%%Image Pickin' thread did not produce a page pic: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1ygvizqefjiovucem0mm0xzz&page=1

->''"My observation is that whenever one person is found adequate to the discharge of a duty... it is worse executed by two persons, and scarcely done at all if three or more are employed therein."''
-->-- '''George Washington'''

''The more people there are working on something, the less likely they are to succeed.''

Basically, this rule is just that: the more people that attempt something, the less competent they become at accomplishing said task. Inversely, ventures made solo, especially in the case of LastOfHisKind on a mission, are almost sure to succeed (unless there's AnAesop about teamwork).

A good example is in Superhero stories, wherein a singular villain may be a match for an entire ''team'' of superheroes, but if said villain joins a group of villains, suddenly they lose to just one of them. Similarly, a villain may be taking down entire groups of superheroes, but when one hero steps out to take them on alone, watch out. Of course, villain team-ups are also prone to a [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder different problem entirely]].

May be TruthInTelevision -- sometimes too many people working on a project results in nothing getting done, possibly because [[BystanderSyndrome everyone thinks someone else will do it]], or because of conflicts over direction (a phenomenon known as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_Law_of_Triviality Parkinson's Law of Triviality]]). This can even be seen on Internet forums, where the more people that engage in an argument, the less reasonable the conversation generally becomes ([[GodwinsLaw Nazis or otherwise]]).

This is the super trope of several other rules, notably ConservationOfNinjutsu, which applies this principle to ninjas and other supposedly-elite fighters, and ConservationOfCompetence, which applies this to intelligence in evil structures. Possibly related to, or even caused by, SturgeonsLaw. ExecutiveMeddling is often a good example of this trope in action. Contrast MoreDakka and its related tropes, where more cooks are seen to make the soup better in any case.

Also note that this can specifically be invoked as AnAesop, generally when something straightforward starts to involve too many people and therefore ends up ASimplePlan. As AnAesop, it contrasts well with StoneSoup. In almost all cases, it ends up being a cause of UnwantedAssistance. If the various people/factions are engaged in some sort of opposition to a common enemy, WeAreStrugglingTogether is usually the result, as the people who should be on the same side disagree about details and turn against each other rather than unite.

Compare TwoRightsMakeAWrong.

Not to be confused with the theatre show, ''Theatre/TooManyCooks'', or the Creator/AdultSwim [[Series/TooManyCooks short of the same name]].


[[folder:Anime And Manga]]
* In season 2 of ''Manga/SchoolRumble'', much of the cast attends a potluck dinner which they completely ruin by various people adding stupid things to the food. [[SubvertedTrope However, the weirder the ingredients, the better the batch turned out to be.]]
* [[spoiler:Nanamine]] of ''Manga/{{Bakuman}}'', in his contempt of editors, attempted to create a manga by gathering a group of fifty people online and forming a conference from them. Though the initial results are good, the manga is cluttered from Nanamine attempting to stuff too many ideas into the work without following his editor's advice and by chapter three the series dropped to ninth place in the rankings. Things only get worse for him from then on.
* In episode 13 of ''LightNovel/AmagiBrilliantPark'', Tricen is told by Seiya that his first promotional video for the park is too bland, and has him redo it with more input from the other characters. They give him varying suggestions based on what they think it should include, such as Moffle wanting more action-oriented stuff. When Seiya sees the second video, he wonders what the heck it's supposed to be about, and ends up running the first video instead. Tricen then reveals that he uploaded the second video online, and Seiya is shocked to find out that its garnered almost a million and a half views, along with over seventy thousand comments.
* In the Oracion Seis arc of ''Manga/FairyTail'', the heroes initially lose miserably when they all fight together against the villains at the start (granted, they were ambushed, so that also lowered their chances). When they split up and fight the villains alone or in pairs, they suddenly win all their battles.
* Episode 1 of ''Anime/OsomatsuSan'' has Osomatsu try to come up with a way to make his series more accessible to modern audiences. He decides to go with an idol anime, but the plan started falling apart when more and more genres started coming into the forefront.
* One ''Manga/FrankenFran'' story ends this way. A rich man plots to capture his niece's inheritance (along with every other one of her relatives) by being put into her brain-dead body. Once he realizes just how much her relatives destroyed her life, Fran transfers the rest of the family's minds into the body after an accident, and now they can't take a single action if they aren't all in agreement (with the uncle deliberately vetoing every action to get back at them).

