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Wanna find a quick way to turn a page-turner into a Wall Banger? Check out these shining moments of bad decision-making.

Harry Potter

"A lot of the greatest wizards haven't got an ounce of logic,--"

  • The Polyjuice Potion can give you the appearance of anyone you can get a sample of hair from. Thus anyone important can be replaced.
    You'd Expect: The potion to be illegal for use by anyone but Aurors and high-ranking Ministry officials.
    Instead: Although the Polyjuice Potion is considered very advanced magic, it is not only legal, it is taught at Hogwarts, which is responsible for some success for bad guys and some success for good guys.
    • It's not taught, actually, just in a book in a part of the library it's very hard to access. Lockheart is the idiot for giving them access to the book.
  • Another Voldemort example from Deathly Hallows. By the 400-page mark of the book, Voldemort has already checked the cave, shack and vault, realizing that Harry has gone Horcrux hunting. Voldemort has every reason to believe that Harry may try to go to Hogwarts next, which is confirmed by the Caterwauling Charm and a call from his Death Eaters.
    You'd expect: Voldemort would station his most competent and trustworthy lieutenants (yes, I'm getting at Bellatrix) in the Room of Requirement, keep his snake Nagini by his side at all times, and use his current Death Eater faculty stationed at Hogwarts to silence the school while Voldemort goes after Harry.
    Instead: He launches a full-scale six or seven-hour assault on Hogwarts with unnecessary reinforcements; stations three barely of-age proteges in the Room of Requirement, all of whom are sons of treacherous Death Eaters and one of whom has a record of casting Fiendfyre but is unable to control it, putting his diadem Horcrux at unnecessary risk; and, while he keeps Nagini with him at all times, puts her in danger by using her to murder Snape, later trying the same thing on Neville which gets the snake killed.
  • Then there's Voldemort's set of six magical MacGuffins keeping him immortal.
    You'd Think: He'd make them impossible to discover either by using nondescript objects that wouldn't stand out to someone or by hiding them in places only he knows about, that are unconnected to him in his history.
    Instead: He uses rare and impressive artifacts and hides them in places connected personally to him, most notably, at Hogwarts, where most of his enemies have been for the past 6 books.
  • In Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort lures Harry to the Ministry of Magic and sends his goons there to retrieve the important Prophecy that only Harry can touch.
    You'd expect: Lucius Malfoy, who's in charge of the operation, would only take those Death Eaters who, like him, had weaseled their way out of Azkaban and into the Ministry ranks, and thus would have a legitimate excuse to be there. When the kids arrive, ambush them in the atrium, disarm and take them hostage therefore ensuring Harry's cooperation. Walk him to the storage room and make him take the Prophecy.
    Instead: He a) takes the recent escapees from Azkaban with him, so when the Cavalry arrives, his true allegiances are exposed, and b) has them wait for the kids inside the storage room, thus wasting time, and only reveal themselves after Harry takes the Prophecy ball, and they can no longer shoot him with spells for the fear of breaking the ball.
  • From the second book onwards the same situation repeats itself: some crucial events take place with either no witnesses or kids (usually Harry) as witnesses, and afterwards nobody believes them.
    You'd expect: They would use the Time Turners to send back an invisible observer and oversee the events in question.
    Instead: They never do, and it constantly gets worse.
  • In Deathly Hallows the bad guys at one point capture the heroes.

You'd expect: Knowing full well that in the wizard world even the most innocuous tackle can be a magical artifact of unknown power, they would strip their prisoners of all possessions, down to the clothes. Instead: They content themselves with taking away heroes' wands. Naturally heroes have some spare artifacts that help them escape.


