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"While most agree that the financial theory behind the scheme is "crazy," others counter that the idea of flying a hot-air balloon filled with dry ice over Wall Street is so outside the realm of conventional thinking that, paradoxically, it just might work."

In real life, when someone is in serious trouble, they, even on the fly, have to think of a logical, sensible and reasonable strategy that can get them out of it with as little loss as possible, in the best conditions possible as well.

In movies, the characters can make the most irrational, nonsensical or plain dumb decisions, and it works!

Why?

Because it's Crazy Enough to Work, that's why. Sometimes characters will even credit it to it being crazy (enough to work). A possible example would be something along the lines of "What about patching up the nuclear reactor with a pack of gum and peeing on the fire from the top of the reactor? That's so crazy, it just might work!"

While heroes of every genre will come up with these, expect a lot of them from Badass Unintentionals, since they lack the knowledge, strength, and sometimes even the courage to come up with a better idea.

Lampshaded frequently enough that it's become a Stock Phrase of the Genre Savvy.

Routinely pulled off by Crazy Awesome characters. Compare Million-to-One Chance; the less probable a plan is to work, the more likely it will succeed in Hollywood conditions. See also It Runs on Nonsensoleum and Refuge in Audacity (which run on a similar premise) and It Will Never Catch On (which is a specific type of joke that invokes a similar reaction in the audience). See also Confusion Fu for people who weaponize this trope.

Examples of Crazy Enough to Work include:


Anime and Manga

  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: If smashing a small robot into a big robots head, almost impaling the pilot of the big robot (who, by the way, was the one who thought of this) in the process is not Crazy Enough to Work, then nothing is. Oh, and they also run a walking, nonflying battleship up a mountain and jump through the air for a good half a mile just to get a chance to kick an Airborne Aircraft Carrier. This universe runs on Rule of Cool, so it was destined to succeed.
    • And when the flying kick only scratches the side of the Airborne Aircraft Carrier? They at once make the captain fling the wheel over in the most exaggerated way possible, turning the flying kick into a flying roundhouse kick that of course succeeds.
    • Everything that happens in Gurren-Lagann is too crazy to work. And yet it does...
  • Bleach: In episode 135, we see Matsumoto, with Kon by her side, saving the life of a girl that was about to drown when falling in the water after her plushie. How? By removing Kon from his plushie body and tossing him in the mouth of her plushie, to get Kon--as the plushie--to go save the girl instead of, say, going in there herself. She offered a weak rationale ex post facto, and simply let the hilarity ensue.
  • In the early episodes of Black Lagoon when their torpedo ship is cornered by an attack chopper the 2 badasses and the tech nerd onboard were getting ready to kiss their asses goodbye when the timid loser businessman they had taken hostage comes up with a plan to charge the copter head-on and use a shipwreck as a ramp to launch them high enough that they can hit it with a torpedo. It works, of course.
  • In Eyeshield 21, sometimes when Sena or Monta comes up with an implausible or just plain ridiculous strategy, Hiruma will tell them something like "That plan's completely stupid! ...Let's do it!"
  • Isaac and Miria in Baccano usually get away with their crimes because they are so absurd that no-one can take them seriously, or believe that they could pull something like that off. For example, they robbed a Mafia money delivery dressed up as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, and knocked out the wise guys with baseball bats in the middle of the day on an open street only a few yards from their office.
  • Mazinger Z: Kouji's plans CAN be carefully and throughtfully planned strategies, but many times his plans are an Indy Ploy or... this. One example happened in episode 32: Mazinger Z got the crap beaten out of it by Gelbros J3, a flying, three-headed dragon-looking Mechanical Beast. Mazinger could not fly -yet-, so Kouji could not fight back. His plan was... equipping Aphrodite A with even bigger Torpedo Tits. During the battle Sayaka shot them, Mazinger latched on the giant missiles and was propelled it skywards, where he was capable to reach the Robeast and shooting it down.
  • Getter Robo: Practically the Getter team lives -and survives- on it! Ryoma usually comes up with some absolutely crazy maneouver and his teammates simply go along it. And it works! One example (from Getter Robo G) was when they trapped a flying Mecha Oni by allowing it impaling their Humongous Mecha.
  • Several of Misato's plans in Neon Genesis Evangelion, particularly her idea to deal with Sahaquiel, the butterfly-like Angel going for a suicide drop from orbit, by using Evas to catch it on its descent.
  • When the Epic Hail signaling the war's end fails to stop two armies from charging at each other and re-igniting the war, Kanata Sorami tries the Power of Rock. It works long enough for The Cavalry to show up.
  • If there's anybody who is able to get more powerful from perversity, it's Issei Hyodou. Seriously, almost every single power up he has involves Rias' breasts or the breasts of his harem. Some of these include: Clothing Damage to a female enemy and bombarding them with powerful attacks, hear breasts talk and it will only tell the truth, and use Rias' breasts as a battery source.