* The number of writers of a film is often inversely proportional to the quality of the finished product.
** Same for number of producers[[note]]executive producers not so much for some reason[[/note]] and directors.
*** Producers pull the purse strings, so can and will have say over whether certain things make it into the film, often over the advice of the director and writer(s), which can often be contradictory to what other producers have already demanded.
*** Too many directors are even worse; barring directing teams (ie, Coen Brothers, Miller and Lord) or guest directors[[note]]these directors are not credited in final versions, and usually are doing a single scene in a subject they are good at[[/note]], a film with more than one director - and they often aren't even working at the same time - can often derail a project, as each director will have their own idea of how a story should go. Notable examples are the DC Films, ''Film/SuicideSquad'' and ''Film/JusticeLeague'', where, in the first case, producers didn't like the final version and brought in a late director to add in scenes they thought the film needed. In the later, the first director left for personal reasons and was replaced with someone of general approval, but who had a complete reverse idea of what the tone should be. In both cases, the final versions had inconsistent tone and pacing, leaving audiences wondering what, good or bad, the original idea was supposed to have been.
* Played with in ''Film/StateFair'': Melissa refuses Abel's suggestion to sweeten the mincemeat with brandy, so Abel decides to add some without her noticing. After he leaves, Melissa decides to add some brandy herself. Even though the dish ends up having an abnormally high alcohol level, the judges still reward Melissa with a blue ribbon.
* ''Film/ThePentagonWars'' details how this happened with the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Originally designed as a troop carrier by Colonel Smith, the committee he answered to made constant revisions of the design until it couldn't do anything well. Too slow and big to be a scout, but too bulked up with ammo and weapons to be a troop carrier, and not enough armor to stand up against actual tanks. The result was that the Bradley was in development for ''seventeen years'' and went billions of dollars over budget.

* In one of Literature/AesopsFables, a man and his boy are taking a donkey to the marketplace to sell. He passes by several groups of individuals who make criticisms of how he goes about transporting the donkey (e.g., "Look at that selfish man, riding a donkey and making his son walk behind him on foot.") Eventually, he decides to hogtie the donkey and carry it on a pole. But this proves to be the worst idea yet, since the donkey struggles against being tied up, falls into a river, and drowns. The now-donkeyless man goes home, reflecting on how he shouldn't have felt the need to change his practices every time someone made a criticism. The moral of the story: "If you try to please everyone, you may as well kiss your [[StealthPun ass]] goodbye."
* In a similar Arabic folktale, the father (a bit of a Trickster archetype) wants to teach his son the dangers of relying too much on others' opinions. At the end, when he and his son are carrying the donkey between them, a mob cries that they are insane and they are taken to jail.