  • In City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, 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, the 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.
  • 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; Hexam 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 Hexam to let him take a train to Denver, by which point, his wife is remarried and pregnant. When Hexam meets him again, he continues to treat Jens like shit. Unsurprisingly, Jens turns on Hexam, and kills him, a guard, and three members of an army group sent after him, AND tells The Race where the Nuclear Program is. Thus, Hexam's paranoia nearly results in The Race almost nuking Denver. Nice going, moron!
  • In Karen Traviss's Order 66, Order 66 is sent out, giving clones orders to kill all Jedi. A fleeing Jedi is almost in safety when she sees several Padawans drop their lightsabers, exposing themselves to a large number of clones. The Padawans retrieve their lightsabers, getting ready to hopelessly defend themselves.
    You'd expect - the fleeing Jedi to grit her teeth and let the Padawans die, or use the Force to create a distraction, or do something to not get herself involved.
    Instead - she has had a clone husband for the past few books, causing her to view clones as people to, so she activates her lightsaber to defend the people with orders to kill her on sight. Predictably, she dies.
  • 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 Genre Savvy Van Helsing as their Obi Wan, 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. Several times they see a big black bat flapping about and don't realize who it is. Dumbasses.
    • 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. He'd have the common sense 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.
  • Frankenstein, Older Than Radio. 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.
    • Given that Science Marches On we can now confidently state that any progeny would have been wholly human anyway (the biological children of the original owners of the testes and ovaries Victor used). If Victor is so smart and so far ahead of his time, you'd think he might have guessed that, too.
  • 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.
  • 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 BigBad, 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.
  • 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 the back story of The Inheritance Cycle, 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 uses 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.
    • 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 and depraved 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.
  • 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.)
  • Shakespeare is not immune to this. At the end of Act 3, Scene 3, Hamlet has just received confirmation that his uncle Claudius did, in fact, kill Hamlet's father. Claudius is in a confessional, alone, praying desperately to God for repentance and mercy. He does not see Hamlet enter, dagger unsheathed, seeing the time ripe to avenge his father's death. Minor hindrance: as a man in prayer, if killed at that instance, Claudius would go to heaven. However, Claudius' prayer is insincere; he cannot feel remorse for his brother's murder.
    You'd expect: Hamlet, like the son of a king, would alert Claudius out of his prayer and provoke him to a fight. When Claudius is enraged, swearing, and other damnable things, Hamlet skewers him. Since Hamlet would be King himself if he killed Claudius, it doesn't matter in the least what anyone else thinks, so why doesn't he do it?
    Instead: Hamlet reasons that killing Claudius and sending him to heaven is not fair for Claudius killing King Hamlet and sending him to hell. He sits there for a while explaining this out to himself, and then, a Momma's Boy to the very end, he decides he shouldn't keep Queen Gertrude waiting and goes out to meet her. This results directly in Polonius' death, Ophelia's suicide, and, well, you know the rest.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 come that lasted for six monts). 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 with his gun.
  • In HP Lovecraft's novella The Whisperer in Darkness, the main character has been communicating with a scientist living in remote Vermont who has found significant evidence of an invading, hostile alien species. 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. Then, our hero ignores every bit of common sense he has, and the predictable occurs.
  • 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 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!"
  • 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.
  • From Discworld: Though her Crowning Moment of Awesome comes later in the book, Magrat has such a moment in Lords and Ladies. One of the young wannabe witches 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.
  • 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 "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.
  • In Angels and 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.
  • In Book Five of Percy Jackson and The Olympians Kronos is going to invade Manhattan to get at Mount Olympus. Percy has made a deal with the East and Hudson river gods, so Kronos ain't ever gonna be getting to Manhattan by boat.
    You'd Expect: The forces defending Olympus would destroy the bridges and tunnels so that Kronos' forces can't get in.
    Instead: They twiddle their thumbs and let Kronos attack.
  • 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 tehir own despite knowing that is impossible.
  • "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot": "Hey Watson, look, a hallucinogenic drug that drives people insane and then kills them! ...LET'S TEST IT ON OURSELVES."
  • 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.
  • 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 crush 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 crushes in and messes with the operation.
  • 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 not do anything to stop Laurana, but they 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.
  • In The War of the Worlds, Ogilvy the astronomer and others witness the arrival of hideous Martians.
    You'd Think: They would take the hint and get out of there.
    Instead: Ogilvy rallies a group of people to approach the aliens with a white flag and they predictably get vaporized.
  • In The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner, the titular character is able to recall her memories of being turned into a vampire. This involves being violently kidnapped and hearing specifically that she will be used as a "distraction" for something. She and her friend/love interest have at least two discussions about how they suspect something weird is going on and that they're being used as pawns. They find out that they were lied to about what rules vampires follow to survive. They know that their leader, Riley, can't be bothered to keep them safe from one another and actively goes out and kidnaps other teenagers.
    You'd Think: They'd run the hell away as soon as they figured out that sunlight doesn't kill them.
    Instead: They spend most of the story pondering what's going on. When they finally decide on a course of action, the love interest decides to confront Riley. Alone, at dawn, in an unknown location. Bree spends most of the rest of the book wondering where he could possibly be and what's going on, instead of running away or at least sneaking off to look for him.
    • In Twilight; the vampires have tried attacking Bella and Edward wants to get her out of Forks for her own safety. The evil vampires call Bella and tell her they have her mother hostage.
      You'd Think: Bella tells the vampires about this; Edward and his family are neigh indestructible and can handle it much better than she can. \\

