, Ragby, a henchman of the main villain, pushes a button to deliver an electric shock to the dwarf Mulch Diggums, who's in a pod filled with bubbles of passed gas (dwarfs in this series are Fartillery units).
      You'd Expect: Him to not do that, as he doesn't know what's in the gas. It could be explosive, and the electricity would spark it into blowing up.
      Instead: He presses the button, the gas explodes, Mulch is freed, and the whole thing was a distraction for The Smart Guy, and so now everyone imprisoned is freed.
      Lampshaded beautifully: "Any first-day chemistry student could have told Ragby never to put sparks near a mystery gas. Unfortunately, Ragby had never met any first-day chemistry students, so it came as a complete suprise when the gas passed by Mulch Diggums ignited, in a chain of miniature explosions."
  • Beastly: Kyle is the local male Alpha Bitch. He gets away with being a bullying jerk because of his good looks and wealthy father. Unbeknownst to him, a witch named Kendra takes interest and stages an opportunity to curse him. Mind that rather she gives him an opportunity to show that he actually has a good side, by posing as a Hollywood Homely classmate. He then asks her out to a dance only to humiliate her, merely because she's made it clear she thinks he's a jerk. Kendra then reveals her true form, and she is actually quite beautiful, and it is time to curse him. It's revealed that Kendra has a bad habit of overdoing magic, which means the other witches have forced her to do community service as atonement, by working as a servant. Their reason is pragmatic, in that Kendra's magic would lead to a Broken Masquerade and ordinary people would find out about them.
    You'd Expect: Kendra would merely humiliate Kyle in an indiscreet way that only he will remember. Also that if she really wants him to learn a lesson then it has to be a fair-play curse that he can break relatively easily provided he changes his attitude.
    Instead: She turns him into a hairy beast-man, in line with the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast". To add insult to injury, she says that his Curse Escape Clause is that he has two years to make someone love him, in beast form, and give him True Love's Kiss or he will stay that way forever. Online dating won't cut it, and neither will trying to use surgery to alter his face; someone has to actually see him, get to know him, and love him. For a token prize, he gets a magic mirror that lets him see everything and anything he wants. Which is useful in letting him see the outside world while he's cooped up but for not much else. The film fixes this in that Kyle remains human but is given an entirely different look that he finds abhorrent.
    The Result: The curse becomes Gone Horribly Wrong and Disproportionate Retribution; yes, Kyle shouldn't have humiliated Kendra at the dance, but that was one bad night; she pretty much destroyed his entire life in retaliation. Kyle's father pulls him out of school and locks him up in a mansion, with only a housekeeper and a blind tutor for company. His girlfriend breaks up with him as soon as he tries to trick her into kissing him and she sees his form. The witches get really angry and punish Kendra for exposing magic to so many people by making her pose as Kyle's housekeeper, Magda, and it's only because Kyle treats Magda kindly that he decides she should be allowed to go home as soon as he breaks his curse. Kyle also tells off Kendra for the curse, not just because of what it's done to him, but because it would be cruel to make anyone fall in love with a beast like him and ruin their life. His efforts to break the curse fail until he forces a would-be thief to bring his daughter Lindy and make her a captive in the mansion; coincidentally his kindness to Lindy the night of that fateful dance is what inspired the Curse Escape Clause in the first place. This also fails because Lindy is constantly reminded that she is a prisoner, and was taken away from the life that she had built from the wreckage of her father's drug addiction. If not for Lindy deciding to find Kyle, or Adrian as she knows him, after he releases her to take care of her father, then the curse would never have been broken. So Kendra is a textbook example of how NOT to curse. The only real benefits that ensue are that Kyle learns to truly care for the people in his life who stay with him, and sees his father and ex-girlfriend for the shallow people they really are.
  • The Belgariad:
    • Evil sorcerer and Disciple of Torak Ctuchik has come into possession of the Orb of Aldur, one of the most powerful objects ever created, along with the thief who stole it. He knows that the heroes will have to go looking for it, and that they'll inevitably come to confront him. Because they're following a prophecy, he comes up with quite a good plan: let them confront him, and then kill the weakest member of the party, as she has a very important role to play in the future. With her dead, the entire prophecy fails.
      You'd Expect that he'd make damn sure that his intended target was actually with the party before allowing them anywhere near him.
      Instead he doesn't do any verifying, and the party leaves the weak member at a very safe place before continuing onward.
    • While the weakest member of the party is safe and sound, there are several other candidates, namely two members of the party who are standing guard outside the tower and have no idea what's going on.
      You'd Expect that Ctuchik would keep his head and try to attack one of them. He has the ability and can certainly pull off such an attack.
      Instead he freaks out and ends up breaking one of the definitive laws of nature, and gets himself obliterated.
  • The Black Witch Chronicles:
    • In order to pay her tuition at Verpax University, Elloren has to work in the kitchens. The rest of the kitchen staff are all non-Gardnerians with good reasons to hate Gardnerians, and Elloren in particular. However, Elloren has no reason to hate any of them, and no inclination to. In addition, while Elloren has no magic herself, her family is the closest thing Gardnerians have to royalty, and she has powerful connections.
      You'd Expect that the other kitchen workers would realise that as much as they might hate having her around, Elloren could make their lives very painful if they gave her a reason, and they don't have to like or befriend her, so they should just put up with her presence while being as coldly civil as they want.
      Instead, Iris and Bleddyn bully Elloren both verbally and physically, and threaten to break her arms and legs if she tells anyone about things Elloren not only lacked knowledge of the notability of, but had no reason or inclination to tell anyone about. Elloren attempts to report them to the Kitchen Mistress, but the Kitchen Mistress makes it clear that she's on Iris and Bleddyn's side and won't so much as rebuke them for it.
      As A Result, Elloren, lacking other options, calls in Lukas Grey, the man her aunt wants her to fast to, who happens to be a high-ranked soldier with even more power and connections. Lukas proceeds to threaten Iris, Bleddyn and the Kitchen Mistress' families if they hurt Elloren again, which Elloren doesn't like, but can't see an alternative to, since she obviously wasn't going to just take the bullying lying down.
    • Gwynnifer gives Sage the White Wand, an incredibly powerful artefact that is one of the main forces for good in the world, both because the Wand wants to go to Sage and because the Wand needs to stay hidden, which is becoming much harder in Gardneria's capital city, Valgard. There are demons searching for the Wand, but they look like normal Gardnerians to nearly everyone else. Among the instructions Gwynn gives Sage is that she should never look the demons in the eye, or a connection will be formed and they will instantly know that Sage has the White Wand, and begin to target her. If Sage can just get the wand out of Valgard without the demons following her, then she'll be safe.
      You'd Expect Sage to realise that since they're travelling via a carriage, the best way for her to avoid letting the demons realise that she has the Wand is to simply not look out of the window, since she can't make eye contact with anyone that way- at least until they're safely out of Valgard. And since they have books with them, she can just read a book and not look up for a while.
      Instead Sage looks out the window and winds up making eye contact with one of the demons.
      As A Result, the demons come after them. Sage manages to get her family to change carriages so that the demons follow the right carriage but the wrong family, but it was a close call.
  • Blue Beard: Blue Beard is a very wealthy and powerful nobleman who has been married multiple times and murdered his wives without anyone finding this out. He marries once again and has to go to a businesstrip and wants to let his current wife access to every door of the house except for an underground chamber in which the corpses of his former wives are hidden.
    You'd Expect: This should be a no brainer, he would give her the keys to every door in the house except the one to mentioned chaimber.
    Instead: He gives her all the keys and tells her not to open the door to the chaimber. Very well done...
    As A Result: The wife eventually gets curious, opens the door and finds out the secret. She drops the key on the floor out of shock and gets the key dirty with blood and can't wash the blood off. She tells her sister about the discovery and the latter goes to get their brothers to help them escape the next morning. Bluebird comes home earlier than expected, sees the key covered with blood and finds out his wife discovered the truth. As he prepares to end her life her sister and brothers come and kill Bluebird.
  • Broken Gate: Over 100 years ago, after a battle, Nezumi places a curse on her older brother Ryuuji for his awful treatment of her. However, she does offer to lift the curse if he offers to make amends and learns from his mistakes.
    You'd Expect: Ryuuji to suck up his arrogance, learn from his mistakes, and make amends with his sister so she'd lift the curse she put upon him.
    Instead: He decided to antagonize her further, the which causes her to open a gate with something malign behind it, the which has very unpleasant results.
    What's Worse: Years later, upon finding out that she had survived, he decides to seek her out, despite his other sister, Miyako, warning their brother, Tora, not to for understandable reasons, as it could (and, unfortunately, does)result in her death, nevermind the fact that she had opened the gate once and would be prompted to open it again.
  • The Cat in the Stacks Mysteries: In-Universe, in Dead With the Wind (#2 of the spinoff series Southern Ladies Mysteries), the final chapter has the Ducote sisters remarking on how they already knew Sondra's killer was stupid, but then he really blew it when the police find he still has the murder weapon.
    Dickce: "How many killers are actually dumb enough to drive around with the murder weapon in the trunk of their cars?"
  • Changing Latitudes:
    • During the novel, almost-high school senior Cassie and her brother Drew are watching the aftermath of their parents going through an unexpected divorce. Their mother gets laid off from her bank manager job but still retains custody of them. Their dad gets a transfer to teach in Hong Kong but his child support isn't enough. Cassie channels her frustrations into her home garden, and looks forward to a trip with her best friends so as to get away from the home unpleasantness. In the meantime, Mom gets an offer to sail a wealthy family's yacht from California to Mexico. She knows that Cassie likes her safety and stability, and the job market doesn't look friendly
      You'd Expect: Mom and Dad to lay out the options for how Cassie and Drew want to spend their summer. They could spend it with their dad, at home since Cassie is almost a legal adult, or with friends.
      Instead: Mom, in an attempt to reel in Cassie who is refusing to speak to her and acting out, forces the kids to go with her on the boat. Neither have experience in sailing. Cassie isn't even given the choice to go on the trip she spent months waiting for or to spend her summer at home because Mom rents out the house, with her garden. Then the couple that rents it makes an offer to buy it, and Mom seriously considers the offer because she's low on cash.
      The Result: Drew handles the bad news stoically, as well as each turn and tide but Cassie understandably spends most of the trip even angrier at her mother than before and calls her out regularly for her selfishness. At the end of the novel, when Mom needs to be hospitalized for a head injury that occurs during a storm, Cassie chooses that they throw in the towel and sail back into the harbor.
    • Mom also reveals why the divorce happened in the first place: she had reconnected with an old flame on Facebook, who made her realize that she had given up her passion for sailing in an attempt to get anchored after a miscarriage and marrying Dad. She and Dad attempted to do marriage counseling, only for them to realize the spark had gone out of their marriage.
      You'd Expect: She and Dad would have stayed together long enough for Mom to get her finances together.
      Instead: Mom divorces him almost immediately. Then when she's laid off, his child support isn't enough to help her and the kids out. She also fails to find another job while doing Skype interviews.
      The Result: The family suffers a lot of money stresses.
  • Roald Dahl wrote two books about a boy named Charlie and a chocolate factory owned by a Mr. Wonka, and even they have several idiotic moments:
    • The first book:
      • In a story told to Charlie by his Grandpa Joe, Mr. Wonka travels to India to help a Indian prince named Pondicherry to build a palace out of chocolate. Once the work is done, Mr. Wonka, who knows that the hot Indian climate won't let the palace stand for long, warns Pondicherry that he would start eating up the place now if he was the prince.
        You’d Expect: For Pondicherry to realise that Wonka has a point and do exactly as he had suggested.
        Instead: He rejects the warning, claiming that he didn't want the palace so that he could eat it up, but that he wanted to live in it.
        Unsurprisingly: The palace eventually melts with Pondicherry inside, hammering home Wonka's point the hard way.
      • Willy Wonka is considered a genius chocolate maker, eccentric and creative. In a cutthroat candy industry, this means that corporate rivals send in spies to steal his recipes and recreate them.
        You'd Expect: The corporations once they have the recipes wouldn't try to blatantly copy Wonka's inventions, because if he's able to build an entire palace out of chocolate, he can probably create some way out of espionage. Also Wonka's inventions came out first, so anything identical to them would appear as cheap knockoffs.
        Instead: Ficklegruber, Prodnose and Slugworth would create direct replicas of Wonka's never-melting ice cream, everlasting gum, and candy balloons. It's so blatant that everyone can see it.
        The Result: Wonka closes down for a couple of years in a rage, only to reopen with mysterious workers that never go in or out of his factory. It means he regains his reputation as the most wonderful candymaker, AND manages to create an oligopoly because they can't keep up or replicate his magical candy.
      • Later, Mr. Wonka takes five lucky winners of 'Golden Tickets' (Augustus, Veruca, Violet, Mike, and (of course) Charlie) on a tour of his factory. The first room they come to is the 'Chocolate Room'. It has a liquid chocolate river and waterfall, from which some (if not all) of the chocolate used in Wonka's products is sourced. Oh, and there is no railing to keep anyone back.
        You’d Expect: The whole tour group would keep their distance.
        Instead: Augustus goes to the edge of the liquid chocolate river and starts licking it up raw. One could point out that this was out of gluttony, but then again, it does lead to him falling in, nearly drowning and embarking on an unplanned journey up a pipe.
      • Not long after, they come to the Inventing Room, where Mr Wonka creates some of his wondrous products. One of the products are a kind of gobstopper that can never get smaller or run out of favours. Violet thinks it's like the gum she has a habit of chewing, but Mr Wonka tells her that if one was to chew them they could break their teeth. Also, he's told all the kids not to touch anything in the room because they're dangerous. The kids have just promised.
        You'd Expect: If Mr Wonka shows them gum, Violet would just stand and watch.
        Instead: When Mr Wonka shows them a kind of gum that has the flavour of a three-course meal (tomato soup, roast beef and baked potato, and blueberry pie and ice cream), Violet grabs it and starts chewing on it. Of course, the gum has a flaw - once you reach the blueberry pie you swell up, turn blue and end up looking like a blueberry, as Violet finds out. While the swelling is reversed, the skin change is partially irreversible.
      • During the tour, Mr. Wonka tells an anecdote about a test of a kind of fizzy drink that makes one lift upwards against gravity. He gave it an Oompa-Loompa (a kind of little people who work for Wonka) in the backyard, the last place to drink the drink, and the poor little guy ends up levitating.
        You'd Think: That the Oompa-Loompa would burp, which is the only way to counter the effects of the drink.
        Instead: He doesn't and ends up flying into space.
        Extra Points: Charlie outright states that the guy should have burped, to which Wonka agrees.
      • Another of the factory rooms contains nuts, and Mr Wonka has trained squirrels to select the best for his nutter bars. Veruca wants to have one of them, but when her parents (who are accompanying her) ask Mr Wonka for a price, the chocolater's reply is this: "Not for sale, she can't have one!"
        You'd Expect: Veruca to take Wonka's word for it and not go any further.
        Instead: She attempts to steal one of the squirrels anyway, bursting into the room to do so. The squirrels all gang up on her. They decide that she's a 'bad nut' and throw her in the garbage, followed by her parents. Then it's revealed that she would been burned in the factory incinerator if it wasn't one of those days when it wasn't lit. In the 1971 film version (but not the 2005 one), they used geese and golden eggs instead, but the results are similar.
      • Mr. Wonka takes the group on a ride on his glass elevator that can go in any direction, and they arrive at a room where the factory is experimenting with interactive television advertising that can generate real chocolate. The experiment, performed by suited Oompa-Loompas, works using a camera that, when activated in front of giant-size chocolate, makes it disappear and makes it reappear again, shrunk down, on an interactive screen (similar to how real television imagery would work), the suits protecting the Oompa-Loompas from the effects of the camera. Mike, a television nut, has seen everything, and asks about things that could be 'sent by television'. When he suggests humans, Mr Wonka implies he is mad!
        You'd Expect: Mike would do nothing more and let the Oompa-Loompas do their thing.
        Instead: Mike decides to test his theory on himself, causing him to shrink, and causing the Oompa-Loompas to overstretch him when attempting to bring him back to normal.
    • In the second book, Mr. Wonka has a load of pills that can reduce the age of anyone who takes them. He offers them to Charlie Bucket's grandparents, all of whom are around 80, and firmly establishes that each pill will make a person 20 years younger.
      You'd Expect: Them to listen to his advice not to take more than three pills each.
      Instead: They refuse to and they each take four pills. Two of them are reduced to babies, and one of them, a 78 year old woman, actually removes herself from existence, forcing Charlie and Mr Wonka to risk their lives trying to rescue her.
      Luckily: Wonka also created a liquid that reverses the effects of the pills.
      But You'd Expect: Enough of said liquid to be dumped into order to bring the woman back.
      Instead: They use so much of it that she ends up centuries old, making them waste a large amount of the pills (each of which is VERY hard and expensive to produce) getting her back to normal.
  • The Chemical Garden Trilogy: The Gathers, and arguably the society in general. All the women in this world drop dead at the age of 20, and all the men at the age of 25.
    You'd Expect: Society to keep every woman alive for as long as possible so they can reproduce and keep the human species from going extinct.
    Instead: The Gatherers, for some obscure reason, kidnap as many young women as possible and then kill all those who aren't chosen as brides for their employers.
  • In The Chronicles of Amber Fiona is shown a photo of Merlin's friend Luke while Merlin is trying to make sense of the strange (and deadly) happenings. She realizes from the photo that Luke is the son of Brand who once nearly shattered reality and managed to kill her sister Deirdre. From this she realizes that Luke is probably Cain's murderer and is looking for revenge, especially against the people who betrayed his father.
    You'd Expect: Her to instantly tell all this to Merlin and then rush back to Amber to warn everyone else. By this point everyone's getting along fairly well and they all consider Brand to have been a nutjob who's better off dead.
    Instead: She pretends not to recognize him and even threatens Merlin when he calls her bluff. After that she runs to Bleys and the two of them dash off to parts unknown (making this entry equally applicable to Bleys as well) leaving everyone else in the dark.
    Unsurprisingly: Luke causes a good deal of trouble before they can get the situation resolved.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The White Witch has been on the lookout for humans. If four of them appear, then she's toast according to a prophecy and her rule will end. Lo and behold, one human appears, a naive child shivering in her eternal winter. She decides to enchant him with candy to interrogate him. Edmund for his part doesn't know he's being interrogated or drugged. He reveals he has three siblings and one has visited Narnia. The White Witch also learns that the way into Narnia doesn't work consistently.
      You'd Expect: She would tell Edmund to back up Lucy, the sibling who did enter the wardrobe, and say the wardrobe must not be working all the time. Then that would build trust in him and he can lure them to her castle more easily.
      Instead: For some reason, the White Witch instructs Edmund to disavow Lucy and pretend he's never been there.
      Predictably: When the other siblings find out Lucy was right and Edmund had been there before, Peter gives him a What the Hell, Hero? and don't listen to him. Only Edmund goes to the witch's castle, just as his siblings leave to find Aslan and their thrones.
  • The fifth book of The Chronicles of Prydain has Pryderi leading a force to attack Caer Dallben and kill the Badass Pacifist and Big Good Dallben.
