Created By: antialiasis on February 7, 2011

Eight Deadly Words

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(Do We Have This One? in some form? It's not actually a trope, obviously, but I'd think it deserves a page as it's a useful concept, and one well-recognized enough to have a page on The Other Wiki.)

"I don't care what happens to these people."

A phrase coined by Dorothy J. Heidt in a science fiction-based Usenet group in 1991 to describe an Audience Reaction to a work of fiction where the characters are so universally bland, unengaging or unlikeable that the reader simply loses interest in their fate and, by extension, the work as a whole. This can happen with or without the presence of more objective shortcomings, but the most interesting examples tend to be those where this is a critic's main complaint, single-handedly dragging a work down from near-perfection to almost completely unenjoyable.

Extremely subjective, of course, so don't add this as an example on a work's page unless the phenomenon is referenced in-universe.

Also often stated with added emphasis as "I don't care what happens to these people".
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • February 7, 2011
    Twenty Minutes With Jerks but feature length?
  • February 7, 2011
    Needs A Better Title. Maybe I'm just tired, but it took me two reads to connect the title to the trope.
  • February 7, 2011
    This phrase is actually called the Eight Deadly Words; I didn't make it up.
  • February 7, 2011
    Twenty Minutes With Jerks sounds like specifically a horror movie thing, something that happens when the audience came to see carnage so they're impatient with any attempt at characterization to begin with. This is a phenomenon that can happen with any kind of work, including things that are supposed to be character-driven.

    For in-work references, The Musical of Musicals, a play that parodies various... well, musicals, registers this complaint about the works of Stephen Sondheim ("Unlikable people with lives that are hollow / It's all food for thought, but a bit hard to swallow...")
  • February 7, 2011
    Darkness Induced Audience Apathy is a subtrope of this which is mainly found in those really dark Crapsack Worlds where you wind up not caring about who ultimately wins because all sides are equally atrocious and there's no one likeable to root for.
  • February 7, 2011
    ^^^I know. But the Trope could have a better title than that.
  • February 7, 2011
    You could just call it Audience Apathy. It's a supertrope of DIAA anyway.
  • February 7, 2011
    I agree with Thebes.
  • February 7, 2011
    Since Eight Deadly Words does have an article at The Other Wiki, I say stick with that for the title--and maybe with I Dont Care What Happens To These People as a redirect?
  • February 7, 2011
    ^ Yeah, there is no point trying to make the title accessible, as tropers are not supposed to use such things on the main namespace anyways, it only purpose is to define a pre-existing term, so at least do that correctly.
  • February 8, 2011
    Eternal September said it: it's a preexisting term and the purpose of the page would be to define it for the sake of completeness in covering concepts related to the world of fiction. It could have a more obvious alternate title, but somebody looking up "Eight Deadly Words" should get the page on this phrase; the purpose of transparent titles is rather defeated when you won't find a concept by looking up the name by which it is commonly known.
  • February 9, 2011
    I'd call the actual article The Eight Deadly Words, since it's a preexisting term, but use Audience Apathy as a redirect.