->''"It was bizarre. You have to understand that there was a huge, roaring battle going on between my friends and the Hork-Bajir. And I was standing there, having just punched out a Leeran. But all the two Vissers seemed to care about was trashing each other.\\
Politics. I guess it's the same everywhere."''
-->-- '''Marco''', ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', "The Escape"

This is a powerful organization that could have a strong impact on the plot. Unfortunately, its members are too busy arguing to do anything.

If the heroes take orders from them, their lack of a united front may prevent the protagonists from taking action. Even if there is a ReasonableAuthorityFigure among them, their voice rarely rises above all the bickering. The most interesting thing its members ever do will be [[BloodOnTheDebateFloor using their fists in the debate]].

Sometimes, this is a result of TheMole or LesCollaborateurs actively trying to prevent the organization from taking action. In other situations, the problem is internal: faced with insurmountable odds, the group has [[ApatheticCitizens given up]], or simply decided the issue is [[BystanderSyndrome not their problem]]. Certainly, there is no {{Leader}}.

The group can range from an AbsurdlyPowerfulStudentCouncil that cannot agree what to do with a problematic bully to a version of TheAlliance where every member country, from TheGoodKingdom to TheRepublic, has a very different idea of how to deal with TheEmpire's war on TheFederation.

See WeAREStrugglingTogether and DividedWeFall, and JurisdictionFriction if it's not one organization but ''several'' who are having trouble reconciling their differences. Compare OrcusOnHisThrone and AchillesInHisTent for individual cases of people who could strongly affect the plot but do nothing for various reasons. Also compare AHouseDivided, HufflepuffHouse, AllPowerfulBystander.

Contrast OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness, which is rarely seen doing anything but seems to have strong -- if mysterious -- impact on the plot. In the end, don't expect them to move their pieces in the DivineChessboard ''at all'', leaving themselves open to a checkmate by the villain's agents.

[[Administrivia/NoRealLifeExamplesPlease Please avoid real life examples]]. [[noreallife]]



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'' depicts [[NationsAsPeople the Allied Powers]] of World War II in this way; each of the five (six if you include [[ShrinkingViolet Canada]]) are so wrapped up in their individual agendas that they never seem to get around to ''actually stopping the Axis'', despite the fact that they're perfectly capable. Particularly noticeable in that their arguments often have nothing to do with the actual war effort -- more often they're about things like [[LoveFreak America]]'s spotlight-hogging, [[TheEeyore England]]'s bad cooking, or [[PsychopathicManchild Russia]]'s general creepiness.
-->'''America:''' No need to argue, 'cause I'm right!\\
'''Russia:''' I know my ideas are best because otherwise I kill them.\\
'''China:''' I'm only allowed to hear my own thoughts and those are the ones I like.
* In ''Anime/DanganRonpa3'' ''Side: Future'', it's revealed the Branch leaders of the Future Foundation are this. They barely work due to TeethClenchedTeamwork, but seem to internally hate each other.
* ''Anime/StarDriver'' has Kiraboshi, the local villian organisation, whose single fractions seems to hardly ever get anything done in terms of cooperating. Slightly justified, since most fraction leaders (and lesser members) are overeaeger teenagers... except for a small bunch of adults, who absolutely aren't any better. Needless to say, their record of dealing with their problem (i.e. TheHero) is nonexisting.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The Monitors from ''ComicBook/CountdownToFinalCrisis'', who spend almost the entire series arguing if they should do something or not. It's worth noting that later in the series the main characters have to decide if they should kill Karate Kid, annihilating his disease before it will kill him and turn into a pandemic, or look for another way to deal with it. Instead of doing something, they spend the entire time bickering at each other, until it's too late.
-->'''[[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]]:''' ''(summarizing)'' "We should do something!" "Should we do something?" "We should do something!" "Should we do something?" "We should do something!" "Should we do something?" YES, YOU SHOULD DO SOMETHING, YOU BORING IDIOTS!
* In most versions of ComicBook/{{Superman}}, the Kryptonian council is at best unable to believe the planet is about to explode and at worst aware of it but incapable of doing anything about it, even when Superman's father [[OnlySaneMan Jor-El]] ''does'' suggest a solution. It's not uncommon for [[VillainHasAPoint General Zod to have very good reason for overthrowing them]].
* In ''Strange Adventures'', the Weird has [[AGodAmI the powers of a god]], and is using them to destroy the universe. Inside his head are echoes of six beings he has merged with. Together, they could stop him. Unfortunately, three of them think he should use the power for good, and three of them think he should abandon it. So they do nothing. Eventually one of them is convinced to change his mind.
* The "[[ComicBook/TheIlluminati Illuminati]]" in Marvel (a secret group comprised of some of the most powerful heroes in the world), was formed so that they could pool their knowledge and head off major threats before they got worse. Black Panther, who was present for their first meeting, did not join because he saw this trope coming. The actual Illuminati were [[ComicBook/XMen Professor X]], [[ComicBook/FantasticFour Reed Richards]], [[ComicBook/IronMan Tony Stark]], [[ComicBook/SubMariner Namor]], Black Bolt of ComicBook/TheInhumans and Comicbook/DoctorStrange. Later, due to a disagreement concerning how to handle the Hulk, Namor left the group. During the Civil War, the group splintered over those who supported the superhuman registration act and those who did not; Tony and Reed supported it, Doctor Strange and Black Bolt did not, while Namor was neutral (he eventually sided with the anti-registration side) and Xavier was gone. The group reformed ''again'', this time ''because'' of Black Panther, in order to combat multiversal incursions, the collision of other Earths from the multiverse. They... end up accomplishing nothing, and the group once again falls apart due to in-fighting and bickering.
