Created By: Xzenu on April 18, 2011 Last Edited By: Xzenu on November 4, 2011

Passive Protest

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Rolling Updates * Needs More Examples

When the system sucks, it's not worth the effort or blood it would take to fight it. Instead of making enemies and getting yourself into trouble, simply chose to be lazy and pretend to be incompetent. Just masquerade as an Immature Hedonist or The Ditz.

In it's most overtly heroic form, Passive Protest is known as Civil Disobedience. In it's most overt and malicious form, it's instead known as Passive Aggressive Protest. Between these two extremes we have a sliding scale of passive protesting where the individual example is hard as well as unnecessary to pinpoint.

A character doing this against The Empire or the Big Bad might be a Minion with an F in Evil or a Punch-Clock Villain. The behavior is likely to foreshadow a Heel–Face Turn.


Comic Books
  • In Dilbert, Wally used to be this before he got flanderized into actually being lazy and incompetent. The original Wally was a disgruntled smart employee who took his revenge at the company one coffee-break at the time.

  • In Avatar, the scientists and the protagonist are becoming increasingly inefficient in their service to the evil Mega Corp. before they start rebelling openly.

Western Animation
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, General Iroh is totally disillusionized with The Empire he once served faithfully. In the first season, he technically still serve it. He pretend to be The Hedonist, letting small insignificant pleasures in life take priority over pressing duties... but only when those duties are to The Empire and his nephew's evil quest, rather then to the world or to his nephew's actual needs.

Real Life
  • When done in the workplace, this is called Malicious Compliance.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • April 21, 2011
    Ubiquitusly truth in television.
  • April 21, 2011
    Bothering By The Book? Or is that just a subtrope?
  • June 14, 2011
    This would be "Passive Aggressive Protest", not "Passive Protest". A Sit-In would be a passive protest. A passive aggressive protest is one in which you don't even admit you are protesting.
  • June 15, 2011
    "Armchair Revolutionary" is a related pre-existing term.
  • June 18, 2011
    @Fanra: It's a sliding scale. Added Internal Subtrope x 2.
  • August 22, 2011
    Maybe a quick note suggesting it may foreshadow Heel Face Turn, as in Iroh's case.
  • August 24, 2011
    Good idea! Added.
  • August 24, 2011
    Would a sit-down strike be an example of one?
  • August 25, 2011
  • August 25, 2011
    • This is called Malicious Compliance when done in the workplace in Real Life.
  • November 4, 2011
    There's also work-to-rule in Real Life.
  • November 4, 2011
    In I Worship His Shadow, the original Tales From a Parallel Universe TV-movie of Lexx, Stanley Tweedle does this. Working as a security guard for the Divine Order that he hates, he expresses his unhappiness by chronic tardiness and being deliberately obstructive.
  • November 4, 2011
    A passive protest would be a sit-down strike: you are openly protesting, but in a non-aggressive (and inactive) fashion. A passive-aggressive protest would be a sick-out or a slow-down, where you aren't openly declaring your protest in a way that can be responded to directly but everybody knows. The passive-aggressive protest results in everybody being pissed off but nobody can do anything about it.