* Creator/PiersAnthony once wrote about how a writer, by following the advice of the various [[StrawCritic magazine editors]] to whom he submits his story, ends up transforming his story into [[AdaptationDecay something entirely different from what it started out as]]. ([[ProtectionFromEditors Piers Anthony hates editors.]])
* In Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Discworld/TheLastContinent'', this is how the Literature/{{Discworld}} got the duck-billed platypus, no thanks to a group of temporally-displaced wizards from Unseen University (and a demonstration on the saying that a platypus looks like a duck designed by committee).
** In ''Discworld/TheLastHero'', Vetinari deals with this sort of problem in his truly magnificent style; when leaders from hundreds of nations come to Ankh-Morpork to discuss how they're going to stop Cohen the Barbarian and the Silver Horde from blowing up the world, he has them form committees and then locks them in the room. Then, while they're arguing, he takes a few of the people he knows aside and tells them how they're going to save the world.
** A [[RealLife Roundworld]] proverb has it that the camel is a horse designed by committee.
*** On the other hand, a horse couldn't do a lot of the things people use camels for, but camels can do almost everything a horse can do besides "look pretty".
** ''Discworld/SmallGods'' has a multinational coalition invade Omnia to put an end to them once and for all. Except no one's in charge, but every general thinks he is.
* Used literally in ''[[Literature/AnneOfGreenGables Anne of Avonlea]]'' at a dinner party; everyone involved in making the meal adds a little sugar to the peas because they all think no one else will remember to. Result: ''literal'' TastesLikeDiabetes.
* A Little Golden Book featuring DonaldDuck had Donald in the studio while the writers are storyboarding his next cartoon. Each of the writers keeps adding in things they think should be in the cartoon (like the nephews and Chip N' Dale) to the point where there is no room for Donald in the cartoon. Donald proceeds to blow his top and start screaming at the writers.
* In the {{Literature/Redwall}} book ''Legend Of Luke'', this happens with ''literal'' soup.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In an episode of ''Series/ThirtyRock'', Jack recruits some of the writers to help him come up with a new microwave oven. When all their suggestions are combined he ends up with a Pontiac Aztek.
** In another episode, when Tracy is even later for rehearsal than usual:
-->'''Liz:''' How did this happen? I had Grizz call him at eight o'clock this morning and pretend it was eleven.\\
'''Pete:''' I printed up that fake rehearsal schedule for him saying we were starting at nine instead of noon.\\
'''Kenneth:''' Oh, and I set all his watches and clocks to say p.m. when it's really a.m.!\\
'''Liz:''' Oh, boy, we may have overdone it.\\
'''Tracy:''' ''[entering]'' WHAT THE HELL TIME IS IT?
* ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' would occasionally comment on films with a large number of writers, producers, etc. For example, in ''Film/SpaceMutiny'':
-->'''Mike:''' Passed from editor to editor in a desperate attempt to save it!
* The point of ''{{Series/Extras}}'': Andy's sitcom gets picked up, but he allows the producers' suggestions to turn it from [[Series/TheOfficeUK a witty character study and commentary on office life]] to a cheesy, lowbrow WorkCom.
* The Creator/AdultSwim short appropriately titled ''Series/TooManyCooks'' is a satire/deconstruction of this trope occuring in television, mocking the tendency for shows to be given far more writers and producers than needed with the result that they lose their original vision. This is represented by the show starting off as a {{retraux}} family sitcom, only for the opening credits to suddenly extend with more and more characters, and the show loses track of what it's supposed to be. It cycles through numerous genres, settings, and casts all of whom grow increasingly confused and mixed up. Things go even further off the rails when [[spoiler: a nameless Killer starts trying to off the cast so he take the show for himself. Said Killer is strongly implied by WordOfGod to be the original main character of the show before it got butchered by new writers, trying to retake his show out of jealousy.]]
* This trope is literally in play on ''Series/HellsKitchen''. A lot.
* In the ''Series/AdventuresInWonderland'' episode "Her-Story in the Making," Alice needs to write a story for a school assignment, but has trouble coming up with good idea, so the Hatter and Hare offer to write it for her. But the various other Wonderland characters end up making contributions too. The end result is nonsensical even for Wonderland and Alice learns AnAesop about doing her own work.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''ComicStrip/TheFarSide'' had one strip with a bunch of scientists arguing with the caption "Another case of too many mad doctors and not enough hunchbacks."