* Also in Marvel, the "Council of Godheads", consisting of the leaders of all of Earth's mythological pantheons, fits this trope to a T. A group of immortals and near-immortals, all of whom possess vast mystical power, with some so powerful that they could pop the Earth like a balloon if they really wanted to. Needless to say they are completely useless and even when multiverse-threatening menaces loom they just stand around showing off their bling and rationalizing why they cannot do anything about the problem.
* In DC, the gods are hardly any better. The Quintessence was composed of cosmic powers [[WonderWoman Zeus]], all-powerful wizard ComicBook/{{Shazam}}, Highfather of the ComicBook/NewGods, ComicBook/ThePhantomStranger, and one of the [[GreenLantern Guardians of the Universe]]. They tended to meet up to discuss major problems only to act to prevent another from acting since they could never agree on a course of action. The one time their longstanding enemy Darkseid contacted them, merely to request not to be bothered while he dealt with the ComicBook/EmperorJoker crisis, it turned out the Quintessence had already been reduced to babbling idiots by the Joker.
* The Mobian Royal Council in ''ComicBook/SonicTheHedgehog''. Comprised of former Freedom Fighters (Rotor Walrus and Sir Charles "Uncle Chuck" Hedgehog), Substitute Freedom Fighters (Dylan Porcupine, Hamlin Pig and Penelope Platypus), at least one mother (Rosemary Prower) with the current ruler being the tie breaker. The problem here is that the Substitute Freedom Fighters have varying views (Dylan is easily cowed, Hamlin's still steamed that he was ignored for so long that his choices are seen to be the "right" one in his view, and Penelope doesn't debate) and Rosemary is still suspicious of the crown thanks to her time in space. It got to the point where Rotor up and quit the Council when they voted to kick NICOLE out of New Mobotropolis for her involuntary involvement in the Iron Queen's rule, leading to his replacement, Isabella Mongoose (Mina Mongoose's mother), to step up to the plate and put people in their place... starting with getting NICOLE back after Rotor and his new team made a big chump out of current ruler [[spoiler:Ixis Naugus]]. They were among the casualties of the Genesis Waves bar Rotor and Uncle Chuck.
* One ComicBook/GreenLantern story took place on Zilliph, a planet inhabited by a peaceful, extremely democratic species. When a Green Lantern is killed fighting an invading ship, one of them named Taa is given the ring as he dies. Taa shows the ring to the governing council, who spend days studying and debating while the invaders run rampant over Zilliph. The people vote not to use the ring, as "The self is to be subject to the many, that is the way." [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight Taa decides "Well, the way sucks."]]
* ''ComicBook/{{Superlopez}}'': The Supergroup had it really easy to fall into this. They arrived six hours late to their first mission because of the time they wasted brawling over who should lead the team.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Just like [[Franchise/MassEffect in canon]], the Citadel Council in ''FanFic/{{Fractured}}'' and its sequel ''[[FanFic/SovereignGFCOrigins Origins]]'' has this hat glued to their heads. They ignore pretty much every threat that comes up: the [[EldritchAbomination Reapers]], a [[WellIntentionedExtremist rather bloody warning]] about an AlienInvasion made possible by [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum technological cross-overs]], and the actual alien invasion itself[[spoiler:, the Flood]]. The Home Galaxy Senate appears to run on this trope like its predecessor, being corrupt, incompetent, and bullied/bought off by seedier elements.
* Naruto definitely sees the UN this way ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10917821/28/The-questionable-burdens-of-leadership-of-a-troll-Emperor The (Questionable) Burdens of Leadership of a Troll Emperor]]''. According to him they still haven't stopped arguing over his empire mining the rest of the solar system years after he started. Naruto says he'll die of old age before they decide on anything and he's immortal.
* ''WebVideo/YuGiOhTheAbridgedSeries'': {{Parodied}} (like everything else) with Marik's Evil Council of Doom, whose members spend more time bitching at and criticizing each other than actually carrying out their plans to defeat Yugi. The few times that they actually try anything, it goes hilariously wrong.
* The ''Fanfic/ChildOfTheStorm'' universe has the Council Elite of Skyfathers, a gathering of the heads of all of Earth's pantheons. They only assemble during times of great crisis... and judging by what we see in ''Ghosts of the Past'', they just spend all their time arguing.
* ''FanFic/TheSomewhatCrackedMindOfUchihaItachi'': Suna's advisory council mainly do nothing but bicker in-story. The only thing they ever agreed on was who they wanted to succeed Rasa as Kazekage (Elder Chiyo), but she hates politics and promptly told them "screw you", which they had to take as a decline. They made Baki acting-Kazekage instead, and while he's an effective administrator, he can barely do more than that as he lacks the power to permanently take the position, leaving him with little political clout. At one point ''Shukaku'' complains that the Konoha 12 (which consists of a bunch of preteens who are chunin at best) are more productive during their meetings, much to Gaara's amusement.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The UsefulNotes/UnitedNations in ''Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService'' seems to spend an inordinate amount of time debating whether to grant Blofeld's demand for amnesty from all past crimes and for his dubious claim to the title of count to be recognized which for a supervillain is fairly reasonable, to say nothing of the fact that he plans to unleash biological warfare if his demands are not met.
