In Code Geass: "My mother is dead!" "Old news, what of it?" This dialogue took place between a boy and his father. Just days after it happened. Justified in that acting this way was part of the father's Evil Plan.*
The truth was that the mother wasn't quite dead, and the father WAS affected by it.
Kanako Oora in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has this as her defining character trait. To her, everything else is somebody else's problem. Like, say, a huge pile of corpses in the classroom after one of Chiri's rampages. On the other hand, everybody calls her magnanimous for not judging you for your problems.
The chapter aptly named "The Bystanders", explores this trope.
If it doesn't involve his little brother Mokuba, his company KaibaCorp, his position as a duelist, defeating Yugi Moto, or owning the most powerful cards (particularly ones related to the Blue-Eyes White Dragon), this defines Seto Kaiba of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! to a T.
But at some point after the series ends, he starts caring enough to devote a significant part of his vast fortune into creating Duel Academia, a school intended to deal with all the magical consequences of Duel Monsters. Thus setting the stage for Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
Invoked by Fate in Mahou Sensei Negima!, when he tries to convince Negi not to interfere with his plans to destroy the Magic World. His argument was "This isn't your world, it's just a fantasy, and you really shouldn't interfere in it's affairs." This is before Negi discovers who his mother is.
Pokémon Special: During their encounter at Fortree, Ruby states to Sapphire that he has no intention of helping defend Hoenn from Teams Magma and Aqua - his reasons being that [A] he's only in it for the Contests and [B] he isn't Hoenn born and raised. Cue the fireworks.
Ah! My Goddess had a few instances when passer-bys decided to ignore the heroes' home because they were used to strange happenings there and didn't want to get involved.
In A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun, many people are like this. In episode 5 of Railgun, Uiharu begs for help as a bank robber mercilessly beats up Kuroko, but the people just walk past her. Fortunately, Mikoto answers her plea. Silvia does not care about any matter that doesn't directly concern her, and gets irritated whenever Ollerus helps people and drags her into it.
Happens on a mass scale in Psycho Passwhen a man beats a woman to death in broad daylight with hundreds of witnesses, and not a single person does anything to intervene. This was done as part of a demonstration to show that people have become so accustomed to the Sibyl System managing their lives that they no longer have any ability to do so themselves - many of the onlookers are so used to depending on Sibyl to shield them from danger and violence that they simply can't comprehend what they're watching.
This is a regularly occurring concept in the Marvel and DC universes. Even in places where several super-powered heroes or organizations of heroes coexist, most notably the Marvel Universe's New York City metropolitan area, they tend to let everybody deal with their respective Rogue Gallery, regardless of the possible threat to civilians. This is averted on a fairly regular basis, but is still noticeable.
In Avengers Vs X Men, the X-Men call out the Avengers for not being more responsive to the frequent attempts at genocide mutants have to fight off on a regular basis.
In DMZ, Wilson has kept his army of "grandsons" out of several fights and military incidents because it either isn't their fight, isn't their war, isn't something that concerns them, etc. Wilson's only concern is building up his power in China Town/among the Chinese, and working towards being the most powerful force in Manhattan.
In Airplane!, fully a third of the gags are set up by contrasting the terrible things happening and the passengers' complete indifference to them. Examples include the unconscious bodies of the pilots being dragged through the aisle, a little girl nearly dying after her IV gets knocked out, and the Offscreen Crash near the end.
The passengers in Airplane II The Sequel react with utter stoicism to being told that the lunar shuttle they're on is off course and being hit by asteroids. Being told they are out of coffee induces a full scale riot.
Big Jake: "I haven't interfered in anyone else's business since I was eighteen years old... and it damn near got me killed!" He changes his mind when he witnesses a Kick the Dog moment on the part of one of the goons.
Seems to be a prominent theme in Brazil, notably at the beginning; when the wrong man is sentenced to death, all any of the departments care about is that the problem doesn't trace back to them.
Rick Blaine in Casablanca appears this way for a while ("I stick my neck out for nobody"), especially when he seems willing to turn over a resistance leader to the Nazis because he is married to Rick's former lover. Eventually, however, we see that Rick isn't nearly as selfish as he lets on.