Comic Books

 Nat: We keep hittin' Louie's places 'til we got him so pissed his ass goes nuclear. Then, when the dudes got Sean call us an' arrange a meet, we lead Louie's boys onto 'em an' start the mutha of all firefights. In the confusion we get Sean out an' slip away while the S.A.S. an' the mob shoot the hell outta each other. We go home. That about it? [Well] You know how in movies when some dude says "in the confusion"-- Like, "In the confusion we gonna rescue the princess, pop a cap in lord Vader an' do a bunch of stuff to mess up his scary-ass death star"-- you know why it always works out just like the dude says? 'Cause it's a movie, Tommy. We got two sets of badasses trynna kill us. We bring 'em both together with us in the middle -- what's gonna be so confusin' about that?


Fanfiction

  • In Aeon Natum Engel, during the brainstorming on how to kill a Monster of the Week, a certain Tactical Director was mumbling in her drunken stupor about the miniguns. More sober minds heard this, made some math in their heads, tested it and lo and behold, it's actually viable (It must be noted that the Author in general tries to avoid Crazy Awesome).
  • Company 0051 has grenades taped onto dodgeballs. Granted, it'd just be easier to throw the grenades themselves, but it does allow the Kid Soldiers to show off their mad dodgeball skills.
  • Every single one of Takato's plans in the Tamers Forever Series.
  • The whole plot of Decks Fall Everyone Dies is to pull off a plan that's so crazy it might work to bring card games back.
  • Chapter 81 of the Halo fanfic The Life involves the protagonists team dropping without him. He convinces the captain of the ship to do a flyover near the position of his squad. He jumps from the cargo bay of a frigate with a jetpack that he doesn't know how to use and a tank with parachutes attached to it.
    • While playing Iron Man by Black Sabbath on the helmet's speakers.


Film

  • Ordinarily, when a mining ship from the future commanded by an Ax Crazy Romulan shows up and starts laying waste to ships and planets, most folks would decide to steer clear of the damn thing. Of course Captain James T. Kirk decides that the best course of action is to take them head on.

 McCoy: So you're saying you want to go backwards in time, find some of these whales, bring them forward in time, drop'em off and hope to hell that they tell this probe what to go do with itself??!!

Kirk: That's the general idea.

McCoy: But that's crazy!!!!!!

Kirk: You've got a better idea?? Now's the time.

  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, when Jack Sparrow uses the recoil of a cannon to toss him from one ship to another, it prompts the exchange between him and Lord Beckett:

 Lord Beckett: You're mad!

Jack Sparrow: Thank goodness for that, 'cause if I wasn't this would probably never work.

    • And upon landing in front of his bewildered crew:

  Jack Sparrow: And that was all without a single drop of rum!

 Han: They'd be crazy to follow us into it.

  • The basis behind the plan to rescue Morpheus in The Matrix. Complete with call out.

 Trinity: Nobody has ever tried anything like this before.

Neo: That's why it's going to work.

  • Parodied in the Dana Carvey film The Master of Disguise. The line is repeatedly used for the most simple and straightforward plans. Dramatically.
  • Iron Man: Okay, so you're a rich playboy snarker who's out for a relaxing afternoon drive in the deserts of Afghanistan, when a bunch of psycho terrorists blast the crap of your armored truck, fill your chest with shrapnel, hook you up to a car battery, toss you in a cave, and then tell you that if you don't make a missile for them, they're gonna feed you to the hyenas. Sounds like you're screwed, don't it? Here's what you do: build a tiny chestplate that puts out more energy than the warp core of a Federation starship, forge some iron and heavy metal by hand, and design a badass suit that's capable of kicking doors of hinges, bitch-slapping terrorists by the dozen, equipped with a rocket launcher, a pair of flame-throwers and has a rocket pack so that you can blast off after wreaking havoc. Oh, and you have to do this while trapped in a terrorist bunker being monitored 24/7 on camera. Most people don't have the audacity to attempt something so brazenly outrageous. But then, Tony Stark ain't most people!
  • Indiana Jones cutting the rope bridge in Temple of Doom.

 Willie Scott: (sees Indy raising his sword) Oh my GOD! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my GOD, is he nuts?!

Short Round: He no nuts, he's crazy!

  Gimli: Certainty of death, small chance of success... What are we waiting for?

