"Professor, my friends and I have built a portable hadron collider, it fuses hydrogen atoms and produces unlimited energy..."
"Oh yeah? Well you'll have 2 points subtracted 'cause the guide explicitly says you should have made a Styrofoam model..."
"Pick any moment from history and tell me about it. Be as creative as you like, or not, I don't care. Professor Cornwa..." He didn't even finish signing his own name!
— Jeff Winger
(on their final history project from Prof. Cornwallis), Community
There are Badass Teachers
, Sadist Teachers
, Cool Teachers
, and Fired Teachers
, and then there's this guy. Jaded, misanthropic, Deadpan Snarker
material, this is the teacher who's been in the job too long. He dislikes students — he's been there long enough to know they're thick and (usually) irritating. He hates the school, he hates the job, he really
hates the management — but because he's known virtually nothing else, he still sticks at it, putting himself through it year after year.
Sometimes, these started out as young, enthusiastic Cool Teachers
, who got beaten down by rowdy kids and an uncaring system. There's usually one person who will find that their no-longer-gives-a-shit attitude makes them a Cool Teacher
anyway, or at the very least an occasional confidant
. They're likely to seek solace in the bottom of a bottle
In pretty much all Save Our Students
movies, one of these (if not an entire school of them) will serve as a foil to the idealistic teacher. If the school is an inner city one, expect this teacher to be the one to make some remark about how they can't really expect anything from kids with this "background". Occasionally an apathetic teacher will be won over by the enthusiasm of an idealistic teacher and will start caring about the students too.
The key difference between Apathetic Teachers
and Sadist Teachers
is the latter hate their students
, while the former hate their jobs
. Sadist Teachers
often seem to take a sick glee in torturing their students; the teachers this trope describes don't seem to take much joy in anything, at least not at work.
In psychology, these people are called "burnouts
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Yukari from Azumanga Daioh gets bored with her job easily. The show's opening even shows her sleeping at her desk. In one episode, she's just come back from summer vacation and she's as bummed out about going back to school as two of her students.
- Ms. Igurashi from Pani Poni Dash! cares less for her students than where her next drink will come from.
- Reiji from Jungle wa Itsumo Hare nochi Guu, as a result of his all-night anime marathons.
- In Those Lacking Spines, Ms. Larxene of Destiny Sanctuary Peak High School Academy Grammar School. She teaches English, and spends most of her time flirting with the class' parents during "Career Day." Also, this may have something to do with the fallout after she realized what happened when she graduated with a degree in Philosophy.
Films — Live-Action
- The Brady Bunch: Mr. Price, the dull old science teacher in "The Power of the Press" who had been derided for his weakening effectiveness and outdated teaching methods in the classroom. Including by Peter. That is, until Peter he gets a D on his science test and, all of a sudden, he decides that he's such a ''great'' teacher that he deserves to have a story written about him in the school newspaper. Of course, Peter's attempt at flattery doesn't work.
- Kieran. They even try to pack him off on a motivational course ("the Feeling, Healing, Teaching Program"). He functions as a confidant and wannabe father figure for Naomi — until he misreads the signals and tries to kiss her.
- Most of the Roundview staff seem to be heading this way actually, if they're not there already.
- Very few of the characters in Teachers seem interested in doing any actual teaching.
- In an episode of My Name Is Earl, Earl decides to go back to high school so he can learn what he needs to learn to get his GED. He finds that all the teachers there are apathetic, as they have been beaten down by mean students like Earl once was.
- Professor Ian Duncan spends whole periods in his Intro to Anthropology class showing YouTube videos so that he doesn't have to teach. Although he's definitely apathetic, this particular example is less out of inherent apathy and more because he's actually a psychology professor who's been press-ganged into teaching an anthropology course and has no idea what he's doing; we never actually see him teach anything related to psychology, so it's possible he improves with material he's familiar with and interested in. Unlikely, but possibly.
