Creative Differences

You can say we broke up because of artistic differences. He saw himself as alive, and I saw him dead.

Often given as the public reason that a person involved with a show leaves the project.

Usage: "Joe Smith left the cast of Murder on Cliche Street this season over creative differences with the production team."

When they actually mean it, it refers to irreconcilably different artistic visions for the show. For actors, it often means, "I'm not getting paid enough to put up with this." For writers and other members of the creative team, it usually means, "I've had it with the producers, the executives, and Standards & Practices telling me what I can and can't write." For musicians, it can sometimes mean "we had totally different styles and couldn't see eye-to-eye on anything", but it usually means "I can't stand the assholes in my band". In most cases, it's just a euphemism for, "I got in a big fight with the producer." Likely anytime some one mentions "scheduling conflicts", it means there's been a conflict between the director and producers or studio. Then the director quits or is fired. If there's only one constant member and a steady flow of departures and inductions, this is usually an indication of a Prima Donna Director at the very least and is also usually a sign that the lone holdout is an incorrigible dick who doesn't know how to work with other people.


Anime and Manga
  • Around two-thirds of the way through the anime adaptation of His & Her Circumstances, the creative differences between the manga-ka Masami Tsuda and the director Hideaki Anno reached such a peak that she demanded he be fired. (Basically, Anno made Karekano far too comedic for Tsuda's taste; she wanted a more angsty and plot-driven series, similar to the angstier turns that the story would eventually take). With Anno gone, his assistant Kazuya Tsurumaki completed the series... ironically, making it even more comedic in process. On the other hand, back then Tsurumaki's style wasn't the screwball type GAINAX in general and he in particular would later become famous for, but more conventional Romantic Comedy, which was more acceptable for the mangaka.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino and Mamoru Nagano famously clashed in both their best known collaborations, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and Heavy Metal L Gaim. Tomino, who was heavily depressed at the time, tended to create a bleak, sombre works filled with angst and suffering, while Nagano, while not without an occasional GRIMDARK moment of his own, nevertheless wished for less dark storytelling and, being infamously possessive of his works, a bigger creative control. Things were hot enough that Nagano ended up starting his own L-Gaim, and Tomino made him one of the prototypes for the main Zeta villain, Paptimus Scirocco.
  • This is the reason that a second season of Fruits Basket will never be made (at least, not by Studio Deen): creator Natsuki Takaya—who due to a hand injury was able to have direct involvement with the anime—and Director Akitaroh Daichi basically drove each other nuts. During production, Takaya gained a reputation for being a control freak. For one, she demanded that big-name seiyuu be cast for her characters, something Daichi normally avoids. She also had issues with the animation director and character designer. Unfortunately, Deen will not let any director except Daichi handle the series, and Daichi has made it very clear he won't work with Takaya again.
  • This is rumored to be the reason why YuYu Hakusho ended rather abruptly. Anime director Noriyuki Abe made so many modifications to the TV series that, by the time the Three Kings saga hit, the already not-happy (and rumored to be rather hard to work with) Yoshihiro Togashi lost it and decided to cut off the YuYu Hakusho story as a whole, finishing both the manga and anime so Abe wouldn't keep introducing more changes.
  • According to other cast and crew members, this is the reason why Tracey Moore quit her title role in the DiC dub of Sailor Moon after roughly 13 episodes. Apparently, Moore (who was also the original voice director) was very stressed with the workload the show brought her, and her duties were given to other people.
  • Kyoko Mizuki and Yumiko Igarashi got into many legal fights over Candy Candy and both came to resent it.