    You'd Expect: For Pryderi to come by himself and try to lull Dallben into a false sense of security, or at least pretend to come on friendly business (there's a war on, so it's not unreasonable that he should have several armed men with him. It's also highly unlikely that anyone could have gotten a message to Dallben warning him of his treachery.
    Instead: He leads a force of 20 men in an all-out assault. Might as well hold up a sign saying "WE'RE HERE TO KILL YOU!"
    The Result: By the time he reaches the cottage, he's the only one left standing. Just because someone practices Thou Shalt Not Kill does not mean they're helpless.
    For Added Stupidity: The innocence gambit has actually worked for him before. In that very book. Which leads to...
    • Upon arriving at Dallben's cottage, he threatens Dallben with a dagger, implied to be Anti-Magic, and then reaches out to touch The Book of Three, despite Dallben's warning to the contrary.
      You'd Expect: For him to just stab Dallben and go. Also, for him to listen to The Archmage when it comes to magical matters.
      Instead: He reaches out and grab the book, which has a self-defence mechanism. Bye-bye, Pryderi.
  • City of Bones:
    • The main character, Clary, witnesses a boy her own age tied up (with piano wire) and questioned by people talking about demons and accusing the boy of being one, going so far as to threaten to kill him with a knife.
      You'd Expect: Her to leave immediately and look for a bouncer.
      Instead: She stands and watches, and then steps in when one of these obviously deranged people brings out a knife.
    • Soon after, the tied up boy attacks one of his captors, who kills him, and the boy's body basically implodes into nothing. His kidnappers and murderers continue to say he was a demon, and when her friend and a bouncer arrive she is apparently the only one who can see them.
      You'd Expect: Clary to seriously question whether or not she was sober at this point, considering she was in a club, and these people keep talking about magic and demons, and you know, she's the only one who can see them.
      Instead: She seems to accept what these murderers are telling her, and seems to think her doubts are wishful thinking.
    • After leaving the club, Clary's Childhood Friend Simon asks her if she's alright. He obviously knows something is wrong with her, and keeps asking her if she has something she wants to tell him.
      You'd Expect: Clary to confide in Simon, whom she's known for ten years, since what just happened was so traumatic.
      Instead: She doesn't tell him anything at all, her reasoning seeming to stem from how the MURDERER Jace talked to her.
    • The next evening, when talking to Simon in a resturaunt, Clary spots Jace again when he interrupts her conversation with a snort. He's armed, she's already seen him kill someone, and Simon is obviously trying to tell her something important. Jace, after interrupting her conversation, gets up and leaves.
      You'd Think: Clary would stay with Simon, perhaps very disturbed that her hallucination is appearing again, and maybe tell Simon what she just saw.
      Instead: She runs out after Jace. Jace, who she saw kill someone. Jace, who has a knife very like the one he killed someone on him at this very moment. Jace, who apparently only she can see. She runs after him outside. At night. "Terrified that he would disappear like a ghost." And she doesn't say a single word to Simon. She just up and leaves.
  • The Clifton Chronicles
    • Harry Clifton is an intelligent and talented author of detective novels who has a little - admittedly amateurish - experience in covert ops. In Mightier than the Sword, he's also the leading light of a movement to release a political prisoner in the USSR, who wrote a biography of Stalin which the Reds want to suppress at all costs. And Harry knows the USSR is keeping an eye on him. The prisoner's wife tells where the book's one known copy is, as long as he does his best to get it published.
      You'd Expect: Harry uses his connections to send someone less conspicuous to get the book. Or if he does it himself, to take basic precautions.
      Instead: He's so concerned with being the hero and fulfilling his promise that he doesn't leave any room for common sense. He takes Russian lessons, flies straight to Russia in his own name with an overnight bag (whose contents show he doesn't even plan to stay overnight), goes straight to the bookshop where the book is hidden, retrieves it, buys another book or two to "cunningly" disguise the reason for the visit, and heads straight back to the airport. He actually seems surprised when the Russians nick him at Customs. The officer in charge basically says Harry would've been more subtle if he took out a billboard. This all seems to be to facilitate the big crisis and cliffhanger of the last act, even though it would've arguably been better if Harry made a more valiant, sensible effort and then failed. Maybe hidden the book somewhere else before he got caught.
      • The Reds have Harry, and give him a show trial for "spying". So much of a Kangaroo Court, in fact, that they tell him it is beforehand. They also offer him amnesty and permanent exile from the USSR if he signs a confession, instead of vanishing to Siberia. The author of the aforementioned (now-destroyed) book even shows up to 'admit' he made the whole thing up.
        You'd expect: They'd have someone speaking English on hand.
        Instead: They don't. Harry convinces them he's actually convinced by the information. Then they not only chuck Harry in the same cell as the author, the guard doesn't speak English. He's also not alert enough to notice the whispered conversation.
        And so: The writer simply tells Harry the full contents of the book (which he had memorized), which Harry memorizes in turn with his previously-displayed photographic memory. Oh, and he as he reads the English version of his "confession" aloud he realizes nobody understands him, makes a mockery of it by replacing words, and signs it with the name William Warwick, his most famous fictional creation. His brother - in between bouts of laughter - can only assume the Russians were in such a hurry to send the confession to the press before Harry made it home that they forgot to actually check it.note 
  • The six people trapped together one cold and stormy night in the poem The Cold Within.
    You'd expect: However they felt about present company, they would at least try to keep the fire going.
    Instead: Each is hell-bent on spiting someone else of a demographic they have ill will towards, to the extent that they forget about self preservation entirely and let themselves freeze to death. This is particularly stupid in the case of the guy whose supposed excuse for letting the fire die is that he's completely selfish.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Damia's Children, eldest son Isthian is ambushed and nearly killed by an unknown member of his expedition to explore an abandoned Hiver ship, after he's used all his personal energy to send a distress call to his Grandfather - also his boss - about what they found.
    You'd Think: Once Thian's mother, Damia, arrives on the scene, they'd mentally probe the team to find the real culprit.
    Instead: They don't. The assailant goes unknown for days while Thian recuperates, while they catch the occasional untraceable flash of hatred towards them. Finally, they catch the guy by mentally-attacking him with one big Mental Shout.
  • The Devil Wears Prada
    • Andy Sachs has started a stressful job as the junior personal assistant to Miranda Priestly. This job means working fourteen hours a day, with weekends and vacations getting compromised. She plans to move up after a year, to work at The New Yorker possibly and then spend time with the people she loves afterwards.
      You'd Expect: Her friends and family would accommodate her. Alex is one thing, since he hits his Rage Breaking Point when Andy has to cancel a trip on them and is understandably furious about the late notice. But Andy's parents both know how much she wants to visit her sister and see her niece.
      Instead: When Andy has to go to Paris with Miranda after Emily contracts mono, her mother implies that she'd rather if Andy came to visit them or went to see her sister. Her dad is a bit more reasonable but still wants her to come home for a family emergency. Andy has to point out that she doesn't want to go to Paris but the other choice is to get fired and then her whole year will be for nothing..
    • Lily is a grad student in Russian literature. While working on her PhD, she starts drinking a lot. So much, in fact, that she alienates one guy she likes and takes a crackhead to bed, all the while blacked out. Also, she gets arrested for flipping the bird at a cop while intoxicated. She actually has an Oh, Crap! reaction when Andy points out that for the latter to happen, Lily would have to be really drunk.
      You'd Expect: Lily is an adult. She can get herself to a doctor or to AA. Andy is her friend and roommate, but Andy lacks time and energy to be a caretaker.
      Instead: Lily keeps drinking the rest of the year away, and snarking about how her life is going down the drain. Whenever Andy tries to bring it up, she changes the subject until Miranda calls Andy away for various errands. There is also the number of classes that she's missing and papers she's not writing.
      The Result: While Andy is in Paris, Lily ends up driving drunk, with an ex who cheated on her and boasted about it. She has a head-on collision with a cab driver and ends up in a coma. Andy freaks out when she hears of this, because Miranda will fire her if she leaves Paris. When Miranda finds out, she praises Andy for committing to her job, and then gives her an Impossible Task that causes Andy to curse her out, get fired, and leave her in the lurch. Lily ends up having to withdraw for the semester so she can recover and do community service after she wakes up from her coma. So technically it's Lily's fault that Andy loses her job, though she jokes that Andy was the one compromising her principles.

  • Discworld:
    • Lords and Ladies: Magrat, as a wannabe witch who has been wounded by an elf's arrow, and while recovering Granny Weatherwax has her placed in the castle surrounded by iron to protect her from the elves.
      You'd Expect: Magrat to just listen to Granny and leave things be, considering the older woman has spent the entire last three books being right about damn near everything, and there's already an unmistakably elven arrow sticking out of the younger witch.
      Instead: Magrat spontaneously declares she knows better, because she's about to be queen and "everyone knows Elves are nice," and has the iron barriers removed from the room, which of course ends up attracting the psychotic elves to the castle.
    • Equal Rites has the opening scene in which a dying wizard travels to a village where an eighth son of an eighth son is being born, intending to pass his magic power on to them.
      You'd Expect: That he and the blacksmith (the eighth son about to have an eighth son) would first make sure that the newborn is in fact male.
      Instead: They just go ahead with the transfer, learning soon afterwards that the child is in fact a girl. Said girl is ultimately faced with the hardships of being the first female wizard and having to try and get into the boys-only Unseen University, lest she lose control of the wizard power within her.
    • In Mort, the titular protagonist is warned never to interfere in history while performing his duty as Death.
      You'd Expect: For him not to intervene, especially for someone he barely knows at all.
      Instead: He decides to Always Save the Girl.
      The Result: Mort very nearly screws up history.
  • In the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, there is at least one scenario per book where Protagonist Greg gets in trouble.
    You'd Expect: That he would just explain what happened that got himself there.
    Instead: He opts to run away or tries to make himself look better.
    The Result: Greg ends up in more trouble than he may have already been in.
  • In The Divine Comedy, Virgil is told by the Always Chaotic Evil devils damned in the circle for Consummate Liars that the bridge out of their circle has been destroyed and that it is now impossible to move on past this shortcut the devils know.
    You'd Expect: That Virgil would be ignore the literal demons and take the path God has lined out.
    Instead: Virgil takes the devils' advice and goes their way.
    The Result: The devils attempt to kill Virgil and his charge, forcing them to jump out of the circle down into the pit of the hypocrites, who make fun of Virgil for not sticking on his original path.
  • Dog-Man
    • In "Robo-Chief", chapter 2 of Dog-Man, the Chief receives a visit from the Mayor, who threatens to fire him and replace him with a robot if he fails to stop any more crimes. Dog-Man finds out that the Mayor is actually plotting to take over the city. Achieving this goal requires the use of invisible spray.
      You'd Expect: She would simply use it on herself and, say, go around causing property damage, rob banks or let every imprisoned crook out of jail completely undetected. Then, she'd have "evidence" to fire the Chief.
      Instead: She mails it to Petey the Cat in his jail cell. While he uses it to break out of jail and the Mayor gets the Chief fired as she intended, her plan backfires not long after she has crime stores. Petey doesn't take kindly to this and retaliates by using his invisibility to scare every potential customer. However, upon being informed that the stores are "haunted", she puts two and two together that Petey is behind it.
      You'd Then Expect: The Mayor to trick Petey into visiting her lair with the promise of a "reward" only to wash the spray off instead and lock him up.
      Instead: She sends Robo-Chief to destroy him only for Petey to dupe the robot into destroying every evil shop and blowing itself up. Her plan is doubly foiled when Dog Man reveals her evil plan via cell-phone recording, which ultimately gets her imprisoned.
  • In Dracula, the eponymous Count preys upon innocent Lucy, until the all-knowing Dr Van Helsing arrives. After Lucy dies, returns as a vampire, and is bloodily dispatched by the shaken heroes, Van Helsing and Mina Harker put together the scattered diary records and other clues to discern the villain behind it, and the group bands together to hunt down Dracula.
    You'd expect - With Van Helsing as their mentor, they'd fully investigate anything and everything going on in and around their group that might be evidence of Dracula messing with them, and keep a close guard with full precautions on every member of their group.
    Instead - They get so focused on gallantly tracking down and destroying Dracula's earth-boxes that they ignore the pleas and warnings of Renfield, despite knowing his connection to the Count, and being chivalrous Victorian chauvinists, leave Mina behind... alone... unprotected... while they do so. When she's suddenly pale, exhausted and shaken by recurring nightmares identical to Lucy's, they conclude that she's just tired from her 'unwomanly' exertions as part of their group.
    • Dracula's not exactly a genius in the story either.
      You'd Expect - After the heroes catch onto what Dracula is and try to ward him off, for him to have the common sense to kidnap Lucy away from the bedroom. Finish vamping her then use her to lure Mina away and make her his as well or even better as a distraction to the heroes while he move in on Mina.
      Instead - He leaves Lucy there, giving the heroes a perfect example what vampirism is and how to kill it. And thus how to kill him.
      Furthermore - Why didn't he bother to take his brides along with him as well? It obvious the main characters outnumbered him even with his power. More backup would've benefited him greatly during his blood drinking spree.
    • Johnathan Harker learns on June 30 the brides will eat him
      You'd expect-He would get out of there right away.
      Instead-He waits until the day the brides will eat him.
  • In the Dragonlance novel "Dragons of Spring Dawning", the Golden General Laurana, the commanding general of the Whitestone Army during the War of the Lance, receives a message from the enemy general (who also happens to be her romantic rival), Kitiara Uth Matar, claiming that their mutual love interest, Tanis Half-Elven, is dying and wants to see her, which Kitiara will only allow if Laurana comes in person in the middle of the night to a secret meeting site without bringing any guards or telling anyone. The message provides no proof that Tanis is even with Kitiara much less that he has been mortally wounded. Laurana's leadership is vital to the success of the Whitestone Army, and it will cripple them if she is killed or captured.
    You'd Think: Laurana would immediately realize that a message from her Arch-Enemy, that offers up Schmuck Bait to try and lure her to a vulnerable location without any protection is obviously a trap.
    Or: That even if Laurana believes the message, she would decide that her responsibilty to her army and the people it is protecting must take precedence over her own desires.
    Or at least: That even if Laurana believes the message and decides to go to the meeting site, she would at least take some precautions just in case it turns out to be an ambush.
    Instead: Laurana completely believes the message, gives no thought at all to the potential danger to herself or her army, and goes to the meeting site without taking any precautions at all. Not surprisingly it turns out to be a trap, and Laurana is taken prisoner, greatly weakening the Whitestone Army.
    You'd Also Think: That in the same scene, Laurana's "friends", Flint Fireforge and Tasslehoff Burrfoot, who both believe the message to be a trap, would, after seeing how Laurana is acting irrational and about to do something suicidally foolish, do whatever it takes to keep her from going to the meeting site, even if they have to physically restrain her to keep her from going.
    Instead: Not only do Flint and Tas do nothing to stop Laurana, but they even end up showing her how to get to the meeting site without being detected by her own guards. It's enough to make you wonder if Flint and Tas were actually working for Kitiara since her whole scheme would have failed without their help.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Proven Guilty: Molly manifests dangerous, magical powers which she knows nothing about. Fortunately, one of her dad's friends is an experienced magical practitioner.
      You'd Expect: That Molly would call him and ask for advice.note .
      Instead: She doesn't, being too proud to ask for help. End result, people die when a spell Molly attempts backfires. Another character actually lampshades how stupid Molly's actions were.
    • In Skin Game, one of Butters' allies- an extremely powerful wizard- has been acting suspicious recently, prompting Butters to fear that the wizard might have switched sides.
      You'd Expect: That Butters would investigate the situation cautiously, given that this wizard is famously paranoid and could easily smoosh Butters into paste.
      Instead: Butters places a listening device. On the man who he already fears might want to kill him. note  Spoiler alert: this backfires.
    • A cross-book example: Murphy knows well that all Knights of the Cross must abide by a specific set of rules (lest they destroy the unique, divinely-enchanted Swords that grant each Knight their power). She refuses to become a Knight because- as Murphy herself admits- she cannot follow those rules.
      You'd Expect: That that would be the end of it.
      Instead: In a later book, Murphy takes one of the Swords with her into a battlefield- despite knowing that she can't wield it without breaking it (and having plenty of other, safer, weapons at her disposal), and if a Sword breaks, the forces of capital 'G' Good would be terribly crippled. Naturally, once things get rough, she draws the Sword... and Nicodemus promptly takes advantage of her stupidity to emotionally blackmail her into destroying the Sword.
      Even Worse: At no point does Murphy tell anyone she's carrying this highly sacred, important artifact with her. As a result, her allies make several tactical decisions that- unbeknownst to them- place it in danger.
    • In Bombshells, Andi becomes upset with Molly. Molly is a very powerful, paranoid, morally ambiguous wizard who has easily incapacitated Andi's friends. However, Andi does not want to become Molly's enemy, as their current alliance is too important to risk.
      You'd Expect: That Andi would therefore express her anger verbally, not physically (as the latter is less likely to get her killed).
      Instead: Next time they meet, Andi greets Molly by slapping her in the face.
      Even Worse: After Molly recovers from the slap, she is understandably reluctant to discuss anything with Andi... so Andi shoves her into a wall. This does not make the situation any better. In fact, it almost results in Andi getting beaten to a pulp.
  • In Xenophon's The Education of Cyrus, Astyages, King of the Medes, wants revenge on his brother Harpagus for something or another. He therefore finds Harpagus' son, slaughters him, invites Harpagus to a grand banquet, and serves the son as a main course. So far, so good. What's important is what comes afterward:
    You'd Expect: Astyages would keep his mouth shut about feeding his brother his son.
    Or: Astyages would tell Harpagus what was in his dinner, and then imprison or execute him.
    Instead: Astyages lets Harpagus figure it out and then puts him in charge of an army.
    Even Worse:: The army Astyages is put in charge of is going to Persia to fight Astyages' grandson, a half-Mede who has become King of Persia. His name? Cyrus. His aim? Conquest. Will he ally with his great-uncle to beat his grandpa? You bet.
  • In Easter Egg Disaster, Harry and Emily are trying to make Easter eggs and chocolate eggs for an Easter egg hunt. They finally manage to make some (albeit with a lot of trouble, such as their eggs being dyed brown), but then have to figure out where to hide them.
    You'd Expect: They would hide the eggs outside, like in the garden or in bushes.
    Instead: They hide the eggs around the house, like in their father's boots, gloves and hat, in the oven, in the refrigerator, and in the pan.
    You'd Also Expect: Their mother to notice the chocolate eggs in her husband's gloves and hat.
    Instead: She doesn't and puts them on the radiator.
    Predictably: This doesn't go well at all. When he tries to put on his boots, the father cracks the Easter eggs on his feet. When he puts on his gloves and hat, the melted chocolate eggs spread over his body. The mother melts more eggs when she turns on the oven and uses the pot.
    Worse Yet: Harry and Emily boiled all the eggs in the house, leaving none for dinner.
    Luckily: They make things right with an apology card, and the Easter Bunny still comes.