    • An explanation for the insufficiently nerdy: they're about to suicidally attack Sauron's far superior army to distract him while Sam and Frodo try to complete their insane plan of attempting to simply walk into Mordor, somehow bypass the tens of thousands of bloodthirsty orcs, climb up an active volcano barefoot, and destroy a telepathic Artifact of Doom before it takes over their minds and/or gets stolen from them and handed to Sauron, which would grant him godlike power. Not only does it work, but all the heroes survive, except for Gollum and a bit of Frodo.
  • Batman: The Movie: Catwoman says this phrase word or word about the Penguin's Unspoken Plan.
  • Sahara: Pulling a Panama? Okay, believable, considering gas is just as flammable today as 2005. But using a box of tools to convert a one-winged, at-least-as-old-as-you airplane into a windsurfing desert-crosser? Really?
    • That's actually pretty standard for Dirk Pitt.
  • Ghostbusters had this when Egon suggested that they cross the streams to defeat Gozer.
  • How to Train Your Dragon has it like this:

 Astrid: What are you going to do now?

Hiccup: Something stupid.

Astrid: Okay, but...you've already done that.

Hiccup: Then something crazy.

Astrid: That's more like it.

    • Shortly after that, when the other kid Vikings figure out Hiccup's plan to have them train their own dragons:

 Ruffnut: You're crazy! (leans in closer) I like that.

  • During Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves this is invoked by Will Scarlett (Christian Slater) after he launches Robin (Kevin Costner) over the castle wall with a catapult... "Fuck me, he cleared it!"
  • The attack on Aqaba in Lawrence of Arabia probably qualifies as this.
  • Parodied in the film adaptation of Sgt. Bilko when Steve Martin's title character utters a variation of the Trope Name upon learning the new recruit to his motorpool division actually is a trained mechanic. "A real live wrench-turner in the motorpool? It's so crazy it just might work!"


Literature

 Tyler: If it’s crazy but it works...

Granadica: 'It's not crazy.' You humans are the only sophonts in this galactic region to have that saying. Most people just go with 'that's crazy'.

  • In Redwalls Martin the Warrior, Feldoh says this after hearing the Rambling Rosehip Players's plan.
  • Most of Uncle Ebbitt's plans in The Seventh Tower.
  • The majority of plans crafted by the Codex Alera's hero, Tavi of Calderon, hinge on this. So much so, in fact, that his lover is able to correctly reason Tavi's chosen location for the series Final Battle by thinking of a place that only a lunatic would willingly enter.
    • You want examples? Of course you do! Take, for instance, his role in the defense of the Elinarch. Due to a lot of things going wrong at once, he ended up in command of a single, inexperienced legion (about 7,000 soldiers) who had to hold a bridge against an army of more than 50,000 Canim: centuries-old, enormous, and incredibly dangerous wolfmen. First, to stop them from crossing the river anywhere else, he had all the butchers in the camp and the towns at either end of the Elinarch throw buckets of blood into the river to attract sharks. Any Canim trying to swim across quickly learned the error of their ways. He also went out to try to negotiate with the leaders. By himself. He proceeded to use his knowledge of their culture to laugh in the face of an Evil Sorcerer and exploit a division in their leadership. Then he sat for an hour and played chess with Nasaug during a truce to let them remove their dead from the field[1], in order to buy time for his men to set up his next tactic: sawdust and fire furies planted in every building on the Canim side of the bridge, which he then had his only Knight Ignus blow up while the Canim were trying to move through them. He'd made sure they were all in the buildings by having everyone in the legion hold tiny firecraftings over the main square so the stones were superheated and anyone trying to step on them would get fried. And the battle ended when he had his Knights Aeris bend the air to form a quarter-mile-wide magnifying glass, concentrating the sunlight into a Death Ray. The general consensus among the characters seems to be that Tavi is completely insane.

  Ehren: "This plan is nuts... you're nuts... *looks around* I'm going to need some pants.