  • John Wagner and Alan Grant had a bit of a falling out in the late 80s over the direction in which to take Judge Dredd; Wagner wanted to humanize Dredd more, while Grant wanted to Flanderize him into being more of a dark parody of strict authority figures. As the strip's original creator, Wagner won out, and so Grant left, but as a consolation was made the sole writer Strontium Dog.
  • John Byrne left the The Uncanny X-Men after a very successful run that included the "Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Days of Future Past" because he became increasingly frustrated with writer Chris Claremont ignoring what he had drawn in favor of writing his own interpretation.
    Byrne: That was the argument that Chris and I always had was that Chris didn't write the picture. And so I eventually reached the point where I said 'Maybe I should be writing the picture.'"
    • In the end, this same situation, only reversed in the outcome, was part of what drove Claremont to finally end his long run on X-Men and leave Marvel altogether for a few years. In the last year or so of his run, Jim Lee would send him finished artwork, essentially saying "write a story around that". Bob Harras, the Editor in Chief, was starting to side with the new crop of superstar artists, and Claremont grew fed up with the situation.
      • Claremont later said Lee had wanted a return to the classic X-Men stories he grew up reading with Magneto as a villain and Claremont had "Been there, done that."
    • In reading Jim Shooter's (sadly on long hiatus) blog, this seems to be a constant source of tension between writer and artist. The writer often wants the scene visualized as he or she writes it in the script due to necessities of storytelling (Shooter, for instance, writes long descriptions and even at times sends reference photos or sketches along to clarify how things should look). Meanwhile, the artist believes him or herself responsible for the visual look of the pages, and may see things very differently from an artistic standpoint.
  • The original head writers for Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Ken Penders and Karl Bollers, came to butt heads very badly at the end of their run, leading to both of them to quit, though it's said that Karl was the only one who quit and Ken was "let go". Their fighting got so vicious and resulted in so much Kudzu Plot and Aborted Arc that the next writer, Ian Flynn, had to spend the entire first year of his run untangling the insane mass of plot threads the two left in their wake.
    • To better understand this: Ken Penders was head writer up until around #60 then went to focus on the Knuckles comic. Karl took over and the two seemed to be out of each other's hair until the Knuckles comic was cancelled, putting the two head writers together. For awhile, Ken had Knuckles back-up stories to Karl's main Sonic stories, but when the back-ups were abandoned, the two ended up working together and the messes began.
  • When Morbius the Living Vampire's first solo series started in the early 1990s it was helmed by writer Len Kaminski and penciler Ron Wagner. Wagner, however, felt that Kaminski's stories were too character-driven, and according to Kaminski complained about this to Marvel's editorial staff as well as leaving "snide margin notes in which he made his personal opinion of my plots clear". Moreover, Wagner ignored Kaminski's attempts to get in touch with him so that they could discuss how the comic should be done. After 9 issues of this Kaminski had had enough and quit.