  • Ella Enchanted:
    • Lucinda the fairy is a laughingstock and a moral hazard. As Mandy explains to Ella, most fairies engage in small magic — like medicinal tonic and enchanted books — because big magic like altering the weather or people's minds can cause devastating consequences. Lucinda has a reputation for enchanting babies and married couples. If they complain, then she turns them into squirrels.
      You'd Expect: The other fairies to suggest that Lucinda try out her "blessings" and realize how horrible they are.
      Instead: They try to verbally reason with her. When Ella begs for her gift to be removed, while attending a giants' wedding and pretending not to understand Kyrian, Lucinda orders her to be happy to be obedient. Mandy only comes up with the suggestion when Ella is desperate.
      The Result: By the time Lucinda has her Heel Realization, there are too many people she has cursed to undo, and besides which she doesn't have the power to undo Ella's curse. In the companion novel "Fairest", Lucinda's wedding present to Queen Ivi endangers all of Ayorthia.
    • Ella when she is a teenager falls ill. So does her mother. It's a contagious, potentially fatal disease. Mandy, the family cook and unknown to Ella her fairy godmother, makes them a medicinal soup with unicorn hairs. As Ella says, the soup is delicious but the unicorn hairs are gross-looking.
      You'd Expect: Mandy to have emphasized to Ella and her mother to eat the damn hairs because they have healing properties.
      You'd Also Expect: Ella's mother to know better and eat the soup as is. Mandy always makes things to benefit the family, not hurt them.
      Instead: Ella's mother plucks the hairs out of her soup and leaves it in the bowl afterward. By the time Mandy finds out, Ella recovers but her mother succumbs to the fatal disease.
      The Result: Ella becomes bereft, and her father loses the voice of reason in the house. He marries Dame Olga for her money after he's caught in the middle of a scam. Dame Olga then steals most of Ella's things, as well as her mother's things, and treats her as little better than a servant.
    • We also have Ella's situation. Mandy knows that Dame Olga, Hattie and Olive are abusing her. Also, since Ella has her curse, she really can't marry anyone without endangering them.
      You'd Expect: Mandy to have surreptitiously planned for her and Ella to leave and seek work as cooks, as she suggests in the climax. She is loyal to Ella Frell, not her deadbeat father who is away or to the new family.
      Instead: Mandy expects Ella to leave the situation as is, since she reasons that Ella wouldn't need to leave unless things get desperate, and in the meantime she can work on Lucinda to undo the curse. "Desperate" translates to Hattie unmasking Ella at the ball and Char chasing after a fleeing Ella.
      The Result: It works out because Ella breaks her curse turning down Char's marriage proposal, but Ella could have avoided being her stepfamily's unpaid servant if Mandy had thought of this plan sooner.
    • Ella has been cursed to always be obedient since she was a baby. Prince Char, whom she is in love with, has just asked her to marry him. However, Ella is worried that people will use her curse to harm Char is she marries him. She has also been commanded to tell nobody about her curse. Mandy, her fairy godmother, has known Ella and known about her curse since she was born.
      You'd Expect: Ella to get Mandy to order her to tell Char about her curse, which would undo the original order not to tell anyone, and allow her to give Char a proper explanation for why they should not marry.
      Instead: She pretends to be a gold-digger who only wanted Char for his money, and has now eloped and married a rich man, to drive Char away from her.
      In Addition: At one point, Ella even comes up with the idea of telling Mandy to reverse her order, but seems unable to apply this to the idea of not marrying Char, instead lamenting that there are few precautions Char could take if she was his wife even if he knew about her curse.
      As A Result: Ella puts herself and Char through a lot of unnecessary emotional pain. It does eventually lead to her curse breaking, but there was no possible way for Ella to know this.
    • Ogres have Compelling Voices. Ella has a gift for languages and discovers she can mimic their voices well enough to copy their power. Some of the knights also try it and find they can also do this, but not as well as Ella.
      You'd Expect: Anybody at all to realise the potential of what is essentially a free superpower.
      Instead: Nobody does. After Ella uses it for the first time (to escape some ogres), it's only ever mentioned again in passing and never used again in a meaningful way.
  • The Emperor's New Clothes: In this story by Hans Christian Andersen, the Emperor hires two weavers to make a set of clothes. The weavers claim that the clothes are invisible to anyone who is foolish or incompetent. Afraid that he won’t be able to see the clothes, the Emperor sends his ministers to see them. Because the clothes do not exist, the ministers do not see them.
    You’d Expect: The ministers to realize the trick since they can’t see the clothes and tell the Emperor the truth.
    Instead: They are fooled into thinking the clothes do exist and pretend they can see them, even when they go back to tell the Emperor about it. After that, the Emperor himself goes in to see the clothes, and obviously can't see them either. Like his ministers, he pretends he can see them as does everyone else. It isn’t until he parades through the streets naked and a child calls out that he’s not wearing any clothes that he realizes that he’s been tricked.
  • Ender's Game: Ender is created to be the perfect general to fight the Formics, space aliens that resemble insects. To do so, his commanding officer Colonel Graff is a Drill Sergeant Nasty that pushes him to the breaking point multiple times. He justifies the abuse by the logic that "it works".
    You'd Expect: Once the war is over, Graff would do all that he could to make sure that Ender is accounted for at the end of the war, physically and emotionally. Ender saved humanity just to rescue his sister Valentine, but is obviously traumatized on realizing that he was tricked into fighting the war by being told it was just a simulation and final exam. Practically speaking, Graff has no reassurance that Ender would turn on the people he helped after being deceived into surrendering his childhood.
    Instead: Graff leaves Ender alone on the base after he's cleared of his crimes, taking the government job he wants.
    The Result: Ender becomes The Atoner after suffering Heroic BSoD for days on end, and makes sure that humanity never forgives him for wiping out all the Formics by writing their queen's eulogy under a pseudonym. After he had accepted a governor position on the Formics' homeworld as a means of atonement, he resigns and takes the last Formic queen to various world, to save the race and make up for what he did. If the queen had been vengeful, she could have easily restarted the crisis and this time Ender would have been too weary to commit xenocide again.
  • Ender's Shadow: In the companion series to Ender's Game, Colonel Graff is trying to mold Bean into a perfect general that can help Ender. Which includes throwing him into the deep end and researching his past, including his friendship with a bully named Achilles. Sister Carlotta has warned Graff against this, since she took in Bean after he ran away from Achille's gang.
    You'd Expect: Graff would probe further and ask Sister Carlotta why she doesn't want Achilles to encounter Bean again. His goal is to win a war with the Formics, not sacrifice lives needlessly.
    Instead: He brings Achille to the Battle School, as a means of motivating Bean to become better.
    The Result: Graff goes Oh, Crap! when Sister Carlotta informs him that Achilles is a murderer who kills anyone that sees him in a Moment of Weakness, including the previous leader of Bean's gang —a little girl named Poke—, a doctor who insisted on anesthetizing him for a necessary surgery. Since Bean has seen Achilles pinned down and ordered Poke to kill him, that means that Achilles is gunning for him, and Achilles is a pro at killing people and making authorities look the other way. By this time, as Graff points out, he's under court-martial and has been removed from Battle School, so there's nothing he can do but hope that Bean and his army can outwit Achilles.
  • Eva Luna: During her times as a live-in shop assistant in a small village, Eva steps into her bosses's bedroom one morning and sees the corpse of her boss' wife, Zulema, who has shot herself dead after being unable to get over her massive depression.
    You'd Expect: For Eva to not touch anything in the room, and immediately go to the police and others so they can help her out, locate the boss who's in a business trip outside the village, and deal as normally as possible with the investigations and the funeral..
    Instead: Eva decides to say her goodbyes to Zulema in the worst moment possible, cleaning her corpse and then dressing her up to cope with the loss. She's soon Mistaken for Murderer and subjected to Police Brutality before the boss returns and manages to bail her out.
  • The Fault in Our Stars.
    • Hazel Lancaster is a fan of Peter Van Houten, the author of An Imperial Affliction. She writes to him, as does her new friend and later boyfriend Augustus Waters. Van Houten is a depressed writer who was having an invoked Creator Breakdown about losing his daughter. But he has enough courtesy to send emails to her, or at least have his assistant Lidewij do the job.
      You'd Expect: Whoever is sending the letters to not make empty promises. Hazel is a survivor of a cancer that should have killed her at thirteen, and she is stubborn and sarcastic.
      Instead: Either Van Houten or Lidewij invites Hazel to visit if she can ever make it to Amsterdam. Houten admits that he might have done it because he didn't expect a terminally ill girl to actually make the trip.
      The Result: Augustus uses his Genies wish to get the trip going, and despite Hazel getting tons of fluid in her lungs and requiring a painful hospital visit, her parents coordinate with doctors and Lidewij to make the Amsterdam vacation a reality. Lidewij tries her best to make the trip go smoothly, but she can't stop the pair's Broken Pedestal moment when they meet her boss.
    • Hazel and Augustus have traveled to Europe to visit Van Houten. Little do they know, he's a colossal jackass and a drunk. His assistant Lidewij is a Nice Girl in contrast, who wants to make the best of the trip.
      You'd Expect: That Lidewij, after arranging for fans of Van Houten to come to Amsterdam, warn them of the man he really is and offer to take them on a tour of her Dutch town while talking about the book. They never meet Van Houten, and Van Houten gets to be left alone as he wanted.
      Instead: Though his assistant treats Hazel and Augustus to a candlelit romantic dinner, with champagne and all, Hazel and Augustus receive a nasty shock. Lidewij underestimates her boss's cruelty and was hoping that their visit would restore his spirits, especially with her subtle hints to him to be polite. Van Houten repeatedly insults and belittles them, claims that Augustus 'must have a brain tumor the size of a golf ball' and drives Hazel to tears. It's only then that the assistant intervenes and does what she can to make their trip to Europe not a complete disaster.
  • In Stephen King's Firestarter, the sadistic John Rainbird is in the loft of a barn, holding Charlie hostage, threatening to kill her if Andy tries to use his mental domination abilities on him. Andy risks it and gives Rainbird a command he is forced to obey.
    You'd Expect: Andy would say "sleep" or something similar. (He once did that with a Mook, sending him to a coma that lasted for six months). Also, there is no reason to believe that "die" isn't a valid command.
    Instead: Andy commands Rainbird to jump out of the loft, which, while severely injuring him, isn't fatal. And while it does save Charlie, it gives Rainbird the opportunity to mortally wound Andy and almost kill Charlie with his gun.
  • Flipped':
    • Bryce strongly dislikes his neighbor Julie because she is a Stalker with a Crush. She tries sniffing his hair at school, chases him, and is a bit of a jerk. Eventually, however, she mellows, and starts giving free eggs from her chickens. Bryce's family suspects the eggs have salmonella and don't want any more because of the ensuing arguments.
      You'd Expect: Bryce would just tell Julie thanks for the eggs, but that his family doesn't need them. She is selling them for money.
      Instead: He keeps intercepting her home deliveries and tosses them straight in the trash. He does this for several years. When Julie eventually catches and confronts him, he then tells her the salmonella excuse due to her yard being dirty.
      The Result: Julie's crush on Bryce evaporates; she starts cleaning the yard with a fury, and tells his grandfather Don't You Dare Pity Me! when he comes to help. Bryce also knows that he messed up, because at some point someone will tell his family what he did with the eggs; Julie tells his grandfather, and he decides to come clean to his mother when the latter hosts a dinner. He also realizes, to his horror, that he's now falling for Julie, but now she hates him, for a good reason.
    • Eventually, Bryce's father starts heckling Chet for hanging out more with Julie than with Bryce. Chet then tries to explain that he's helping because Julie's family has been through a lot. It's revealed that Bryce, like Julie's uncle, was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck but while Bryce's doctor waved him, Julie's uncle wasn't so lucky and became brain-damaged and his brother has to pay to keep him in assisted living.
      You'd Expect: Bryce's dad to have some sensitivity and basic decency around his family members, especially when C Het reveals the story.
      Instead: He makes a mean crack about how the genes for the family must be bad. Everyone goes [invoked] Dude, Not Funny! at him, and he and his wife get into a bad fight when Chet reveals the truth, since Bryce's mother has always been terrified about what could have happened to her child.
      The Result: Bryce's dad spends the night on the couch, but still going Never My Fault even when his wife tells him to behave like the man she married. By the end, she's contemplating divorce.
  • Forbidden Fruit: An insane woman is part of a religious cult which she is zealously devoted to. One of the cult's leaders prophecies that a child will be born, a boy who will be the chosen one, etc, etc. The woman ends up impregnating her daughter with the prophet's sperm, and her daughter becomes pregnant (and doesn't know how it could have happened), but ends up running away because she hates her mother and doesn't want her to get her hands on the baby when it's born. After successfully evading her mother, the young woman has to go to hospital to give birth. After she does, her crazy mother does her best to get her hands on the newborn baby so she can take him to the religious leader.
    You'd Expect: That she'd actually try to make sure that the baby fits the criteria- specifically, she should make sure that it's a boy first, given that the cult is very misogynistic, so it's not like it won't matter if the baby isn't male.
    Instead: She doesn't, and the baby is a girl.
  • Frankenstein.
    • A young man discovers how to bring something life, and makes a man out of parts from a graveyard. But after he brings it to life, he finds it is very ugly.
      You'd Expect: That Frankenstein would realize that ugliness is not a very important thing, especially when it is a man made of corpses who had been brought to life.
      Instead: Frankenstein immaturely runs from his creation and lets it loose into the world.
    • The young scientist, after abandoning his Creature in a panic, goes back to his normal life and stubbornly pretends it never happened, even after mysterious murders begin to crop up all around him. When the monster confronts him and demands he build a mate in exchange for stopping his rampage, Frankenstein later realizes the implications and destroys the mate, prompting the enraged Creature to swear to "rob him of his wedding night."
      You'd expect - Frankenstein to realize, after the monster has systematically targeted his family and friends, that it's going to murder his beloved Elizabeth in revenge and either not marry the girl and send her somewhere as safe and as far from him as possible, or keep her under constant guard until the Creature was brought down.
      Instead - Frankenstein instantly assumes it's after him, calls in friends with guns to guard his house on said wedding night, and when he's startled out of the marital bed by a noise, arms up and rushes out into the night to confront the Creature, leaving Elizabeth alone and unguarded, with incredibly predictable results.
    • Also: Having almost finished building a companion for the monster, Frankenstein gets cold feet at the prospect that his two creations could breed and one day their progeny could TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!
      You'd Expect: that if Frankenstein's skilled enough to put together an entire living human being out of parts of dead people, he'd just leave the ovaries out.
      Instead he tears apart his new creation right in front of the monster, provoking it into the acts listed above.
    • In a general sense, with the monster on the loose killing his loved ones,
      You'd Expect: Frankenstein to realize the situation is too much for him to handle on his own, and tell his family and the authorities about what happened.
      Instead: He still tries to handle things on his own, with disastrous results.
    • More to the point: A person discovers they have the ability to reanimate dead tissues.
      You'd expect - Frankenstein to try smaller organisms first before working up to something like a human in order to get all the practice he needs to not screw it up.
      Instead: He goes straight to making a person without considering anything that could go wrong.

    Literature G-L 
  • The Godfather: Don Vito Corleone has one daughter, who has just married.
  • Gone with the Wind:
    • Rhett Butler falls for Scarlett after he witnesses her tossing a knickknack in a fit of anger. He doesn't tell her at the time, since her anger was due to Ashley Wilkes refusing to break his engagement to Melanie Hamilton for her. Scarlett outlives her first husband, and Rhett keeps in contact with her.
      You'd Expect: That Rhett would eventually admit to Scarlett how he feels about her. Not telling her at the beginning was understandable, since she is The Tease and a Spoiled Brat, but he sees that she is resourceful and will do anything, including sleep with him, to save her home Tara.
      Instead: He doesn't. Rhett can't muster up any emotional honesty due to his belief that Scarlett destroys the ones that she loves. As a result, he becomes as emotionally abusive to her as she becomes to him. When she comes to him begging for money, while he's been sentenced to death, he's hurt that she only would give herself to him to save her home and lets her beg until he admits that he can't help her. And when he proposes to her, after her second husband dies, he tells her that they ought to get married "for fun" and hopes to win her over by treating her like a pet. The end result is that by the time Scarlett realizes she loves Rhett, he's burned out from their marriage and decides to leave her. He even lampshades that they should have been communicating with each other.
    • Rhett and Scarlett's daughter, Bonnie, is showing to be a very promising horse rider. Rhett has brought her a Shetland pony, and soon girl and pony are learning how to ride sidesaddle and jump over bars... but now Bonnie wants to take more risks.
      You'd expect: That Rhett would put his foot down and refuse to raise the bar to one and a half feet when she asks him to. Bonnie is no older than five and, despite her talent, she's still an inexperienced little girl; besides she's riding a pony, which has fat and short legs and is likely to trip.
      Instead:: Rhett gives in and only warns Bonnie to not come crying if she falls. The deal finishes ends with the pony tripping over the bars... and Bonnie not just falling, but breaking her neck and dying.
  • Harriet the Spy:
    • Harriet is a young spy who writes a lot of not so nice stuff in a notebook. One day, she's playing tag...
      You'd Expect: Harriet would set her stuff down by the bench and put it in a bag where it wouldn't be seen.
      Instead: She plays while carrying her bag, and loses her stuff. Her notebook then falls into the hands of her classmates, who are not happy with all the stuff written about them.
      Hurt by the notes, they all form a spy catchers club, bent on making Harriet's life miserable. Harriet deals with the situation by
      You'd Expect: a.) Apologizing to everyone for the stuff and asking for forgiveness. b.) Telling her parents or teacher about what they're doing to her.
      Instead: Getting back at them with pretty nasty pranks, which, predictably, has bad results.
    • In the book, it's even worse. The game involves knocking other people's books out of their arms.
      You'd Expect: Harriet would think twice about playing this, or would otherwise protect her all-important notebook in some way, given that her behavior throughout the story indicates that it's her fucking Soul Jar for God's sake, especially since her nanny's departure.
      Instead: She lets her notebook get away from her and doesn't even miss it until they're through playing and have run a good distance away from where she dropped it.
    • Afterward, Harriet gets bullied by her classmates. Her parents get wind of it when Harriet tries faking sick for several days. They are blindsided by how to help her, since they left that to Ole Golly, who left to get married.
      You'd Expect: Her parents would do what they eventually do, and call on Ole Golly for help. This is an emergency.
      Instead: They tell Harriet to think of how hurt her classmates must be feeling, and missing the signs that she's being bullied. When she refuses to do schoolwork, they confiscate her notebook, the absolute Rage Breaking Point for her.
      The Result: Harriet starts Extreme Mêlée Revenge that gets her suspended from school: she tells Rachel that Rachel's father doesn't love her anymore, sneaks a frog into Marion's desk, and cuts out a huge chunk of Laura's hair. To cap it all off, she nearly makes the cook quit by ruining the poor woman's cake. A child psychologist has to tell Mr. and Mrs. Welsh what's obvious to the reader: Harriet needs a writing outlet that won't get her bullied, and that Ole Golly's advice will stay with her.
  • The Hate U Give:
    • Hailey is friends with Starr, one of two black kids at her private school. She's a rich white girl who is already in hot water with Starr for making a watermelon joke. Then Hailey finds out that Starr was the sole witness to a cop shooting a teenage boy, and that the boy happened to be Starr's childhood friend.