    • And that thing mentioned above about going into the most suicidal place he could think of? His plan was to piss off the Eldritch Abomination-like Great Furies Garados and Thana and use them against the Vord Queen. It only really works when she tries to claim the furies and he has the even crazier idea of cutting her connection and letting them go free to wreak random destruction. They are very pissed about the attempt to control them, and Thana, an enormous, sentient thunderstorm, pretty much literally chews the Vord Queen up and spits her out.
  • Harry's plans in The Dresden Files are often of this variety. Since they are written by the same man as the Codex Alera, this is far from surprising. Zombie dinosaur, anyone?
    • "Challenge everyone (White Council, White Court, Shagnasty) who shows up in one place at the same time, just to try to draw out a single baddy who won't be able to miss the opportunity". Particularly since the thing that worked in the end was hiring a plain old vanilla mortal private investigator to take pictures of everyone going through the Ways to the island.
    • Drinking a magical Klatchian Coffee, jumping out of a moving car and facing down a group of psychopathic lycanthropes at full moon. And this isn't the craziest thing he has done.
    • Possibly the craziest-or at least the riskiest- was in the third book when one of his plans hinged on deliberately ingesting lethally poisonous mushrooms.
  • John Dies at the End has this come up a lot, usually for John's plans. About a third of the way through the book, after the heroes decide to fight a ballroom full of monsters with The Power of Rock, he even speaks a variation of the Stock Phrase:

 John: I'm lead, Jim is rhythm, Jen sings backup. Jen, just repeat everything Dave sings, only like one second behind. The sound system will be on the stage. We duck out there and plug in and wail. Okay? Guys, this is just retarded enough to work.

  • X Wing Series. Wraith Squadron specializes in these plans. Just during their first active mission, they fake the Millenium Falcon to decoy a Star Destroyer away from an evacuating Rebel base then proceed to capture(and utilize in a False-Flag Operation) a Correlian Corvette pocket carrier with an X-wing's laser cannon carried by the squadron's resident Gamorean.
  • Kelsier of Mistborn pretty much can't go a single chapter without someone saying he's nuts, usually because of the sheer, ludicrous Refuge in Audacity. His plans usually work for exactly that reason.
  • In A Hymn Before Battle, during the events of the defense of Diess, Lt. O'Neal had acquired a reputation for plans that sounded crazy but were thought to possibly work, due to the successes of his unconventional campaign against the Posleen.


Live Action TV

  • Pick any (and we do mean any) of the plans hatched by the folks on Stargate SG-1. Blowing up a sun; using every Stargate simultaneously to generate a wave capable of disintegrating matter across the whole galaxy.; sneaking into a conference where all your major enemies are gathered; storming an enemy mothership with just four people. Believe it or not, these aren't the craziest ones.
    • One later season episode lampshades the escalating ridiculousness:

 Col. O'Neill: All I'm saying... just for the record... this is the wackiest plan we've ever come up with. [He turns and starts to leave the room]

Maj. Carter: Wackier than strapping an active Stargate to the bottom of the X-302?

Col. O'Neill: [As he walks out the door] Oh, yeah.

Maj. Carter: [Calling after O'Neill] Wackier than blowing up a sun?

Col. O'Neill: [From the corridor, unseen] Yep!

Maj. Carter: [to Jonas and Daniel] ...He's probably right.

  • Some of the stuff that Chuck Bartowski comes up tests the very limits of sanity. But somehow, it works.
  • Farscape: See John. See John have a fight with a large empire. See John strap a nuclear bomb to his chest and walk into their headquarters as a diversion. See John Win.
  • A fair number of Star Trek adventures feature somebody coming up with plans that are Crazy Enough to Work. Scotty especially had a habit of making stuff work that simply defied the laws of physics.
    • Subverted for some darn reason, later, in which we learn that sometimes Scotty exaggerated the time limits to make himself look awesome.
  • Played with in Star Trek Voyager. Former Maquis, who made up a lot of the crew, had to make do with next to nothing a lot, so they came up with ways to do the mission that'd make regular Federation officers protest like mad. Janeway was smart enough to let her Maquis people do their thing when needed, but even then it didn't always work.
  • Many of the myths tested on Myth Busters turn out to be this. For example, if a car goes fast enough, can it skip right over the surface of a 120-foot lake and keep driving when it gets to the other side? The Build Team didn't think so either. Then they tested it. Can you fool a highly-sensitive sonar motion detector by holding up a bedsheet in front of you to absorb the sound waves? Guess what...
  • Every single episode of MacGyver, of course. Crazy Enough To Work is the driving principle behind MacGyvering.
  • Also pretty much every episode of Hogan's Heroes.

 Hogan: Well, we've got to stop Williams, but use him as a diversion so we can knock out that gun.

Newkirk: With all due respect, sir, you're dreaming.

Hogan: If you've got a better dream, I want to hear it.

 Lt. Templeton "Face" Peck: This is nuts, boss.

Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith: It gets better! (starts laughing)

  • Corner Gas. Many of the schemes tried by Brent LeRoy and Hank Yarbo (and a pretty significant chunk of the schemes everyone else in the main cast try) fit into this trope. Most of the time the plans fail miserably, but even when they work, the success just creates another problem they hadn't anticipated.
  • This happens a lot in Blackadder, always prefaced by the words "I have a cunning plan".
    • Subverted as these plans usually fail, or are so stupid that is no way to actually enact the plan.
    • "Pathetic! Absolutely pathetic! Contemptible! Worth a try!"
  • On The Daily Show, when John Hodgman suggests that America fake its own death to avoid debt, Jon Stewart said "Wow, that's so crazy... it just might be fucking crazy."
  • Any and all prison escapes by Michael Scofield of Prison Break. Features of his plans include structural engineering know-how, coded phrases and last minute improvisations due to being failed and/or betrayed by other people. However special mention must go to his later plot to steal Scylla. Let's take the most prized possession of the powerful Company that keeps trying to torture and kill us!
  • Lampshaded in Buffy:

 Cordelia: That must be the stupidest plan I've ever heard!

Oz: We attack the mayor with hummus!

Cordelia: I stand corrected.

Oz: Just gettin' things in perspective.

 Fifth Doctor: You'll blow up the TARDIS!

Tenth Doctor: Only way out.

Fifth Doctor: Who told you that?!

  • Major Bunny Colvin comes up with a pretty interesting plan in season 3 of The Wire. Faced with the drug trade sprawling over more and more of his streets, as well as an increasing pressure to get crime rates down, what plan does he come up with? Legalize drugs. More specifically, he sets up three "safe zones" in his district and makes a deal with the dealers: if they move all their trade there, the police won't touch them. And it works. Dangerous street corners are cleared for ordinary people and his men can focus on fighting crime more concretely, as opposed to making endless futile drug raids. Crime goes down 14%. But in the end, The Wire is too naturalistic for such a Zany Scheme to be workable: once his superiors find out about the whole thing, "Hamsterdam" is shut down, Colvin is disgraced and the streets return to normal. Major Rawls even comments that his plan was brilliant - insane and illegal, but brilliant.
  • Angel. The plan to capture Angelus has to qualify. It involved Faith doping up during a fight, allowing herself to be fed on, then Angelus getting high off the drugs she took. To be fair the plan was thought of as crazy and dangerous.
  • Firefly The crew of Serenity practically does this for a living. The maneuver "Crazy Ivan" is called that for a reason, jumping onto a moving train is risky enough when it's not a hyper-fast futuristic train, injecting yourself with adrenaline to stay conscious long enough to call for help can be suicide, fighting off about thirty seasoned fighters with a bunch of prostitutes needs no explanation, and even Jayne didn't think it was possible to get Mal out of Niska's skyplex.


Newspaper Comics

  • One Zits storyline started off with Jeremy volunteering to work as a receptionist at his Dad's office for a bit. Walt says it's just crazy enough to work while Connie only agreed with the first three words of that line. It did ultimately work out.


Video Games

  • Warhammer 40000. Pretty much everything the Orks ever do, ever. And it usually works, thanks to their Clap Your Hands If You Believe field.
  • Halo
    • In Halo 2, the Master Chief dives out of Cairo Station with a bomb larger than himself and falls into the engine of a Covenant Carrier, detonates the bomb, and falls again to land on a UNSC ship that is miniscule by comparison.

 Cortana: I know what you're thinking, and it's crazy.

Master Chief: So? Stay here.

Cortana: Unfortunately for us both, I like crazy.

...

Sarge: For a brick, he flew pretty good!

    • In Halo: Reach, Kat proposes a way to take out a covenant super-carrier that involves "the single most expensive piece of equipment made by man".

 Carter: "Even for you, Kat, that's..."

Kat: "...inspired?"

Carter: "Not the word I would use."

