This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Creator's Apathy
aka: They Just Didnt Care

"Lisa, if you don't like your job, you don't strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way!"
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons, "The PTA Disbands"

The lighting is so bad you can see the shadow of the boom-mike on the wall. The zippers and seams are visible on the People in Rubber Suits. The editing looks like someone playing with the wipe feature on Windows Movie Maker. There are times when you really start to wonder what is going wrong with a movie; in theory, they should be trying to make the best product they can.

But that's not what happens. A strange lack of enthusiasm and/or optimism sabotages the production. The creators were completely apathetic, and they admit it.

Examples for this trope are all about the production values. It is possible to be apathetic to other aspects of making a story, but we have another set of tropes for that.

Also worth remembering is that while the quality of any work given as an example has likely suffered horribly from its makers' apathy, this apathy itself is not necessarily all bad. As many an artist and writer can testify, any work for which the publisher's editors and executives have a complete lack of concern can be an opportunity for the creator to put whatever he or she wants in it, as their superiors' apathy provides a kind of de facto Protection from Editors. From a business perspective, some works simply have no target audience, or sometimes the concept underlying them is just so bad that no one should ever have approved any budget or other resources for its creation in the first place. When such an abomination makes its way down to the production crew, sympathetic souls in middle management will often warn everyone involved not to waste too much talent or money making it. On the critics' end, works for which even the creators showed no concern can have some Narm Charm, be So Bad, It's Good, or at least inspire some Bile Fascination.

Compare Stylistic Suck, Artistic License, and Who Writes This Crap?!. Contrast Developers' Foresight and Doing It for the Art.

All examples that are not In-Universe require Word of God confirming that the creators didn't care.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon: Michael Haigney of 4Kids Entertainment admitted to half-assing some of his Pokémon voices on the basis that, with over a hundred-and-fifty to get through, it was likely that some Pokémon would never be seen again. This rapidly backfired when he applied it to Charmander which is 1. a starter Pokémon, i.e. one of the first Pokémon kids receive, 2. featured and spotlighted in a fairly early episode, and 3. captured by the protagonist, all of which should have been clear signs that it would become a recurring character, which it did.
  • While not the creators of the show, when Sonic X was acquired and dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment, many of the key elements that are present in the Sonic franchise were often either misinterpreted or mislabeled in the 1st season. Michael Haigney, who also produced the dub of Pokémon, in addition to Sonic X, stated, "I've never played the game, seen the series or read the comics." being the reason for the lack of research.

    Fan Works 
  • In an in-universe example, the Lemony Narrator of Equestria: A History Revealed, who is supposedly writing the whole thing, has a very lax approach to essay writing, getting drunk towards the beginning of Chapter 3, not wanting to write any more praise for Princess Celestia, and instead, inserting her self-authored haikus in their place, and literally admitting to lying to her professor and cursing him in-text (while simultaneously submitting it in to him later for marking).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The writer of Dragonball Evolution, Ben Ramsey, admitted in a 2016 apology letter to have gone into the film "as a businessman" and "not a fan" of Dragon Ball (whether this means he was a fan and just didn't care, or he was not a fan, period, isn't entirely clear).
  • The Mummy (1999): According to the audio commentary with the director of the movie, Stephen Sommers, as well as his editing partner, Bob Duscay, there was a little debate about the coloration of how Mummy!Ihmotep looks when the coffin is opened (darker and literally black) vs how he looks when he's woken up by Evey reading the Book of the Dead (tan-ish). Ultimately, they did nothing to correct this goof, claiming that the audience didn't notice, despite that is very noticable.
  • The Room: As production dragged on, professionalism just fell apart. Most of the crew were convinced the film would never be seen by anyone. Greg Sestero, who played Mark, admitted to phoning in his performance. Entire scenes were out of focus because they did not bother to check the lens. Greg's own book about the production of the film, The Disaster Artist, chronicles this.
  • Director Uwe Boll, as well as purposely creating bombs to exploit a tax loophole for under-performing films, is very open about his hatred of video games, hatred of video gamers, hatred of anyone who wants to see movies about video games and boasts about making them as bad as possible because he does not want gamers to see his films, citing they'd just download it. He wants a real audience... whoever they might be.
  • Because his directorial style has his films operating on a visual level first, George Lucas has admitted to not putting much effort into writing dialogue, calling it "just part of the soundtrack."


    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Joss Whedon has confirmed that by the time of the seventh season, everybody - cast and crew - was exhausted and eager to move on to new projects. Whedon and much of the writing staff returned to the franchise in comic book form a few years later with considerably renewed enthusiasm.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 provides an interesting case of "in-universe". The famous, formerly Trope Naming skit ends with a character that the Mads claim is director of that week's movie, Larry Buchanan (clearly not the actual Real Life Buchanan)—who, the Mads conclude actually just didn't care about the flaws in the movie.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • In-Universe example in the RiffTrax of Birdemic Shock And Terror. They often comment on how little the crew cared during the making of the film with the obvious mess-ups, poor editing, and apparently only doing everything in one take.
    • For Example:
    Rod: Watch football. Especially the 49ers. Part-times note  Eagles fan.
    Mike (as Rod): Oh, hang on. I said "part-times Eagles fan."
    Kevin (as movie director): Keep rolling!
    • Then:
      Rod: You're right, he is cute. So, you're a cats lover.
      Bill (as Rod): Hold on. I said "cats lover".
      Kevin (as movie director): Keep rolling!
    • In one particularly bad example of Nyugen refusing to ever do a second take:
      Nathalie's Mom: Look, keep me... (stumbles badly on the dialog) uh, er, eh, you... know, keep me informed.
      Kevin (as Mom): I screwed up a line.
      Bill (as movie director): Keep rolling.
      Kevin (as Mom): But it was really bad!
      Bill (as movie director): KEEP rolling!

    Western Animation 
  • This trope is played up intentionally for humor and parody in The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Stimpy's Cartoon". The plot is that Stimpy wants to make a cartoon for his hero, the godfather of animation, Wilbur Cobb. Ren is bitter about this, so Stimpy crowns him producer. However, it turns out out that Ren just doesn't care about the cartoon and his only role is to work Stimpy to the bone while presenting impossible challenges, taking month-long vacations, ripping up storyboards and tossing them in the trash, price gouging on art supplies, forcing Stimpy to shave logs for animation cels, etc.. In the end, Stimpy's cartoon is a poorly drawn, poorly animated, inept, and non-sensical romp called "Explodey the Pup" (or "I Like Pink"), which demonstrates the very definition of this trope.
  • Donald F. Glut has stated in many interviews over the years that he had little regards for his work as a writer for 80's cartoons (the little-seen syndicated Spider-Man series excepted), saying he often submitted first drafts as final scripts and that he did them purely for the money it would give him.