Shonen Protagonists, Ranked by Pure Stupidity

Shonen anime protagonists come in many varieties, but dumb shonen heroes seem to emerge with surprising regularity. Perhaps it is due to the fact that many of them are based on Dragon Ball's Son Goku, a man who didn't understand that marriage was a life contract and not an exotic meal.

Maybe it's the comedic potential of characters who integrate incredible fighting skills with limited practical knowledge. Or it could be a way of indicating that even if one isn't the smartest, he or she can accomplish great things. Looking down the vast history of shonen heroes, a few stand out as particularly dense and lovable. Here are the greatest dummies of them all.

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9. Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto)


Naruto Uzumaki is not the dumbest character in the world. After all, he proves his skills and grows into a capable leader by the time we see him in Boruto. Early on however, Naruto was a poor student who often pushed forward due to his incredible tenacity and the wells of power offered to him by Kurama, who was sealed within his heart. Especially in the original series, Naruto struggles to process information around him, both in terms of the basics of ninjitsu and social norms.

8. Yusuke Urameshi (Yu Yu Hakusho)

This might be controversial, but Yusuke Urameshi from Yu Yu Hakusho is not intelligent. Or at least, he isn't book smart. Yusuke brags about earning a score of 12 on his tests. He skips school all the time. However, he's incredibly street smart. His survival skills living as a punk aid him as a Spirit Detective. Even his clever moments are partially a product of stupidity. When he uses a reflected Spirit Gun to beat Hiei early on, he only thought of his plan because he half-remembered how light bounces off mirrors. Yusuke, despite the clever ways he has defeated opponents, wins most of his early battles due to luck and determination rather than intelligence.

7. Mash Burnedead (Mashle: Magic and Muscles)

Mash Mashle

In a world where everyone knows how to do magic, Mash Burnedead from Mashle: Magic and Muscles has a unique set of skills -- both his biceps and skull are as dense as bricks. Every problem that arises for Mash is solved by just punching it incredibly hard in the face. He doesn't know any magic -- nor is he capable of it -- but instead uses his absurd physical fitness to convince everyone he's magical. Living in the woods, he has few life skills. It's only due to his blatant refusal to conform that Mash has managed to survive so long in a world where those without magic are persecuted.

6. Gon (Hunter x Hunter)

Gon Freecss of Hunter x Hunter is a young boy who has dreamed about being a Hunter all his life. He has incredible skills, starting his journey as a naive kid who has a lot to learn about the world around him. Gon's issue is that, as a young kid in a very dark and complex world, he's often out of his element when pressed into dangerous situations. Therefore, it is unfair to call Gon "stupid." However, he has a lot of gaps in his knowledge of the world that get him into trouble, especially early on.

5. Asta (Black Clover)

Black Clover_ Asta

Black Clover's Asta is a fairly loud and vocal character who struggles to realize that subtlety, strategy and thought are key instruments to developing as a human being. Granted, Asta developed his boisterous attitude to counter all the cruel jeers he received growing up, but he also lived most of his life in a remote orphanage. He has little life experience, and never learned the matters people in his world learn in childhood. This means he has a tendency to loudly say things that are incorrect or wrong, only to look exceptionally ignorant. It effectively makes Asta look far dumber than he truly is.

4. Ash Ketchum (Pokémon)

Ash and Pikachu smile at each other

Pokémon protagonist Ash Ketchum is a trainer who needs to pull out his Pokédex when encountering new Pokémon  -- often ones he's seen before or even captured previously. Ash starts his journey unaware of the basics of being a proper trainer. He doesn't know how electricity behaves and how it affects certain substances -- especially rock -- until things blow up in his face. To Ash's credit, he learns as the series goes on. However, upon traveling to new regions, he almost seems to forget all the vital lessons he learned, bringing him back to square one.

3. Mantaro Kinniku (Ultimate Muscle)

Mantaro Kinniku -- also known as Kid Muscle -- is the main character of Ultimate Muscle. Calling him a hero might be a bit of a stretch -- he's a complete pervert and quite cowardly. However, when push comes to shove or his friends are put in danger, Mantaro does the right thing. Unforunately he's also very dumb, especially in the English dub. He celebrates scoring a 20 on a basic test, due to it being an improvement. In the dub, he lists words that consist of three syllables or more as among his deepest fears. He's arguably one of the dumbest shonen heroes ever.

2. Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)


Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece is the leader of the Straw Hat Pirates and feared throughout the Grand Line as one of the most dangerous pirates ever born. He is also not particularly bright. Luffy's simple-minded outlook on life is aided by his outright disinterest in figuring out why and how certain things around him function. He is foolish, but not necessarily because he's incapable of learning -- he just doesn't have much interest in learning about things outside his world of piracy and adventure. However, Luffy's ignorance is actually an asset, as many enemies get so frustrated trying to explain matters to him that they charge him out of blind, stupid rage.

1. Son Goku (Dragon Ball)

chi chi kissing goku on the cheek

Son Goku from Dragon Ball is the king of stupid shonen protagonists. This is partially due to him growing up alone in the woods with an old man after hitting his head as a child. However, Goku's ignorance is still profound. He doesn't know what marriage is. He doesn't know how a cis woman is anatomically different from a cis man. Goku is particularly slow to learn anything -- though, to his credit, he does learn as he grows older. However, his own son Gohan was smarter than his dad by the age of four. Goku's lack of intelligence is legendary, ultimately proving to be the foundation for tons of foolish, himbo shonen protagonists for many years to come.

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