  • Subverted in Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones. Ephraim, along with his 3 bodyguards, plans to raids the enemy castle and take it over, on the basis that "If the enemy thinks the same [that the plan is insane], there's our opening." Unfortunately, it turned out that one of the aforementioned 3 bodyguards was The Mole, and therefore the enemy was completely prepared for the siege.
  • Most of the escape from Peragus in Knights of the Old Republic 2. Pointed out once or twice by Atton.
  • This was how the Wii was made. A console relying on outdated technology (basically, just a faster and slightly improved Game Cube) and motion controls that many claimed would never catch on? Nintendo is mad! Four years later and the console is still selling damn well, beating out the more powerful Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360. Nintendo does have an advantage in that a Wii can be cheaply sold at a net profit, but the other consoles are more expensive and are sold at a net loss, as Microsoft and Sony banked on high game sales and charging for online content to make up the remainder.
    • Earlier with the NES? Marketing a game console as an entertainment system because it had a robot attachment? Worked well enough to restart the entire American games industry.
    • Nintendo's success can reasonably be said to run on this, they thrive by trying to bring in new markets instead of trying to compete with the main market. When they did during the N64 and Gamecube era, they entered a slump.
      • They entered a slump because they grew complacent during the NES and refused to admit they had a problem. This led to them introducing their consoles years behind competitors and refusing to use new technology. They also were widely known for harassing third party developers with arbitrary rules, guidelines, and censorship which is why virtually all of them jumped ship to Sega and Sony. Most industry analysts say Nintendo could easily have maintained their monopoly if they followed a business strategy closer to Sega, Sony, or Microsoft.
    • Nintendo has a tradition for being nontraditional. Gamepads instead of joysticks, twin-screen portables, autostereoscopic 3D, motion-sensitive controls standard, the list doesn't end here. While many of their innovations took hold and were accepted by the mainstream for being different, others didn't fly so well because other and more mainstream innovations (like CD and later DVD game media) managed to overshadow Nintendo's efforts. Like any company, Nintendo both hits and misses.
  • Played with in Left 4 Dead 2. Coach comes up with an idea to start up a band's pyrotechnics in order to call for a helicopter. After hearing this, Nick drops this line.

 Nick: Coach, that has got to be the stupidest idea I have ever agreed with.

  • In Tales of Vesperia this is intentionally invoked when Brave Vesperia formulates the best way to destroy the Adephagos by using Spirits and the removal of blastia from the world, something that would be all but impossible. However, it works, and the world is saved.
  • This is how the UberCharge system in Team Fortress 2 came to life, as revealed in "Meet the Medic".

 Heavy: Doctor! Are you sure this will work?!

Medic: HA HA! I have no idea!!!


Webcomics

  • Annyseed uses a love potion in order to deter someone from her, rather than attract someone to her. Winston, you’re a genius! Mmwa! Page 61.
  • Most of Red Mage's plans in Eight Bit Theater, constantly lampshaded. A most notable example is when he explains his plan has to work because it has no logical basis whatsoever on which it could fail.
    • Also frequently subverted on the frequent occasions when these plans spectacularly fail to work.
  • So many things in Sluggy Freelance. One of the best examples is the Ferret Bazooka, where Caffeine Bullet Time is weaponized by putting a hyperactive ferret in a cardboard tube, pouring in a pixie stick, then pointing the tube at whatever you want destroyed. If all goes as planned, a ferret on a serious sugar rush will shoot out of the tube at supersonic speeds.
  • Parodied in Xkcd. When Nathan Fillion wants to try the Crazy Ivan maneuver from Firefly on his electric skateboard, he insists it's so crazy it has to work. Jewel Staite replies "No, that's the opposite of true." She was right.

 Alt Text: "Things are rarely just crazy enough to work, but they're frequently just crazy enough to fail hilariously."

 Agatha:' "This has a small, but fascinating, chance of actually working! Let's do it!"

  • The "party" of Darths and Droids (and quite a few actual Tabletop RPG parties) runs on these kinds of ideas. In this comic Pete points out that Jim is their group's resident master of this trope.
    • When they try to mimic what Jim would do, Annie keeps doing things to try to slow a spaceship's fiery descent from orbit. Each time, Pete responds, "Not crazy enough!" Finally, her plan is to fire all of the ship's missiles at the ground just before landing, using the explosion to cushion the fall. Pete's response? "Too crazy!"
  • Trust Wonderella to come up with one of these to stop an Omnicidal Maniac bent on destroying the whole universe.


Web Original


Western Animation

  • One Tiny Toon Adventures episode has Babs and Buster consulting a computer on how to rescue a friendly flea living on Furball from an evil, carnivorous bug. The computer reads, "Cliché; #1: Shrink our heroes." After Babs says it's crazy enough to work, Buster says "That's Cliché; #2!"
  • On Family Guy, Peter says this before putting his hand in a waffle iron. Needless to say, that didn't solve the problem at hand. However his second one does.
  • Spoofed in one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. Patrick suggests moving Bikini Bottom to avoid an attack from a giant worm. Squidward says, "That's just crazy enough... to get us all killed!" They do it anyway. And it fails.
    • It's worthy of note that the only reason it failed is because the worm was lured over the cliff the city was pushed under.
  • In Kim Possible, Shego says of a plan by Dr. Drakken, "I know I'm going to regret saying this, but I think you may have finally achieved 'so dumb, it just might work.'"
  • Razor of the Swat Kats seems to come up with these very nearly Once an Episode.
  • In an episode of Futurama, the Planet Express crew and the Globetrotters are trying to solve the problem of "time skips" that jump everyone in the Universe forward in time, leaving them with no memory of what went on in the interim. At one point, Hermes Conrad says, "Say, I'm no physicist, but I think I know how to stop the skipping. We'll just--" after which time skips, everyone but Hermes is nude and in a conga line (Hermes is in a Hawaiian shirt, playing a steel drum) and Hermes cries, "I don't know how this was supposed to work!"
    • Of course, most of the (often successful) plans in Futurama -- especially if they're by Farnsworth or Fry -- are usually Crazy Enough to Work.
  • Parodied in Johnny Bravo:

 Carl: Johnny, I have a plan.