      You'd Expect: Hailey would offer a sympathetic "there there" and leave Starr alone about an obviously traumatic event.
      Instead: Hailey takes offense at how Starr didn't mention this fact, and at how Starr is angry at the police officer for killing Khalil. She then says that Khalil would have died young anyway.
      The Result: Starr, having already received a tongue lashing for not speaking up about Khalil, delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Hailey.
  • His Dark Materials:
    • Angels are ruled by someone who says he's a god that created all life, including them.
      You'd Expect: That they would ask for proof of this at some point during the countless millennia they did his bidding.
      Instead: None of them do, ever, and they're shocked when the guy is revealed to be an opportunistic liar.
  • Holes:
    • In the past in the town of Green Lake, a schoolteacher named Kate Barlow is the darling of the town's men, especially its local tycoon Trout Walker. Kate pays the local onion man Sam to repair the schoolhouse, so that it goes from a leaky, creaky shack to the newest building in town. Trout, already chagrined by Kate turning him down for a date due to the fact that she's his teacher in the night classes, finds out from the local gossip that Sam and Kate kissed in the schoolhouse, when they thought they were alone. In the film adaptation, he actually witnesses it.
      You'd Expect: That Trout would lead the angry mob to exile Kate and Sam but leave the school alone. The schoolhouse belongs to the town, not to Kate. Not to mention that it's valuable for the students. Also, Kate doesn't want to date anyone in town because she is a teacher, not a lover or a toy for the men.
      Instead: Trout lead the mob to destroy the schoolhouse, accusing Kate of corrupting the students. Then he gets in his motorboat to chase her down and Sam, since Kate found out from the sheriff that it's against the law — Jim Crow era— for a white woman to kiss a black guy and that he's preparing to hang Sam unless Kate kisses the sheriff. Trout manages to shoot Sam and his donkey, Mary Lou, who was left behind in the chase. Kate was then rescued from the remains of Sam's boat against her will.
      The Result: The schoolhouse is one of the many losses that Green Lake suffers; one of its former students, Linda Miller, finds reason to marry Trout for his money. Kate goes from a sweet schoolteacher to a raging bandit, who starts shooting men after robbing them and kissing them. Her first victim is the sheriff, whom demanded a kiss in exchange for Sam's life. The only reason that she doesn't hunt down Trout and kill him is because she wants him to live in misery, and unleashes a Dying Curse on him when he and his wife Linda catch up to her and interrogate her about her robbery treasures. In addition, rain stops falling in Green Lake, turning it into a barren wasteland rather than the paradise it once was. To make money off it, Trout's great-granddaughter Ms. Walker creates a prison labor camp and then later has to sell it after the Attorney General and Stanley's new lawyer find evidence of child abuse, closing down the camp.
    • In the present day, Stanley Yelnats IV is arrested for allegedly stealing a pair of shoes from a charity. His family is poor, due to his dad being a failed inventor. There's also the streak of bad luck that has run in the family ever since his great-great-grandfather accidentally left an old woman who helped him to die. They can't afford a lawyer for his trial.
      You'd Expect: That his family would learn that they could get a free lawyer, if they can't afford one. It might not have done much good, given how the justice system in the United States is weighed against the poor and prisons are run by for-profit corporations, but it might have made a speck of a difference since Stanley is white, and he actually had an alibi.
      Instead: They don't hire a lawyer, even a free one. Stanley instead tells the truth, as his mother said: "The shoes fell from the sky, like a gift from God". While it's what happened, it sounds utterly incredulous and ridiculous. Especially since we learn that they fell from the highway above the sidewalk Stanley was strolling.
      The Result: No one believes him, especially the baseball player who donated his shoes to that charity. The judge, implied to be in Ms. Walker's payroll, takes the opportunity to give Stanley the option of either jail or Camp Green Lake, where a kid was sent to the hospital due to stepping on a rattlesnake. Stanley chooses camp, obviously, because it sounds better than going to jail. He has no idea that Camp Green Lake may as well be a prison, with how the kids are trapped by the desert and are subject to arbitrary authority figures. Much later on, when his family finally gets their luck turned around and hires a lawyer from the patent money, she quickly finds his alibi and manages to prove Stanley's innocence. With that said, Stanley ultimately feels grateful for feeling blamed and sent to Camp Green Lake because it means that he runs into Hector Zeroni, and saving Hector from the desert ends up breaking the family curse. It also means that he and Hector become lifelong friends due to them working together and saving each other.
  • In How to Lose Your Classroom Pet, Willimena has been tasked with keeping her class pet hamster at home.
    You'd Expect: Willimena to keep an eye on the hamster to make sure he tries nothing funny and his cage is secure.
    Instead: She puts down the cage and forgets about it, allowing the hamster to escape.
  • Hush, Hush:
    • Vee goes to break into the school with Jules and Elliot, despite the fact that Elliot physically threatened Nora earlier in the novel. She also finds out that a mysterious stalker is frightening Nora so her brilliant plan is not to talk to an employee at the store they're in for help, but to disguise herself as Nora, lead the stalker off into a graveyard, have Nora follow after, and between them confront a potentially armed and dangerous person.
      Unsurprisingly: This leads to Vee being concussed and having her arm broken. And immediately after she gets out of the hospital, she decides that they ought to go poking around and spy on the guy who they think attacked her to begin with.
    • Nora is stranded in Portland and accepts a ride home from Patch, even though he chased her through a parking lot and scared her not so long ago. She then just stands there while he arranges for them to spend the night in a motel together, and apparently thinks she can hold off Patch (who has repeatedly proven to be stronger than her) if he tries anything. She later is point-blank told by Patch that he has planned to murder her and knows that he can influence her thoughts and feelings and still thinks it's a good idea to date him!!!
  • Inheritance Cycle:
    • In the back story, the rebellious Varden and their allies, the elves, posses one of the few remaining dragon eggs, the other ones being held by the evil King Galbatorix. A dragon only hatches when in the presence of the one person who is destined to be its Rider. Naturally, everyone wants a turn hatching the dragon. It should be noted that the elves are essentially all ultra-powerful magic users. Also, the forest of the elves and the stronghold of the rebels are on opposite sides of the map, separated by a vast desert.
      You'd Expect: The Varden use magic to teleport the egg back and forth between hideouts. While the magic of the elfy forest prevents direct teleportation into its borders, dropping it off a few feet away from the border would work just as well.
      Instead: The elves select their princess Arya to act as egg-courier. Once a year, she crosses all the distance between the two bases, on horseback, with two bodyguard Red Shirts for company and brings the egg to whoever's turn it is to have it. The plot of the trilogy kicks off when she's ambushed by the Dragon, and forced to... teleport the egg away. (Right into the reach of Eragon.)
    • And then, there is the rather questionable fact that the Varden decide to start their rebellion at the worst time point possible. Most of the rebellion's problems in the first place, as revealed in the second and third book, stem from the fact that they decide to become official right when most of their most honorable leaders bit the dust.
      You'd expect: For several years before the series' start, the Varden, and their allies, Dwarves and Elves alike, are actually pretty well-organized, with respected leaders (Ajihad, Hrothgar and Islanzadi). The Elves themselves show in the third book they are all by themselves strong enough to storm some of the empire's largest and best-deffended cities (let alone that they actually still had a Dragon rider among their ranks). With the Varden and Dwarves' help, it should've been ridiculously easy. It'd be a bit of a mess, but that's inevitable for war.
      Instead: They decide to wait for some decades, and in the meantime, a) Galbatorix empowers himself to a ridiculous degree, a) the same guy gets plenty of time to work on an Ancient Conspiracy, c) Murtagh is found and becomes Galbatorix' The Dragon, d) both Ajihad and Hrothgar die quite quickly, and the succession crisis to the latter is particularly egregious. The Varden decide to become right then active when Galbatorix has reached the peak of his power, and Eragon is still not ready. Instead of riding straight to the forest to undergo Training from Hell, he goes there outright relaxed by foot and spends most of his time there chasing after Arya.
    • Hell, the story itself is arguably the result of the old Dragon Riders being Too Dumb to Live. Let's look at why Galbatorix turned "evil" in the first place. Galbatorix returns as the lone survivor, with his friends and dragon all killed horribly, from a failed raid on an Urgal settlement. He asks the ruling council of the Riders for a new dragon.
      You'd Expect: The Council to just give him a new egg, or at least give the traumatized kid (whom they have already recognized as a highly-talented, intelligent prodigy) some much-needed mental therapy and help getting past his grief.
      Instead: They deny him help of any kind, and instead leave Galbatorix to his own devices, as he slides into madness and decides to take his revenge on the Riders.
  • Atticus from the Iron Druid Chronicles is warned repeatedly by reliable sources including Jesus that taking part in a revenge crew against the Norse God Thor is a very bad idea and will have dire consequences. Atticus has spent most of his life avoiding fights whenever he can and is given an "out" that allows him to preserve his honor while avoding said situation. He also knows that prophecies can be true and how dangerous some of these magical beings can be.
    You'd expect: Atticus to least give some thought as to why everyone is saying this is a bad idea besides the risk of his own life.
    Instead: He joins the battle and thanks to his aid many of the major Aesir including Thor are killed, Loki escapes and now is free of the prophecies allowing him to team up with his daughter and legions of undead and fire giants to start Ragnarok and destroy the world.
  • Journey to the West: The Divine Emperor has three in rapid succession, just in the introduction. First, when Sun Wukong is born of a stone, his body shines with power so brightly it can be seen throughout all creation and outshines even the sun itself.
    You'd Expect: The Emperor dispatches some servants to check out whatever could be giving off that kind of power.
    Instead: The Emperor decides it's nothing. For bonus points, the book manages to describe this as "infinite wisdom" with a straight face. To give you some idea how ludicrous that is: They made an anime of Journey to the West in which they tremendously dialed down Sun Wukong's power level and removed his massive stack of secondary abilities. Sun Wukong was renamed Son Goku and the show is called Dragonball Z.
    • Later, Sun Wukong has proven troublesome and upsets several gods with his awesome combat skills, including crossing out his name (and those of his friends) from the book of death after beating up all the death gods so that he and his friends can never die. Notably, these events have proven that Sun Wukong is extremely loyal to his friends as he was already fairly immortal and went into hell just to save his friends. The Emperor decides to deal with this irritant.
      You'd Expect: The Emperor makes the immortal invincible fighting machine his personal enforcer or bodyguard, thereby ensuring that nothing can touch him and his rule will last forever.
      Instead: He has Sun Wukong take care of his horse. Surprisingly, Sun Wukong does a good job at it until some lesser gods make fun of him for being a servant and he leaves in a huff over the insult. Compounding his mistake, the Emperor sends the army to punish Sun Wukong for leaving, and nearly loses the entire thing.
    • Later Still, Sun Wukong has defeated the entire army of heaven and proven himself almost completely unstoppable. In exchange for a meaningless title, Sun Wukong settles down and throws endless parties to amuse himself and no longer troubles heaven.
      You'd Expect: The Emperor decides to leave well enough alone after almost losing his army to a single monkey.
      Instead: The Emperor is offended that the Monkey is having too much fun, so he sets the Monkey King to managing his peach orchard. Even knowing that the Monkey eats only fruit and has relatively little impulse control. The inevitable swiftly follows.
      Even Worse: The Emperor throws a peach celebration and makes sure not to invite Sun Wukong in order to put him in his place. The same Sun Wukong who has been perfectly willing to work for nothing but parties.
      Unsurprisingly: This nearly leads to Sun Wukong overthrowing the entire celestial hierarchy and killing all the gods. It's no wonder many researchers think the entire book is a Stealth Parody mocking the emperor.
  • In The Lake House, Ethan Kane's attempt at killing Max is... odd, to say the least.
    You'd expect: He'd just suffocate her, considering that he has just demonstrated that he is strong enough to do this.
    Instead: He pushes her out of a window, and is dragged out with her. She flies to safety, while he falls to his demise.
  • Little House on the Prairie:
    • Miss Eliza Jane Wilder has arrived in town to teach Laura's class. Laura's father is now on the school board, while Nellie Olsen has returned with her family fortunes ruined. The girls predictably squabble, with Laura making a remark about how Pa is in a better position than Mr. Olsen is. Nellie goes to tattle to Miss Wilder, but makes it seem like Laura was bragging.
      You'd Expect: Miss Wilder to tell Pa this if she wants Laura to be disciplined. Or summon Laura and get her side of the story, which is the more sensible course of action. Kids and even adults are often biased and believing in their self-righteousness.
      Instead: She takes out her fury on Nellie's behalf on Carrie, Laura's little sister. On one day she makes an ill Carrie rock a school desk, and Laura when she volunteers to rock the desk rocks it so loud that no one can hear the lesson. Miss Wilder then sends the girl home for the day.
      Predictably: The boys in the class are furious on Laura's behalf, having witnessed this injustice firsthand. They wage a campaign to sabotage Miss Wilder's teaching, from playing pranks in class to reciting a nasty poem about her. One that Laura wrote but she didn't mean for it to get shared around. The school board walks in on the chaos, and Miss Wilder belatedly tells them what Laura supposedly said. Laura isn't even punished; she's given a mild lecture on respecting her teacher and being careful what she says to people who dislike her. Miss Wilder leaves, her brother Alamanzo starts courting Laura, and the two women never get along.
    • Shortly after, Alamanzo hears the whole story and starts courting Laura, much to her bemusement. After a few years of him ferrying her to teacher jobs and back, he proposes to her. Eliza Jane finds out and is actually happy for her brother. Laura and Alamanzo want to have a small wedding, without the church, because neither of their families can afford a big one.
      You'd Expect: Eliza Jane would respect Alamanzo's wishes on this front. Money is tight on the frontier.
      Instead: She convinces her mother it would be a great idea to take the train west and force Alamanzo to have a giant church wedding, ignoring Alamanzo's protests.
      The Result: Alamanzo asks Laura to do a rushed ceremony because Eliza Jane won't listen, with only their friends as witnesses.
  • Little Women: in "Jo Meets Apollyon," Amy made the mistake of burning Jo's treasured manuscript when her sister refused to take her on an outing, while promising to take her another time. Everyone is upset with Amy over this and Jo refuses to forgive, understandably because she had only one copy and no backups. The next day, Jo goes to cool her temper by skating with the family friend Laurie. Amy starts whining that Jo promised to take her skating before the spring thaw.
    You'd Expect: Their sister Meg would tell Amy to wait out Jo's temper and not skate as a form of penance. What Amy did was unforgivable, especially since it's not like she can replace the manuscript or is even really sorry for what she did.
    Instead: Meg tells Amy to tag along and maybe Jo will be more forgiving after having a good time with Laurie.
    The Result: In a fit of spite Jo skates ahead, angry that an unrepentant Amy is trying to catch up to her, and not warn her that the ice is thawing in the middle of the lake, which Laurie just tested. Laser-Guided Karma ensues when Amy skates on a too-thin patch of ice and nearly drowns, if not for Laurie's quick-thinking. Jo is horrified and apologetic, while Amy is bedridden for a few days and most definitely cannot go on outings for a while.
  • Lords of the Underworld: Themis learns that her husband cheated on her with Dysnomia, and furiously confronts the latter. Dysnomia admits this is true.
    You'd expect: That Dysnomia would try to placate Themis, who is very powerful and very angry. Apologizing would be a good start.
    Instead: She declares unrepentantly that it is her nature to sleep with married men. Themis promptly reminds Dysnomia that it's her nature to punish sinners. And since Themis is so pissed off, she also punishes Dysnomia's innocent daughter.
  • Lord of the Flies: Simon discovers that the beast, who has the rest of the boys on edge, is the decomposing body of an ejected fighter pilot. He rushes off to warn everybody else on the island, but the boys are in the middle of a ritual dance with storm a sweeping through.
    You'd Expect: Simon to wait until the storm passes and the boys have finished their dance before telling the truth about the beast.
    Instead: He runs up to the boys. Panicked and unable to see due to the foul weather, they mistake Simon for the beast and spear him to death.

    Literature M-R 

  • Seen in-universe in Malevil. Armand attempts to blackmail Emmanuel over their bartering. Emmanuel insists that his new horses come with their saddles, Armand knows his boss Fulbert would never recognize the true value of the saddles, and demands a bribe to keep quiet.
    You'd expect - He'd demand something useful to increase his personal power or odds of survival After the End. Most tools, weapons, and other commodities are gone and can't be replaced with the supplies on hand. Even food hasn't been proven to be a renewable resource at this point, scant months after nuclear war.
    Instead - He demands Emmanuel's gold signet ring. Emmanuel complies and later has a chuckle at his idiocy; in a survivalist society were food and basic supplies are a matter of life and death, jewelry is completely worthless.
  • Malory Towers: In the last book, a new girl arrives from a school renowned for sports, which has unfortunately burned down. This new girl, Amanda, is likely to go to the Olympic Games, competing in swimming. Malory Towers, while good, doesn't have amazing facilities for sports the way Amanda's old school did, and Amanda decides that maybe swimming in the sea would be a better idea. However, she's repeatedly warned that it isn't a good idea, because not only is there a current, there's also some nasty rocks.
    You'd Expect that Amanda does the smart thing and stays away from the sea.
    Instead she decides to go swimming, and gets caught in the current. June has to get the boat to rescue her, and Amanda gets injured so badly that it's likely that her career is over.
  • Marcus Didius Falco: Petro, a vigilis (policeman), is also a serial philanderer who always ends up returning to his wife and children. However, he starts an affair with Balbina Milvia, a married woman who is also the daughter of a (dead) crime lord. His wife gets very angry, and Milvia's husband (who is also an aspiring criminal), starts to take a rather keen interest in Petro. Falco (his best friend), Rubella (his boss), and several of his colleagues tell Petro that backing off is probably the best thing to do here.
    You'd Expect that Petro does the rational thing- leaving Milvia alone, and trying to be a better husband.
    Instead he decides that because everyone is telling him to do it, he won't. End result: Milvia's husband sends goons who nearly kill him, and his wife leaves him and takes the children.
  • In The Meanest Doll in the World, Annabelle is in a closet when a mean doll called Mimi comes up to her. Mimi tells Annabelle that her friend, Tiffany, told her that she is tired of hanging out with someone who's scared of spiders, and is going on a picnic without her.
    You'd Expect: Since this is all coming from a doll who's been nothing but antagonistic toward her and Tiffany, Annabelle would realize at once that Mimi is bullshitting her and tell her to get lost. At the very least, you'd think she'd question why Tiffany would want to even be near Mimi, let alone talk to her.
    Instead: She falls for what Mimi tells her and yells at Tiffany. The two get into a fight and do not talk to each other for a while. When they eventually reconcile, Tiffany points out that Mimi must have heard them talk when they were in a backpack.
  • Memories of Ice: The heroes have joined an army which includes Kallor, an immortal mass-murderer with an infamous track record. None of them like him, for obvious reasons.
    You'd Expect: The heroes to either try and get rid of Kallor or put up with his presence.
    Instead: They leave him where he is, but belittle and mock him constantly, ignoring any advice he offers, and treating him like garbage.
