Characters who've been inoculated against stupidity (spoilers likely)

Most characters in any of the varieties of the action-adventure genre suffer from PBSPlot Based Stupidity. You know what I mean: the failure to do the obviously-intelligent thing in a given situation because the plot demands it; and as a result the viewer or reader finds himself screaming “Don’t split up when you’re investigating the noise in the haunted house! Don’t go upstairs when running from the serial killer! Check for a lead-lined box that could be hiding kryptonite before confront Lex face to face!”

It’s always notable, therefore, when characters get a PBS vaccination before the story starts and do the intelligent thing.

Here’s an example to start things off. In from the late 80s private detective show Spenser: For Hire, the titular gumshow and his redoubtable non-sidekick, Hawk, would from time to time find themselves confronting a villain who was holding an innocent hostage by pressing a handgun to his or her head. As always in such situations, the villain would demand that Spenser and/or Hawk drop their guns. However, in a shocking display of common sense, they always refused. “If we drop our guns,” one of the heroes would point out, “first you’ll kill us, then kill your hostage, so we don’t get anything by doing that. On the other hand, if we keep our guns trained on you we have at least the chance of shooting you first or of persuading you to drop YOUR gun. Since we don’t have to kill you, we’ll try that.”

It was always beautiful to see them not be stupid (and to frustrate the cop show cliché) that way.

Anybody else have an example to share?

Indiana Jones. Gun beats sword.

Pretty much the entire cast of Firefly.

Belisarius, from the series by Eric Flint and David Drake. He’s nearly always twelve steps ahead of his enemies. Even if he fails, either he’ll have a contingency plan all worked out, make one up on the spot, or it will turn out his “failure” was the plan, and his enemies have been following his plan for the last six months without realizing it.

Ozymandias, Watchmen - he’s not some Republic serial villain, no sirree.

Dawson’s Creek takes place in Massachusetts (filmed in North Carolina)

Where’s 7th Heaven set?

I refuse to believe that those characters are master mentalists. The universe is not so poorly designed!


specifically in the train robbery episode.
When they have the guy tied up at the end and they are explainging the message to his boss, I was thinking, here we go, the rest of teh series is gonna be this guy hunting them down. So I was quite surprised at the next course of action Mal took.

I think you want a different thread. Unless being set in Massachusets strikes ou as unusually intelligent.

You fool! That’s just what he WANTS you to think!

Huh, I thought for sure that this was inspired by the currently-running thread on “I say we take off and nuke the place from orbit”, from Aliens.

Of course Austin Powers makes fun of this stupidity in many ways. Such as when Seth Green tells his dad Dr. Evil to just shoot Powers. Or to go back and time and shoot him when he is on the crapper.

I wasn’t consciously thinking of it, but I’ve read that thread and might easily have had it in mind. One of these days I’m gonna have to go ahead & watching Aliens.

Gangster Octopus

Of course Austin Powers makes fun of this stupidity in many ways. Such as when Seth Green tells his dad Dr. Evil to just shoot Powers. Or to go back and time and shoot him when he is on the crapper.

Not to mention The Incredibles. There’s Syndrome’s reminder to himself not to monologue, and Elasti-Girl’s warning her children that the henchmen will simply kill them if they can, and of course Edna Mode’s diatribe on capes (which are only practical if you’re Superman, as far as I’m concerned. Well, Superman or Captain Marvel. Or Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., or Mon-El. Or Thor.

I think that’s the most succint example. On the downside, I had a philosophy professor who argued that Indy would go to hell for his handling of that situation. (Something about him not matching the guy evely; I dunno – didn’t really pay attention in that class!)

This is maybe a weak example, but I loved how realistic it was that Mookie picked up the money on the ground at the end of “Do the Right Thing.” In 99% of movies they would have just left it lying there, some big symbol of the gulf between them. Not in this movie – as Spike Lee said in an interview (IIRC), no inner city poor black kid would leave a couple hundred bucks sitting in the rubble.

Jack Bauer in 24. Unlike everyone else in 24.

Well, assuming your memory’s at all accurate, your professor was an idiot. “Ain’t no rules in a knife fight” and all that. It reminds me of something a geek friend of mine & I used to say in the early '90s about why Batman would win a fight with Captain America, because he’d cheat. “Why, yes, I could fight you hand to hand, Captain–but you’re bigger and stronger than I am, so that would be stupid.”

In the old TV movie, The Delphi Bureau. Laurence Luckinbill and a woman were in a field running away from a combine. The woman tripped.

Instead of helping her up – like all heroes are supposed to do – Luckinbill ran off in another direction. The combine turned to chase him.

Which would be another good example: Butch Cassidy vs Lurch. Advantage to the smaller but craftier adversary (and willing to cheat…“I don’t wanna be a sore loser, but if I’m dead when this is over: shoot him.”)

Well, I’m sure that there was a better way to handle the situation. Like maybe shoot the guy in the leg, and then just dodge around him. I agree, however, that trying to fight the guy on even terms would just be stupid.

In Enterprise, when one of the MACO’s (basically, security) was in a fight with somebody, and the opponent kicked the weapon out of the MACO’s hand… she… she… pulled out a second weapon!!!

I almost fainted.