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Sep 3rd 2020 at 10:42:10 AM •••

If I may add another video example of too dumb to live: Martin prince from the Simpsons everybody in the episode Special Edna:

Oct 18th 2014 at 10:56:39 AM •••

I've seen people repeatedly removing entries that do not result in a person's death but I'm also seeing people constantly adding them in. Is this purely a death trope or more generally a danger trope? And if it is a danger trope, how present does the danger need to be?

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Oct 18th 2014 at 11:07:04 AM •••

It's a trope about people so stupid that they are killed. I think that surviving on pure luck would still count.

Nov 29th 2015 at 7:49:27 PM •••

Does luck include outside intervention of their friends/family/others?

May 2nd 2017 at 2:35:22 PM •••

I'd say this trope is about anyone whatsoever who, while possessing other options, does something that even if it somehow doesn't would get them killed which is obvious enough to anyone with said person's capabilities (so a guy that's Nigh-Invulnerable tanking an explosion for no reason wouldn't fit, but a guy who isn't trying to tank an explosion for no reason would) who had even 2 brain cells to rub together would be smart enough to recognize that the decision would kill them and thus avoid it.

If the dumb character survives due to sheer dumb luck, the actions of another character, because they are invincible due to cartoon physics, or through ANY other means other than said dumb character's own direct and deliberate intervention to avoid the consequences of said dumb act (in which case they're still doing something idiotic, they're just are smart enough to render the dumb choice ultimately irrelevant) or the result of a deliberate plan and thus not a dumb act at all, it still qualifies as this trope.

Edited by immortalfrieza
Jun 1st 2012 at 2:19:53 AM •••

It is all well and good putting out that only acts of stupidity that put oneself in harm's way belong to this trope... but apparently even that is too ambiguous for some people.

To clarify what is NOT this trope:

  1. Characters putting their own in harm's way due to apathy (whether it is a good idea or not, they just don't care).
  2. Characters putting their own in harm's way due to ignorance (not having all the facts is very different to an inability to comprehend the situation).
  3. Characters putting their own in harm's way due to compulsion, habit, reflex or muscle memory misfire (sometimes, no matter how smart you are, your subconscious just misreads the context and acts accordingly).
  4. Characters putting their own in harm's way due to depression (shouldn't need to explain this one).
  5. Characters putting their own in harm's way because it is the only thing they can do.

If we filter for all of the above, I expect well over half the examples on the page would vanish into the aether.

I suppose all you'd have to ask yourself is this: Firstly, is the character aware of the danger of their action? Secondly, is there enough evidence that they SHOULD be aware of the danger of their action? If the answer to the first is No, and the answer to the second is Yes... then it is this trope (probably).

(Fell afoul of wikicode, I did.)

Edited by SotiCoto Hide/Show Replies
Feb 25th 2013 at 8:44:50 AM •••

Let me add another:

6. Characters putting themselves in harm's way due to harboring intense romantic feelings for someone. This is psychologically similar to number 4 on the list, and the tropes Love Makes You Dumb and Love Makes You Crazy exist to cover this scenario.

Jan 23rd 2012 at 9:35:53 PM •••

How about we just change the name of this trope to 'The Kel'? Rewatching Kenan and Kel shows that it'd fit.

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Dec 13th 2011 at 10:14:02 AM •••

Hmm. Another page with a useful and informative Real-Life section pruned.

Falling all over ourselves not to offend anyone WILL eventually sap everything worthwhile out of TV Tropes if we let it.

Oct 20th 2011 at 4:22:08 PM •••

Has anyone anyone seen Doctor Who Colony in Space, I'm surprized no one ever mentions Jo Grant's blunder "Jo you're standing in the Beam!"

Apr 3rd 2011 at 7:26:00 PM •••

Removed the Gurren Lagann example:

  • Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. Almost every Named Character suffers from this, though mostly Kamina and Viral. Hell, Kamina goes against a giant Mecha while he's only armed with a katana. In the next episode, he and Simon hijack an enemy Gunmen, by getting two other enemies to knock it over, so Kamina can climb inside its cockpit. And next episode Kamina suggests that they combine the Gurren and Lagann by slamming the Lagann down on top of the Gurren, despite Lagann having created a giant drill instead of its legs. One of the Omake in the manga even makes fun of this, and has the drill crack open Kamina's skull, killing him 10 chapters too early.
  • Later on, Kittan takes the crown when he goes out to destroy the Death Spiral Machine. He knows that the chance it will work is 0%, and yet he goes on a suicide mission. And succeeds in destroying the Death Spiral Machine.
  • Lordgenome in the final battle. He walks out on top of a galaxy and stops a Big Bang. Anyone who would even consider that must be either stupid, suicidal or members of the Dai-Gurren-Dan.