    Result: Kallor executes a vicious backstab that leaves multiple people—including The Hero—dead, then signs on with the series' Big Bad.
  • Mr. Men: In Little Miss Trouble, the eponymous character tells Mr. Clever that Mr. Small calls him "Big Nose" behind his back.
    You'd Expect: Given the names of both characters for Mr. Clever to see though Little Miss Trouble's lie. If Mr. Clever ever meets Mr. Small after this encounter, he would see that Mr. Small has already been a victim of Little Miss Trouble's false rumors since Mr. Uppity gave him a black eye.
    Instead: The instant he sees Mr. Small, Mr. Clever doesn't give him a chance to explain and socks him in the other eye.
  • In Little Miss Wise, the title character has taken up a vow to stop saying no to everybody lest she risk losing friends. While out on of her walks, she encounters Mr. Mischief who's carrying a parcel of sneezing powder.
    You'd think: Again, given their names, she'd realize that accepting a gift from Mr. Mischief is the equivalent of giving a thief the keys to the house and say no.
    Instead: She says yes.
    As a result: She ends up getting covered in sneezing powder and spends most of the day sneezing.
    On the plus side though: According to the official website, after what happened she now knows better then to accept a gift from Mr. Mischief.
  • In Little Miss Princess And The Very Special Party, Little Miss Helpful is trying to organize a street party with Little Miss Princess as the special guest. Naturally while trying to organize the party, she ends up causing screw ups so she decides that she needs help herself.
    You'd expect: That she'd ask one of the nicer Mr.Men/Little Miss (E.G. Mr. Happy, Mr. Good, Little Miss Sunshine) to help.
    Instead: She asks Little Miss Naughty to help, who of course, has a nasty idea up her sleeve.
    • On the day of the party, Little Miss Naughty's scheme (Getting the Mr. Men and Little Miss to sit next to their opposites) is foiled by Little Miss Helpful when the latter makes them sit next to the person that they like the most.
      You'd expect: Now that her scheme has been foiled, Little Miss Naughty would hightail out of there. Surely, she could avoid punishment if she gets as far away as possible.
      Instead: She just stands there with a sad look on her face and Little Miss Helpful punishes her by making her scrub the plates.
  • Metro 2033 (the novel): Artyom and Daniel are navigating the extremely creepy, extremely ruined, and extremely monster-infested library when the latter notices his shoelaces are untied. Quite understandably, he decides this poses a danger to his mobility and stops to rectify the problem.
    You'd Expect: Artyom would cover his partner and watch for impending danger.
    Instead: Artyom leaves Daniel to his shoelaces and wanders off alone amidst the bookcases.
    Result: One of them gets killed by a monster. (Hint: It's not the protagonist.)
  • In Mistress of the Catacombs, the main characters have an enemy army landing on the island they are on.
    You'd expect: They would use their massive advantage in warships to crush the enemy fleet as it lands troops.
    Instead: They come up with a plan of confronting the larger force in a field battle, although they wind up negotiating a surrender.
  • In My Robot Buddy, the Atkins Robotics corporation has introduced robots that look and behave just like humans. Because these robots are expensive, there are "robot-nappers" that try to steal them for profit. The key distinguishing feature is the robots walk stiff-legged. The human protagonist, Jack, not only learns to walk like this himself, but do it so well that he can outpace his robot "brother", Danny One, in a foot race. This, of course, attracts the attention of nearby robot-nappers, who then target him and Danny.
    You'd Think: The robot-nappers would pack a more reliable means of distinguishing the robots from the humans, such as a radar scanning device or a metal detector. Neither technology was unheard of in 1975, when the first book was originally published.
    Instead: They don't, relying only on spotting the stiff-in-the-knee walk. Which gets them confused initially when the "robot" they grab turns out to be human.
    You'd Also Think: The robot-nappers would have a way to shut down the robot they want to steal. Not only would this Cut The Knot of having to figure out who the real robot is, but it'd make it easier to make off with the robot without it struggling and thrashing around.
    Instead: They don't, and instead stand there flabbergasted as Jack and Danny start playing I Am Spartacus over who is the real boy and who is the robot. By the time it dawns on them to just take both boys and figure it out later, the police have already arrived to arrest them.
  • A Hungarian novel, The Nameless Castle: A French count sneaks the princess out of the country, because in the outbreak of The French Revolution, she is in danger of being assassinated. They go to live incognito in a faraway country.
    You'd expect: They blend in with the locals with her already made up, harmless commoner identity, and live in peace Hidden in Plain Sight.
    Instead: The count takes the mission seriously, so she can't even leave their castle, if not at night and under thick veils. They get eerily and conspicuously mysterious, driving the local folk into wild guessing and inspiring gossips and legends, which end up attracting the interest of a spy, entrusted to find her and give her in to execution.
  • One Thousand Arabian Nights
    • The story starts when a queen cheats on her husband. King Shahryar executes her, and believes all women to be unfaithful. He thinks that to prevent this from happening again, he will marry one virgin a night and kill her the next day.
      You'd Expect: Someone in his court would point out the problem in marrying one virgin a night and executing her the next day, and keeping up the practice. He could always stay single. Only one novel rectified this, by explaining that his first wife committed suicide, and her father demanded that the king murder one hundred girls or disaster would strike the kingdom, via Dying Curse.
      You'd Also Expect: No family would agree to marry their daughter to the king because he is a murderer.
      Instead: No one objects to the king, except one Wazir and the girls' families.
      The Result: Thousands of women die in this fashion. Scheherezade is the first queen to break the cycle by telling her murderous husband a story every night, leaving each one on a cliffhanger, until he finally realizes she is faithful after several years and children.
    • Scheherezade narrates the seven voyages of Sinbad the Sailor. Each voyage he goes on is more dangerous than the last.
      You'd Expect: After the first couple voyages, Sinbad believes that the bad luck he gets is more than just coincidence, and stays at home.
      Instead: They didn't call it Seven Voyages for nothing!
  • In the novel The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, the protagonist Kvothe and his Implied Love Interest Denna are investigating a dragon that's going on a rampage. As they follow it through the countryside, they find a number of abandoned houses.
    You'd expect: The two to exercise caution, since they don't know what is making the dragon act so erratically and if something happened to one of them, they'd have to travel for miles on-foot to the nearest village to get help.
    Instead: Denna just sticks a random substance she finds lying around in her mouth, which turns out to actually be denner resin and therefore poisonous, prompting Kvothe to abandon his quest to make her eat charcoal to soak up the poison and take care of her the whole night and leaving the dragon to cause more destruction.
  • In Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade, a rash of incidents takes place where lunch money has been disappearing in the classroom. Three different students have lost their lunch money already. A boy named Lester brings his money to school one day.
    You'd expect: Him to put his quarters somewhere safe, like his pocket or backpack.
    Instead: He puts the money right in plain sight on his desk. Naturally, it gets stolen. Lampshaded by his teacher, who facepalms and says, "That wasn't very intelligent of you."
  • A large part of Pegasus in Flight revolves around children- specifically, the problem of overpopulation, and the disturbing result that many illegal children (i.e. children who are not legally registered) are being sold for prostitution, trafficked, and murdered. One of the main characters, a teenager who looks much younger, grew up in a slum and knew of just about everyone involved in the business there, and also managed to free some children who were being held prisoner. Her friend is one of the world's most powerful psychics, but he's also a teenager who is almost totally disabled (as in, he can only move by using his psychic powers) and has no street smarts at all. In addition, not only are kids going missing from slums, they're also going missing from inside the cities of the rich and powerful. The guardians of the two kids are trying to stop the trafficking, and are investigating the murders.
    You'd Expect that their caretakers would put every tracking device known to man on the pair, refuse to let them leave their home without an adult accompanying them and make damn sure that someone knew where they were at all times.
    Instead the pair go out for ice-cream and promptly get abducted. Their trackable bracelets are cut off, and because they're knocked unconscious, nobody can find them for a long while. While their guardians realised how badly they'd screwed up, the fact still remains that someone should have known better.
  • In Murder at Colefax Manor, if you attempt to re-examine the box of dynamite after just lighting one of the fuses, the book calls you out on how stupid it is to do so. Overlaps with Black Comedy.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians
    • In Battle of the Labyrinth, Percy, Annabeth, Tyson, and Grover encounter a Sphinx who demands they answer her questions before allowing them to pass. Annabeth, being the Smart Girl, naturally steps up to the plate and agrees to answer them. Instead of getting riddles, however, the Sphinx demands she take a standardized test of relatively basic knowledge.
      You'd Expect: Annabeth not to look a Gift Sphinx in the mouth and just take the quiz and be glad the Sphinx is going easier on her.
      Instead: Annabeth's Hubris demands she get a riddle, causing her to go into a brief Character Filibuster listing everything wrong with the idea of standardized testing and how worthless it is in testing a student's ability to apply their knowledge wisely. This pisses off the Sphinx and forces the gang to fight it outright.
    • We also hear the story of Daedalus, one of Annabeth's heroes and another son of Athena. He lost his son Icarus and murdered his nephew Perdix; Athena cursed him to always carry the tattoo of a partridge. Daedalus has been cheating death because Minos, one of his victims, is a judge in the Underworld. Luke comes to him with a deal that if he helps them break into Camp Half-Blood using his labyrinth that they'll make Daedalus the judge of the Underworld and allow him to reunite with his family.
      You'd Expect: Being a genius and tactician, that Daedalus would see this is a ruse and have some backup plans prepared. Luke isn't exactly subtle.
      Instead: He gives Ariadne's string to Luke, spies on Camp Half-Blood as the swordsman Quintus, and concludes that it is lost. Then he uses the Labyrinth to give Kronos's forces a path into the camp.
      Predictably: Daedalus is blindsided on learning that Minos's ghost is working with Kronos to be revived, and plans to sacrifice Daedalus's life. To redeem himself, he dies and lets the labyrinth collapse since it's collected to his life force. Hades puts him to work engineering better roads in the Underworld, only letting his nephew visit
    • In The Last Olympian, Annabeth reveals that Hermes dislikes her because Luke came to her begging for her to run away with him. He was scared of Kronos taking his body to become a mortal host.
      You'd Expect: Luke would remember that his List of Transgressions — framing Percy for theft before attempting to murder him, poisoning Thalia's tree, leaving Annabeth to hold up the sky and taking her hostage— would mean that Annabeth has no reason to trust him. The last one is especially egregious since it was a Wounded Gazelle Gambit that played on Annabeth's Big Brother Worship, where she was used against her friends. Luke would need to prove that this isn't another gambit to use her against Percy and the other members of Camp Half-Blood.
      Instead: He shows up at her house with no peace offering, no "Sorry I nearly killed Percy, nearly killed you that time with the sky, and tried to convince Thalia to join Kronos," and no proof that he genuinely needs help. Annabeth, who has a streak of white in her hair from when she held up the sky, turns him down. While she later gets through to him during the climactic fight, she continually gets reasons that Luke cannot be trusted and probably would have betrayed her anyway.
    • In The Last Olympian, we get a flashback to 60 years ago, when Nico and Bianca were little. Their birth was forbidden by an agreement made among Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, so Zeus sets off an explosion intended to kill them, but gets Hades' mortal wife instead. The Oracle of Delphi's host, a teenage girl, appears.
      You'd Expect: Given what gods usually do to people when they're mad, she would keep her head down and stay out of sight until after he'd cooled off and sent the children into hiding. Angering a god, even one who can't directly harm you due to the Oracle's power, is never a good idea.
      Instead: She tells Hades, to his face, that Zeus was justified in trying to kill the children because he violated the agreement. Repeat: She told a grieving father that someone trying to kill his children was justified. He promptly curses the Oracle to be trapped in her body and unable to move on to a new host even after her death.
    • In the follow up series of The Heroes of Olympus Zeus knows Gaea is awakening and the giants are returning to life. Said giants were defeated by the Olympians thousands of years ago and can only be killed by a god and demigod working together. He also nearly lost the second Titan war by refusing to take action until it was too late.
      You'd Expect: Zeus to rally the gods and demigods together do slay the giants and return Gaia to sleep.
      Instead: Due to wounded pride, Zeus closes Olympus, forbids the gods to contact the demigods, and thinks the Olympians can defeat the giants on their own despite knowing that is impossible.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Cinderella retelling Phoenix and Ashes, evil sorceress Alison (the wicked stepmother character) uses her magic to bewitch wealthy industrialist Charles Robinson into marrying her.
    You'd Expect: For her next trick, evil sorceress Alison would bewitch wealthy industrialist Charles Robinson into changing his will in order to benefit her.
    Instead: Alison bewitches Charles into volunteering for WWI, where he dies in the trenches. His previous will left everything to his daughter, forcing Alison to come up with increasingly convoluted schemes in order to keep control of his fortune. This is made even more inexcusable by the fact that Alison is implied to be an experienced Black Widow, so you would think she would have had enough experience to recognize that you need to make sure you're the one mentioned in your husband's will before you kill him.
  • In the Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword," Dion, one of the nobles who is a part of Ascalante's conspiracy to overthrow Conan, is meeting with Ascalante's slave, a Stygian by the name of Thoth-Amon. During their conversation, Thoth-Amon tells him about his past as a sorcerer of Stygia whose Ring of Power was stolen from him by a thief and tells him that he wants to make an alliance with him against Ascalante.
    You'd expect: Dion to keep his mouth shut about the "ring of good fortune" that he picked up from a Shemitish thief who stole it from a sorcerer of Stygia, make the alliance with Thoth-Amon, and send him on his way.
    Instead: Dion not only tells him about the ring, but actually shows it to him, prompting Thoth-Amon to recognize it as his lost ring and reclaim it by stabbing Dion to death.
  • Pride and Prejudice: After spending much of the book believing that Mr. Darcy had wronged Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth Bennet receives a letter from the former which exposes the latter as a Manipulative Bastard who tried to swindle Darcy's sister out of her inheritance. She tells only her sister, Jane, of this new information.
    You'd Expect: The sisters, and/or Darcy to expose Wickham's evil ways to the world. Given that he, contrary to the promise he made Elizabeth, had been slandering Darcy whenever he could, this action seems imperative.
    Instead: They don't. Thus, Wickham is free to elope with the youngest Bennet, Lydia. Mr. Darcy has to bribe Wickham to get the two married, lest Lydia's reputation be ruined. (Elizabeth spends a good while berating herself for her previous decision to keep quiet.)
  • The Princess Diaries:
    • Lilly- a teenage girl who is talked up as being very intelligent- wants to become class president. The problem is that no one will vote for her. So she hatches a plan which involves her flighty, anxious-yet-charismatic best friend, Princess Mia Thermopolis Renaldo, running for the position, with Lilly helping her to win the election behind the scenes. If Mia wins, then she will almost immediately step down and cede the position to Lilly. It's a foolproof plan!
      You'd Expect: Lilly, having created this plan in which Mia plays a pivotal, very exact role, would tell her about said plan. Bear in mind that the two are best friends. They converse by email nearly every night. They constantly see each other at school and outside it. And Lilly knows how worrisome and angsty Mia gets when she's forced into things like this. Yet she does not at any point say to Mia, 'Hey, the reason I nominated you was so I could become president. Don't worry, you won't have to actually take the position.'
      Instead: Poor Communication Kills. Lilly doesn't tell Mia her plan for weeks, long after she's put it in action- explicitly refusing to do so- and Mia snaps from the stress of not knowing what the hell is going on. (There's also the fact that she, as a Shrinking Violet, openly detests the idea of being class president.) Cue Mia's Heroic BSoD and Lilly being given a well-deserved What the Hell, Hero?. When Mia later wins the election, she decides she's going to do the job anyway.
    • Mia has invited her boyfriend and best friend, Michael and Lilly Moscovitz, for Christmas over the Genovian holidays. Her family is hosting them while Mia balances royal duties with making sure that Michael has a good Christmas gift.
      You'd Expect: Lilly would be on her best behavior. Grandmere already doesn't like Lilly for organizing a strike at the plaza over a fired employee that Lilly hooked up with during Mia's birthday party.
      Instead: Lilly does strip bowling at the Genovian palace, which causes one of the servants to get fired for taking off a glove and smacking her partner. Keep in mind that Lilly is underage, and she is a guest. Michael compared to her is an utter gentleman
      The Result: Mia and Lilly have a big fight on the beach on Christmas morning, with the Last Straw being the self-help books they got for each other as presents. While Lilly maintains her arrogant pose reveals how staid and hypocritical these traditions are, Mia points out she's being rude as a guest to her family. If not for a stranded cruise ship interrupting them, it could have easily made the rest of the visit awkward for both girls.
    • In Party Princess, it's revealed Lilly and Michael are more aloof than usual because they know their parents are separating. Lilly when hers and Mia's stories get turned down by Seventeen magazine decides to start a school literary magazine to publish the tales and earn money for the school council. It's revealed that while Mia's story is dark and brooding, Lilly's are NC-17.
      You'd Expect: Lilly would remember that her audience are minors and this has to meet teacher approval.
      Instead: She publishes the stories, uncensored, and sells them in the cafeteria. Her refusing to retract Mia's story is jerk but not half as idiotic as publicly selling content inappropriate for high school students.
      The Result: Mia for the only time ever sees Principal Gupta enter the cafeteria with several teachers. They escort Lilly out, call her parents, and confiscate the issues while assuring everyone they'll be refunded. Tina even lampshades that Lilly is busted.
    • Michael, Mia's high school boyfriend and Lilly's brother, eventually wants to have sex with her. She is attracted to him but has reservations due to being underage, as well as her health concerns, and that her dad would kill Michael if he ever took advantage of Mia. So they've been talking about when she's ready. Michael is no longer a virgin, due to sleeping with one of his classmates, who already has a boyfriend. This classmate spurs Green-Eyed Monster in Mia, due to the former cloning fruit flies as a teenager and Mia having accomplished "nothing".
      You'd Expect: That at some point during their talks of when they're going to sleep together that Michael would mention this fact.
      Instead: He doesn't. Not in a mature way, at least. When Mia finally decides to sleep with Michael, as a means to keep him in New York rather than let him travel to Japan to work on a robotics project, he casually mentions that he's no longer a virgin. And admits that he helped Judith Gershner cheat on her boyfriend. Understandably, Mia flips out and breaks up with him on the spot. While people call her out for judging Michael for having casual sex, she was perfectly in the right to do so, as Michael admits when they talk about it two years later. Mia wasn't ready for sex, and Michael wasn't ready to admit he had lost his virginity in a questionable manner.
    • Lilly is dating J.P., an aspiring playwright whom Mia invited to sit with them. It's revealed that J.P. is only dating her to get close to Mia, whom he likes because she is a princess and because she was the first person who was nice to him at their school.
      You'd Expect: That J.P. shouldn't have dated Lilly in the first place, or break up with her before things go too far. And that he wouldn't admit that he was only dating her to keep Mia close, if he's going that route.
      Instead: J.P. sleeps with Lilly, keeps dating her to the point where she comes to love him, and when breaking up with her says it's because Mia is available after the latter breaks up with Michael. This bites him in the butt two years later; when Mia finds this out from Lilly, she calls out J.P. for lying to her and using Lilly. Then Mia breaks up with him and cancels his newest play, since it features her and thus can be quashed by Genovian lawyers.
