->''"I found that if you have a goal, you might not reach it. But if you ''don't'' have one, then you are never disappointed."''
-->-- '''Peter [=LaFleur=]''', ''Film/DodgeballATrueUnderdogStory''

Dismotivation; noun. This is when a character ''actively'' avoids doing anything that might get them ahead in a relationship, on the job, or in life. They feel that working at maintaining the personal [[StatusQuoIsGod status quo]] is much better than working at getting somewhere, whether because of risk-aversion, simple laziness, or CelebrityIsOverrated. Of course, they just may be genuinely happy where they are, and see no reason to change a life that they are satisfied with.

The obvious subversion here is that it often takes more work and careful thought to maintain the status quo than it does to move on. The most common plot and CharacterDevelopment these characters go through is the gradual awakening of their inspiration and motivation to improve their lot.

May overlap with BrilliantButLazy. A trait of TheSlacker.

When their attempts at mediocrity become unwitting successes, they have had a SpringtimeForHitler.

See also AlmightyJanitor. Compare AmbitionIsEvil.


[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* [[{{NEET}} The Sextuplets]] from ''Anime/OsomatsuSan''.
* Kuroro Lucifer of ''Manga/HunterXHunter''.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': Ikkaku Madarame from refuses to let anyone know he can use [[SuperMode bankai]], because he wants to continue serving under Kenpachi Zaraki.
** Yumichika Ayasegawa declines to use the full power of his shikai for the same reason, and also because the 11th division views kidou-based ability as evidence of cowardice which would therefore disgrace him. He also prefers the number five spot when he should really be number four. He just dislikes four [[FourIsDeath for some reason...]]
* Shikamaru of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}''. [[CatchPhrase What a drag.]] He gets promoted anyway, in large part ''because'' he wisely chose to give up, and is the first in his class to become a Chunin.
* Kyon in ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'', which more than anything makes up who he is and how he relates to the rest of the SOS Brigade. He's also cynical and [[DeadpanSnarker snarky]]. He often acts dumb because he doesn't care about anything. Most likely also the reason why he sucks at school, despite being ''very'' knowledgeable and aware of other people's intentions. He shows how an AlmightyJanitor looks like as a kid. After ''Disappearance'' he decides to act more to help his friends, especially Nagato, but still hates acting on anyone else's behalf.
* Unlike the rest of the Baka Rangers in ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', Yue is actually one of the most intelligent people in the class. However, after the death of her grandfather or something like that, she stopped studying or trying at all in order to become the resident LittleMissSnarker. [[spoiler:When her memory gets wiped, she starts working hard again and then takes about six levels in badass by taking down a griffin dragon.]]
* ''Lightnovel/FullMetalPanic'': In one episode, Mao tells the story of how she met Sosuke and Kurz when the latter two were new recruits. Neither of them trusted the shadowy Mithril too much at the start and so intentionally sabotaged themselves, Sosuke using this trope (and claiming that any superior performance was a fluke). When a real situation came up, he was forced to drop the act, which showed his incredible skills and got him recruited (but also proved Mithril's trustworthiness, making everything work out).
* ''Literature/{{Hyouka}}'': [[{{Protagonist}} Houtarou]] has two rules he lives his life by: "One: Never do anything you don't have to. Two: If you have to do something, do it quickly." [[spoiler:Satoshi]] is also an example. [[spoiler:He's content with being a JackOfAllTrades, MasterOfNone because he realizes that there's AlwaysSomeoneBetter namely Houtarou.]]
* In ''Anime/MaiOtome'', Nao gets good grades, but has a BrilliantButLazy attitude, which includes not wanting to be part of the [[AbsurdlyPowerfulStudentCouncil Trias]], which is composed of the top three Pearls. Unfortunately for her, when Akane leaves school due to getting a position as the King of Florence's Otome, [[spoiler:and eloping with Kazuya at the last minute]], Nao takes Akane's position on the Trias [[spoiler:and later becomes the Fourth Column]].
* In ''LightNovel/MyTeenRomanticComedySNAFU'', the trope fits Hachiman to a T. Among the usual reasons for example he doesn't want to be hurt again, he has an uncommon but somewhat logical argument. Hachiman, after being accused by Yukino of running away because of his dismotivation, makes his point of view clear:
** ''"We only change to avoid the current situation. The true meaning of not running away is planting your feet firmly in the ground and doing the best you can with your present. Who's running away now? Why can't you just accept who you are and were?"''
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'': Lelouch starts out this way, as a very intelligent young man who gets very average grades and goes through life without accomplishing much. His reasons are twofold: first, it's in his and his sister's best interests to lay low and not draw any attention to themselves, and second, he harbors an intense hatred for the society he's in, and has no desire to succeed in it. This changes when he meets C.C. and gets his geass powers...