  • This is believed to be one of the MANY reasons why Bizzy Bone of the rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony wanted to stay away from the group for awhile, as his solo music was going into a completely different direction.
    • After the post 2010 implosion of the group, many think that Krayzie Bone is now having creative differences with the group and vice versa.
  • Ryan Ross and Jon Walker as of July 2009 left Panic! at the Disco to form their own band, The Young Veins (whose sound is completely different from their previous band; compare Panic's latest song New Perspective with TYV's Change ), for this stated reason. This led to many fans casting blame on them for not trying hard enough to work out the differences with fellow band mates Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith.
  • Why Cee-Lo left Goodie Mob to eventually form Gnarls Barkley. Goodie Mob had eschewed the social-consciousness of their first two albums in favor of a more crunk style with World Party, which Cee-Lo hated. Judging from his solo albums and work with Danger Mouse, it's very similar to the Sliders case. He was creative; they weren't.
  • Inverted with the Beautiful South who, according to leader Paul Heaton, split due to 'musical similarities'.
  • The Beatles all seemed to develop different musical styles by the mid-60's (The White Album was seen by many fans as being "four solo albums in one" rather than a true band album), and they began to feel a bit of this. Especially George, whose growing songwriting skills weren't fully acknowledged by the Lennon/McCartney pair...
    • The movie Let It Be is essentially what happens when someone has a film camera and films a band suffering from Creative Differences — lots of bitter, snide passive aggressive sniping. There's one famous scene with Paul McCartney and George Harrison having a bitter fight over a chord.
    • Doug, in the first episode of the Disney season, had its Beatles homage the Beets break up for the same reasons; the press conference consisted of all four members facing away from each other (and the microphone) saying "I'm not gonna tell them, YOU tell them!" before one of them finally takes the mic and says "We're breaking up the band."
  • The Adventures of Duane & BrandO experienced this trope at one point. It turned from a permanent breakup in to a 6 month hiatus, with the band members claiming that the breakup was over a stolen ice cream sandwich (it really dealt with extramarital affair) and keeping their respective new projects open for when they needed to do solo work.
  • This was said to be the reason why Dave Navarro was fired from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  • On April 9, 1962, prior to a Carnegie Hall performance of Brahms' Piano Concerto in D minor with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic and Glenn Gould as the soloist, Bernstein uttered an unusual disclaimer that he would conduct the piece according to Gould's unorthodox conception, one quite incompatible with his own. Though he allowed due respect for Gould's artistry despite their creative disagreement, his introductory speech became somewhat notorious.
  • Nodded to by Disney sitcom Even Stevens. When asked about the creative differences that led to the breaking up of the band with friend Twitty, Louis explains, "I'm creative, and he's different."
  • There were lots of other factors, but part of the reason for At The Drive-In breaking up was a legitimate case of this - Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez wanted to go in a more progressive direction, while the rest of the band wanted to focus on melodic rock. This is pretty obvious if you compare the two groups they splintered off into, The Mars Volta and Sparta.
  • Supertramp lost Roger Hodgson to this.
    • Hodgson has implied that though he and Rick Davies did have many widening creative and personal differences, that Roger left the band at least in part due to his wish to settle down, learn how to raise a family, and get away from the grind of the album-tour-album-tour rock lifestyle. Hodgson also felt disenchanted with the state of the music industry at the time (and the loss of intimacy of the Arena Rock shows the band were now playing post-Breakfast In America), and had wanted not to be away from his wife or children for long tours and see his kids grow up with an unavailable father.
