This is another of my favorite tropes. What an Idiot refers to moments where a character does something so stupid, that it causes the viewer or reader to think in their mind or say out loud, “What an Idiot!”
Now, of course people don’t always use good judgement and common sense. However, people still would expect fictional characters to act a certain way in their given circumstances. It can sometimes be jarring to see a character make a stupid decision. Yet, that does not necessarily mean that the the given story is bad. It just means that, the character made a bad choice. Sometimes, stupidity helps to serve the plot.
The site has listed most of the examples in the following format. First, we are told the character’s situation. Then we are told what we probably would expect people to generally do in that situation. Then we are told what they actually. Sometimes, we might be told what then happens after. To show you what I mean, I will share examples from my show Luna. I created a TV Tropes What an Idiot page for that show to include moments where the characters used poor judgement.
Much of the humor in Luna comes from Luna being too self-absorbed and arrogant to make good decisions or her friends simply having “teenage judgement.”
In “Just Desserts” Luna wants to go to the International Dessert Fair, but gets stuck with babysitting Allie’s twins, Demian and Isabel, and has to take them with her. Allie tells Luna that the twins are banned from eating sugar. While at the fair, Luna becomes frustrated with their obnoxious and rambunctious behavior.
You’d expect: That Luna would discipline them in some way such as putting them in time out, calling Allie to ask for help, or something.
Instead: She allows them to have all the desserts they want in exchange for behaving properly. Later they both get sick and puke all over Luna, ruining her favorite outfit in the process.
In “The Funeral” Luna gets into an argument with the grandfather of her arch rival Alyssa. The stress from that argument causes him to drop dead of a heart attack. Luna feels bad about this and when she expressed her condolences to Alyssa, Alyssa snaps and blames Luna for her grandfather’s death and accuses her of being insincere.
You’d expect: That Luna would give Alyssa time to deal with her grief.
Instead: Luna continually harasses Alyssa and her family to prove that she is sorry for their loss and only shows that she is actually more concerned about proving that she is sorry then about offering her condolences.
Later: At the funeral Alyssa eulogizes her grandfather, while making not so veiled insults towards Luna.
You’d expect: That Luna would keep her cool while Alyssa is subtly attacking her, since she is at a funeral.
Instead: Luna snaps and starts a screaming match with Alyssa. Alyssa then starts a fight with Luna and in the ensuing struggle, pushes Luna into her grandfather’s casket which is then pushed into a collection of lit candles, causing a fire; the coffin and the church are damaged in the process..
In “Doing Too Much” Isaac gets a job at a Mexican restaurant that has the spiciest Mexican food ever, supposedly. One day he is running late to soccer practice at the end of his shift, and rushes to use the bathroom before leaving.
You’d expect: That since he handles spicy food, he would wash his hands before touching anything else on his body.
Instead: He does not wash his hands and the audience hears him screaming in extreme pain.
Also in the same episode: Luna appoints herself the “spokesmodel” of a restaurant that serves vegan and vegetarian Mexican food in an attempt to give them more business.
You’d expect: That she would not do this at all because she is not employed by them.
Instead: She does just that and winds up hurting the restaurant’s reputation
Also: Luna is searching for potential customers.
You’d expect: That she find people on the street or use social media if she really wants to help the restaurant.
Instead: She tries to steal customers from other Mexican restaurants including Isaac’s workplace, potentially putting him out of a job. This leads to her getting kicked out every restaurant she goes to.
In “Victory Dance” Luna is trying to breaking the world record for dancing non-stop for the longest time. But she is tired and dehydrated, and is offered coffee to help.
You’d expect: Luna to not drink too much because caffeine can make you pee.
Instead: Luna drinks several cups of coffee, and with only ten seconds left on the clock, she runs to the bathroom, missing the record.
A general example, several times, Luna’s friends have a problem, and she offers them her help.
You’d expect: That they would refuse her help, since several times, she has only made their problems worse due to her arrogant, self-absorbed nature.
Instead: They don’t and she winds up screwing up their situations even more than they already are.
Very often, Allie is forced to ask Luna to babysit her twins, which Luna often reluctantly does.
You’d expect: That Luna would do what Allie says and make sure the twins never do anything bad and have access to anything that Allie does not want them to have.
Instead: Luna defies Allie’s requests and something bad happens.
Also: Every time Luna babysits Demian and Isabel, something bad happens, as stated before.
You’d expect: That Allie would simply find someone else other than Luna to babysit them.
Instead: Allie gets Luna to do it and something bad happens.