* There was also a ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'' strip where this trope is compressed into a proper theory: The combined IQ of any team starts at 100 for one participant, with 5 points deducted for every additional member to the team.
** Another time it was expressed as equaling the IQ of the dumbest member, divided by the number of members. [[labelnote:note]]It turns out that, for both of these to remain true, the only realistic team size is 20 (with a lowest member-IQ of 100). Any higher, and someone will have to have a 0 or negative IQ; any lower, and everyone will have to have at least supergenius intelligence (or there'd be a team of one). Granted, either case would be very likely to happen in the Dilbert universe... and doesn't take away from the fact that the combined IQ of a 20-person team is still 5.[[/labelnote]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Sidereals in ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' tend towards this. It's actually part of the rules that the more people that are present, the stupider their decisions are likely to be. In the backstory this tendency is one of the key reasons the world is now in such a perilous state.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* This was ultimately what killed ''VideoGame/MushroomKingdomFusion''. There were too many ideas to reasonably input and tasks were delegated to people who couldn't contribute on time. The project ended up collapsing in on itself.
* In ''VideoGame/TheMagicCircle'', [[spoiler:this is [[StrawFan Coda's]] undoing. She get what she wants in a much more palatable way than her initial plan (ControlFreak head developer Ishmael off the titular DevelopmentHell of a game), but she allows way too many people, sans vetting or experience with coding of any kind, to work on the beta, resulting in a massive slowdown of the servers that stalls out anything anyone plans on doing. It ultimately falls to the player and [[TheMentor the Old Pro]] to create a better demo/first episode of the larger game themselves...and assuming you are at all successful, [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Maze]] [[BittersweetEnding accidentally puts the new development team in danger of this given how she gets a truly massive number of developers to enlist along with her]] (the fame ends before the trope plays out or is subverted).]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* One future arc strip of Webcomic/ArthurKingOfTimeAndSpace had Morgan avoiding helping with an engine problem, citing she hated being the "too manyth" cook.
* Exploited by Dr. Bowman in ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}''. When designing the [[UpliftedAnimal Bowman's Wolves]], [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2600/fc02539.htm Dr. Bowman wanted]] them to be completely capable of free will, with their [[RestrainingBolt human safeguards]] being more like guidelines than actual rules, while some of his human co-workers wanted the safeguards to have certain dogmatic overriding limitations. However, they couldn't agree on ''which'' limitations were needed, and Dr. Bowman encouraged them all to consider their idea the only acceptable one, until the project ran out of time and none of them could be implemented at all, just like he wanted.
* Used in a surprisingly dark and serious manner in ''WebComic/TheOrderOfTheStick''. When the gods were first weaving together the world from the fabrics of reality, their bickering and fighting over how they wanted aspects of the world resulted in the fabrics getting tangled together, eventually forming [[EldritchAbomination the Snarl]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment Dr. Insano]] notes that the shlock 80s fantasy film ''Film/TheDungeonmaster'' had ''seven'' directors[[note]]Though not ''at once'': each of them directed a different segment corresponding to the protagonists' several "trials".[[/note]]. And yet none of them seem to have stuck around long enough to film an ending; the movie just sort of stops 20 seconds after the climax.
* Deliberately invoked in ''LetsPlay/TwitchPlaysPokemon''. Having 100,000+ people input commands for a game of ''[[VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue Pokemon Red]]'' (and afterwards, one game from each [[OneGameForThePriceOfTwo pair]] of main series games, all the way to Gen 6.) The results are hilarious, having the player walk in weird directions to making ''really'' silly decisions (like releasing their starter, for instance).
* [[VideoReviewShow Internet video critic]] WebSite/SFDebris usually makes sure to point out which episodes have too many cooks by calling a bloated writing credit "the wall of text" or something similarly sarcastic.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Seen in a ''WesternAnimation/{{Doug}}'' comic, where the title character makes a gravy boat, but after being mocked, turns to his friends for help, ending up with something resembling a jet pack crossed with a water gun. Fortunately, he decided to go back to his original design before it was too late.