  • There was always some tension between multi-instrumentalist John Cale and front-man Lou Reed during their days in Velvet Underground, but matters came to a head in the summer of 1968 when deciding what to do after the sonic assault of White Light/White Heat. The final result was Reed threatening to dissolve the group unless Cale was sacked, with which Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker reluctantly complied.
  • Though only Greg Ginn knows for certain why he chose to break up Black Flag, Henry Rollins is certain that the break-up was because of this: Black Flag kept changing musical direction to the point of confusing fans, and Rollins suggested to Ginn that they release similar-sounding albums consecutively to stabilize their direction. Ginn, who up to that point had been unchallenged in determining the band's direction, was taken aback, assholishly retaliated by burying Rollins' vocals in the mix of their last album In My Head, and Black Flag broke up soon thereafter.
  • This was the reason that Moonshake effectively split into two bands after one full album and an extended play, Dave Callahan and Mig Moreland continuing as Moonshake while Margaret Fiedler and John Frenett formed Laika. Many fans consider Laika the "true" continuation of the band and discount the two later albums under the Moonshake name.
  • The Police broke up expressly because of this trope. They had already been drifting along and were quasi-disbanded after 1983's Synchronicity, but they decided to get into the studio to record a new album as well as an update of some of their older hits. They only made it as far as "Don't Stand So Close To Me", the recording of which was largely eaten up by petty arguments between Stewart Copeland and Sting over instruments to use. Sadly, Copeland later mentioned that part of the problem was that he had broken his collarbone playing polo, meaning he was unable to actually do any drumming note . He went on to say that had the band been able to jam and get out any pent-up aggression that way, The Police might not have broken up.
  • This was basically the reason given for Florian Schneider leaving Kraftwerk, after four decades of being in the band no less.
  • In 1979, Rick Wright left/was sacked from Pink Floyd. Roger Waters stated that "Our paths were not parallel enough." This statement euphemized a vicious falling out caused by (on one hand) Waters giving his own control freak tendencies free rein and (on the other hand) Wright concentrating on solo work instead of contributing to the band. Oh, and him developing "a nasty cocaine habit" as well.
  • The reason why Dennis Stratton was fired from Iron Maiden. He was writing songs that Steve Harris felt were too poppy, and when the band rejected them, he left.
    • According to the man himself, their early vocalist Paul Di'Anno was so bored of playing metal that he started drinking heavily. This alcoholism caused the band to fire him, which he apparently didn't mind that much. He much preferred to play punk music, and somewhat resented the fact that he'd missed out on the first wave of British punk by playing in a metal band during that time. In recent years he's had to return to the old Iron Maiden songs.
  • Reports of the 2013 breakup of The Jonas Brothers allude to this.
  • Cynic have had this happen to them more than once. The Focus line-up dissolved due to the members all trying to pull the band in different musical directions. Similarly, Tymon Kruidiner and Robin Zielhorst left after Re-Traced due to them not agreeing with Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert over musical direction.
  • The Faceless has had this happen on numerous occasions, with Lyle Cooper being the most notable. Given the comments that former members and other musicians who have toured with The Faceless have made about Michael Keene's personality, it seems to be a case of "this dude has no idea how to run a band without pissing off and alienating everyone in it".
  • Cattle Decapitation departed with Dave Astor over a case of this that was equal parts creative (they wanted to write more complex and death metal-based material, he wanted to stick to grindier fare; some of this may have been due to his stagnating technical ability and apparent refusal to take lessons) and personal (relations with him and the rest of the band, especially Travis Ryan, had deteriorated to the point where he had to go or the band would likely collapse). They still haven't reconciled with him, and given Ryan's notoriously strong dislike for him, it's highly unlikely that they ever will.