[[folder: Comic Books]]

* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' example: This turns out to be Mal's motivation in ''Better Days'', realizing that he is genuinely happier in his small ship running dangerous jobs all around the galaxy, then actually getting a big score and being able to retire.



%%* Unsurprisingly, ''Film/ClerksII''.
* In the original ''Film/{{Clerks}}'' [[spoiler:it applies to Randal (who even says as much), and possibly to Jay and Bob]]. In the second film [[spoiler:Dante comes around to the same point of view]].
* Peter [=LaFleur=], the main character of ''Film/DodgeballATrueUnderdogStory'', is one of these, contrasted with his antagonist White, who takes "you should not be satisfied with yourself" to unhealthy extremes.
* At the beginning of ''Film/MusicAndLyrics'', former eighties pop star Alex Fletcher, if not exactly happy, is at least comfortably resigned to his life of comfortable relative obscurity as a 'happy has-been'. Curiously, his love interest Sophie also never really demonstrates much desire to improve herself either, but in her case it's more out of a lack of self-confidence: a cruel novel written by a vindictive ex-lover which portrayed her as talentless and derivative and which went on to be a bestseller pretty much destroyed her faith in her ability to write. Both are prompted throughout the movie to get out their respective ruts and start yearning for more things than theme-park gigs and watering plants.
* Film/VanWilder is one of these, simply because being a BigManOnCampus is more fun than trying to graduate.
* Kirk, in ''Film/StarTrekGenerations'', advises Picard to keep doing this for this exact reason. For his part, Kirk hated being an admiral so much that when he was demoted back to captain it was treated as being CursedWithAwesome.



* Victor Tugelbend, protagonist of the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novel ''Discworld/MovingPictures'', bases his life (up until [[CallToAdventure the plot kicks in]]) on wanting to remain a student at Unseen University: he studies very hard so as to be able to maintain a perfect 84% average, because that's the only number that allows him to both keep his scholarship and not graduate. Similarly, he's athletic because it's easier to get things done with a fit physique and tries to be well-groomed and well-dressed because it's easier to get dates that way. An example of the "takes more work" version.
** Also from the Discworld, Rincewind, who wants to avoid any excitement or heroism for the rest of his life, even though it gets him congratulations and the admiration of pretty girls. However, he has historically been Fate's ButtMonkey, so...
*** Fate just hates him because he's the best tool of The Lady (-Luck) in their eternal rivalry.
** William de Worde, from ''The Truth'', got a reputation for keenness at sport while at school because he was always dashing about the field and shouting. His sports masters evidently overlooked the fact that he was invariably doing so, while remaining ''a long way from the ball'' or any possibility of getting caught up in a scrum over it.
* ''The Man Who Was Too Lazy To Fail'', a novella within Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/TimeEnoughForLove'', plays with the trope: the title character is as smart as he is lazy, and ends up a naval aviator and later becomes an Admiral because every step along the way was easier than sodbusting back on the family farm.
* The protagonist of ''Literature/DoorwaysInTheSand'' was left an enormous allowance from a rich relative's estate as long as he stayed in school, which he of course decides to abuse. In spite of every effort by the university to make him graduate or kick him out, he always manages to outmaneuver them, until The Plot detains him long enough for his most recent adviser to award him with a degree in absentia.
* The protagonist from Literature/HowToLiveSafelyInAScienceFictionalUniverse has literally messed with the hardware in his time-machine so that he can live in the present-indefinite forever, and never have to face the future. Yeah, it's that kind of book.
* Ivan Vorpatril of the ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'' is perhaps the most unambitious, dismotivated character of the series. He steadfastly refuses to make waves, spends much of the series resisting the idea of politically advantageous marriage because he likes casual dating (and casual sex), and generally refuses to put himself forward. Despite this he is quite competent and makes captain even before Miles, and later reveals that [[spoiler:he's the official unofficial SpareToTheThrone because nobody would accept a "mutie" like Miles, so being studiously unimpressive keeps others from wanting him as emperor - an office Ivan never aspired to since his father was murdered in the last succession crisis]].
* Lightsong, one of the Returned deities of ''Literature/{{Warbreaker}}'', not only doesn't believe his own religion, he actively tries to be as lazy, unhelpful, and irritating as possible to stop anyone else from buying into it. Due to the devotion and insistence of his high priest [[spoiler:his brother, whose daughter Lightsong died saving the first time around]] and the fact that he's really a decent guy, it doesn't take.


