Movie protagonists who act like idiots to advance the plot


Sometimes a film’s lead role is presented as an intelligent character who makes informed decisions, leading them on great adventures or to great glories. At other times, they act like complete jerks for comedic reasons or even to further the plot of the film.

Writers forcing a character to do something stupid, so they can advance the plot, are common. Just watch horror movies where a character wanders off on their own for no reason other than to let the killer catch them. It’s common, but to see it happen to the main protagonist is rarer.


7/7 Ron Burgundy (presenter)

Ron Burgundy usually isn’t the smartest character in movies. There are a number of decisions he makes and things he says that are of dubious intelligence. Whether it’s announcing his relationship with Veronica on air right after she asks him not to, or his reading absolutely anything on the teleprompter, there’s at several times in Presenter where Ron is just too dumb to believe, all for the plot to continue.

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The film is outrageous and completely satirical, and so the silliness of Burgundy’s character stems from the fact that the writers made fun of the blatant idiot they made of him to advance the plot. Still, it’s ridiculous to see the levels he reached while (mostly) functioning as a human.

6/7 Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity)

The whole premise of Jason Bourne films is that the character of Matt Damon is one of the most intelligent, resourceful and talented agents that has ever existed, if not the greatest of them all. However, he is shot twice in the back in a failed assassination attempt before the events of the first film.

The reason for the failed assassination is that the intended victim’s child was in the room with the target when he was about to kill him, and this made him hesitate. There’s no way Bourne wouldn’t know and care that this man had a child before. A man with so many victims would not have behaved this way unless it was necessary for the plot.

5/7 James Bond (Skyfall)

In falling from the sky, James Bond takes M to a completely undefended area where he is unlikely to be able to protect her. He does this because he’s off the grid, but the enemy they faced had already demonstrated knowledge of Bond’s past. Why did Bond take M to his ancestral home, which celestial fall should the villainous Raoul Silva know?

All of this wouldn’t be such a blatant fault in Bond’s logic if he didn’t fail to protect M, but Silva gets what he wants and kills her, achieving his goals. What does Bond do other than act like a jerk and get the person he wanted to protect killed?

4/7 Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)

Did Aragorn intend to sacrifice himself and all the others he brought to the gates of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings? Because unless he was incredibly lucky and Frodo climbed up the side of Mount Doom as they advanced to confront and distract Sauron, it would have been a completely pointless waste of their entire lives.

This time everything worked. In a blatant case of plot armor, the land collapsed around the armies of Mordor as Frodo and Sam destroyed the ring, leaving the armies of Gondor and Rohan completely intact. But it should never have worked. Aragorn and company didn’t even know that Frodo and Sam were near Mount Doom, or alive, at this point. The Lord of the Rings ends on a huge stroke of luck.

3/7 Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Indiana Jones is one of the most famous adventurers in the world, although he is completely fictional. However, no one ever claimed he was an amazing detective, he usually doesn’t solve complex puzzles, and he usually manages to entertain himself more on his adventures with the help of clever sidekicks.

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However, in The Raiders of the Lost Ark, he knows the Nazis are digging for the Ark of the Covenant in the wrong place. Still, he decides to dig it up from the actual place where it is right in front of them. It was a baffling decision as it seemed unlikely they would find her before giving up. He could have waited for them to leave and dug it up.

2/7 Edward Cullen (Twilight)

Edward Cullen has never been accused of being the smartest character in the movie world. However, he immediately jumps to the conclusion in New Moon that Bella died, solely based on an inaccurate vision of her sister.

Jumping to that conclusion without even checking, and then immediately deciding to go to Italy and kill himself over her death, is simply the most dramatic thing he could do in that moment. He has lived for hundreds of years. Hee wouldn’t make such a rash and dramatic decision unless the story moved forward.

1/7 Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)

Obi-Wan Kenobi makes many interesting, sometimes questionable, decisions throughout the star wars saga. But the entire original trilogy of movies wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been stupid enough to leave Anakin writhing in pain, but still alive.

The assumption that Anakin wouldn’t make it out of Mustafar was one that cost Obi-Wan and the entire galaxy on a supreme level. A quick hit with his lightsaber on the defenseless Anakin would have ended things on the spot. You could say he just didn’t have the stomach to finish the job, but that’s silly instead of the pain and punishment he’d know came from Anakin’s survival.

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