Film and Live-Action TV
  • After his experience with Firefly, Joss Whedon refused to work with Fox for years because of this, foremost being an early cancellation. He only relented with Dollhouse because star Eliza Dushku had a 3-series deal with the network; Dushku brought Whedon in.
  • Another Whedon film, The Avengers, had such a case. Edward Norton was let go early on from playing Bruce Banner despite having played him in the 2008 film. When asked why Marvel stated that "Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members", which implied Norton was fired for not getting along with the other actors and crew. Norton's agent disputed this claim, but regardless the part was recast with Mark Ruffalo, who acted in the role to widespread acclaim.
  • Christopher Eccleston left the Doctor Who revival, due to his fights with the executives "over the way things were being run", and, according to him, his distaste for non-acting personnel getting bullied by directors.
    • William Hartnell's departure was also at least in part due to creative differences with a new production team (although his failing health was also a factor). He saw the show as a children's programme, but the new producers had other ideas. "So did I, so I left", as he said in a letter to a fan.
    • The most notorious and damaging Doctor Who example was the conflict between the producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Eric Saward over the ending of the "Trial of a Time Lord" season. Saward, out of his general love for Darker and Edgier content, wanted the season to end with a Cliff Hanger in which the Doctor and his Enemy Without the Valeyard were seemingly either dead or trapped eternally in a Sealed Evil in a Duel situation. Nathan-Turner felt, with considerable justification, that since the BBC wanted to cancel the show altogether, writing an ending that could be seen as a Bolivian Army Ending for the whole show was a very bad idea. Saward, whose relationship with Nathan-Turner was already strained due to personality clashes and his belief that Nathan-Turner was paying insufficient attention to the artistic content of the series, quit with no finalised script for the final episode, threatened to sue the BBC if they made a final episode with any similarity to any draft he'd worked on, and then gave an interview to a fan publication viciously slagging off Nathan-Turner. The whole affair led to a somewhat disjointed on-screen end to a season that, in reality, had been seen as the show's make-or-break chance to avoid cancellation, and contributed to the show's actual cancellation a few years afterwards.
  • Sliders:
    • When John Rhys-Davies left the cast of Sliders just as the show had been retooled away from Speculative Fiction and toward "rip off whatever movie is popular this week", he cited Creative Differences with the writers as the reason. Most observers concluded, "He was creative; they weren't."
    • Creator/showrunner Tracy Tormé left the show shortly before John Rhys-Davies did for pretty much the same reasons.
  • Forest Whitaker left the live action Fat Albert film due to artistic differences with Bill Cosby.
  • Jack Nicholson and director Miloš Forman had a falling out over Jack's character's motivation during pre-production on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, leading to Jack and Miloš speaking through the cinematographer and Jack not contributing anything to the film's DVD special features. The cinematographer in question, Bill Butler, was himself a replacement for Haskell Wexler who had quit the movie due to - you guessed it - "creative differences."
    • Director Stanley Kubrick ordered so many re-takes of The Shining (especially the scene where Jack says "Here's Johnny!" which itself set a world record for most takes for a scene with dialogue) that Nicholson swore he would never work with him again, and he didn't.
  • An inversion of the typical "actor/writer leaves because he's pissed with the producers" setup of this trope was Growing Pains, where it was the producers who quit after Kirk Cameron became a born-again Christian and started forcing his values onto the production, pissing off just about the entire cast and crew in the process.
    • It's worth noting that the producers tried to get rid of Kirk first, but ABC executives told them basically, "It's not your faces on the cover of 'Tiger Beat'." So they left.
  • A notable play on this phrase came when Harry Shearer left Saturday Night Live in 1984. When a reporter mentioned to Shearer that this trope was the show's stated reason for his departure, he quipped, "Yeah, I was creative, and they were different."
  • M. Night Shyamalan left Disney in 2005 after a rather successful four picture run with the studio (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village) because they were having creative issues with his next film Lady in the Water.
  • Conan O'Brien left the The Tonight Show in the beginning of 2010, after only six months of hosting it, due to his refusal to let NBC move the show a half hour later in their schedule in order to give the fledgling Jay Leno Show a boost in ratings, claiming that it would ultimately be detrimental to The Tonight Show.
    • At the end of the day, Conan left because Leno had the better contract. Leno's primetime show was tanking in the ratings to the point that local affiliates, worried about flagging viewership for the 10/11-o'clock news due to the unpopular Leno lead-in, threatened to drop it themselves. NBC was forced into a situation where somebody had to go. Breaking Conan's contract cost NBC $45 million, but breaking Leno's would have cost $100 million, so NBC presented Conan with an unacceptable situation to convince him to accept a buyout. A month later, Conan was gone and Leno was back on The Tonight Show.
  • The Warriors is known for Fox (Thomas Waites) leaving before the end of filming. Suffice to say they dropped him... Very painfully
  • Power Rangers writer Judd Lynn eventually quit because of creative differences with Executive Producer Jonathon Tzachor's preference
  • For several years, Carroll O'Connor refused to work with CBS after they denied him the chance to shoot a series finale for the All in the Family-spinoff Archie Bunker's Place. He would eventually return to work with them on the In the Heat of the Night television series in 1992, after the show moved to the network from NBC.
  • This is the reason Ronald D. Moore left Voyager and effectively Star Trek itself after more than a decade of writing for three different series. He apparently couldn't abide the controlling nature of how the show was written.
  • Jack Klugman didn't care for Glen A. Larson's approach on Quincy, eventually telling NBC that either Larson left or he would. The network chose Klugman (the show lasted a lot longer without Larson than with, effectively vindicating Klugman... soapboxing and all).
  • This was the bane of J. Michael Straczynski's TV show endeavours, and the reason for the death of Crusade before it got a chance to mature and Jeremiah being cancelled after two seasons.
  • Chevy Chase gained a certain amount of notoriety both among fans and his coworkers for being outspoken regarding what he thought was the poor quality of Community, and for feuding with series creator Dan Harmon behind the scenes over it. He ended up quitting the show in November 2012 with only two episodes left of the shortened fourth season to film. However, while he was vocal about what he thought was the poor quality of the show, he was willing to return to film a brief cameo appearance in Season 5, indicating that the feud between himself and Harmon has largely been resolved or was overstated.

