"Well, you're in your little room and you're working on something good.
But if it's really good, you're gonna need a bigger room.
And when you're in the bigger room you might not know what to do.
You might have to think of how you got started: sitting in your little room."
A character becomes successful in an activity, promptly lets success go to their head and then loses the drive that made this character successful in the first place.
Say Bob is a talented singer/songwriter. He got it from years of practice and determination, and eventually gets noticed for it. He gets a cushy contract, and women are all over him. Soon he loses the determination to make good songs, and only cares about the money and the prestige, rejecting the idea of Doing It for the Art
even when he can afford to do potentially unprofitable side projects.
What happens then can vary. He might become a Jerkass
to his friends, or a jerk to everyone else. He might start losing his skill and have to take drugs just to get on stage. He might lose his contract and his money, and either learn an Aesop
or spend the rest of his life moping about his Glory Days
. He might even keep all those, and get a job as a music executive where he's totally cynical to anyone new who thinks this is "just about the music"
This can make up entire plots, or just make a backstory for some character who is either the cynic or lost it all. Often happens in a Sitcom
, sort of overlapping with Compressed Vice
. In this case, losing it all is how the Reset Button
is pressed. This can be Truth in Television
, although many times it's hard to tell, as it's often fans complaining of Sell Out
and It's Popular, Now It Sucks
Note this doesn't count when Bob just gets caught up in recreational drugs. That's covered under Hookers and Blow
and Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll
Compare/Contrast I Coulda Been a Contender
Anime & Manga
- Mokoyama from Yakitate!! Japan got this way when he was hired by St. Pierre, becoming more interested in luxury and makeovers than baking.
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children reveals this has happened to the entire playable cast bar Cloud. Even Vincent, who puts up a gunslinger of a fight against the antagonists and seems to honestly be in better shape than the rest, refuses to hop in the fight and forces everyone else to sit back and watch.
Live Action TV
- The Great Gatsby: Gatsy had a lot of dreams and wanted to do a lot of great things, but his infautation with Stepford Smiler Daisy lead him to become millionaire by being a smuggler:
Well, there I was, way off my ambitions, getting deeper in love every minute, and all of a sudden I didn't care. What was the use of doing great things if I could have a better time telling her what I was going to do?
- The Stand: Played completely straight with the musician Larry Underwood, although he eventually stops acting that way.
- Played with in the second season of Extras. The main character, Andy, gets his own sitcom which makes him ridiculously famous...but the show has been meddled with so much that it's no longer any good in Andy's opinion (and in the opinion of LOTS of other people.) Andy struggles with continuing to do the show and being a rich laughingstock or quitting the show (and permanently damaging his career) to do better work.
- Many stories in the WWF/WWE highlight this trope as the frequent downfall of heels (and occasionally faces) who have been champions for long periods of time. Eventually a combination of arrogance and complacency lands them a defeat at the hands of their title hungry rival.
- Stone Cold's infamous Face-Heel Turn had him ally with Arch-Enemy Vince McMahon to claim the title at Wrestlemania 17. However Austin's main drive was largely to torment and harass Vince and his allies. His Badass Decay got to the point where Vince himself was actively trying to provoke him into attacking him so he'd snap out of it. Fittingly Austin did eventually return to his old self by screwing Vince and the entire WWF - by handing a win to WCW, no less.
- CM Punk accused John Cena, in his hometown of Boston no less, of having sold-out his ideals and no longer being the plucky underdog he portrayed himself as. Punk pointed out he was now a multi-time champion and merchandise machine. His greatest insult came when he claimed that as much as Cena wanted to pretend he was like his beloved Red Sox, he was more like the New York Yankees.
- Seems to happen to at least one Griffin family member at least once a season on Family Guy.
- Daria has a variant in one episode where artsy Jane gets a job doing copies of famous pictures for some easy money. She soon loses motivation to do her own original work and is noticeably stung when a customer notes that her technique is becoming lazy.
- Pirate Captain in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists actually trades his Team Pet (who turns out to be a surviving Dodo) for a load of treasure just to win Pirate of the Year.
- Arthur Christmas turned out to have three generations of Santas fall into this. The realized they forgot Christmas was about the children, not themselves.