** The same thing happens when Doug tries to form a band; everyone wants in, and it quickly becomes an unmanageable mess.
*** It really didn't help that the RichInDollarsPoorInSense member of the group insisted he had to "[[BiggerIsBetter think big]]". It's fortunate for Doug that he left before the whole thing imploded.
* The ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck'' episode "Comic Book Capers" has Darkwing preparing to pitch a comic book of his fabulous adventures, but he keeps getting called away from his typewriter. Other characters study his pitch while he's away and decide to "improve" it, resulting in the comic book storyline going completely OffTheRails in a CrowningMomentOfFunny.
* In an early episode of ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'', Edd is counting grains of sugar to add to their energy drinks. He asks Eddy to help him. While Edd is looking away, Eddy adds one full bag of sugar into the energy drink. The end result? The energy drink has tons of sugar in it (unbeknown to Edd), Edd tastes tests it and goes hyper due to sugar rush.
** In another episode, while making omelettes Edd uses a spoon to take a small amount of butter from a stick. Eddy thans him and takes the stick. Eddy has a habit of not measuring ingredients in cooking and simply using as much of it as he can find.
* Shown in one of the "Aesop and Son" segments of ''WesternAnimation/RockyAndBullwinkle''. In the tale, a bunch of animals cook a stew but won't let a bear eat any of it because he didn't contribute any ingredients. After spending the episode trying to catch a goldfish, the fish tricks the dimwitted bear with an ''undersea mine'' it had painted golden. The other animals aren't any smarter and also think it's a goldfish. Boom. When Aesop tries to give the aesop "Too many cooks spoil the broth", his son is ComicallyMissingThePoint because the story was about stew instead of broth.
* A minor example in one episode of ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGummiBears'': Cubbi, Sunni, and Tummi have sneaked into Castle Dunwyn in the hopes of using the [[AnachronismStew pressure cooker]] there to replicate a famous chef's recipe for taffy. This goes wrong early on, when ''each'' of them add ingredients to the pot without realizing the others have done so already - all the more since Tummi dumps his ingredients in ''along with their containers.'' It's no surprise that the entire endeavor goes explosively wrong in the end.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode "Castle Sweet Castle", the girls decide to decorate Twilight's new castle when they find out that she's been doing everything she could to stay out of it, in an attempt to make it comfortable. When the girls work together, they end up with a room that's more suited to ''their'' styles and not Twilight, but working separately, the rooms they hit end up being much more sensible.
* Used in ''WesternAnimation/ChalkZone'', where Rudy and Penny are trying to design a robot, but because they have different views on how it should work (Penny wants it to be helpful, Rudy wants it to be a superweapon), the design turns out a mess and after being erased, the robot goes on a helpful/destructive rampage in chalkzone. Even worse, Rudy's [[ArchEnemy archenemies]] Scrawl and Craniac discover it and decide to use it in a scheme they were concocting.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheNewAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh'', when Rabbit gets trapped in a fortress he built without a door, Gopher decides to blast him out with dynamite. Before pushing his PlungerDetonator, he comments that only a single keg of dynamite would be necessary...not knowing that Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet had each added a keg to the pile.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** In the episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", the [[ExecutiveMeddling producers of "Itchy and Scratchy"]] decide the show needs a new [[CousinOliver hip, young character]] to improve its ratings. The result is a Poochie, a character largely designed by committee ("Can we put him in more of a hip-hop context?", "He's gotta be a surfer", "I feel we should rastafy him by 10% or so") that everyone despises after his first episode airs.