* The Entmoot in ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings: The Two Towers'' spends quite a long time yakking about what to do about Saruman, and the only answer they can all agree on is: nothing. It's not until Merry and Pippin show Treebeard the destruction that Saruman is causing to the forest that Treebeard decides to ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight, and the others follow his lead.[[note]]In the book, the Ents are already aware of Saruman's depredations and still take several days to decide to oppose him, but that ''is'' considered quick by Ent standards. It also appears to be a near-unanimous decision once they get through all the protocol necessary to actually put it to a vote.[[/note]] Of course, this ''is'' fairly justified trope, in that Ents believe in doing things very, very slowly.[[note]]How slowly? An Ent who said "good morning" before an elder had finished greeting him is considered hasty.[[/note]]
* ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanAtWorldsEnd'' has the pirates holed up on an island with the English East India Company's fleet right outside. They can't decide on what to do so they have a vote to decide who becomes the pirate king despite the fact that every other time they had one, it ended in a draw because everybody kept voting for themselves. [[spoiler:It seems to go that way this time, too, until Elizabeth sarcastically votes for herself -- and Jack ''[[DidntSeeThatComing backs her up]]''.]]
%%* The UN again in ''Film/ThirteenDays''.
* A staple in the ''Franchise/StarWars'' universe. To the extent that it has led to [[https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/01/06/here-are-three-ways-that-star-wars-is-a-neoconservative-universe/ allegations that the series promotes]] a DemocracyIsBad philosophy.
** The Galactic Senate in ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'' under the leadership of Chancellor Valorum. They respond to Queen Amidala's plea for help against the army invading her world which she herself narrowly escaped by proposing a commission to investigate whether there really was an invasion (that she saw with her own eyes). Helped by the fact that the BigBad and architect of the invasion was a member of the senate and keeping it stalled, although it doesn't seem to take much manipulation on his part. By the end of ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'' they finally agree on something... which is to vote themselves out of power.
** Roughly fifty years later, the galaxy still has not learned. In background materials for ''Film/TheForceAwakens'' it is revealed that the New Republic, having triumphed in the Galactic Civil War, subsequently proceeds to simply assume that their treaties with TheRemnant, the First Order, are sacrosanct. Leia and others who had accumulated piles of proof that the First Order was actually engaged in a massive military build-up were dismissed by the Chancellor and most of the Senate as "warmongers". The current capital of the New Republic gets obliterated by the First Order's new PlanetKiller while one of Leia's representatives is there lobbying the Senate to take the threat of the First Order seriously.
** The Jedi Council is supposed to consist of the best and brightest the Jedi Order has to offer, but unfortunately, this doesn't stop them from making several spectacular errors--most notably completely and utterly failing to realize that the Sith Lord they've been looking for has been operating right under their noses for ''years''. Even Yoda, for whom the force is a "powerful ally", fails to detect him. Consequently, the Empire arises and the Jedi are destroyed.
* The dog council In ''Film/CatsAndDogs''. The setup looks like the UN, with dogs represented from each nation, to the point where the German representative (a German shepherd, of course) has a distinct accent and uses GratuitousGerman. The argument over whether to hand over the cure to dog allergies to the cats in exchange for the captive human family turns into your typical barking match coupled with a few frisbees being thrown for good measure. The chairman requests a "pacifying tool" to be employed, which turns out to be an electric can opener, causing every dog to look at it in anticipation.
* There's a UsefulNotes/UnitedNations {{expy}} in ''Film/BatmanTheMovie'' that the unified gathering of the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman and Riddler seek to kidnap, capturing them by rendering them into powder. When they get there, they're ''all'' arguing. When an accident causes some of each other's powder to get mixed together, they end up switching personalities when they're restored, but they ''still'' keep arguing despite it.
* In ''Film/ManOfSteel'', Jor-El is arguing with one at the beginning of the film. [[TyrantTakesTheHelm General Zod bursts in moments later and overthrows them,]] citing that the Kryptonian Supreme Council does nothing but argue, instead of coming up with a solution to save the Kryptonian people.

* In much of ancient Greek literature, particularly ''Literature/TheIliad'' and ''Literature/TheOdyssey'', the gods behave like this. They could whisk Odysseus back home in an instant, but prefer to make bets with one another on whether he can make it home on his own.
* A villainous example are the Yeerk Empire's vissers in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}''. As the narrative goes on, it rapidly becomes clear the Yeerk Empire could have probably conquered Earth by now if the vissers weren't arguing and sabotaging each other at any given moment. And not just the Vissers; their bosses in the Council of Thirteen appear to lose a couple of members when trying to decide upon a verdict for whether the Vissers were traitors to their cause.
* In Fred Saberhagen's ''Literature/BookOfSwords'' series, every time the gods gather in council they can't agree on anything and spend their time bickering and accusing each other, even when they are in peril from the swords they created.
* The gods in ''Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians'' tend to act this way, leaving it up to the heroes to get things done.
* Every other organisation in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' is an example of this, but a few specific examples deserve mention:
** The rebel Aes Sedai (female mages) all agree that their new Amyrlin Seat (think Fantasy Pope) is running the organization into the ground, but that's about all they ''can'' agree on. They finally decide to elect their own Amyrlin-Seat-in-exile, but because no faction has enough backing to push through its own candidate over the others' objections and because they are near-pathologically incapable of compromise, they finally settle on a candidate who isn't even a full Aes Sedai because they all think she'll be easily manipulated. Fortunately for them, she turns out to be TheChessmaster-in-training and a {{determinator}}, and plays the factions against each other until they all wake up and realize that she's become a political powerhouse while they weren't looking, and she is finally able to mobilize them into decisive action.