[[folder: Live-Action TV]]

* Dave Lister, from ''Series/RedDwarf'', is basically an AlmightyJanitor because of this. While partly due to the fact he hates his job pre-apocalypse (in the novels, he only signed on with Red Dwarf because he somehow got so plastered that he wound up on Mimas, a moon of Jupiter, when he'd been getting drunk ''on Earth'' and it was the quickest way to get back to Earth), and post-apocalypse he's millions of years of non-stop travel away from Earth, he just doesn't have any major ambitions outside of trying to get home and open up a hot dog stand on Fiji.
* Jaye Tyler in ''Series/{{Wonderfalls}}'' exemplifies this trope but ends up helping others, often under protest.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'': Will Riker works pretty hard at staying Exec on the Enterprise D even though offered several promotions. He stays XO because he's waiting for Picard to make Admiral and therefore become captain of the ''Enterprise''. Ultimately subverted. The Enterprise D is destroyed, and Riker is eventually promoted anyway and given command of a new ship.
* George in the first season of ''Series/DeadLikeMe'', who goes back to work at the same temp agency she worked at prior to her untimely death.
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}''.
** Morgan Grimes.
** Chuck himself at the beginning of the series. He's brilliant and capable, but he works at a big box electronic store in a menial, dead-end job and is reluctant even to compete for a promotion to assistant manger.
* On ''Series/{{Roseanne}}'', Darlene resisted going to a prestigious art school due to fear of failure.
* ''Series/JonathanCreek''. With his keen analytical skills and brilliance at coming up with magic tricks, he could have either been a great detective or a great magician if he'd wanted to be; instead, he has to be dragged kicking and screaming into virtually every investigation that Maddy or Carla rope him in to, and he's quite content to hide in the wings and play second fiddle to arrogant tool Adam Klaus, who gets all the fame from his tricks. In Jonathan's case his dismotivation results from a combination of shyness, anti-social reticence and CelebrityIsOverrated feelings.
* Oz of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' is smart enough to be tapped by the world's leading software concern, and has no ambitions except getting his guitar chords right. He has incompletes on his schoolwork, didn't go to summer school, and usually gets up late.
* Referenced in the ''Series/ChappellesShow'' skit "Knee-High Park" with Stinky (an [[Series/SesameStreet Oscar the Grouch]] analogue) expounding on the evils of materialism and the pointlessness of working to improve your life.
-->'''Stinky:''' Me, I gave up working a long time ago.
-->'''Little Girl:''' Don't give up, Stinky! My dad says, if you never give up and work hard, all your dreams will come true!
-->'''Stinky:''' ...that's the gayest shit I ever heard.
* Jeff Winger in ''Series/{{Community}}'' plays with this trope, in that he actually ''does'' want to get his law degree and out of Greendale Community College, but is also incredibly lazy, is used to coasting by on his looks and charm, and views doing anything but the absolute bare minimum effort required to get by as a personal failing; the key reason he wants to get his degree is so he can get back to the cushy life he had before he was exposed as a fraud. This is partly why he chose to go to Greendale, a school he (at least initially) views with nothing but contempt over a better school where he'd be expected to put the effort in. He also naturally falls into the trap of putting more effort into doing less than it would take to just suck it up and put an honest amount of effort in, and bringing more trouble than is necessary on himself as a result.
* In ''Series/ParksAndRecreation'', Ron Swanson wants minimal contact with everyone, both because he just doesn't like dealing with people and he's a raging libertarian who wants to ensure nothing in government ever gets done. April, the office intern, is extremely lazy, unmotivated to do anything, and hates everyone (except Andy). Naturally, Ron hires her as his assistant because she's the ''worst'' possible assistant ever. She quickly proceeds to ensure no one ever meets with Ron, sleeps at her desk all day, and conspire with Ron to ensure no work involving him ever gets done.