** The reason Apu and Manjula got octuplets is because when conceiving, Manjula took fertility drugs...while Apu, Homer, Marge, and Bart slipped her some more without each other knowing.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'', Professor Utonium creates a new pet called B.E.E.B.O, telling the girl that he only needed to be fed one time in his life. Unfortunately, the girls each fed him without the others knowing, resulting in B.E.E.B.O going on a ravenous eating rampage.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'' episode "Arthur Writes a Story," for a school assignment, Arthur writes out the story of how he got his dog Pal. But each of his friends whom he shares it with call it boring and offer suggestions to make it "better," which he takes. He ends up writing [[MindScrew a country-western musical set in outer space in which Pal is a striped elephant]], and after his friends hear it, they much prefer his original version.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Related quote: "It's better for a ship to have one bad captain than two good ones."
** Related is the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect Bystander Effect]], where the more individuals on hand at a crisis, the more likely they are all to stand there and do nothing. An individual who witnesses a catastrophe usually feels a personal obligation to act if they can, or at least scream for help if they cannot. A crowd feels [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_responsibility Diffusion of Responsibility]] and is more likely to stand there.
*** For this reason, from CPR trainees to physicians, responders are generally trained not to ask a crowd for help. They are trained to single out someone who looks half-way responsible and clearly identify them, then put them on the spot to help. "Hey, you, with the glasses in the blue polo shirt. Yes, you. Call 911 right now. Borrow a phone if you have to, but call 911 right now!" works better than standing in front of twenty people shouting, "Someone call 911!"
** Militaries and first responders to a crisis have (under optimal conditions) a clear chain of command just to avoid this trope. Additionally, a proper chain of command is designed so down to the lowest levels, beheading the organization still leaves it unambiguous who should be in charge.
* The JargonFile contains the analogous entry for Brooks' Law, which states that "Adding manpower to a late project makes it later", with mathematical justification; dividing a task among N people gets the work done in ''O''(N) time, but actually coordinating that work and getting it merged back into a completed project takes ''O''(N^2) because of duplication, intercommunication problems (two people on a project have one line of communication (A<->B); four people have six), and general laziness (if there's a hundred people on a task, there will be a few who think they don't need to pull their weight).
* An [[MemeticMutation image macro]] from Film/TheHangover breaks down the participants in a project into four archetypes: [[SurroundedByIdiots one guy does most of the work]] [[SanitySlippage and goes insane before the end]], one [[{{CloudcuckooLander}} has no clue what he's doing]], one [[TheComplainerIsAlwaysWrong does nothing but complain]], and the last one [[TheCavalryArrivesLate shows up only in the final stages but gets credit anyway]].
* Norman Augustine wrote that at one point, the US had 23 different types of military aircraft -- 11 of which were produced at the rate of 12 a year or less -- with concomitant loss of efficiency. His point was that when the government distributed money for projects, the more projects there were and the less each got, the less likely any of them were to succeed.
** In another chapter, he notes, "The optimum committee has no members."
* The average American sitcom has at least a dozen writers behind the scenes. Few of these sitcoms are ever critically praised.
* The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is under the joint jurisdiction of the Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Syriac Orthodox Churches. This resulted in a state where pretty much nothing gets done, and the common areas of the church are generally in a state of disrepair because any rearranging of the furniture requires a consensus by all 6 churches. Famously, a dispute has resulted in a ladder remaining on the facade of the church for 250 years. During the Crusades, when the churches appealed to Saladin to obtain full jurisdiction of the church, he foresaw the political shitstorm that will result if he favored any one of the churches and instead handed the keys to a Muslim family, and the Nuseibeh family remains keywardens to the present day.
* Apple's employee training program, "Apple University", reportedly compares a [[http://bgr.com/2014/08/11/apple-google-tv-remote/ 78-button Google TV remote]] to their own 3-button Apple TV remote as an example of design by committee.
* As video game projects and their budgets grew bigger, so did the number of people working on a video game. It is not unheard of to have several dozen or even 100+ people working on one video game nowadays, yet a good chunk of them are either seen as mediocre or filled with glitches and bugs while ExecutiveMeddling can muck things up even further. TheNewTens saw a surge in indie games developer by a small group of people and sometimes developed by just a single person, causing many critics to give such games a ton of praise since less people means less interference and no meddling from publishers.
* Some legislators have invoked this trope with regards to lawmaking, saying that it's actually good when big public projects are poorly executed, because it means that many people had a say in it.