Johnny: It's just crazy enough to work!

Carl: But you haven't heard it yet.

Johnny: Enough talk! I need action!

  • Beast Wars. After Optimus Primal jumps, in beast mode, from a flying island that's just more or less gone nuclear, in the hopes of catching a tree branch on the way down before he and Rattrap go splat or get charred to a crisp. He does.

 Rattrap: Of course you do know that was crazy.

Optimus Primal: Sometimes crazy works.

 Jumba: That's crazy!

Lilo: So crazy it just might work?

Jumba: No, just crazy.

  • Used often in Hey Arnold! Usually with the phrase, "That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard. Let's do it!"
  • Played with in Maryoku Yummy when Maryoku and Shika are searching for Bob. Shika starts out by systematically checking every spot in Nozomu, but Maryoku suggests starting with the places they'd usually find Bob.

 Shika: Well, it sounds crazy, but--

Maryoku: Good! Follow me!

Shika: But I said it sounds crazy!

Maryoku: Yet you're still going to give it a chance. That's so nice.

  • Used almost word for word in an episode of the 2010 Pound Puppies:

 Strudel: An adoption fair? How crazy is that?

Lucky: So crazy, it just might work.

  • Parodied in Drawn Together. When Spanky fills in every blank in a mad-lib with "Penis", Wooldoor suggests using words other than penis, to which Spanky replies "That's crazy, Wooldoor! Just crazy enough to penis."
  • One episode of Megas XLR (itself a big Parody of sci-fi and anime clichés) found the titular robot with a critical part badly damaged, so they scrounge around a junk planet for a replacement. Ultimately unsuccessful but in need of the part to win a fight, Coop goes down below. When he comes back up, Megas is back up and running and proceeds to kick butt. When Kiva asks how he fixed Megas, he replied, "When in doubt…duck it!" Kiva is uncharacteristically impressed, "Primitive…but amazing technology!"