- Season four has Professor Cornwallis who used to be a tenured professor at Oxford until a sex scandal forced him to resign. Now, the only teaching job he can get is teaching history at Greendale Community College. He is extremely apathetic and sometimes verges on suicidal.
- In the fifth season, Professor Buzz Hickey and Jeff, though he becomes a Cool Teacher eventually
- Apparently Nick Cutter from Primeval doesn't even turn up to his own classes. When Connor tells him this, he just says "Uh-huh" and walks off.
- Although he isn't technically a teacher, Shaun the probation worker from Misfits — a world-weary and visibly bored Deadpan Snarker, charged with the task of supervising a group of juvenile delinquents — fits the type precisely.
- A repeated sketch in The Armstrong and Miller Show (the Channel 4 show) was of a really Cool Teacher who was passionate, funny and well loved by his students... until the bell rang, at which point he'd become this, telling his students to "fuck off", abandoning any sort of life lesson he'd been teaching mere seconds ago, and in at least one example, directly contradicting it.
- Mr Gilbert on The Inbetweeners goes between this and Sadist Teacher. He couldn't care less about his student's welfare, once noting that a pregnancy scare involving Neil was "a looming disaster for mankind but not his problem" and that the only reason anyone teaches is due to less strict background checks. This is made even better by the fact that Greg Davies, the actor who plays him, was a teacher for thirteen years. He is an apathetic teacher to most students (he may be a Jerkass, but he more or less goes for the live-and-let-live principle — if they shut up and behave, he'll leave them alone). He is a Sadist Teacher to Will, mainly because Will managed to insult him quite gravely on his (Will's) first day.
- Ms. Park in True Jackson VP. She is even later put in charge of being the janitor, play director, cafeteria cook and football coach (simultaneously), and doesn't care about any of them.
- Mutou of Katawa Shoujo occasionally gives this impression due to often being late and giving uninspired lectures, and Hisao thinks of him as such in Hanako's route, thinking that his willingness to let her leave class if necessary is proof that he doesn't care about her. Mutou is, however, actually concerned about his students, and in Hanako's good ending, Hisao comes to realize this.
- Steve Parsons of Subnormality had a stint as one of these. Deconstructed when one of his students confronts him during a drug-induced breakdown about how he's basically fucking them all over and if he can't summon up enough energy to do his job properly he shouldn't be doing it at all.
- The Simpsons:
- Edna Krabappel has completely gone to town on this trope. She and Bart still bond a lot more than either of them would like.
- Miss Hoover is possibly more apathetic than Mrs. Krabappel.
- Reverend Lovejoy could also be considered one, from a "pastors are also teachers" POV.
- Principal Lewis from American Dad!. Lampshaded and justified in "Jenny Frohmdablok":
Hey, Steve, I'm only telling a few people; I'm making belt buckles now if you want to buy one. Check it out!
(displays bootleg Tweety Bird belt buckle with the caption "There Is No God"
I really can't believe you're an educator, Brian
. Princpial Lewis:
My job's mostly administrative.
- Carl Moss from King of the Hill is a particularly sleazy example of an Apathetic Principal. Cuts corners wherever he can, makes no effort to running his school, and doesn't care anything about any problem that comes to his attention unless it involves the possibility of losing his job.
- Miss Sculptham on Moral Orel. She's shown to only do the bare minimum of her job, often refusing to "teach" her students about anything after class hours. Like most of the characters in the show, she has deeply-rooted problems of her own.
- Mr. Garrison from South Park has shades of this, if not contempt for his students.
- Mrs. Puff from SpongeBob SquarePants flips flops on this depending on the writer. Though it's mostly her attitude toward SpongeBob since no matter what she does, she can't seem to get him to pass the driving portion of her test and out of her hair for good. His over-eagerness certainly doesn't help, neither does continually landing her in jail either.
- Portia's abusive mother Mary Gibbons from The Mighty B! hates her job as much as she hates Bessie.