Professional Wrestling
  • An occasional occurrence in Professional Wrestling, sometimes with mixed results.
    • More common in WWE is the phrase "we wish wrestler the best in their future endeavors".
    • There's also "Confronting their personal demons" which usually translates as "too drunk/stoned to work".

Web Comics
  • A source of contention between some fans (and ex-fans) of MegaTokyo is the "creative differences" that led to the break-up between the artist (and current writer) Fred Gallagher and former writer Rodney Caston, ultimately resulting in the comic's turn from straight comedy to dramedy. It is telling that the last comic Rodney wrote before Fred took over pretty much predicted exactly how the comic under Fred would be... kinda like a Dating Sim.

Video Games
  • Toby Gard, creator of Tomb Raider, had left the franchise by Tomb Raider II due to being pressured by the higher ups in making Lara Croft to appeal more to the male demographic. Gard didn't like the idea of having Lara's character being over sexualized.
    • Ironically, he later went on to create Galleon, a game which featured two sexy lead females instead of one...
  • Master of Orion III suffered something of a civil war on the creative team between the lead designer and the art director. The lead designer, Alan Emrich, wanted to more or less continue in the tradition of MoO II, adding more features such as religion, governmental corruption and the exploration of black holes, and of course new races and new racial abilities, but not fundamentally breaking away from the 4X Space Opera mold that had made II so successful. The art director, Rantz Hoseley, was having none of that, though: he wanted to have a more realistic simulation of a complex galactic empire, one that you couldn't run yourself and had to automate, and he also hated the humanoid aliens of the series (comparing them to People in Rubber Suits). Hoseley won the internal fight, and Emrich was forced out, leading to Master Of Orion III.
  • One of the main reasons along with poor sales as to why Clover Studios left Capcom and became Platinum Games at Sega.
    • More recently, they have grown very disgusted at Sega's Marketing for one of their more recent titles, Anarchy Reigns, epecially in the U.S. This is possibly one of the reasons they allowed themselves to branch out to even more companies, like with Konami to develop the gameplay for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and being the main developer for the Nintendo published, Wii U exclusive title, The Wonderful 101 as well as the main exclusive publisher of Bayonetta 2 (With Sega merely owning the IP rights, with no development input)..
  • This is pretty much the story behind most of the original id Software's departures.
    • Tom Hall was let go due to him not being creatively invested in Doom (it was a bit dark and serious for the wacky mind behind Commander Keen).
    • John Romero was frustrated over Quake being turned from an Action RPG into a shooter in Doom's template at a late stage in the game. He left to form Ion Storm with Tom Hall.
    • Adrian Carmack was essentially fired after Doom 3, later suing the company.
  • Akira Sakuma, who created the long-running Momotaro Dentetsu series for Hudson Soft, tweeted after Konami took over Hudson: "As long as there’s a guy named Imura at Konami, I won't make Momotaro Dentetsu."

Western Animation
  • This was the reason given for Don Bluth and Steven Spielberg parting ways in the late 80's. The real reason was never made public, but neither of them enjoyed the same level of success in animated movies afterward.
    • And the whole reason Don Bluth left Disney and created his own animated films in the first place, in the middle of the production of The Fox and the Hound.
  • This was one of the reasons John Kricfalusi was booted off The Ren & Stimpy Show.
  • While Twice Upon a Time was eventually finished and had a theatrical and home video run, writer and director John Korty and producer Bill Couturié had pretty different ideas of what the movie was supposed to be like, to where two different cuts of the movie exists: The Couturié cut contains frequent swearing and lewd innuendo, while the Korty cut excises all swearing (save for a mild Precision F-Strike that gave it a PG rating). That these two would not yield an inch from their stances is why Twice Upon a Time has not had a television airing or home video release since 1998—any attempt to show or distribute the movie would lead to the person responsible for the other cut theatening legal action.