Nothing about it these situations are about the characters being stupid. They fully recognize the dangers and risks they take, but have so much hot blood running through their veins that they honestly don't care.

Edited by spoonofevil Hide/Show Replies
Dec 14th 2014 at 6:56:04 AM •••

Never seen that series, but someone being hot blooded doesn't mean they're immune to being too dumb to live... actually one tends to cause the second very often. For what it's worth I think at least the examples in the first bullet do qualify for this trope.

Dec 14th 2014 at 9:52:01 AM •••

Well, the first doesn't apply since, well, it works. They not only don't die, but everything goes swimmingly.

The second two result in death, but they're both examples of Heroic Sacrifice. they knew they were gonna die. and in doing so, saved everyone else.

Mar 5th 2011 at 10:05:53 PM •••

Removed this one.

  • The Guardians of the Universe, as of Green Lantern #27. Seeing as how what they're doing here is essentially recreating even more dangerous versions of the original Manhunters — which crazy obsessed justice machines once overthrew, and almost massacred, the Guardians.

Given that the entire operation had been overthrown twice by dangerous rogue lanterns, creating an internal affairs unit with the power to check Lanterns and linking their minds to the Book of Oa is actually a lot more sensible than what they were doing before. And the process didn't given them the robotic mentality of the Manhunters, just repurposed passions. Also, the big mistake with the Manhunters was in using them to enforce justice throughout the universe, not in merely having them. Having something like them to govern their own body makes more sense. In any event, controversial or not, creating the Alpha Lanterns was not a "Too Dumb To Live" moment for the Guardians.

What's stupid is the idea that Hank Henshaw is somehow able to hack into and subvert technology billions of years advanced of his own.

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Apr 18th 2011 at 10:18:53 AM •••

Also removed this one.

  • Made worse by the fact that if they'd shown an ounce of compassion instead of insisting on being The Spock and reprimanding Jordan for trying to salve his grief with the power ring, the whole thing could have been avoided. This is a recurring trend; nearly all of the war of light seems to be directly traceable to the Guardians being jackasses.

First, the new canonical explanation is that Hal Jordan was possessed by Parallax. Pretty sure Jordan would have still snapped under those circumstances even if the Guardians had broken the news gently. Second, even if you want to argue this from a pre-retcon perspective ignoring the Parallax parasite, and even if you want to argue that the Guardians were actually jerks and not simply hyper intelligent immortals billions of years old who can't quite connect with the grief of a mortal; slaughtering thousands of comrades in a bid to claim cosmic power for one's own selfish motives does not become your fault just because you were rude to the guy who did it.

Thats like saying that the true blame for the holocaust lies with the art college that rejected Hitler.

Edited by gibberingtroper
Jan 20th 2011 at 2:18:10 PM •••

From the article: "Compare Artificial Stupidity, the videogame equivalent of this which is a result of AI rather than the script being against them." The thing is, I doubt that any game currently out has the self-mutating code required to be AI, and is usually a set program, also known as a script, so I think the word choice could be better, but I don't feel comfortable editing this.

Jan 15th 2011 at 5:21:10 AM •••

I cut a rather large part from the Western Animation section, because none of them really suited the trope description. See also my edit reason and the thread in TRS. However, because the examples still showed dumb behavior by the characters and are probably placed better on different trope pages, I repost them here.