    • Meanwhile Lilly is bitter and hurt from all of this aftermath.
      You'd Expect: She would tell Mia what happened, everything. Especially the part of J.P. using her to get close to Mia. Mia if she knew outright wouldn't tolerate such behavior towards her best friend. Lilly knows that Mia is oblivious to a fault.
      Instead: Lilly hides the details about J.P. wanting Mia, and doesn't tell her after Mia accidentally kisses J.P. and then goes on a "platonic" date with him. Instead she ends their friendship, and posts a hate site about Mia that could have gotten her expelled if Mia had told her father. Mia as a result of the site and her breakup with Michael sinking in suffers depression, and the two don't speak for two years. During those two years Mia dates J.P., and nearly loses her virginity to him. Michael then gets furious with Lilly for being so cruel and calls her out; Lilly then goes My God, What Have I Done? and thinks she can't repair the damage. Lilly's response to hearing Mia's plans to sleep with J.P. only tells Michael to go and "help" Mia on prom night. She doesn't actually tell her former friend the truth until Mia confronts her outright about it. And yes, Mia lampshades that Lilly should have told her earlier because she wouldn't have let J.P. off the hook.
    • Kenny is one of the geniuses in Mia's class; he's also socially awkward and believed her to be in love with Boris, though presumably the air got cleared up when he saw her dating Michael. At one point he, Mia and J.P. are lab partners on an independent chemistry project. Mia is already hopeless at anything involving math and J.P. isn't paying attention, so Kenny chooses their science project.
      You'd Expect: With Kenny being a genius that he would pick something that wouldn't get him in trouble.
      Instead: He fixes the equations so that rather than making nitrocellulose, as he tells their chemistry teacher, he has their team make nitrostarch. AKA a highly stable and explosive substance that was used in World War II grenades.
      The Result: Kenny blows up the school while trying to stabilize the nitrostarch, and loses his eyebrows. To top it all off, the school suspends him for knowingly making an explosive substance. When Mia tries to argue righteously she and J.P. ought to be suspended as well, her stepfather Mr. Giannini points out that he knows with her missing school that week that she had no idea what Kenny was doing.
    • Princess Mia finds out that she has a half-sister, Olivia Grace Harrison. Olivia has been orphaned, after her mother died in an accident, and she lives with her aunt, uncle and cousins. Philippe has been sending child support and letters to Olivia, because he's been grieving over her mother's death and feels guilty about having to keep her a secret.
      You'd Expect: The family would treat Olivia like one of their own, since that's basic human decency. Also it would be a pragmatic decision since Olivia does have a father who cares about her and is royalty of one of the most powerful and stable city-states in Europe.
      Instead: Uncle Rick and Aunt Catherine are little better than the Dursleys, as Mia lampshades when she visits them. They use Olivia's child support to fund a construction empire and lavish lifestyle, while teaching her that she is average compared to her cousins due to being biracial. To keep her out of the public eye, they deny her a computer, Internet time, and cellphone, or even admittance to a scholarship art school, so that she can never find out the truth. Then when Mia shows up at their doorstep, Aunt Catherine slams the door on Mia's foot, accidentally injuring royalty.
      The Result: Mia and Philippe are horrified when they learn about Olivia's living situation. Mia, thanks to Lilly's sleuthing, finds out that Catherine and Rick only took in Olivia for the money, and that they plan to isolate her further by moving to Qalif to work on a construction project. They use their lawyers and the sheer evidence of child abuse to get Olivia away from Rick and Catherine, who end up losing their cash cow.
    • Then we have Annabelle Jenkins. The local Alpha Bitch at Olivia's school, she gets away with murder because her dad is a lawyer that threatens to sue everyone if they even speak out against her. Jenkins also is revealed to be Uncle Rick's lawyer, and Uncle Rick has been consulting him about Olivia's situation.
      You'd Expect: She would keep her mouth shut. If Olivia's relatives are seeking legal advice about keeping her a secret while moving her to Qalif, then confidentiality is key.
      Instead: Annabelle knocks down Olivia during the school day and challenges her to a fight. When a confused, hurt Olivia asked what she did wrong, Annabelle calls her a liar for telling everyone that Olivia's dad is an archaeologist when he is actually a prince, and that Olivia is a princess. Which means that even if Mia hadn't shown up in the nick of time to rescue Olivia, that would have been a breach of confidentiality since Annabelle spilled her guts about her dad's client. Oops.
    • A few days later, Olivia returns to school after finding out she is a princess and her relatives are battling Mia and Philippe for custody of her. Annabelle wants to still pound her, but Mia has called on the Genovian Royal Guard to protect Olivia while the latter is at school. They show they will put Annabelle in handcuffs if she even lays a finger on the new princess.
      You'd Expect: Annabelle would Know When to Fold 'Em and knock it off; she already messed up by outing Olivia as a princess. Olivia is moving away in a few days anyway either to Genovia or to Qalif depending on who wins the custody battle.
      Instead: She gets her dad to put a restraining order on Olivia's bodyguards, so that she can pound the princess after school. In broad daylight, where the paparazzi have been hanging out to get footage of Olivia.
      The Result: Annabelle is caught on camera punching Olivia in the nose, and is chased down by the Genovian guards for several blocks. The press circulates the story for weeks, and it's The Last Straw for Mia and Philippe, who use the assault to get Catherine to cede custody of Olivia when they see how apathetic Catherine and Rick are about Olivia's bloody nose. Then the Jenkins family gets sued by Genovia for assaulting a member of thier royal family. Nice going there, Annabelle.
    • Later on, after Olivia moves to Genovia permanently, she has to occasionally host her nasty cousin Lady Luisa. At one point, while Prince Rene is trying to sue to depose Mia and install himself as the Prince of Genovia, Olivia is forced to babysit Rene's children, along with Nishi and Luisa. Luisa then blows off babysitting to make out with her boyfriend in Mia and Michael's bedroom, and even trying on Mia's crown, which is a historic relic. Olivia confronts them and tries to delete all the photos involved..
      You'd Expect: Lady Luisa would know that this would be violating a lot of social etiquette and privacy and keep her mouth shut.
      Instead: She posts pictures to social media. Which many websites immediately find, pegging Mia and Michael's room
      The Result: Despite Olivia trying to ask for Luisa to get a lighter punishment since Luisa's parents are divorcing and neither want custody of her, Mia and Philippe decide the best punishment would be to ban Luisa from Mia's coronation.
  • Prisoners of Power features a backwater planet Saraksh where people live in a dystopian postapocalyptic society. An undercover agent from the Galactic Security infiltrated one of the governments and is meticulously implementing a decades-long plan of planetary reformation. There must be flat out no interference from the outside.
    You'd Expect: The Galactic Security to explicitly declare this planet under quarantine so that no slapdash space explorer will crash in and mess with the operation. Or that they put some satellite on the planet's orbit that would warn those approaching to turn back.
    Instead: They do absolutely nothing and, naturally, a slapdash space explorer crashes in and messes with the operation.
Ramona Quimby: In "Ramona and Her Father," Ramona gets jealous when Beezus is chosen as the star of the Christmas pageant. She volunteers herself and Howie to be sheep, and says their mothers will sew the costumes. Mrs. Quimby is patient with the request while gently telling Ramona there is no time with her working as a medical assistant, but Mr. Quimby, who is jobless for the moment, isn't. He asks if Ramona thought that her mother's schedule was limited before volunteering herself.
You'd Expect: They would tell Ramona she needs to sew the costume herself or have her father learn since all he's doing is collecting unemployment. Or, tell the church that Ramona can't be a sheep and avoid the commmitment entirely. It's not a bad thing to teach five-year-old Ramona that if she wants something, she needs to work for it. In the next book, she's able to use her mother's sewing machine for making trousers for her toy Ella Funt.
Instead: Mr. Quimby, grumpy from not smoking cigarettes, tells off Ramona for asking her mother for a big project and treats her like it was an unreasonable request from a toddler. His wife does his best to make a costume, but she only manages the tail and ears, meaning Ramona has to wear old pajamas with faded bunnies on them to complete the outfit.
The Result: The night of the pageant, Ramona is embarrassed to be wearing old pajamas and tries to hide rather than go onstage. Her family has No Sympathy about it, including her dad, though some girls put makeup on Ramona so she looks more like a sheep. The next book lampshades it, with both Ramona and Mrs. Quimby saying his grandmother's parable about "not seeing anything off the back of a horse" is ridiculous.
  • In The Raft, after losing her only food supply, Robie finds a baby seal, who she calls Starbuck, on the island, and it dies.
    You'd Expect: Robie to eat Starbuck so that she at least eats something.
    Instead: She doesn't eat it, because she thinks that eating it would be too sad.
  • In Red on Red, Cazare of Kagheta Adgemar the White Fox is determined to engage his militia cavalery in battle with army of Taligue under Duke Alva's command - only to get rid of ill-disciplined and rebellious cazarons. After that, he planned his elite troops, the Scarlet Guard, to engage in battle and wipe remains of Alva's troops out. Mind that Scarlet Guard alone outnumbered Alva's army THRICE. Cazarones, no matter how ill-disciplined they were, outnumbered Taligoians 15 times!
    You'd Think: Having three times more firepower and Alva's infantry already weary, Scarlet Guard would just have a shooting practice.
    Instead: They've started hand-to-hand combat. And lost.
    More Stupidity: Having 100 units of heavy artillery (do not ask how) Adgemar's ordnance commander could not manage to cover bombardment sector with grapeshot fire. They charged guns with cannonballs and aimed in every single unit of Alva's mobile 3-pounders. No wonder they've lost the artillery duel.
    And Even Girl: Adgemar could just NOT engage in a battle AT ALL. If he, after seeing cazarones smashed, retreated to his capital, Raviata, and commanded his Scarlet Guard to block Alva the way of retreat and raid enemy's camp at night, Alva's army would be doomed and his cruel-but-genious plan of drowning Birissian villages vasted.
    As A Result: Scarlet's guard was defeated, remains of it were drowned in their villages with Alva-provoked-artificial-flood, and few commanders who were smart enough to run away from flood were beheaded by Adgemar in excuse for invason to Taligue. Well, Cazar himelf was killed by Alva pretty soon after that.
    • The world of Kertiana is specially designed by Abvenies (it's creators ) as a nasty place for cheaters and oathbreakers. Well, at least if they are descendants of Abvenies. Breaching of Bload Oath by Abveniy's offspring carries a death penalty, though not on oathbreaker himself, but on his kins and anyone who happened to be near. And very place of their dwelling is to be destroyed beyond any possibility to live.
      What is the sense of such a very-special-justice? Let's just leave the question beside. Abvenies are gone and supposed to be dead, so no one will answer anyway. However...
      You'd Expect: Abvenies, before their departing, had carved in a stone, in a thousand copies, extremely short and strict explanation of what happens if somebody dares to break the Blood Oath.
      Instead: Nothing like that. Laws of ancient Abvenian magic had faded to semi-forgotten, semi-misunderstood legends long before the very religion of Abveii was banished by Esperatian Church.
      More Stupidity: Long chain of adulteries and side-begotten children had lessened the very possibility of stating who is the true descendant of Ancient God practically to zero. There are 21 men, whose only careless word can turn their native land to Sodom and Homorra. And only one of them is aware of it.
      As A Result Nador province is ruined to dust.
    • Duke Roque Alva is the one who knows what Blood Oath matters and is aware that he and his province Canalloa will be in heavy danger if he breaks First Marshal oath of allegiance (which includes Blood Oath formula).
      He knows for sure that his lancer Richard Oakdell is a descendant of Abvenii, like himself, and, er, not very smart boy in the same time. And tended to make hasty promises.
      You'd Expect: Alva explained to young fool that he should abstain from ANY oath including the word BLOOD, in ANY form. For the sake of his mother, sisters and cousin's life, at least.
      And if he'd be foolish enough to make such an oath, he should keep it BY ALL MEANS or DIE TRYING TO KEEP IT.
      And if he'd break it, he should kill himself in 16 days. And his kins must reject him.
      Instead: Alva said to Richard nothing but slight hints.
      More stupidity: When Alva was imprisoned by Aldo Rakan who is actually not Rakan but Pridd, see the reason above and brought to court and was to be sentenced to death by Richard Oakdell, Valentine Pridd and Robert Epine, he had known for sure that Aldo is not Rakan. And he had figured (correctly) that Aldo, having been obsessed with idea of Abvenian Renaissanse (but totally ignorant of the Blood matter) might have made them to make the Blood Oath. Which they can accidentally break any minute, because they don't know, who is the TRUE object of their oath ( Alva himself). And three provinces of Taligue will face the terrible doom.
      You'd Expect: having nothing to lose anymore, he should just declare Aldo's true identity, and reveal all the Blood matter.
      Instead: He remained silent. Oh, no! He made a lot of jests about Aldo's white trousers.
      Result Nador province is ruined to dust. And it was just a happy occasion that Epine remained, for Robert was about to proclaim a death sentence to his TRUE King!
  • Redwall: In The Bellmaker, a small team of Redwallers have joined an army of the natives of Southsward in the hope of overthrowing a pair of tyrants who have ruled their land with a cruel paw. One of them is Rufe Brush, a naive squirrel who doesn't have much experience of the world beyond Redwall. During the final battle, Rufe and his friends go up against one of the tyrants, who Rufe hits with a stone- but doesn't kill.
    You'd Expect that someone would keep an eye on Rufe so he couldn't do anything stupid.
    Instead Rufe decides that having knocked her down, she's out of the fight. She, in turn, waits for him to let his guard down and nearly kills him, were it not for one of his friends who jumps in and gets killed himself.
  • Gleams of Aeterna, a Russian epic fantasy, is a mine of brilliant examples. Leave alone Richard Oakdell who is Incarnated Stupidity Itself. Take a look on any character who is stated as smart or, at least, sly.
  • The Rise of Kyoshi:
    • Prior to the events of the book, Kyoshi's parents, a pair of outlaws named Hark and Jesa, leave her in the port village of Yokoya after making arrangements with one of the villagers for him to take care of her. It's later implied that they acted out of love for their daughter, wanting to spare her the hardships and dangers of the outlaw lifestyle.
      You'd Expect: That if the couple do care about Kyoshi, they would try and keep an eye on her to ensure she's safe and healthy, and that her carer is keeping to his end of the deal. Perhaps send a trusted member of their vast criminal network to check Yokoya every now and again?
      Additionally: Perhaps they could look into finding a more prosperous community to leave Kyoshi in? Yokoya is an impoverished village, and as is indicated later on, Earth Kingdom people generally don't care for people not of their blood, or important blood barring that.
      Instead: The pair of them seemingly assume Kyoshi will be all right in Yokoya, and make no attempts to observe her situation.
      Result: The villager throws Kyoshi out onto the streets once Hark and Jesa are gone, and all the other villagers refuse to take care of her, leaving Kyoshi, then a young child, to be bullied by the other children and nearly die of neglect. While Kyoshi does eventually score a cushy servant's job, her terrible experiences have justifiably left her with a burning hatred of her parents for abandoning her, as well as severe trust and confidence issues.
    • Several years after the death of Avatar Kuruk, the Earth Kingdom has been unable to find his successor using their usual geomantic rituals. One day, two of Kuruk's companions, Jianzhu and Kelsang, notice a boy named Yun using the same Pai-Sho strategies Kuruk once used, down to the exact placement of the tiles. Jianzhu takes this as a sign that Yun is the new Avatar, and is further convinced when he learns that Yun is an earthbender.
      You'd Expect: That before doing anything official, Jianzhu would subject Yun to additional tests to confirm he's the Avatar. Perhaps the one used in the Fire Nation to identify newborn firebenders, which is used on Kyoshi later on? Or the "Avatar toys" test used to identify the Air Nomad Avatar? Kyoshi may have taken one of said toys by this point, but there's no reason to assume a replica of it couldn't be made, seeing as the same test was able to identify Aang centuries later.
      Instead: Jianzhu publicly confirms Yun as the new Avatar, and continues to treat him as such even after Yun proves unable to firebend.
      Result: Yun is falsely regarded as the new Avatar for about two years, which while bringing a modicum of peace sets up a political shitstorm for when the truth inevitably comes out. Kyoshi, the true Avatar, only ends up in Yun and Jianzhu's household by coincidence, and she spends the years before learning the truth as a meek servant, never learning her true identity or the lessons needed for her to maintain balance in the world.
    • Jianzhu's goal is to mentor Kuruk's successor into becoming a capable Avatar. Following the battle with the Fifth Nation in the south, in which Kyoshi has thrown Yun's identity as the Avatar into doubt, he plans to have a spirit named Father Glowworm find out whether Kyoshi or Yun is the Avatar. But to do this he needs samples of their blood.
      You'd Expect: Jianzhu would get the samples before going to see Father Glowworm. Or if the spirit needs to get the samples personally (or otherwise insists on it), Jianzhu would just explain to Yun and Kyoshi what's going to happen beforehand. It's not like they're bound to refuse; Yun's devoted to him, and Kyoshi's a dutiful servant.
      You'd Also Think: That Jianzhu would be a bit more open with Kelsang and the others about what his plans are.
      Instead: Jianzhu secretly takes both Kyoshi and Yun to see Father Glowworm, lies to them about what they're doing there, and uses an incense to drug them into not resisting the spirit's attempts to take their blood, seemingly forgetting that Yun has been trained to resist poisons.
      Result: Kelsang, Kyoshi's beloved father figure, becomes suspicious when he discovers the three of them have mysteriously gone missing, and goes off to search for them. Meanwhile, unaware of what's going on, Yun attempts to prevent Father Glowworm from taking Kyoshi's blood, and their struggles provoke the spirit into turning on the both of them once Kyoshi has been confirmed as the Avatar.
      You'd Then Expect: Jianzhu would try to save them both. Kyoshi may be the Avatar, but Yun is one of her best friends, and Jianzhu needs Kyoshi on his side.
      Instead: Jianzhu only saves Kyoshi, while leaving Yun to his fate. Yun is dragged away and seemingly killed, and Kyoshi is understandably pissed off with Jianzhu thanks to this.
      You'd Then Expect: That since Jianzhu is later shown to be a capable manipulator, he would figure out that Kyoshi deeply cared about Yun - if he didn't already know this - and act accordingly. Perhaps apologize for everything that's happened and claim that he had to prioritize the Avatar's safety over that of Yun, while at the same time keeping up a friendly, non-hostile act. And above all else, don't provoke the Person of Mass Destruction.
      Instead: He callously disregards Kyoshi's loss, tells her to not weigh the fate her friend against the wellbeing of the world, refers to Yun as a "swindler", and then proceeds to torture Kyoshi when she accuses him of murder and refuses to immediately accept him as her mentor.
