->''"It's not our job to appeal to the lowest common denominator, Doug - it's our job to '''raise''' it."''\\
--'''President Jed Bartlet''', ''Series/TheWestWing''

When applied for fiction, the term Lowest Common Denominator means an execution that is designed to appeal to as many people at once as possible.

There are varying interpretations on what this implies. In an egalitarian interpretation, it might be an admirable potential of art; generalized stories that most people can relate to. Stories that all human beings, or at least members of the targeted {{demographics}}, can understand in relation to their own lives. Many tropes came into fiction as fully-formed repeating patterns from real life, colored through a dramatic lens. Also, if we think of media as communication between the creator and the audience, the most successful communication would be the one that is understood by the most people.

From a more elitist point of view, if we assume that a significant percentage of ViewersAreMorons, it can be used to mean a work that is made to appeal only to them, ''instead of'' more "worthy" audiences. A show that is marketed to "Joe Sixpack" and all his family, out [[DownOnTheFarm there]] in what [[ExecutiveMeddling the suits in New York and L.A.]] usually call ''FlyoverCountry''. For maximum profitability, take out everything from the show that anyone more educated, or more devoted to the show, might appreciate, and reduce it to its most shallow parts that even they will understand. For {{anime}}, {{fanservice}} is used to appeal to the male audience.

The name of this trope comes from basic fractional mathematics. If we metaphorically imagine individual numbers as the minds of the audience members, some larger and some smaller, the Lowest Common Denominator is the show itself, a number that is calculated by taking all of them into account. If you would think too hard about the metaphor, it would be heavily in favor of the egalitarian interpretation: after all, in mathematics, the LCD itself, the product of a multiplication, tends to be a large number, almost like in TheSonsAndTheSpears metaphor, the result of including everyone is more than the sum of its parts.

Its other common interpretation was probably intended to evoke the 'Greatest Common Factor' concept, a number that is trimmed until it's small enough that it can be used to divide any of the other chosen numbers with it, just like mainstream works are trimmed for Joe Sixpack, but ironically, its users just demonstrated the shallowness that they intended to reference with it, by quickly assuming that any calculation with the words "common" and "low" in it must have a "weak" result.

This could also apply to how the current crop of "[[StopHavingFunGuys hardcore gamers]]" look upon [[CasualVideoGame casual games]]. Or, alternately, how [[RatedMForMoney "hardcore" games]] appear to everyone else.

The trope, on the other hand, is OlderThanSteam. Creator/WilliamShakespeare was a master of combining GeniusBonus and Lowest Common Denominator.

Not to be confused with TheLowestCosmicDenominator. Or Liquid Crystal Display, for that matter. Or ''The Common Denominator'', the British quiz show on Channel 4.

%% No real life examples on this one please. If examples are added to this page, they should be limited to in-universe only. Saying that a work was intended for the "Lowest Common Denominator" is highly subjective and hard to define as such. Even a work that was "simplified" was perhaps made as such simply because the author thought it would be a better approach instead. Not to mention, calling a work "made for uneducated people" tends to invite {{complaining}} and [[InternetBackdraft heated debates]], and we're not really too keen on having that here.
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