Instead: Bella goes off on her own and is nearly killed.

    • In Breaking Dawn, Edward leaves Bella for her own safety. After some months, he hears a rumour Bella died.
      You'd Think: In an age where every teenager on the planet has Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or a cell phone, or at least know what a payphone is, that he could check to see if this was true.
      Instead: He decides to commit suicide.
  • 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.
  • Robert Jordan's 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.
  • In Kevin J. Anderson's Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Darksaber, galactic crime boss Durga the Hutt, leader of the largest and most powerful of the famously ruthless Hutt crime syndicates, decides to construct the Darksaber, a scaled-down version of the Death Star, which he will use to hold the galaxy to ransom.
    You'd Think: A being as wealthy, powerful, and devious as Durga would spare no expense to hire the very best to undertake such a monumentally important project.
    Instead: Durga's pick to run the project is General Sulamar, a rogue Imperial hired for his connections in the Imperial military, which he will use to supply the project with top-of-the-line materiel. Sulamar turns out to actually be a former technician with no command experience, and his much-vaunted connections turn up only a handful of computer cores so antiquated they are barely functional.
    Furthermore: Durga gives the job of constructing the Darksaber to the Taurill, a Hive Mind with the attention span of a kindergarten on crack. They do such a shoddy job of it that the whole thing needs to be disassembled and rebuilt twice before it is completed.
    Also: To save money, Durga had his engineer remove all weaponry from the Darksaber save the superlaser itself, ensuring that it will have no means to defend itself against multiple enemy ships.
    Resulting In: When the New Republic's fleet shows up to attack, Durga orders the Darksaber to retreat into the Hoth Asteroid Belt. When a pair of large asteroids block their way, Durga orders them disintegrated with the superlaser. The superlaser fails to fire, and the ship is crushed between the two asteroids, killing all aboard. The New Republic doesn't even really have to do anything.
  • Some might consider it blasphemy to put something that Grand Admiral Thrawn did on this page. While he is pretty brilliant, one of his decisions is pretty inexplicable. In The Last Command, Pellaeon asks Thrawn why he isn't sending a team of Noghri on an important mission as he has done in the past. Thrawn responds by saying ""There's something wrong with the Noghri, Captain. I don't yet know what it is, but I know it's there." Thrawn goes on to say that until he figures out what it is, the Noghri will remain under suspicion. And as the readers know, Thrawn is right; the Noghri are no longer loyal to him, and while they can't openly oppose him they would like to see him taken down.
    You'd Think: That Thrawn would also wonder if his Noghri bodyguard, Rukh, could be trusted, and would send Rukh back to his homeworld.
    Instead: He decides that even though he can't trust any other Noghri, he can still trust Rukh. So he keeps Rukh at his side constantly. This turns out to be a bad idea.
  • Reflections of Eterna, 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.
  • 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 rebelous 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-disciplived 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 more: 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.
    Result: Scarlet 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 adulters 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.
    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!
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • "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 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 compelled to leave with Arnold, her fate left unknown.
  • 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. To be fair, Dion was never very bright.