** The White Tower on its own is a great example; all of its full members are incredibly powerful, live for many times a human lifespan, and are so influential that even kings ask them for advice. They could be ruling the world, if they wanted to (and indeed, many people think they do)--if it weren't for the fact that they spent almost all of their time trying to one-up, manipulate or backstab each other, either to further their own personal--and often selfish--agendas (or mess up their colleagues'), or, even more tragic, to soothe their massive egos. Trying to fix this becomes a major headache for Egwene later on.
* The White Council of Wizards in the ''Literature/DresdenFiles'' has severe and recurring problems with this, although sometimes the leadership fakes it to cover up their real plan.
** ''TurnCoat'' ([[LongRunningBookSeries book 11]]) reveals a key reason for all this-- the eponymous turncoat (or at least, one of the people the name applies to in varying ways) [[spoiler: was the secretary of the Council--and had been using subtle mind-control magic on all of them. In the most literal sense, they were letting the enemy set their agenda!]]
* The Clave from ''Literature/TheMortalInstruments''. About partway into the second book, we can already sympathize with BigBad Valentine Morgenstern for wanting to overthrow them since they seem to be more focused on hindering the good guys (which, in theory, includes themselves) than they are in stopping bad guys. Actual LawfulGood Shadowhunters frequently find themselves in ToBeLawfulOrGood situations simply because the Clave is hopelessly bogged down trying to figure out the most LawfulStupid way of dealing with just about anything.
%%* The Sanctuary from ''Literature/SkulduggeryPleasant'' are starting to slide towards this.
* In Katherine Kurtz' Literature/{{Deryni}} series, the Camberian Council (a BadassCrew when first founded) devolves into this trope over the centuries.
* In Creator/SMStirling's Literature/{{Emberverse}}, Corvallis's Faculty Senate is contentious, divided, and often unable to come to a decision. The Protectorate attempts to manipulate their internal politics to keep Corvallis out of the War of the Eye. [[spoiler: They only fail because a large number of Corvallans form a volunteer regiment and go into combat without waiting for a formal declaration of war.]]
* This is the type of legislature that Leia has to deal with in ''Franchise/StarWarsLegends'' (formerly the ''Star Wars'' ExpandedUniverse). Despite her good judgement in the past, not to mention almost always being right about a potential threat, they never seemed to look at the problem with the proper attention it needed. Instead, they focused majorly on bickering with one another. Several characters suspect the Rebels only won the war because the Empire had most of its military wrapped up in preventing all its member states from trying to kill each other, and these same conflicts bring the New Republic to the edge of civil war several times. (As seen in ''The Force Awakens,'' this is ''very'' much still a problem in the new continuity. The more things change...)
* Humanity's Golgafrinchian ancestors in ''Literature/TheRestaurantAtTheEndOfTheUniverse'' are such a bureaucratic [=cluster!@#$=] that their invention of the wheel literally gets bogged down in committee pending market research on what color it should be. Justified in this case as they are basically exiles who'd been kicked off their home world for being completely useless. This is what happens when you let marketing executives form committees to find out what people "want" from fire, rather than just inventing it.
* [[TropeOverdosed As usual]], the Literature/{{Honorverse}} has an example.
** The government of the Star Kingdom of Manticore tend to fall into this whenever they spend too much time in the spotlight. Based mainly on the old British government, it's an intricate collection of factions and groups, each with their own agendas and philosophies - and the BigGood can't do a damn thing if he can't rally a majority. Enter Honor Harrington, who is most definitely NOT a politician, and things are almost guaranteed to degenerate to the point where the hero's own government is a greater threat than the hostile superpower bearing down on her with a fleet of warships. The fifth book, ''Field of Dishonor'', centers entirely around this - the fearsome [[PeoplesRepublicOfTyranny People's Republic of Haven]] barely makes an appearance, and instead the time is spent trying to find a way to force a Declaration of War through the labyrinthine halls of a government filled in equal measure with [[AristocratsAreEvil Evil Aristocrats]], [[SuicidalPacifism Suicidal Pacifists]] and [[HiddenElfVillage Xenophobic Isolationists]].
** The Republic of Haven goes from an [[PeoplesRepublicOfTyranny Attempted-Omniscient Council of Murder, Mayhem, and Spying]] to this trope after the Theisman Coup. ''Mission of Honor'' in particular shows that, like Manticore, the genuinely good government officials (Theisman, Pritchart, [=LePic=], etc.) are hamstrung at every turn by the requisite selfish bastards (Giancola, "that snot" Younger). They spend most of said novel getting in the way of Eloise Pritchart's attempted peace treaty with Manticore, which spurs the President to [[CuttingTheKnot cut the knot]], shanghai most of her Cabinet, and make a mad dash to the Manticoran home system, where she offers the Queen said treaty in person. The treaty itself is therefore thrashed out by the two heads of state, Honor, and the sensible portions of Pritchart's and Elizabeth's Cabinets aboard Honor's flagship. It takes them three days.
* The Great Sanhedrin in ''Literature/TheKingdomAndTheCrown'', mostly because JewsLoveToArgue.
* [=StarClan=] in the ''Literature/WarriorCats'' series. They're supposed to watch over and guide the Clans, but especially in the fourth series they tend to be bickering too much to agree on things.
* The Ruling Council of Krypton is depicted as this in ''Literature/TheLastDaysOfKrypton''. Most of the council are made up of old fuddies from the nobility who happen to have their heads up their asses, and any motion brought forward needs a unanimous vote, so even a single 'Nay' will be enough to keep things from going. Their general incompetence is such that Kal-El has no problems (initially) helping [[VillainWithGoodPublicity Zod]] take over after the Council is abducted along with the rest of Kandor by Brainiac and the other nobles prove to be no better.