Real Life

  • Many variants on this are attributed to Niels Bohr, notably to Wolfgang Pauli, on Pauli's nonlinear field theory: "We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct."
    • Reputedly, when Lee Smolin was running around proposing that black holes give birth to new universes, Murray Gell-Mann said, "Smolin? Is he that young guy with all the crazy ideas? He may not be wrong."
  • A relatively new chess opening, dubbed the Halloween, is a perfect example of this trope. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nxe5?! The faces of people who've seen this opening -- right before they were flattened by a march of pawns -- is something to be seen.
  • Back when legalized racism was rampant in the USA, no shortage of people were trying to find ways of eradicating it. You wouldn't have thought that simply not taking the bus would make a difference. Martin Luther King and those who worked with him proved otherwise.
  • After The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, stores refused to sell video game consoles and people were wary of video games. So what did Nintendo do? They packed in the Robotic Operating Buddy (which was a piece of garbage that worked with two games) so they could tell stores it was a toy, and they made it a front-loader so it resembled a VCR more than a gaming console. Today, Nintendo is one of the richest companies in the world.
    • And then they did it again. A console controlled by a motion-sensing remote, you say? And it's not even HD? Ridiculous! Ridiculous enough to sell 67 million units in three years.
      • And before that was the Nintendo DS, an absurd handheld gaming console with a flip-case design and dual screens, the lower one being a touchscreen. Initially mocked by critics, it become one of Nintendo's best selling products.
  • When they released the Citroen 2CV in Africa they included a manual for alternative solutions when parts weren't available, which included things like shoe-laces.
  • Politicians, scientists, and relief workers have been trying for nearly a hundred years to bring Africa out of the third world. One young boy, William Kamkwamba, decides to introduce the first ever steady electric power supply to his famine-devasted cholera-torn village. And he did it with a box of scraps!!!. The villagers called him "misala", meaning crazy, right up until the first light bulb lit up in his hands. Okay, he didn't do it in a cave, but he's still a bigger badass than Tony Stark cause he did it for real.
  • Wait, are you going to play your amp loud, resulting in distortion and then make the guitar loudest in the mix? When Eric Clapton did just that back in the Blues Breakers in 1966, he ended up inventing modern rock guitar as we know it.
  • Alexander the Great's Siege of Tyre. The city was impregnable from land and sea. It was a goddamn island. So what did Alex do? Turned it into a peninsula. You can just hear the Tyrian general's Flat What as he saw it going on.
    • To be fair, the Tyrians reacted quickly to the situation and managed to hold off Alexander for a while by employing their sea advantage to hold up Alexander's initial attempt at a causeway. Only when Alexander tried again, this time with ships helping in the work were the Tyrians defeated.
    • Generals throughout history could occasionally get away with pulling off stunts like this due to this exact trope, usually involving an attack so unlikely (say, through a seemingly insurmountable desert, swamp or mountain range), the enemy is caught completely off guard (think the Blitzkrieg in the Ardennes Forest). If it's crazy enough, the enemy will never see it coming, and it just might work. Of course, if the opposing general or his intelligence officers are good enough to see the method in the madness, it tends to be a spectacular failure.
  • Zhuge "Sleeping Dragon" Liang was a Chinese general famous for his masterful battle strategies and deceit. Once during the War of the Three Kingdoms, he was trapped in a town with only a handful of soldiers and an opposing army of a hundred thousand men approaching fast. He immediately sat himself atop the city walls with the gates wide open, calmly playing a lute. The leader of the enemy army, Sima Yi, was quite familiar with Zhuge's ingenuity and, thinking this was all a big setup for a deadly ambush, immediately retreated.
  • The fate of Apollo 13. So your Cool Ship has an explosion literally halfway to the moon. Here's the plan: 1) Use a machine designed strictly for landing and taking off as a lifeboat, even though it will have to support three people when it was only designed to support two; 2) Shut down all electricity, subjecting your crew to near-freezing temperatures (not to mention the havoc the frost is sure to wreak with the electronics when you have to turn them back on); 3) Kitbash a working carbon dioxide filter out of whatever you have lying around because the ones in the lifeboat can't handle the workload; 4) Carry out course corrections with an engine unsuited for such fine maneuvering, using such high tech navigational methods as "placing your thumb over the Earth and lining it up with your window frame"; and 5) Literally invent a new procedure to restart all your electronics so as to not blow every fuse in the craft, thus stranding yourself in space. The Subversion of this is, in the hands of ordinary people, yes, it would be Crazy Enough to Work. In the hands of NASA's highly trained corps of Steely Eyed Missile Men, it came off as almost...commonplace. The reality is somewhere in between; they weren't Crazy Prepared for this type of situation, but they were trained enough not to panic even when Murphy's Law struck (note the tone of the now-famous line, "Houston, we have a problem."—concerned but not freaked out), trained enough to coordinate with mission control, work out a solution, and get home alive! Apollo 13 was a technological disaster but a human triumph.
    • That may or may not be the point of the Steely Eyed Missile Men; create unusual and ingenious solutions to unexpected problems under tight deadlines. Besides which, while the vague concept may be "just crazy enough to work", there's a helluva lot of effort put into making sure that everything is within the bounds of reality.
  • Hannibal's conquering of Italy in 218 BC. The Romans never expected anyone to be crazy enough to march over the Alps, and certainly not for it to work. He did lose half of his army and most of his war elephants doing it, but he Rome on the run for nearly 15 years.
  • Taking a page from the Steely Eyed Missile Men, a number of folks in commercial aviation likewise summon crazy calm resolve to combat problems that arise. A most recent example, something, probably geese, gets caught in the engines of your loaded Airbus and blows them out. You can't circle back to the airport you left and you won't make the closest alternative. What do you do? Why, you just land the thing in the Hudson River. Captain Chesley Sullenberger and the crew of US Airways Flight 1549 did it.
  • Operation Desert Storm. US tanks drove through featureless, utterly unnavigable desert relying on barely proven GPS to catch the Republican Guard by surprise. (But fortunately we went slow enough to ensure we were detected before we could actually use that surprise.)
  • In WW 2, the British were seriously thinking about making aircraft carriers out of ICE. The idea was that they would cover it in a very insulating wood covering, which would hold off the ships from melting long enough, and be strong enough to double as armor. The main reason they were going forward with it was because it would far less steel, which the blockaded Britian had very little of. However, it was subverted when they figured out it would take more steel to make a refrigeration units needed to construct them than it would take to an aircraft carrier.
  • Murphy's War Law states; If it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid.

Notes

  1. Tavi won
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