      Result: Any chance of Kyoshi working willingly with Jianzhu is now well and truly shot. And if that wasn't enough, Kelsang shows up moments later and vows to never let Jianzhu have anything more to do with Kyoshi once he finds out what's happened. This drives Jianzhu to murder Kelsang, which causes Kyoshi to go into the Avatar State and nearly kill him. Kyoshi then flees into the Earth Kingdom with her heart set on killing Jianzhu, joins up with a group of outlaws so that she can learn how to do so, and is ultimately roped into helping spring a fanatical and murderous criminal from imprisonment.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: He Jin is involved in a plot to eliminate the corrupt eunuchs who are essentially running the country. The eunuchs catch wind of the plan and coerce his sister, the Dowager Empress, to summon him to the Imperial Palace for a chat. His allies see through the trap and tell him not to go.
    You'd Expect: He Jin to decline the invitation. He's survived numerous attempts on his life from the eunuchs. He also knows that they have spies everywhere; even if it's really for a chat, there's a good chance the secret plan might get compromised.
    Instead: He goes to the Imperial Palace anyway, but allows his allies to give him an armed escort. A guard tells him to leave his escort outside the city. He proudly marches in rather than insisting on them following him. He's promptly hacked to pieces by the eunuchs.
    • Then there's Zhang Fei, youngest of the Peach Garden Oath Brothers and a constantly violent drunk. He volunteers to guard the city of Xiapi while his brothers go off on business. Liu Bei agrees on the conditions that Zhang Fei stay sober and not abuse his own men.
      You'd Expect: Zhang Fei would obey the request immediately.
      Instead: Zhang Fei holds a feast that night and gets mighty drunk. During the feast, he gets into an argument with one of his soldiers, Cao Bao, and has him flogged. Cao Bao sulks back to his son-in-law, Lu Bu, who unleashes holy hell on the city. Zhang Fei is too drunk to stop the attack and can only retreat.

    Literature S-Z 

  • Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta: Francesca has spent a year in a constant state of BSOD and has been slowly coming to terms with the fact that her old friends are bitches and her new friends are much better. She celebrates her birthday with her new friends and has a great time. However, when she sees her old friends, they ask her what she did for her birthday and Francesca, not wanting them to mock her new friends, says 'Nothing'. One of her new friends overhears this.
    You'd Expect that as hurt as she was, they'd give Francesca a chance to explain why she said that.
    Instead they immediately call her a bitch and turn against her, and poor Francesca ends up running off to Woy Woy because she can't handle the stress.
  • In Saving The World and Other Extreme Sports, Max decides to have Dr. Martinez surgically remove a microchip inside her arm to get rid of the Voice, knowing that she could risk losing the ability to use one of her hands. So Max decides to go through with the procedure, and lo and behold her left hand goes slack. Not only that, but guess what? THE VOICE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CHIP IN THE FIRST PLACE! Max just gave up a perfectly good hand.
  • Scarlett: the authorized sequel to Gone with the Wind, Rhett after biding his time divorces Scarlett when she leaves his family after they sleep together on a beach and she visits her Irish cousins. And to seal the deal, he marries Anne Hampton, a girl from his town who is like a Replacement Goldfish for Melanie Wilkes. Several years pass, during which he visits Scarlett in Ireland and she has their third child together — Bonnie survived to the age of six while Scarlett's second one miscarried — but doesn't tell him because she correctly guesses that he'd take Cat away from her due to liking kids and due to their bad history. After all, the last time she was pregnant with Rhett's child, he insinuated that it was Ashley's while knowing it was his, and the ensuing argument led to Scarlett tumbling down the stairs, miscarrying, and nearly dying. Anne loses her first baby with Rhett, and dies having his second one who lives a short while. Rhett decides to go back to Ireland to reconcile with Scarlett, only to find that due to him pushing her away that she's marrying Lord Fenton of England.
    You'd Expect: Rhett would go to Scarlett as soon as possible and talk things out with her. Just because he's acted entitled about their relationship before doesn't mean that he has the right to do so at any point. They've both been awful to each other over the years, and she has a point when she thinks that he's a hypocrite for moving on from her and then judging her for doing the same.
    Instead: Rhett sits on his butt Drowning My Sorrows about Anne and the baby, and on encountering Scarlett insults her while he's obviously drunk. He sobers up just in time to rescue her and Cat from a confrontation between the English soldiers and her Irish tenants, which nearly gets all three of them killed.
    The Result: Scarlett at first is unwilling to hear anything he says, but has been so desperate to have Rhett again that when she learns he's a widower tries to ride as fast as she can to him. Then after they have some time to talk, while hiding out in Cat's treehouse, she calls him out for divorcing her and marrying someone else when he was away, instead of coming to her and talking upfront. Rhett suffers a Jerkass Realization that he abandoned Scarlett while she was pregnant —and kept making fun of her for her professed affection in the ensuing years when checking on her in Ireland— though in turn he is angry that she hid that she had his child.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events has a number of examples:
    • In the very first book, The Bad Beginning, the children go to see Mr. Poe to share how terrible living with Count Olaf has been for them. Namely he keeps them all in one room (with one bed), gives them a number of terribles chores daily, has terrible friends, is drunk often and recently struck Klaus on the face.
      You'd expect: Mr. Poe, after hearing such terrible circumstances, to have second thoughts about Count Olaf. Not to mention given his unhealthy obsession with their fortune they are to inherit at adulthood that he directly expressed in front of Mr. Poe when the children were first dropped off, that perhaps the children would be better off with another guardian.
      Instead: Mr. Poe merely tells the children with little sympathy that Count Olaf is their guardian and his parenting methods are his own business. It isn't until Count Olaf tries to gain access to the Baudelaire fortune by secretly marrying Violet, that Mr. Poe finally sees Count Olaf for what he really is and has the children removed from his care.
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot": Holmes and Watson discover a hallucinogenic drug that drives people insane and then kills them.
      You'd Expect: That they would find some kind of medical setting in which they would make a controlled test of the substance. Granted, medical technology and test protocols at the end of the 19th/start of the 20th century would have been primitive and they would have had to travel all the way back to London to do it, but it would be entirely reasonable given the threat posed by the hallucinogen.
      Instead: They test it on themselves, heating the substance on a lamp on a table in front of them while indoors, in order to watch the effects of the fumes on each other.
      As a result: The fumes from the very powerful hallucinogen fill the room in seconds and very nearly overpower and kill both of them, and only quick thinking by Watson and both of them rushing out into the open save their lives.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels:
    • The book Deja Vu reveals that Henry "Hank" Jellicoe's wife had recorded his misdeeds in a diary, and she told the "proper" authorities about this.
      You'd expect that the CIA, upon hearing this, would have Jellicoe shut down, arrested and be more than happy to use the diary to bring him down.
      Instead they took the diary, swept it all under the rug, and had her swear on a Bible that this was the only copy of the diary she had. She lied, of course, and had another copy in her possession. The CIA actually believed her, put her in Witness Protection Program, and apparently decided to use the diary in a bizarre attempt to keep Jellicoe in line. Take a wild guess on how well that attempt worked out!
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In the first book A Game of Thrones, Ned Stark has just discovered that Cersei is in an incestuous relationship with her brother, and that none of her children are Robert's, thus meaning none of them are eligible heirs to the throne. He also has strong reason to believe that Cersei had his foster father killed because said foster father had also discovered said relationship.
      You'd Expect: He'd either keep the matter under wraps until he gets a chance to tell Robert, and gather more evidence of his findings in the meantime. Or at the very least, make the matter known to additional members of his inner circle, so even if Cersei comes after him, the information is still available.
      Instead: He confronts Cersei with the accusation before informing anyone else or making any records of what he'd discovered, giving her ample chance to plot against him before the information comes to light.
      As A Result: When Robert is fatally wounded in a hunting accident, Ned is in no mood to tell him the truth, and a series of Lawful Stupid decisions on his end combined with plotting by Cersei result in him being executed.
    • Also in the first book, Bran, son of Ned and Catelyn Stark, is attacked by an obviously low-class and poor assassin with a small amount of money in his pockets and a dagger far more valuable than a dozen times the money he was paid.
      You'd Expect: They would be suspicious that the dagger was a plant, expecially given that the dagger's reputed owner has no discernable motive to perform such a senselessly violent act and is obviously too smart to leave such a blatant clue.
      Instead: They believe, even when it is pointed out how extremely likely it is a plant, that a man with no grudge with them and no motive to do them harm tried to clumsily and pointlessly kill their son, to the point of attempting to have him executed despite the near complete lack of evidence that he was involved in the killing or even had a reason to wish them harm, or indeed even dislike them.
      As A Result: The incident sparks open warfare between the Stark and Lannister families and plunges Westeros into chaos.
    • Related to the above: Joffrey pays a random peasant a bag of silver to assassinate Bran.
      You'd Expect: The peasant to just take the money and run. Not only is assassinating Bran an obvious suicide mission, but the guy who ordered the hit is clearly crazy (and also twelve years old) and ethically screwed. His employer is heading south- he probably won't return north for years, if at all- and has no possible way of extracting retribution on him if he does a runner.
      Instead: He actually tries to do it.
      Unsurprisingly: He fails, and dies in the attempt.
    • In the second book, A Clash of Kings, Ser Alliser Thorne arrives at court to ask for more troops, to guard the wall of the north against a coming invasion of the living dead. He brings an animated severed hand as proof. But due to their strong mutual dislike of each other, Tyrion delays seeing him, unaware of how crucial the information he brings is.
      You'd Expect: Alliser to show people the irrefutable proof he brought with him (an animated dead hand!) to hurry them up into letting Tyrion know that he really needs to listen to what Alliser has to say.
      Instead: Alliser just hangs around the court and grumbles about being kept waiting until his irrefutable evidence has decomposed into nothing more than a normal skeletal hand, leaving Tyrion no reason to believe him and making the whole series take a far worse course.
    • Also from A Clash of Kings, Theon Greyjoy is sent as an envoy to his father, Balon Greyjoy, who makes it abundantly clear that he's not going to help them out of disrespect.
      You'd Expect: Theon would accept that his father, who he hasn't seen in ten years, doesn't care about him and isn't worth impressing.
      Instead: Theon immediately defects to Balon's side, earning the wrath of Robb Stark and his large army after he pretends to kill Robb's brothers.
      Also: He is brought a prisoner, Reek, who works for Ramsay Snow, and is said to be a necrophiliac serial killer.
      You'd expect: Theon would have him locked up and disregard anything he says.
      Instead: Theon takes him on as an adviser, digging himself deeper into trouble. Reek then turns out to be Ramsay himself in disguise, who captures Theon and takes him home to the Dreadfort.
    • In the third book, A Storm of Swords, Robb Stark hears of his home's fall and the (faked) deaths of his younger brothers. In his grief, he sleeps with the young lady of the castle he'd just captured, and falls in love with her.
      You'd Expect: Honor Before Reason is the Starks' unofficial motto and Fatal Flaw in this series; Robb's honour as a king demands that he stick to his promises and forsake the girl he loves to do his duty and uphold his promise to marry a Frey girl.
      Instead: Robb decides that Jeyne's honor as a maiden is more important than his honor as a king and immediately marries her, earning fifty men (none of whom are actually loyal to him) and alienating the thousands of Frey knights and soldiers he won with his original marriage alliance. The Freys promptly turn on him and murder him soon afterwards for dishonoring them (and more importantly, being on the losing side), and later books reveal Jeyne's family, with urging by Lord Tywin Lannister, used her to try and drive a wedge between Robb and the notoriously opportunistic Freys.
    • In the same book, Rickard Karstark decides to execute two young Lannister boys as retribution for the apparent deaths of Bran and Rickon Stark. The penalty for murder is death, but Rickard Karstark is a kinsman of Robb Stark because the Karstarks are a branch of the Stark family, and the Karstarks make a major component of Robb Stark's forces.
      You'd Expect: Robb Stark to find some manner of doing justice that doesn't offend the Karstarks, such as sending Rickard Karstark to Riverrun or one of the other castle under his control to atone for his crime, and having one of the other Karstarks take command of their forces in his place. He could diplomatically explain that he was being merciful and understanding to a kinsman, given the nature of the crime that had been committed.
      Instead: He chooses Honor Before Reason (yet again) and has Rickard Karstark executed, despite Rickard's reminders that both of them are related. Because Robb killed his own relative, he comes a "kinslayer" and therefore despicable under Westerosi custom.
      As A Result: The substantial Karstark forces desert him leaving him perilously short on troops, which makes the previously mentioned alliance with the Freys all the more necessary.
  • Song of Solomon
    • Macon Dead II orders his son Milkman to steal a bag of what he thinks is gold from his sister Pilate. Milkman and Guitar go to do so.
      You'd Expect: They would open the bag first to make sure it has a treasure. Milkman and Macon II know that Pilate is a bit of a Cloud Cuckoolander, so it's best to err on the side of caution.
      Instead: They just put it in their car.
      The Result: A cop pulls them over, and they find the bag has a skeleton in it. Pilate puts in a big act of how the bones belong to her (nonexistent) husband so that her nephew isn't arrested on suspicion of being a murderer. Macon II goes Never My Fault and call Pilate crazy.
    • Milkman Dead finds out that his best friend Guitar is part of a cult that kills white men to avenge one of their own killed. He recognizes that his older sister First Corinthians is dating one of the guys. First Corinthians has finally gotten a job at the age of forty, as a maid. Her twin sister Magdalena is very happy about this.
      You'd Expect: He would tell First Corinthians, discreetly, and let her make the decision. Their dad is abusive and controlling towards everyone in the family, even Milkman to a minor extent. We see Milkman later has a point that the Seven Days are just killing disproportionately, so First Corinthians has the right to know.
      Instead: He tells their father, and decides to spend the rest of the week drunk.
The Result: Macon Dead II goes overboard in forcing Corrie to break up with her first boyfriend, and makes her quit her job which had nothing to do with it. Lena summons Milkman to her room, smacks him hard, and gives him a What the Hell, Hero? about making decisions for his older sister who is an adult and free to live her life. She also kicks him out of the house, saying he's no longer "pissing" on them. Lena only forgives Milkman somewhat when Corrie makes the decision to move out, live with said boyfriend, and get her job back.
  • The Spirit Thief: Sten, a Blood Knight obsessed with defeating the wielder of the Heart of War, loses a fight with said man (a fella named Josef) and, because his need to fight Josef caused him to abandon the job he was supposed to be doing, gets kicked out of the League of Storms.
    You'd expect: Sten realizes victory isn't happenning and returns to the life of a successful gladiator he once was. Or: Sten decides he's obviously not good enough, so he trains with his own magic sword and challenges Josef later. Or: Sten threatens Nico to get Josef to fight him again in an environment more conductive to a duel than a cramped barn. Or: Sten does literally anything other than what he actually did.
    Instead: Sten goes to the Master of the Dead Mountain - the demon he knows, being a former League knight, possesses people who accept his "aid" - and... accepts his aid. End result: Sten loses his soul and individuality, world almost ends, Josef still kills him.

  • Spock's World
    • Mahak's grandam arranges a marriage between Mahak and T'Thelaih, who has Psychic Powers that allow her to kill people with her mind alone.
      You's Expect: She would treat them well and use her not-inconsiderable powers of persuasion to gain their loyalty, winning herself a bloodline of faithful assassins.
      Instead: When T'Thelaih gets pregnant, she decides that Mahak has served his purpose, and has him killed, which T'Thelaih can feel as soon as it happens. She proceeds to taunt T'Thelaih about it to her face, and threaten to use her unborn child as a weapon. T'Thelaih, of course, kills her on the spot and wipes out her entire family.
  • Spy School Series:
    • Throughout Evil Spy School, Ben gradually finds information pointing to SPYDER's plot, using missiles to blow up all of New York's tunnels and bridges while using their private construction crew to reconstruct the bridges, making them millions in the process while undercover in SPYDER's headquarters. Ben couldn't understand any of the evidence pointing towards the scheme, but about halfway through, he gets in contact with someone who could decode the evidence, Erica Hale.
      You'd Expect: Ben to tell Erica all the information he gathered.
      Instead: Ben tells her practically nothing about what he learned, only telling her about a safe in SPYDER's control center.
      As A Result Erica instructs Ben to use an outright moronic plan described below to bust open the safe.
    • Later on, Erica tosses Ben an electronic safecracker to crack the safe's password. Ben does as expected, he finds a chance to break in the control center and starts up the safecracker. Sadly, the device fails at its job. Erica "prepared" for this situation by giving Ben a back-up plan: blowing up the freaking safe.
      You'd Expect: Ben to ignore this suicidal move and start up the safecracker again.
      Instead: Ben detonates the safecracker.
      As A Result: Ben barely escapes the compound alive. Hundreds of armed agents sprint towards Ben with no signs of mercy. If is wasn't for a bulldozer, Ben would have kicked the bucket right then and there.
      Compounding It: Even after breaking out of SPYDER's base, Ben still doesn't tell Erica about the information.
    • Using their only lead, thanks to Erica's and Ben's stupidity, the duo, alongside Alexander and Cyrus, travel to Sandy Hook to check its missiles. When they arrive, they find dynamite stuck on all the missiles, thanks to SPYDER. Cyrus's partner ambushes the spies on the island, thinking they're the ones who are blowing up the missiles.
      You'd Expect: Cyrus's partner would question why Cyrus would return back to the island with hundreds of active missiles.
      Instead: His partner ignores Cyrus's words, triggering a chase with the CIA, NYPD, NJPD, Homeland Security, and the Coast Guard that almost ends in Ben's death.
  • Star Wars Bloodlines, Ransolm Casterfo is a politician that misses the Empire but hates Vader. Yeah. Leia butts heads with him but comes to grips with the fact that he makes legitimate points. Eventually, Casterfo finds out that Vader was Leia's biological father, and Leia didn't tell anyone. It's actually revealed that Leia didn't because she's had trouble reconciling that the man who tortured her, blew up Alderaan, and kidnapped her friends, helped sire her.
    You'd Expect: Casterfo would know the kind of woman Leia is, that she wouldn't be her father. He should go talk to her about why she hasn't told anyone.
    Instead: He outs her to the Senate, causing her to lose credibility and her status. Leia gives him a What the Hell, Hero? for ever thinking she was like her father and not coming to talk to her beforehand.
    The Result: By the time Casterfo realizes he fucked up, it's too late; the aristocrat Lady Carise that told him Leia's secret frames him for a crime, and sentences him to death on finding him no longer useful. Leia does her best to save Casterfo, but thanks to the credibility he ruined, there's nothing she can do except take down Carise. Casterfo notes the irony that she's the only one who believes his innocence, and he destroyed her. And this leads to the downfall of the New Republic, with Leia having to form a small resistance.
  • "The Stupids": The children's series of books by Harry Allard and James Marshall were about a family — the Stupids — who are so, well, stupid, that they are unable to complete or understand the most simple concepts and tasks. The books, all containing numerous "What an Idiot" situations, included "The Stupids Step Out" (1974), "The Stupids Have a Ball" (1978), "The Stupids Die" (1981) and "The Stupids Take Off" (1989). In 1996, a movie called "The Stupids," starring Tom Arnold, was based on the books.
  • Swear To Howdy: Rusty Cooper's mother works at his sister's school. Sissy is a constantly failing student, and overhears their mother having to photocopy her teacher's upcoming civil war exam because the questions and answers were printed upside down. She and her friend Amanda Jane, whose brother Joey is best friend with Rusty, steal the exam papers to cheat and ace the test because their parents promised them rewards. In Sissy's case she wants a new outfit, and Amanda Jane wants a car.