* In ''Brotherhood of the Rose'', the BigBad uses this as an excuse for his ManipulativeBastard actions. As a young CIA agent he'd been told that those above him knew "The Big Picture" and this explained why so many orders seemed confusing and foolish. "Eventually I gained enough rank that I was one of the men in that room, and they were just as stupid and petty as they had appeared."
* ''Literature/DaveBarrySleptHere'' describes the two important functions of the very powerful U.N. Security Council: "(1) Pass sweeping resolutions intended to end bloody conflicts; and then (2) Veto, ignore, or walk out on these resolutions."
* ''Literature/TheReynardCycle'': The nobility of the series can't seem to get more than two of them into a room without this happening. Of the two major council meetings depicted so far, one third of the participants leave the proceedings dissatisfied. At one point, Reynard reflects that if the nobles could only put as much effort into fighting their enemies on the battlefield as they do with each other, they would be completely unstoppable. This is all justified by the fact that prior to the events of the first novel, a very long and very bloody civil war had been raging, and there is still a great deal of animosity between various factions and families.
* The Small Council of King's Landing in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' are supposed to be not just the go-to advisers of the king, but the head administrators of the kingdom's equivalent of the arms of the civil service. When they aren't trying to backstab each other, other nobles and concerns... or the king himself (or queen regent, whichever), that is. At the start of the series it isn't too bad; the council members are masters in their disciplines, and the main threat is the King's own indifference towards their good advice until he dies for unrelated reasons. As the series goes on and they all start pursuing their own agendas in the newly chaotic situation, they get traded out as they leave the king's service or leave on other missions. By the fifth book the council has been completely replaced, and the new set are bickering incompetents (though they were deliberately appointed by [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen Cersei]] to be that way so that they can't oppose her).
** It gets worse when the king is underage and the council rules collectively as regents (as opposed to a single regent with authority over the council). The regency council of Aegon III (who was 11 when he became king) constantly bickered with each other, to the point of one councillor having the queen killed in order to try and betroth the king to his own daughter. The king's sister-in-law was also besieged for more than 2 weeks after her family was accused of various things, and one of the regents was arrested and tortured for being allied with them. Eventually, King Aegon got tired of their shit and immediately dismissed them all the day he turned 16.
* In the ''Literature/{{Nightrunner}}'' series, the [[OurElvesAreBetter Aurënfaie]] Iia'sidra which governs the relationships between the various clans, as well as the external affairs, of the nation of Aurënen. As a fairly large country where a significant chunk of the population can use magic, Aurënen could easily be the dominant power in the region, eclipsing any or all of the neighboring human-ruled lands. But the many clan divisions along with the contentious politics and strong personalities of the clan heads sitting on the Iia'sidra tend to prevent the Aurënfaie from acting as a unified nation.
* In ''Literature/MidnightsChildren'', the Midnight's Children Conference eventually descends into this. Saleem tries to act as a voice of reason and galvanize them toward some abstract, philosophical purpose, but he can't overcome their own prejudices and the distraction of everyday troubles; [[JustifiedTrope they are, after all, only children]].
* Creator/GeorgeOrwell, in one of his columns, parodied the furious inactivity of the UsefulNotes/UnitedNations shortly after the organization's founding (1946) by suggesting a new board game whose pieces would consist of "the proposal, the ''démarche'', the stumbling-block, the stalemate, the deadlock, the bottle-neck and the vicious circle."
* In ''{{Literature/Discworld}}'' in two separate instances, one being simply a war between nations because of an island mysteriously appearing and second when some old heroes' plot would soon destroy the world, characters realized these councils would soon form. The only reasonable course of action, of course, would be to let them and lock them in a room with food and drink while they discuss what to do as the heroes actually do something to stop the events from spiraling out of control and things getting very much worse.
* In ''Literature/TheSouthernReachTrilogy'', Central is a powerful organization and has the appearance of an Illuminati-like entity, but it's riven by factionalism. Its priority is dealing with terrorism and ecological collapse, although what it knows about [[EldritchLocation Area X]] is limited and has largely hit a wall regarding new data, especially with some of its members trying to accumulate power by withholding information.
* In ''Literature/ReapersGale'', book seven of the ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'', the Onyx Wizards of the Andara can't seem to agree on anything, detaining Silchas Ruin's party unneccessarily until he pulls rank and tell them where to stuff it. Decision speed isn't helped by them singing their arguments, in which they can't even agree on the tempo and -- as far as Udinaas is concerned -- they're probably arguing about the length of their robes, anyway.
* In the ''Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar'' Mage Storms trilogy, the council appointed to deal with the problems of the mage storms and the Imperial army is this--between every possible group (up to and including dairy farmers) having a representative, half the representatives being more concerned with their own niche interests than the issue as a whole, and a hidebound xenophobic ambassador who stirs up no end of trouble by accusing the main character of being an enemy spy and refusing to entertain solutions that don't involve "kill all the Imperials", it's a wonder they get ''anything'' done. (They do eventually get better, but it takes a while.)
* Implied to be the status quo on EarthThatUsedToBeBetter in a later arc of ''Literature/TheLostFleet'', as the rather vaguely-described council of nations (presumably a descendant of the modern UN) responded to a local power sending a "guard fleet" of warships to throw its weight around and be a general nuisance by arguing about what to do about it and writing the odd StronglyWordedLetter. Said fleet is still there ''ten years later''. This is nevertheless presented as an improvement over the days when they were still waging war on each other, given that they barely avoided becoming EarthThatWas.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** The Watcher's Council. By the time of ''Series/{{Angel}}'', even Wesley shrugs off their violent demise without much grief.