[[folder: Music]]
* In Music/DavidByrne's song "Lazy", The narrator claims to be a LazyBum, but he gives a surprisingly long list of activities he does in a lazy way. He comes across less like a genuinely lazy guy and more like [[{{Hipster}} one who works really hard to convince everyone how cool and lazy he is]].
--> I'm lazy when I'm loving. \\
I'm lazy when I play. \\
I'm lazy with my girlfriend, a thousand times a day. \\
I'm lazy when I'm speakin'. \\
I'm lazy when I walk. \\
I'm lazy when I'm dancin'. \\
I'm lazy when I talk.

[[folder: Newspaper Comics]]

* Wally of ''{{ComicStrip/Dilbert}}''. He was actually based on one of Scott Adams' coworkers who, after realizing that the bottom 10% of employees would be offered extremely generous buy-out packages, went out of his way to get fired. Adams says about this "This wouldn't have been so much fun to watch except this fellow was one of the more brilliant people I've met and he was totally dedicated to this goal." Wally's take on it:
-->''It's all part of my can't-do approach to life''.
* [[ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes Calvin]]: "I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep everyone's expectations."
** It's implied that Calvin is ''very'' intelligent for a six-year-old. It's just that he's such an energetic MrImagination that he finds his school (especially his crotchety old teacher, Ms. Wormwood) extremely constricting.


[[folder: Tabletop Games]]

* In ''TabletopGame/AllFleshMustBeEaten'', a ZombieApocalypse Tabletop game, one of the sample characters offered is a "professional student", who has been in college 12 years, living rather comfortably off of his scholarship, and has come "dangerously close to graduating" on several occasions. Though it's mostly used as a HandWave for why he has so many seemingly-unconnected skills.
* The Chaos god Nurgle in ''TabletopGame/WarhammerFantasy'' and ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'' is the embodiment of decay and stagnation (among others, such as disease and possible love), and is opposed to Tzeentch, patron of the ambitious, the backstabbers and sorcerers (and is the embodiment of change and ''hope''). His units tend towards the StoneWall approach, their deadened bodies feeling no pain, regenerating with cancerous growths, and the knowledge that everything decays eventually.


* Fiyero's IAmSong in ''Theatre/{{Wicked}}'' is all about this. He chides schools for wanting to break his shallow, go-with-the-flow attitude about life.
** As he says to his companion upon arriving at said school: "Are we there already? Oh well, I'm sure I won't last longer here than I did at any of the others."
--> "Life is painless for the brainless/ why think too hard?/ when its so soothing!"
* Twimble's song "The Company Way" in ''Theatre/{{How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying}}'' talks about how he's spent the last 25 years in the mailroom, avoiding promotion to avoid risk.