The Emperor And The Assassin. The entire royal court stands by while Jing Ke tries to kill Ying Zheng. After the assassin fails, the Emperor is understandably pissed and roars at everyone to Get Out.
A man on the street frantically screaming "They're here!" only to be ignored / assumed mad in most if not all versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Irreversible has a woman brutally raped in an underpass. While the camera focus is on the action, the background shows someone enter the underpass, take a look at what's happening, turn around and walk away without even calling the cops.
Similarly, Last Action Hero has the villain, after he's transported to reality, shoot a man in an alley to test a theory.
Benedict (shouting in the street): Hello! I have just shot a man and I did it on purpose! (silence) I said, I have just murdered a man, and I wish to confess!
Citizen: Hey, shut up down there!
In The Mummy, O'Connell tries to convince Evy that the end of the world is somebody else's problem, with little success.
The Purge: A man is running through the suburbs begging for help because a gang is after him. Mary Sandin isn't bothered by it, while James Sandin looks like he wishes he could help but he can't. Of course, the minute one of their kids lets him in is the minute is the minute it becomes the Sandin's problem.
In Se7en, Somerset tells Mills, "The first thing they teach women in rape prevention is never cry for help. Always yell 'Fire!' Nobody answers to 'Help!' You holler 'Fire!', they come running." After all, "In any major city, minding your own business is a science." Presumably fire is less subject to this syndrome than rape because it can quickly become everyone's problem.
Also people will come if they expect to see a fire, just for no other reason than people think watching fire is cool. Sad but true.
In K.A. Applegate's Animorphs, initially, the kids see the Yeerk war as strictly between the Andalites and the Yeerks, which is why Marco is so against getting involved. However, when Jake learns Tom is a Controller, the kids realize that the stakes are much closer to home than previously thought. By the end of the series, the kids have lost their faith in the erstwhile Andalite reinforcements, and have concluded that that Andalites think it's All Up To You.
In Terry Pratchett's Making Money Moist von Lipwig notes that people pay more attention to small noises than big ones, because while small noises are immediate and threatening, loud noises are 'everyone's problem, and therefore, not mine'.
Richard Mayhew's refusal to yield to this trope, when he found Door bleeding on the sidewalk, led him into London Below in. His fiancee declared it someone else's problem, and so remained in London Above.
Residents of London Below tend not to be noticed by the Above folks in the first place. Later in the book, his fiance recognzies him for a brief moment, then is unable to even -see- him.
In the Gone series, 90% of the Perdido Beach kids have this attitude. An apartment is burning down with a kid inside? Sam can deal with it. We're running out of food? Sam can find more. The Human Crew is running around trying to kill the mutants? That's the Sam's problem, not ours. Caine and Drake have gotten into the Power Plant and are going to feed uranium to a monster? It's Sam's job to stop them!
The former Trope Namer is Life, the Universe and Everything. We're introduced to the concept of the Somebody Else's Problem Field, a sort of stealth system that automatically triggers the Weirdness Censor of anyone who looks directly at it. When it first crops up in the book, Ford tries looking at it from odd angles to get through. Meanwhile, Arthur just calmly remarks that he can see through it (which, obviously, means that it's his problem).
In the short story "Grotto of the Dancing Deer", the main character befriends a 20,000 year old man who says he has survived by always staying on the fringes and never volunteering for anything.
This crops up constantly in the Hush Hush series. In the first book, a particularly creepy instance happens when Patch and Nora have to take shelter in a motel, while it's raining. Patch sets up for them to get a room which the man behind the desk complies with, all while Nora continuously insists that no she does not want to share a room with him. Patch then ends up attacking Nora in the room and threatens her life. When she says she'll scream if he doesn't let her go, he invokes this trope by saying no one will care if a woman screams in a motel as seedy as this. In Crescendo, Scott is able to almost flat-out abduct Nora in the middle of a crowded amusement park simply by telling everyone that she's his girlfriend and they enjoy playing a game in public where he pretends to grab her and she pretends to resist. Everyone buys this and one guy laughs.
In Across The Universe, Amy is nearly raped in public during the Season. When she screams for a couple of people nearby to help, one of them just smiles and tells her to calm down and stop struggling, or she'll get hurt. Given that everyone present but Amy is under the effect of very potent mood-altering drugs, it at least is justified.