** In ''Fray'', whatever remnants of the Council that survived to the 23rd century have been reduced to a few insane zealots.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': The council in the Crownlands is more like outright snarking rather than bickering, really. However, with one Mad King, followed by one supremely uninterested king and then one brat king as the supposed head of government... is it all that surprising the ruling council is a divided, unsupervised mess?
* ''Series/{{Kaamelott}}'':
** The Knights of the Round Table on an average day. That's what you get when you put a lot of [[TheDitz Ditzes]], {{Cloudcuckoolander}}s and {{Deadpan Snarker}}s at the same table. Arthur once manages to turn a heated discussion on Léodagan refusing to pave the roads in his kingdom by making a RousingSpeech that leads to a MisfitMobilizationMoment as the Knights of the Round Table, finally united in their Quest for the Holy Grail, set off... only for one to point out that they can't really get anything done near Léodagan's kingdom, seeing as the roads aren't paved... Arthur just slumps back down in his seat as the exact same argument starts again.
** The assembly of the Kings of Logres, once every four years, is even worse.
--->'''Hoël:''' ''[slamming the table]'' You're the worst bunch of slackers of the whole Celtic World!\\
'''Loth:''' I won't ever come back, let it be said, I'll do it, I'll stay home, ''[[PrecisionFStrike shit]]'', I've had enough...\\
'''Léodagan:''' ''[pointing toward Arthur]'' We already have one governing like a woman, we aren't going to start a collection, right?\\
'''Arthur:''' I'll give you fifteen days of hard labor, you'll see if it feels womanly!
** In Livre VI, the council of the "Ladies", even though they are divine beings, is shown to be just as bad as the mortals.
* ''Series/KamenRiderGaim'': Consider that the people running Ygdrasil Corporation are MadScientist, BunnyEarsLawyer, DarkActionGirl and WellIntentionedExtremist. Now guess how long their alliance lasted. Just guess. [[spoiler: If you thought around two third of the story, you are right. There was nothing holding them from tripping each other up after [[OnlySaneMan Takatora]]'s supposed death and effectively tearing the company from the inside out.]]
%%* The Elders from ''Series/{{Charmed}}''.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Time Lords in the classic series are depicted as this in "The Deadly Assassin", although later stories veered more towards DeadlyDecadentCourt. According to The Writer's Tale, Creator/RussellTDavies made the Doctor the LastOfHisKind in the revival because the other Time Lords tended to "spout bollocks" and not much else.
** In ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS6E1TheDominators The Dominators]]'', the ruling council.
** The "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS18E3FullCircle Deciders]]" are a pretty ugly case. A RunningGag involves these supposed wise men being unable to decide on anything.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** The Grey Council slides into this every once in a while. The Minbari end up actually disbanding it for this reason, although this causes its own problems.
** The Babylon 5 Security Council as well. While they are not a single ruling council, the entire point of them being there was for the major powers to work together to resolve issues. Whenever one of the five powers was the ''cause'' of the issue, they could be quickly relied upon to grind the whole system to a halt. It didn't help that the most powerful member of the council typically preferred to take no part in the debate and abstained from almost all votes and council motions, seeing it as beneath their concern.
** Averted in Season Five, generally. Though Sheridan practically had to threaten the Interstellar Alliance with a gun most of the time to get them to act in their own favor. Case in point: the one time the ISA council comes to a swift, effective decision for their own benefit, [[KansasCityShuffle Sheridan was conning them into making it]].
* The Galactic Federation from ''Series/TheTomorrowPeople'', who will spend a lot of time talking about a problem but is reluctant to take action. Due to this, on two occasions Timus had to secretly enlist the aid of the Tomorrow People to deal with two specific problems. However at the end of the final story the Federation decides to chance this.
* The Xindi ruling council in ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'': the B5 security council on a smaller scale. The constant bickering, dithering and ineffectualness, however, was justified by the Reptilian and Insectoid Xindi going behind the other's backs to do their own thing (they themselves being led on by the trans-dimensional beings trying stop the Federation from being formed.)
* In the ''Franchise/StargateVerse'', the ''International Oversight Advisory'' ([=IOA=]) is formed after the various nations of the world become aware of what happens in Cheyenne Mountain, so that they can have a say, which [[TheWorldIsNotReady guarantees their silence]]. Unfortunately, [[Series/StargateSG1 Stargate Command]] quickly discovers that the only thing they are good for is for complaining and second-guessing every difficult decision they made, and laying blames on near-catastrophes they had to deal with. Eventually they have the brilliant idea of putting their inside man, [[ObstructiveBureaucrat Richard Woolsey]] (who is nominally a trained diplomat and bureaucrat) in command of the [[Series/StargateAtlantis Atlantis Expedition]]. Faced with a difficult decision he decides to consult the [=IOA=], which then proceeds to bicker and stall until he is forced to make a decision on his own. Only then he realizes why everyone else disliked the [=IOA=].

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Most of the secret societies in ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' tend to spend more time bickering among each other than accomplishing any actual sabotage. Depending on the edition of the game, this may be deliberate, as some or all of the secret societies were [[Film/TheSting founded by The Computer]] in the first place. In any edition the Humanists absolutely take the cake, positively delighting in meetings after meetings after ''meetings'' debating every pointless bit of minutiae in their planned revolution (one example is setting up a meeting to select a task group whose purpose is to decide what ''color'' the banners announcing the revolution should be).