[[folder: Video Games]]

* Kariya from ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'' intentionally avoids getting a promotion, despite being one of the most competent Reapers around. He already has his ideal job, which lets him relax and hang out with Yashiro.
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'''s Demyx would like nothing better than to just sit around the Castle that Never Was and write songs. He actually bribes you to do his missions in ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2 358/2 Days.]]''
** Though he's not completely demotivated. Axel explains that Demyx's specialty is scouting and observation, which he does enjoy. It's the missions where he has to do more than sneak and watch that he dislikes.
* Many games force this on the player, if they're trying to achieve some sort of perfect or near perfect game. Many games feature ''EmptyLevels'', where the player is punished with lower overall stats or some other disincentive for levelling up normally, and thus are better served by running away from every single random encounter and fight bosses with the main character dead for the whole battle.

[[folder: Web Animation]]
* Grif of ''Machinima/RedVsBlue''. He acts lazy and incompetent that Sarge has slowly been giving him less and less to do, until he has practically no responsibilities at Red Base... just the way he likes it. At one point he takes Simmons' place as Sarge's second in command, but once he realizes that he'd actually have to do work, he gives it to Donut. It should also be noted that Grif is the only member of the Red Team that Church is wary of, realizing that his dismotivation hides the highest intelligence of the team.

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* Andy of ''MissionHill'' actively mocks his little brother Kevin for choosing to focus on school over drinking and partying. Kevin, on his part, is upset that Andy chooses his lazy, layabout lifestyle over trying to get his (very good) cartoons published. One episode took Andy's dismotivation to extremes - he had just lost his job, and spent his days waking up in the afternoon, drinking, and basically wallowing in his own filth.
** Best exemplified when he takes a [[ADateWithRosiePalms a jar of lotion into the bathroom]], closes the door, and then says, "Eh. Why bother?"
* Experiment 625 (or Reuben as he is now called) in ''WesternAnimation/StitchTheMovie'' and ''WesternAnimation/LiloAndStitchTheSeries'' has all the powers of Stitch, but was regarded as a failure by Jumba because he would rather eat and make sandwiches than use his powers. This often makes him a pushover because he's too lazy to put up a fight with Stitch in the few times he's forced to assist Gantu in capturing an activated experiment. It's not until the last movie that ended ''The Series'', ''WesternAnimation/LeroyAndStitch'', where he finally gets off his butt and helps Lilo save Stitch and defeat an clone army of Stitch's evil twin, Leroy.
* This is ''enforced'' in Starlight Glimmer's town in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', as said by her [[KnightOfCerebus surprisingly dark]] VillainSong:
-->You can't have a nightmare if you never dream!


[[folder: Real Life]]
* When combined with a SelfFulfillingProphecy, this creates a rather interesting sociological phenomenon. Namely, someone thinks that they'll be bad at something (painting, getting a promotion, carrying on a conversation... anything, really), so they actively avoid doing it, thus ensuring that they'll be bad at it. This can even extend so far as to putting more effort into avoiding the perceived failure than it would have taken to learn the skill or succeed at the task; or put simply, if they'd have put the same amount of effort into actually doing the task as they did in trying to avoid doing it, they'd spectacularly succeed.
** It is sometimes referred to as "Avoidance Strategy", and is a common way for a person who has self esteem issues and/or high expectancies concerning his or her work, to preserve his/her self-esteem by voluntarily (but often unconsciously) failing at a task. The idea can be summed up as "If I try hard but fail, I must face my failure and I will suffer. Though if I don't even try, there is no proof that I cannot succeed, only that I didn't try to." Again, this is often an unconscious process, which doesn't mean that the person is "bad" lazy or lacks any force of will ; if anything the problem is simply self-confidence.
* A common thing in sexuality and fetishes - the thought of abandoning control of one's desires is fetish material for many, often to their own frustration afterwards.
* Every high school graduate has at least heard of the term "Senioritis." Basically, by their second and last semester, a high school senior has all the credits they need, has gotten their college acceptances, and is working on their financial aid, so they think "Why do I need to do any more work?" Unfortunately, particularly bad cases of this have resulted in the subjects having their college acceptances revoked.
* Creator/GeorgeOrwell often put off or refused to meet certain authors and public figures he planned on writing about or reviewing their works because he worried he might end up enjoying their company and not have the heart to critique them fairly.
* If anyone has had a job that you ''really'' didn't like, then chances are you simply did the bare minimum to not get fired.