Live Action TV
The whole premise of the ABC's What Would You Do? is take a current hot-button issue, have actors play it out in public, and see if anyone steps in to help. Some topics covered in the show for example include racial or religious discrimination and seeing whether or not any bystanders step in and help speak out against such injustice. A few bystanders play this trope straight. It becomes both Heartwarming Moments and Moment of Awesome for those individuals who choose to avert, subvert, and just outright defy this trope.
The Four Man Band of Seinfeld is incarcerated in the finale for the many, many times they do this (as well as just being horrible). The breaking point is the four watching a man get mugged and laughing about it.
In one episode of The Young Ones, the characters have stumbled across a time warp and now have a horde of medieval peasants out to kill them. They are terrified, and wonder aloud how they are going to get out of this predicament, when Vyvyan says "Who cares?", and the housemates instantly lose interest in their own mortal peril. End of episode. Considering they die on a near-daily basis...
Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It calls this trope NoMFuP: "Not My Fucking Problem".
Jack Bauer of 24, season 2 premiere. He's still haunted by his wife's murder, his daughter wants nothing to do with him, and he's on the verge of suicide. The reason he leaves is to warn Kim to get out of LA. Later, when seeing a mother with her child, Jack decides to do something about it.:
Mason: There's a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. We believe it's going to go off today.
Jack: How good's your intel?
[Jack walks out]
This must be the reason Michael Westen gets away with so very many illegal acts in the middle of downtown Miami. Unless he wants the police to show up, people will safely ignore him when he sets off explosives, gets involved in car chases, and generally makes a mess of the local real estate. At least, until we find out that he's being specifically protected by various organizations, purposefully making it so the police barely take notice of his activities.
This is how most citizens of Sunnydale react to the rampant supernatural activity in their town on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In Highlander, Methos has survived for millennia mostly by not getting mixed up in other people's problems.
Duncan: Don't you want to see Robert and Gina live happily ever after?
Methos: Yeah, but I want to see me live happily ever after even more.
In the infamous episode "That's My Dog" from Six Feet Under, David gets carjacked. He suffers terribly and actually doesn't have many opportunities to ask for help because that might get him killed. However, when the psycho lets him go, he's seen going along a road, badly beaten and looking awful. He tries to stop somebody, but all cars just ignore him and keep going. Luckily, a police car appears at the end.
Phil Ochs's song "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends" deals with the political ramifications of this trope.
The Protomen's first album is a deconstruction of Holding Out for a Hero, with this as an accompanying theme. In the first song, Protoman is built to liberate an oppressed city from Dr. Wily and his robot army, but after a protracted battle through the streets, he's killed by Wily's robots while a crowd of citizens look on, none of them willing to risk themselves to save "their hero."
There's one Mister Boffo comic where all of the passengers one one side of an airplane are panicking. The passengers on the other side of the plane sit quietly and confident, because, as one of them brags, "We've still got our wing!"
Exalted: The design philosophy of high level Stealth charms. Won't it be easier if people (supernaturally) ignore you doing your business of killing someone?
A major problem in Legend Of The Five Rings. The general reaction of most of Rokugan to the Shadowlands is to stick their heads in the ground and pretend that they'll go away. Outside the Crab Clan (the people whose job it is to keep them out of Rokugan), it's considered dishonorable to even mention them when it's not absolutely necessary.
TV Tropes Wiki
Certain tropers sometimes spot a mistake in an entry, but can't be bothered to fix it, considering it... hey, why are you looking at me like that?
Well, sometimes they're afraid of getting caught up in an Edit War. They might see something so wrong it makes them wanna spit, but they know if they fix it, whoever made the mistake will change it back, and before they know it, they're edit-banned because somebody couldn't admit they were wrong. Not that that's ever happened to me.
And asking you to deliver trinkets to some dude and generally just standing around doing nothing.
This happens in every single RPG in existence, even when there's a giant meteor hanging in the sky or the last boss is hanging over the earth in a huge purple blob and you're the world's only hope. Chalk it down to how confident they are in the hero's skills.
A notable subversion is Wizardry 7, in which competing parties are not only attempting to reach the same goal as your party, they can actually find and take important main-quest items before you, making the game more difficult to finish.