* The Thirteen Lords of Decay -- the ruling council of the Skaven race in ''TabletopGame/WarhammerFantasy'' -- epitomize this trope. Like all Skaven, each council member is constantly scheming, plotting, backstabbing and breaking allegiances to further his own clan's ends and get one over on his rivals (not to mention treading on the ambitions of his underlings, who all want to overthrow him and take his place). Were they united in purpose then the Skaven would undoubtedly have overthrown the surface world long ago, but the vast majority of the council's resources are squandered in the internecine warfare that is the norm for their race.
* The High Lords of Terra in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' take this trope and run with it: NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering, DeadlyDecadentCourt, ObstructiveBureaucrat, ChronicBackstabbingDisorder, WeAreStrugglingTogether, the whole works. The only thing holding the Imperium together seems to be inertia and massive [[WeHaveReserves casualties]]. What really holds the Imperium together is that all of its institutions function independently from one another on most levels. So the Planetary Governors keep their own worlds stable, and if threatened by outside forces, they can call for intervention from the Imperial Guard without involving anyone over about sub-sector level. Only extraordinarily large crises call for the High Lords to actually ''do anything'' in a timely manner (and whenever that happens, you can trust the Inquisition Representative on the council to keep them on-task). Of course, at the local level, any kind of crisis tends to result in a big meeting being called between the local politicos, the Guard, the Arbites, the Administratum, the Mechanicus, etc. etc., which devolves into much bickering until the Guard declares martial law and [[WhyDontYaJustShootHim threatens to shoot everybody]] (such as in ''[[Literature/CiaphasCain Caves of Ice]]'', when Major Broklaw of the Guard "[[UnusualEuphemism calls a meeting to order]]" with his [[HandCannon bolt pistol]]).
* ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'':
** The Realm Deliberative spends most of its time arguing rather than getting anything done. This wasn't much of a problem when the Scarlet Empress was in charge (she encouraged it, in fact), but when she disappeared...
** This is also how a lot of [[CelestialBureaucracy heaven]] works. The gods and Sidereals could make huge, sweeping changes for the better in Creation, but instead spend most of their time playing political games or arguing over what the best way to help Creation really is, with motivations running the whole gamut from genuinely well-meaning to utterly corrupt. The Sidereals, at least, have the [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity Great Curse]] as an excuse. That said, the Sidereals manage to do quite a bit to protect Creation despite the constant factional politics, to the point that it's scary to think what they might be capable if they actually acted as a cohesive unit.
* The ''TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness'' sees this a lot with their various supernatural sects:
** ''TabletopGame/MageTheAscension'' has the Council of Traditions, an alliance of various traditionalist mages who all agree they should be [[WeAreStrugglingTogether fighting the Technocracy]], reversing the trend of failing magic in the world, and ultimately allowing humanity as a whole to [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence Ascend]]. Now if only they could come to an agreement on how to accomplish any of those goals. No wonder they lost the Ascension War.
** ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' has the Camarilla, which is mostly a court full of elders (and older) who plot and scheme against each other, regardless of whether there's bigger concerns they ought to be handling.
* The Circle Orboros in ''TabletopGame/IronKingdoms'' strives to maintain the balance between civilization and the wild, and believes civilization has spread too far and needs to be destroyed. However most of the organization is too preoccupied with the circle's internal politics to really get anything done.
* In ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' the Obzedat, also called the [[TheNecrocracy Ghost Council of Ordhova]], rarely acts but relies on their living servants to keep the organization running and coffers full. Once they're full members of the council they don't need to do anything to keep the position, and rarely do.
--> '''[[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=366316 Aurelia:]]''' I once saw the Obzedat moved to action. Since that day, I've been thankful that they're mainly lazy, and dead.

* In ''Theatre/{{Hamilton}}'', one of the main points of contention in "The Room Where It Happens" is that Congress can't decide where to put the US Capitol, much to Madison's dismay. The bickering itself is represented by the entire cast shouting the name of a different town or city at once - and according to Lin Manuel Miranda, [[FunnyBackgroundEvent very often, cities that weren't part of the USA at the time, or even ever part of the USA get added as well]], not that you'd ever be able to tell.
--->'''Aaron Burr:''' "Congress is fighting over where to put the US Capitol-" [indecipherable yelling] "-it isn't pretty."
** In fact, Congress, Washington's cabinet, and politics in general being comprised almost completely of bickering and infighting is a recurring theme throughout the show, appearing as early as "Stay Alive" with the ''Continental'' Congress being unable to fund or supply the Continental Army, and strongly continuing in Act II, where Hamilton has to learn to compromise with Jefferson, Madison, and the other Southerners in Congress to get what he wants. The fact that the 2 cabinet meetings in the show are represented by insult-laced rap battles is pretty telling.
* The whole plot of ''Theatre/SeventeenSeventySix'' is John Adams and his allies trying to get the Continental Congress to stop being this, and to officially declare the colonies independent of Britain.
-->'''John Adams:''' "You see, we piddle, twiddle, and resolve. Not one damn thing do we solve."

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The High Council of Democratus in ''VideoGame/{{Anachronox}}'' has incredible technology at their disposal, but almost never uses it due to their insistence on debating everything to death.
** When the planet becomes a member of the party (yes, the ''planet''. ItMakesSenseInContext, sorta), the player can use its TractorBeam system to procure out of reach items. The mini-game to activate it plays a bit like Whack-A-Mole, with the player was the OnlySaneMan (relatively speaking) on the council shouting down everyone who stands up to object to using the tractor.
** In fact, the one time in the game when they do come to a unanimous decision, it's treated as something of a SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome.