    You'd Expect: They would cover their tracks by actually studying, and scheming to do less than perfect, to pass rather than get an A. And they would deliberately get different questions wrong on test day.
    Instead: Sissy and Amanda Jane do none of this. They both ace the tests, and get the same two questions wrong. Rusty would love to bust them after realizing that Sissy would never ace a test unless she cheated, but he has no proof and besides which Sissy blackmails him about his frog accidentally getting into her room.
    The Result: Their teacher is no fool. He talks to Mrs. Cooper, pointing out the evidence that Sissy and Amanda Jane cheated by stealing from the trash due to their academic record and the two questions. Mrs. Cooper comes home in a fury, having barely saved her job, and proves that Sissy cheated by asking her questions on the Civil War that even her father knows, and Sissy only answers one of them correctly. Mr. Cooper returns Sissy's reward clothes, though Amanda Jane manages to keep her car. While Mrs. Cooper keeps her job, Sissy and Amanda Jane are disgraced at school and forced to take a makeup exam.
  • The Sword of Truth: In the first book, Richard must keep the Big Bad from acquiring and activating an ancient artifact with the potential to destroy--or allow its user to enslave--any or all living beings, at his whim. Fortunately, Richard is the only person alive who knows how the artifact works, and he tricks the Big Bad into using it wrong and getting killed. The artifact falls into Richard's hands, and it's revealed that he's a natural-born wizard of unimaginable power, the secret heir to an ancient empire, the only person immune to the soul-destroying magic that prevents his love interest from ever experiencing true love, and the man destined to save the world from the true Big Bad, who appears a few books later. The real Big Bad, Emperor Jagang, has an immense evil army capable of effortlessly crushing all resistance from the free world.
    You'd Expect: Richard would use the artifact to wipe them all out, in the name of his friends, and such objectionist principles as life, freedom and liberty. End of story.
    Instead: He forgets all about it until the very end of the series, when it's handwaved away by the sudden discovery that the knowledge Richard had about the artifact was incorrect and would have killed him if he'd used it. But that doesn't explain why he didn't try to find this out sooner.
    • In another example, the Chimes, beings that will drain the world of Additive Magic and only someone who can command Subtractive Magic can do anything to them. Zedd has some knowledge of them and he is right next to Richard. Richard is also the Chosen One and is a War Wizard, has both Additive and Subtractive magic, his Gift acts through emotion and need, and is the Seeker of Truth.
      You'd Expect: Zedd would inform Richard of everything he knew about the Chimes and work out ways to defeat them.
      Instead: Zedd lies to Richard and tells him that it's a different creature and sends him on a wild goose chase for a fake solution and heaps on emotional baggage to drive him while Zedd goes by himself in a weakened condition to try to dupe the Chimes with his soul in a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • In the dark romance novel Tears of Tess by Pepper Winters, Tess has just escaped from the man holding her captive, with a GPS locator still strapped on her ankle. She flags down a car, and the driver lends her a knife.
    • You'd Expect her to cut the GPS off and throw it out the window. Plot dictates that her captor must be able to track her down, but he later demonstrates that he knows who the driver of the car she's in now is, and his bodyguard is pursuing Tess when she gets in the car, so he could quite easily recognise the license plate, or the driver could simply not have a knife.
    • Instead, she cuts off the GPS, and then puts it on the floor of the moving vehicle that she is still riding in. This is never portrayed as a stupid thing to do, either; when her captor inevitably finds her, both of them act like keeping the GPS with her was a perfectly reasonable thing to do and his tracking her with it was some sort of miracle or act of genius.
  • In Trickster's Queen, a group of rebels are trying to overthrow the government of the Copper Isles and put a queen of their own blood on the throne. They are following a very specific prophecy, and eventually as it becomes clear that the time for revolution is close, they find that they have two candidates, a pair of sisters: Sarai, the older sister, a passionate, beautiful and headstrong girl who gets along very well with people and who is widely loved; and her younger sister Dove, a quiet, calm, incredibly intelligent girl who isn't much of an extrovert, but who can befriend anyone and hold her own in any conversation. With the time at hand, they need to pick their candidate and start altering their campaigns to fit her.
    You'd Expect that the rebels would look at both sisters, examine their prophecy, realise that 'wise and beloved' doesn't entirely apply to Sarai, and instead redirect their focus to Dove, who everyone agrees is smart and logical and makes a much better candidate.
    You'd Also Expect that somebody would realise that if you plan to put someone on a throne, but you don't trust them enough to tell them your plans for their future, then maybe it's not a good idea to try putting them on the throne.
    Instead, the rebels decide that Sarai is obviously who the prophecy means, because she's incredibly beautiful and everyone loves her. They hold this opinion despite the fact that Sarai is continually headstrong and refuses to use her brain in even the smallest situations (such as not telling everyone in earshot that her house is exceptionally well-guarded, so nobody suspects that the residents are planning something), and in the end, Sarai elopes, believing that the rebels cannot win. Thankfully, Dove is ready to take up the mantle.
  • In the sixth Apprentice Adept book, Unicorn Point, wayward Tyke Bombs Flach and Nepe had just been located, after four years in hiding, meaning the parallel deals with the Contrary Citizens and Adverse Adepts for access to the all-powerful Oracle and Book of Magic were back in force.
    You'd Expect: The bad guys, who were only weeks away from irrevocably seizing power from Stile/Blue and their allies when the kids disappeared, would simply slap some sort of tracker on the kids to keep them from disappearing again, and simply count on their opponent's Lawful Stupid nature to deliver them the win.
    Instead: The bad guys threaten to harm Flach and Nepe's mothers if they didn't follow their instructions. This threat negates the deal with their fathers, Mach and Bane, who tracked the kids down by listening in on their mental connection. Flach gets the word out about the threat; And with Mach and Bane freed from their word, they quickly revolted against the Contrary Citizens and Adverse Adepts, and the good guys finally turn the tide.
  • War and Democide Never Again: John Banks is selected to be one of two people sent back in time to change history to his liking.
    You'd Expect: Him not to tell a soul.
    Instead: After being sent back, he writes down everything that he and his partner change about the past in a diary. So is it really that surprising that the villains from a Bad Future get hold of it, and so are one step ahead of his plans?
  • Water Margin:
    • Lei Heng, a constable and future Liangshan hero, attends a performance of a travelling singer named Bai Xiuying. He realizes that he left his money at home, so he's unable to tip her. Xiuying and her father, Bai Yuqiao, start insulting him. Eventually, someone in the audience stands up for Lei Heng and vouches for his good character.
      You'd Expect: The two would be more understanding and allow him to get his money; with an escort if need be.
      Instead: Bai Yuqiao lets loose one final insult. Lei Heng promptly beats him up.
    • During the Fang La campaign, two of the Liangshan heroes, Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo, are assigned to help Lu Junyi capture an enemy city. They see that the city gates are open and not a soldier in sight...
      You'd Expect: Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo would smell the obvious Shmuck Bait.
      Instead: The two charge in full steam ahead. They fall for the enemy's Pit Trap within the gate and are killed by waiting Mooks.
  • Watership Down: note 
    • Fiver and Hazel see a notice board, and Fiver gets an overwhelming sense that something terrible is going to happen to Sandleford warren. They both go to warn the Threarah note  of the impending danger.
      You'd Expect: Them to mention the obviously human-made notice board so they had some physical evidence to back up their claim.
      On The Other Hand, You'd Expect: The Threarah to take some notice of the warning, seeing as genuine psychic powers are not unheard of among rabbits. Even if he thought Hazel and Fiver were lying to get attention, he could have made preparations to evacuate the warren in secret without giving them any attention.
      Instead: The Threarah believes Fiver to be a fraud and they fail to convince him of the danger, leading to the eventual destruction of the warren.
    • The group of rabbits have come to a new warren and plan to live there, but Fiver senses that there is something deeply wrong with the place and refuses to go inside. There is also a suspicious lack of predators around, and fresh food is left out for the rabbits every morning. The warren also has surprisingly few residents, and the rabbits who live there quickly change the subject every time someone asks a question beginning with 'where'.
      You'd Expect: The rabbits would pay attention all the warning signs, and leave the warren before anything bad happened.
      Or At Least: One of the rabbits would stay with Fiver, who, as one of the smallest and physically weakest rabbits in the group, would be nearly defenceless against any predators which do appear.
      Instead: The group refuse to listen to Fiver's concerns, instead insulting him and trying to force him to come with them into the warren. It then turns out that the warren is being farmed, and the farmer sets snares for the rabbits so he can sell their meat and skins. The group realise this when Bigwig is caught in a snare and nearly dies.
    • Woundwort and Co. break into the warren at Watership Down, and see Fiver lying on the floor unconscious. Woundwort concludes that he is dead.
      You'd Expect: Woundwort to rip him apart to make sure he's actually dead, and not unconscious or trying to trick them.
      Instead: Fiver wakes up, and manages to scare Vervain out of the warren.
  • Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series has quite a few of these, but the thirteenth book, Towers of Midnight, contains a particularly moronic one. Aes Sedai are turning up dead within the White Tower, and the newly appointed Amyrlin, Egwene, is convinced it's the work of Messana and the Black Ajah. Her love interest Gawyn, however, isn't so sure and investigates on his own, gathering a lot of evidence that suggests the murders did not involve the One Power and were therefore the work of a non-channeler.
    You'd Think: Egwene would listen to his findings and at the very least consider that the murders were not the work of the Black.
    Instead: She completely dismisses everything he says, and even rebukes Gawyn for supposedly getting in her way.
    More Stupidity: This is despite the fact that Gawyn was actually attacked by one of the assassins and could therefore confirm they didn't use the Power.
    Even More Stupidity: Egwene eventually pisses Gawyn off so much he leaves the White Tower and only barely returns in time to stop three of the aforementioned assassins from murdering Egwene in her sleep.
  • Joyce Carol Oates's short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been": The main conflict takes place between Connie, a 15-year-old girl, and a young man named Arnold Friend, in her yard.
    You'd expect: The instant that a stranger — the unwelcome visitor, Arnold — beckoned Connie outside, for Connie to immediately call the police and have the man ordered to leave or be arrested.
    Instead: That never happens (otherwise, we'd have no story). Connie spends the next half hour or so arguing with Arnold, with Arnold trying nicely ... then not so nicely... to make her come with him. When Connie finally recognizes Arnold for who he is — a predatory creep who is probably in his mid-30s — and tries to call the police, Arnold has gotten into the house and taken the phone away from her. He also does other things to her, with the strong implication that she is raped. In the end, Connie is forced to leave with Arnold, her fate left unknown.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's novella "The Whisperer in Darkness":
    • The main character Wilmarth has been communicating with a scholar living in remote Vermont who has found significant evidence of a powerful alien species operating in the region who are very dangerous towards humans investigating them. His friend has constantly urged him not to visit, in case the aliens, or their human contacts, decide to deal with him too. Throughout the story, he receives increasingly frantic letters from his pen pal reporting that his house was getting attacked at night. Then, one day, he gets a letter from his friend reversing his position about the Aliens. His friend asks him to come to Vermont, on a train that would arrive at 10 at night, and to bring every bit of their correspondence.
      You'd Expect: That he'd be a little suspicious about the whole "sudden total reversal of attitude" thing, and maybe about the "bring all the proof to the heart of their territory" bit too, and not go. The fact that the last telegram has the "pen pal" misspell his own name should clue him in. Or at least make copies of everything he possibly could, and then some.
      Instead: He gets on a train that gets in during daytime, with all the evidence, and meets a fellow on the train. This fellow just happens to sound like a fellow in a recording of an evil ceremony with the aliens. The only reason the main character isn't kidnapped or killed is sheer luck.
    • From the opposite side, the scholar Akeley. He believes that the aliens should be left alone because he's afraid that if they were attacked by humans they would decide to just take over, and he intends to leave his home in Vermont to live with his son in California.
      You'd expect Him to not keep looking into these creatures, leave out any evidence he has that he knows they want for them to grab, and just move to California.
      Instead Not only does he gather information on them and record their meetings, he actually sends it on to Wilmarth. The same man who, up until this point, had been publicly denouncing claims that there was anything extraterrestrial in Vermont. Akeley also insists on staying in his house, even after his police dogs get killed, his mail intercepted and people start shooting at him. The only reason he doesn't die is because the aliens decide to put his brain in a jar to take to Yuggoth instead.
  • Leslie from Wicked Lovely decides to get a tattoo. She starts to feel uncomfortable around the owner of the shop and the two kids running around are reacting like her getting the tattoo is the return of their savior. Even the owner tries to talk her out of it. When the owner starts with the process, she hears an evil laugh in her head. You would think she would opt out of it, pick a different tattoo or go to another shop. But no, she goes along with it and becomes bound to Irial.
  • In The Witcher, during the final volume of the books, Lady of the Lake, Ciri discovers that her adoptive mother Yennefer has been kidnapped by a sorcerer Vilgefortz, who is trying to capture Ciri for his own ends and is using Yennefer as a hostage. Ciri knows that Vilgefortz has been employing the remorseless sociopathic killer Leo Bonhart to capture her (along with other killers that he regards as expendable), that he's horrifically tortured Yennefer, and in general has done nothing whatsoever to suggest he has any conscience.
    You'd Expect: That Ciri would realize that Vilgefortz isn't the kind of person who would spare someone out of the mercy of his heart.
    Instead: Ciri walks into his castle and offers herself, asking them to let Yennefer go in return.
    Unsurprisingly: Vilgefortz laughs at her, has her restrained, and prepares to forcibly impregnate her. Fortunately for Ciri, the sudden arrival of Geralt and his companions spares her the consequences of her stupidity.
  • Woodwalkers: One day, Miro (who can turn into a wolf) joins the Clearwater High. Carag now fears that he will join the pack of the racist bully Jeffrey (who can also turn into a wolf). A normal person would've done everything to show Miro that he doesn't have to join Jeffreys pack just because wolves live like that in the wild- but for some reasons, Carag just ignores Miro for the rest of the book and even when he learns that Miro joined the pack he does exactly nothing to get him out of it.
  • In Winds of Fate, Princess Elspeth has gone on a mission to recruit a mage willing, able, and suited to teach any potential mages of her land - including herself. She finds out on the way that the Companions have bent all of their formidable abilities toward getting her to just such a mage, and have been doing so for quite some time.
    You'd Expect that, being a princess and Herald, trained in diplomacy and statecraft and the exigencies thereof, she'd go along. With substantial grumbling, most likely, and most certainly after giving Gwena a well-deserved and truly epic dressing-down but she does understand these things.
    Instead, upon discovering she's been (in her words) "led about like some stupid sheep," she immediately decides to head for another city entirely, where she knows nobody, to search among a people she knows nothing about, for representatives of another people that she knows almost nothing about, expect that centuries before they trained one Valdemaran mage, without even knowing the language of either group. Granted, she realizes later that this is an incredibly stupid idea, but she sticks with her moronic plan.
  • The original Winnie-the-Pooh book and its Disney Animated Adaptation has the segment where Pooh eats rabbit out of house and home. Rabbit has a front door and a back door.
    You'd Expect: Pooh to realize he's now clearly too fat to crawl out the front door and use the back door.
    Instead: He tries squeezing through the front door and gets stuck. He has to wait day after day until he can be thin enough to wiggle free.
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond: After their cousin Kit comes to stay in Massachusetts, the local wealthy bachelor William Ashby becomes enamored with her. They eventually become engaged. Due to some really bad luck and mass hysteria, however, the Cruffs accuse Kit as a witch because she helped Hannah Tupper, a harmless Quaker woman, escape an angry mob.
    You'd Expect: William would attend the trial to give Kit moral support, if not to defend her. They are more or less engaged after all.
    Instead: William stays away. Kit's sailor friend Nat returns and proves her innocence.
    The Result: When he finally comes, after a few weeks, Kit lays into William about how he abandoned her in her time of need and for trying to micromanage her choice of friends. She breaks off the engagement saying they're too different. He marries her cousin Judith, whom he was courting earlier, and she decides to marry Nat when he returns with a new boat.
  • Wolf Hall
    • George Boleyn does not like the king's Master Secretary, Thomas Cromwell, and tries to poison his relationship with Henry. He succeeds in planting doubts in Henry's mind, and Henry flies into a screaming rage that Cromwell only just escapes from intact.
      You'd Expect: George to just let it happen without saying anything.
      Instead: He finds Cromwell afterwards to gloat about how Cromwell's been put in his place, thus letting Cromwell know who put the idea into Henry's head. And he fails to realize what Cromwell means when he says "I will profit by this lesson."
    • Later, George is on trial for treason and incest with Anne. Cromwell gives him a piece of paper and says there's no need to read it aloud, only to say if he recognizes what's written on it.
      You'd Expect: That George would limit his answer to no because it's a line of insults against Henry.
      Instead: He reads it in a condescending tone to raise a laugh. Then he sees the judges' expressions and hastily tries to disclaim ownership of the words, but just reading it out on the stand is enough to condemn him by Tudor justice. (Granted, Cromwell had marked him for vengeance anyway for his role in Cardinal Wolsey's downfall and could have done it without the Reverse Psychology, but George didn't have to make it so easy.)
    • Cromwell prepares for a Battle of Wits with the musician Mark Smeaton, since he plans to use Mark as a wedge to open a case for adultery and treason charges against Anne Boleyn and several other men. He starts, all politeness, by asking if he knows why Anne is unhappy.
      You'd Expect: Mark to continue being suspicious of Cromwell, though admittedly it wouldn't have changed the outcome.
      Instead: He claims that Anne is unhappy because she's in love with him, Mark, and they have in fact slept together. Cromwell has to stop and simply be astonished before he slips into being Bad Cop.
      Also: When Mark realizes what's actually going on and tries to take it back, Cromwell points out that nobody had hurt or even threatened him. He just blurt it out all on his own.
  • In the Worldwar saga by Harry Turtledove, nuclear physicist Jen Larssen has just overcome a broken down car, abduction by invading aliens, and George Patton to finish a half-a-year long journey to Chicago. He's kept on going by the thought of reuniting with his wife, who left with the University of Chicago Metlab caravan transporting the American Nuclear Program to Denver; she thinks he's dead, and has now begun a relationship with a ballplayer/scifi fan turned soldier. He asks an Colonel, Hexam, for permission to follow the caravan or to at least send his wife a message telling her that he's still alive.
    You'd Expect: At the very least, the Colonel will let him send a brief telegram. Even if the Alien invaders, The Race, intercepts it, they have proven themselves to be incompetent at the art of deception. Thus, Jens, and the American Nuclear Program, would be safe.
    Instead: The colonel refuses to comply; Hexham tells him that if he did, then The Race would learn, one way or another, the Nuclear Program's location from him. Jens has to go on strike to convince Hexham to let him take a train to Denver, by which point, his wife is remarried and pregnant. When Hexham meets him again, he continues to treat Jens like shit. Unsurprisingly, Jens turns on Hexham, and kills him, a guard, and three members of an army group sent after him, AND attempts to tell The Race where the Nuclear Program is. Thus, Hexham's paranoia nearly results in The Race almost nuking Denver. Nice going, moron!


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