In the Baldur's Gate games, the lazy, lazy members of the world may well claim to be amazing warriors, but they'll still stand around waiting for you to reach them before they go to rescue their friend/kill rats/buy a book/retrieve something that was stolen.
In regards to characters the developers intended to be recruitable to your party, that's really more a case of Take Your Time mixed with Always Close. They are going to go do that in just a little bit, but you "happen" to show up before then.
Final Fantasy X lampshades this with a merchant charging the party when a giant monster is rampaging outside. Even though he acknowledges that he might die soon, he has confidence in the party.
In Zelda games, the world's gonna be destroyed if the princess isn't rescued, whether she's been kidnapped, turned to stone, or vanished off the face of Hyrule. Since you, Link, are already dealing with it, nobody's worried. It's YOUR problem now. They even charge you for equipment vital to your quest.
Averted in Majora's Mask - everybody knows that something horrible is about to happen. By nightfall of the last day, almost all of them have fled town - of the few who you are able to locate at this point, they acknowledge their flight probably won't make a difference. Only those in serious denial of the imminent catastrophe (and you, the player) remain behind.
Senel Coolidge from Tales Of Legendia has this mindset at first. He acts as if the world revolve around Shirley, and if something unrelated to her is presented to him, he ignores them or at least tell him not to bugger him with it, pissing off many people, especially Chloe, though eventually he stopped obsessing about her completely. This one is so bad that in the Tales of the World, he gets a What the Hell, Hero? yell that he'd rather let the world be destroyed than just halting his search for Shirley, then he takes the hint (after all, if the world is destroyed, he can't even reunite with Shirley at all).
This trope is why nobody helps Aeka with the horrible bullying she deals with in Yume Miru Kusuri. People realize she is suffering, but don't help her for fear that they will become targets. If the player picks her route, Kohei and her get so fed up with this that they leave school entirely.
Averted by The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, where people are highly concerned about the dragon attacks, and will help fight any dragons in their area if they're able, but most of the local warriors are busy with the civil war going on, leaving it up to you to look into the dragons.
Averted in Dragon Quest IV. The first major city the Hero visits after his village is destroyed contains a party of adventures leaving (in formation) to defeat the ancient evil now that the Hero has (allegedly) been killed.
At the end of the Back To The Future Telltale games, three alternate future Martys appear, begging for Marty and Doc's help in saving the future. Marty and Doc decide to just ignore them and go for a drive. In their defense, they had just finished a lengthy adventure across time and space, and it's strongly implied they'll get around to dealing with this eventually. Remember, they have a time machine and can deal with this sort of thing whenever they want.
One of the lyrics of Portal 2's ending song, Want you Gone, is "You're someone else's problem/Now I only want you gone".
Averted in Chrono Trigger. Most of the playable characters could easily live their lives without being seriously by impacted the threat Lavos poses to the planet, but they decide that it is their problem.
Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 have this trope as their entire premise. A rogue Spectre is rampaging around space with an army of Mecha-Mooks that haven't been seen for nearly 300 years, looking for a mysterious device linked to myths of a machine race that exterminated all life? Eh, we'll send a rookie Spectre and his/her Ragtag Bunch of Misfits after him. A mysterious group of aliens abduct hundreds of thousands of human colonists for unknown purposes? Literally the only people who care are Shepard, the secondRagtag Bunch of Misfits he/she assembles, and the human-supremacistterrorist organisation that funds him/her. The attack on the Citadel was led by a member of a species of Abusive Precursors and was attempting to ensure their return? It's clearly a geth creation, and Shepard is clearly delusional. Mass Effect 3 is essentially the biggest "I told you so" in history.
This happens pretty often in Schlock Mercenary, since the main characters are generally only interested in 1: survival and 2: getting paid.
Domain Tnemrot: Morris assaults an eight-year-old girl in the middle of a crowded ballroom. No one notices. Then Angel slams his head into a table hard enough to break his nose. Nobody notices that, either.
The attitude of the general population towards demons in Demonic Symphony, and oh boy does it backfire
There's an SCP that lets people get away with murder by doing this. The knife is even implied to be the murder weapon that killed Kitty Genovese.
And a hat that functions as an SEP field — the effects of which are permanent if you wear it too much.
