A character, having faced an indifferent world for so long, finally gives up all pretense of trying. He does the bare minimum to try to get his job done and makes no effort of initiative elsewhere. He knows that whatever he tries isn't going to work, so it's just easier to be jaded and cynical, and right than to be constantly disappointed by plans that never work.
Depressing as that sounds, this trope is almost always played for comedy. This is because the trope is a popular part of Deadpan Snarker
mentality. One of the benefits of not caring is that there's nothing stopping you from making cynical, ironic and humorous quips about the world around you. Granted, said character won't be much fun to be around since he makes these jokes at the expense of nearly everyone else, but again, he doesn't care, and it's not like anyone's going to have the guts to actually do something about it since his irritation doesn't go past his passive-aggressive sarcasm.
This should not be confused with a related concept, Professional Slacker
, which is when a character makes an aggressive effort to do as little work as possible.
The meta-counterpart of They Just Didn't Care
. When used seriously, the character has probably crossed the Despair Event Horizon
, or over lap with Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!
. Compare Giving Up On Logic
. If a work does this to its audience, it's Eight Deadly Words
Anime And Manga
- Played for Drama with Leo from Pandora Hearts. After Elliot's death (of which he blames himself), he pulls a Face–Heel Turn in order to perform his duties as Glen, but he even admits to himself that he hates everything and that "in the end... nothing mattered anymore."
- Played for Drama with Hishigi from Samurai Deeper Kyo. He knows he's dying and that there's no chance of correcting the inherent genetic defect that is killing the Mibu clan. Even as he continues to fight for his one remaining friend, he expresses the fact that he has grown tired and uncaring of the cause he's fighting for.
- Possibly the "rich hottie" in Local #8. He's rich, gorgeous, and considerate, but Megan ends up deciding it "just isn't right" and leaves his bed giving the It's Not You, It's Me line, to which he replies "it never is". Megan sees this as proving that he's secretly a jerk, but alternatively, the poor guy has been through this routine so many times that he's completely indifferent to what she thinks of him now since he knows she's not coming back. It's the easiest explanation for why his doorman "knows the drill". How many Jerkass Casanovas have a doorman who's used to calling a cab for women to go home in the middle of the night?
- Loki's God(dess) of Stories incarnation claimed that their genuine Screw Destiny happened because they did this. Meaning: Falling because of mistreatment or parental favouritism? Trying to show it off to all? etc. These all only mean anything if you give two shits about what they think! And they don't anymore. (They still care about the people, who dare to be their friends... but anybody else, especially Asgard? Nope.)
- Maleficent: Diaval tells Maleficent that he doesn't even care anymore when she again threatens to turn him into some ugly animal. Subverted in that he does not actually give up on trying to make her see reason.
- The Doctor stops caring about the universe and retires after the Ponds' death until Clara snaps him out of it.
- Phil Miller in The Last Man on Earth is reduced to this at the start of the series, thinking he is the eponymous individual. Then some other survivors start turning up, and he acquires a whole new set of problems.
- In Dilbert, this is an inevitable effect of working for the company with its useless, sadistic, or outright criminal administration; its Pointy Haired Bosses; and its soul-numbing office environment. They call it the numbing, and Professional Slacker Wally is its endpoint. Dilbert himself has managed to escape this fate (except when Rule of Funny says otherwise) by becoming Genre Savvy enough to game the system to his own advantage.
- In Doonesbury, this is what's happened to Walden's President King. Frustrated with the (ultimately successful) attempts of students to segregate themselves in the early 1990s, he's since become completely indifferent to his job, allowing Walden to languish into a low-tier party school where students don't even make a pretense of planning for their futures. At one memorable commencement address, he even stated this outright to the students, asking who would ditch his degree right now if he could become a writer for Family Guy. All of the students promptly raised their hands, except for one who was scared of the killer bees that live in California.
- Marla of Retail has long since learned to roll with the punches from her customers and her higher-ups. Even after being promoted to store manager, she still maintains a thick level of snark, even going so far as to openly berate customers who annoy her, and make fun of her boss to his face. She also happens to be the only person capable of keeping her store running, so her Vetinari Job Security does her attitude no favors.
- The Simpsons has a couple of examples:
- Reverend Lovejoy started out as an eager young minister willing to help his parishioners, but was worn down by Ned Flanders' incessant griping. "Finally, I just stopped caring. Fortunately, by that time it was the 1980s and no one noticed."
- Mrs. Krabappel was a dedicated teacher until she met with Bart.
- Bart Simpson was really enthusiastic about school until he met the worst kindergarten teacher.
- Invader Zim: A problem the writers had with Dib near the end of the show's run was that he was becoming this trope, thus ruining the central conflict of the premise. This is most evident in Zim Eats Waffles wherein after having been humiliated in front of his teammates at the Swollen Eyeball and having his room destroyed by robots, Dib screams only briefly, then simply mumbles "whatever...", and goes to bed.
- Used during a Robot Chicken sketch, when a spurned member of G.I. Joe decides to join Cobra after being mocked, and stuck with the codename "Fumbles". Only for Cobra Commander to give him a bad one as well.
Cobra Commander: My those are some fancy trousers. I shall call you Trouser Snake!
Calvin/Fumbles/Trouser Snake: Heh. I don't even care anymore.
- After getting his scythe stolen over and over again throughout the series, Grim in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy actually says this verbatim when Sperg steals Grim's scythe in the episode "The Super Secret Snake Club vs. P.E." (Played for Laughs, of course.)
Sperg: Gimme that! (Steals Grim's scythe.)
- When the Visigoth king Alaric I sacked Rome for the third time in August 410, the citizenry of the severely weakened and demoralized city offered no real resistance. (Historians disagree on whether the famous opening of the Salarian Gate by Roman slaves, to let in Alaric's army, was the city's ultimate expression of this trope, or whether it was a plot in which Visigoth soldiers infiltrated Rome by going undercover as slaves.)