While a lot of the Mayor actions fall under the trope, what has this to do with it?
  • Jimmy Neutron may be a genius, but it never seems to occur to him that inventing is a poor match for him, considering that many episodes consist of Jimmy making an invention that nearly kills everybody and makes a new one to fix it, which sometimes has problems of its own. And then acting like he's a big hero for fixing the problem, even though it's his fault for causing it.
Jimmy might be a Jerkass, but the trope in qustion here is Insufferable Genius
  • Sentinel Prime of Transformers Animated. Constantly badmouthing his sort of kinda friend Optimus, even though he's much more competent and has saved his life several times in the past? Check. Hiring an Axe-Crazy Decepticon bounty hunter to capture fellow Decepticons so Sentinel can take take credit for them? Paying him with parts of his own ship (which he would need intact if he wanted to get back to Cybertron to get his rewards)? Interrogating Decepticons (who are much stronger than him) and not even bothering to put them back in their cells afterwards? The only reason Sentinel's gotten to his position (let alone survived) is because his only friend Optimus is too nice to make him pay for his mistakes. Or at least, not leave Sentinel's less dickish coworkers in the lurch.
Admittedly, this is a gray one, but I'd say he is more The Neidermeyer.
  • How about Blackarachnia? She's so caught up in her hatred and the "betrayal" of the Autobots that if she thought RATIONALLY (like what her Beast Wars counterpart did) she'd play the Autobots for all they're worth. Say if she had GONE with Optimus at his first offer, he'd likely have taken her to the original Allspark to see if it could be used on her. Not to mentions her further attempts to rid herself of her organic-half keep leading to near-death. As the Trans Wiki puts it "... Kind of looking like a damsel in distress there, Blackarachnia."
This behavior is not the result of her low intelligence, but well explained due to her hatred of the autobots and her organic parts
  • Gargoyles: Elisa in "Deadly Force" may qualify as Too Dumb to Live, given her negligence with her gun. Of course, she nearly died in that episode as a direct result of said negligence. She herself lampshaded how irresponsible that was and didn't do it again.
This is Idiot Ball
  • Pretty much anyone who wasn't a hero or the doctor in Street Sharks. Despite the fact that the sharks repeatedly save everyone, people keep believing the creepy dude with the menacing accent. One of the worst moments is when one of the sharks' allies calls a reporter and outright tells him that Paradigm is responsible for everything. The reporter's response? He asks the doctor on the spot if this is true. And then totally and without question believes it when the doctor says he is not responsible and is wearing a huge mecha-battle suit for protection after an attack.
This is Dying Like Animals
  • Ed from Ed Edd N Eddy. He is incapable of correctly perceiving reality and constantly merges it with the fiction of his alien monster comics. It takes him an uncomprehensible amount of time and effort to understand the simplest facts (remember the episode with the two-pack of free jawbreakers?). He's the child of The Ditz and the most extreme case of a Cloud Cuckoolander you can think of.
Without an actual example, this is just Cloud Cuckoolander.
  • In the DCAU episode Double Date a crime boss being hunted by Huntress is kept at a federal safehouse with Black Canary and Green Arrow protecting him. So how does he spend his time with the people standing between him and death? He practically propositions Black Canary and questions Green Arrow's manhood. Of course he was planning to run off and shows he's pretty good at fighting but you would think that a crime boss would have better self preservation instincts.
The example even mentions that this is part of a plan

Edited by eX
Sep 6th 2010 at 1:57:34 AM •••

Could this Trope be entirely the result of viewers misinterpretation of a character's personality, a case of the fundamental attribution error at work in the audience ? It seems to me that most of the examples are really examples of characters displaying character flaws other than simple stupidity. Why would a character decide to do something he is told exactly not to do ? Not necessarily because he/she is stupid, but they could simply be arrogant and disbelieving or defiant, which a very common villain trope. They could be otherwise smart, but a high-anxiety situation brings on a flight-or-flight response and causes the character to carry the idiot ball for a moment as their panic overrides their logic and reason. The characters may be undergoing some other extreme emotion that overrides their logic and/or reason, which just makes them a bit more human, as (almost) everyone does this at some point in their lives.

The examples on this page seem to be full of these kind of moments where realistically flawed characters seem to do dumb things for emotional reasons, though they may not actually be stupid characters. In this tropers opinion, it saddens me that these tropers seem to not understand this very fundamental fact of human psychology.

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Mar 12th 2011 at 11:10:08 AM •••

This is not about stupid characters, we have many tropes for that: see The Ditz, What an Idiot!, Idiot Plot, The Ditz, The Fool, Cloud Cuckoo Lander, etc. This is about characters who do stupid things that put them in clear danger of harm.

EDIT: Can we just pretend I never said that?

Edited by ading
Jul 1st 2010 at 4:44:00 AM •••

I think the Red Shirt that tried to murder the Medusan ambassador was simply a spectacular holder of the idiot ball. IIRC, he didn't open the box, the Medusan ambassador opened the box and fried his would-be attacker's brain.

May 3rd 2010 at 9:51:39 AM •••

This article has gone way too far in the Complaining About Shows You Dont Like territory. I suggest that it should be pruned to only include examples where the character was Too Dumb to Live in-story, not those where you just believe that the character's choice of action was stupid and had spelled his doom.

Edited by MikeRosoft
Mar 7th 2010 at 7:25:52 AM •••

Took this out from Dantes Peak:

  • Wouldn't the protagonist's boss count? He sends said protagonist to Dante's Peak to investigate seismic activity and then proceeds to ignore evidence that there's a good chance that the volcano will erupt.

No, there was possible evidence that it might erupt, and he didn't want to repeat the mistake of ruining a town on a 'maybe'. He still prudently keeps studying the volcano anyway and takes action the second they have hard evidence. That's being smart and practical.

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