Fine Structure weaponizes this with a weapon that causes a person to be ignored by anyone around them. You can scream and wave and punch people and people will care so little that they won't notice any of it. Or you. Ever again.
L: ...and in this footage you can see various pedestrians who clearly don't give a $h!t that somebody near them just collapsed and died.
Most characters in Drawn Together (considering the prevalent Jerkass-ness) have done this at one point or another, but Captain Hero, a superhero whose Catch Phrase is "SAVE YOURSELVES!", is probably the worst offender. His response to Bambi wailing to him about his dead mother (that he shot no less) is:
Captain Hero: "Sucks to be you!"
Every character in Futurama has decided, at least once, that the current crisis is somebody else's problem.
Scruffy the Janitor may be the most blatant offender here: when asked why he didn't fix the boiler, his reply was "schedule conflict" and another flip of his porn magazine. When said boiler was getting ready to go critical ten feet away.
Scruffy: "Scruffy's gonna die the way he lived." (licks finger, turns page)
It was also sort of used when the characters decide they don't care that Earth will be threatened by a giant garbage ball in about a thousand years. Mostly because launching said garbage ball was their method of averting the very same crisis during the present day.
A fair bit of the humour comes from the fact that nobody ever notices all the alien spaceships and Humongous Mecha that routinely appear. This is more of a Humans Are Morons thing.
Gaz however plays this straight. While she's one of the few humans who actually knows that Zim's an alien, she could care less. In her defense, she's just aware of Zim's incompetence and sees no need to do anything when he'll eventually screw himself over.
The Simpsons. When Lenny and Carl walk past a tank containing radioactive gas that's bursting at the seams, Carl remarks nonchalantly about the tank's imminent failure, to which Lenny quips "Who cares? It's Homer's problem."
Once Homer's job as Sanitation Commissioner predictably starts falling apart, he decides the best way to get funding is for other cities to pay him to bury their garbage. When questioned he almost literally responds with this trope. Later on this backfires horribly, to the point Springfield ends up becoming a huge dump and the city's buildings have to be relocated five miles away.
The Williams Street cartoons for [adult swim] specialize in this.
In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Master Shake has a different (and often bizarrely random) reason every episode for not caring about what's going on - even in "Revenge of the Trees," where the Monster of the Week was looking for revenge on Shake.
Sealab 2021 does this a lot. In the pilot episode, "I, Robot," Quinn is trying to save Sealab from exploding — but everyone else is too busy with a Seinfeldian Conversation to help. In "Green Fever," zombies attack the station, but Debbie is too busy preparing her birthday party, Stormy and Sparks are busy chatting about steel pipes, etc. Exactly who is uncaring varies; in "No Waterworld," Quinn is too busy with his monster truck to help Debbie find out why all the water around the station has disappeared.
In Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Zorak and Moltar frequently get bored with Space Ghost's show, and decide their jobs on it are for someone else to do. Sometimes Space Ghost gets bored with his own show, and does the same thing.
The world gets taken over and heavily modified in every movie (twice in one of them) and the people act accordingly. Timmy usually makes an extravagant wish and somehow either everyone doesn't notice or is too stupid to understand what is happening.
In SpongeBob SquarePants - Wet Painters, Spongebob is in danger of having his butt removed by his boss and is abandoned in a moment of crisis by his own reflection.
Megas XLR: Coop is the king of this trope. In one instance, he made a horde of rampaging monsters someone else's problem by chucking them into Philadelphia. In another, he blew up part of the moon, causing worldwide climatic change, and his only concern was buying bubblegum ice cream. He's destroyed several planets with (usually) no remorse, and is arguably more of a danger to the universe than the race trying to conquer it. A race that he created.
Adventure Time has Princess Bubblegum (in stark contrast to Finn and his Samaritan Syndrome), who just doesn't care about anything that doesn't affect the Candy Kingdom and its people. This is most apparent in her treatment of her I-can't-believe-it's-not-autism afflicted creation Lemongrab, as she was perfectly fine with sticking him in an empty castle far away from her, but once he started sneaking into her castle and watch the candy people sleeping did she decide to help him. Granted her help was excellent, but there was nothing stopping her from giving him a clone earlier.