* The Jedi Council (again) in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic I and II'':
** In the first game it's fairly downplayed. They do debate with each other but have a leader and come to decisions fairly easily. The main naysayer is a Master Vrook who thinks the player character can't be trusted - which you might prove him right.
** In the second the bickering happened a while before the game and is partly the reason why there ''is'' no Jedi Council. You have to find them and bring them together - or kill them for revenge if you want. If you do reform the council there's no bickering, but they quickly lose the perspectives their time away from the Jedi gave them, and they start repeating the mistakes that led to their dissolution in the first place.
* The Sith Dark Council gets hit with this ''hard'' in ''Videogame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'', as most of its members are too busy trying to secure their own power/agendas to acutally come together as effective rulers. Strangely, a fair number of Council members themselves, such as Darths Jadus and Marr, explicitly point this out, but to no avail. [[spoiler: This starts to change when Darth Marr really starts assuming control of things around the truce in Shadow of Revan, and changes BIG TIME when the Dark Council is dissolved during the time skip in Fallen Empire.]]
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** The High Council of the Covenant in ''{{VideoGame/Halo 2}}'' though a lot of it happens off screen.
** The novels pretty much show that most Prophets are cutthroat, power-hungry politicians to the point that their names (ie. Truth, Regret) are the exact ''opposite'' of their personalities. Truth ends up [[spoiler:killing off the other two Hierarchs]]. [[ProperlyParanoid Regret predicts this]] but he isn't fast enough.
* Used offscreen a couple of times in ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'', to explain why ReasonableAuthorityFigure Emperor Peony can't give the protagonists more help than he is.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'':
** Commander Shepard has very, very bad luck getting any governing body to believe their warnings about rogue Spectres, killer robots and [[spoiler: genocidal sentient spaceships.]] The Citadel Council is infamously reluctant to take a proactive stance on anything, and the Alliance top brass doesn't come off as much better (excepting Hackett and Anderson).
** Surprisingly, in the third game, [[spoiler: once the [[GreyGoo Reaper paste]] has finally hit the fan, it's the turian councilor ([[{{Jerkass}} Mr. "Air-Quotes" himself]]) who turns out to be the most reasonable out of the bunch.]]
* The Commonwealth in ''VideoGame/LoveAndWar'', after three hundred years of rule over Terra, is shown to be on this road in a series of clever cut-scenes.
* The scientists from Videogame/FalloutNewVegas' DLC Old World Blues. [[spoiler:This was, at least to some degree, inflicted upon them by Dr. Mobius. His justification for keeping the Think Tank locked in a mental loop is that they're relatively contained in the Big Mountain region instead of inflicting scientific horrors on the rest of the wasteland.]]
* The [[FictionalUnitedNations Council of Venice]] in ''Videogame/TheSecretWorld'' once held the power to control all of the various secret societies and powerful organizations. Unfortunately, as they centuries passed, they became more corrupt and out of touch, losing their power and falling into politics and infighting and letting the various secret societies take over, particularly TheIlluminati. They still wield great power, but its almost entirely tied up by their corruption and bickering and its up to the benevolent conspiracies and smaller organizations to get things done.
* The Councillors in the backstory of ''VideoGame/HatePlus'' [[spoiler: ... at, least, ''before'']].
* Various factions in ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' would rather laze around, shoot danmaku at each other's faces, or going with their own business and apathetically watch other factions shoot danmaku at each other's faces than solving incidents unless it's in the way of their direct interest - that's the Hakurei shrine maiden's job. [[TheChessmaster But when they bother to work together for a singular goal...]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/ImpureBlood'', the Watchers, [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Issue4PAGES/ib073.html who don't have anyone in charge -- awkward when you're attacked]]. [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Issue4PAGES/ib083.html And after]], while arguing WhoWillBellTheCat. ([[{{Leader}} Dara]] [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Issue4PAGES/ib085.html has had quite enough of it.]])

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', this is generally the result whenever multiple factions of parahumans attempt to cooperate, notably when [[NebulousEvilOrganization Cauldron]] attempts to form an OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness between the [[SuperTeam Protectorate]], the [[WellIntentionedExtremist Thanda]], [[HiredGuns Faultline's Crew]], [[ArtificialIntelligence Dragon]], the inmates of [[TheAlcatraz Birdcage]], [[BloodKnight Moord Nag]], [[SmugSnake Saint]], and [[NobleDemon the Undersiders]] to combat the [[OmnicidalManiac Endbringers]]. [[spoiler:It turns out this is deliberate. The alien parasites that give super powers reproduce through conflict, and will influence their hosts to sabotage and betray each other whenever they can. In the end, it takes powerful mind control to get everyone co-operating.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce'', Ben unlocks the power of Alien X -- the most powerful alien in Omnitrix, [[RealityWarper who can bend reality to his will]] -- only to find out he is composed of two beings that cannot agree upon anything, even simple things such as movement or returning back to Ben's human form. That's the reason Ben never uses him. When Alien X and its species the Celestial Sapiens appear in ''WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien'', this is shockingly averted when the beings inside Alien X notice Paradox. Thanks to a NoodleIncident in the distant past they have a restraining order against Paradox. Thinking that he's violated the arrangement, the two ''immediately'' agree to destroy him.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' has many in-universe organizations that act like this, and portrays many real-life organizations as acting like this as well. Expect the phrase "Robble robble robble!" to come up with some frequency.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' has the Robot Elders, who constantly interrupt each other with a shout of "Silence!", even when they don't have anything to interrupt with, and they readily admit that their own corruption and incompetence are among the biggest problems their planet faces.