Writers and directors get a lot of demands made of them. Not only is there Executive Meddling, but once a show develops an audience, the fans will probably have their own ideas of what they want to see.
And sometimes the writer gets sick of it.
Writer Revolt happens when the writer gets sick of the demands being made of him, and subverts them. They might start their attack by sinking ships. But go too far and fans will stop supporting a show that attacks them, and that's the end of the writers' jobs. And sometimes this is what they wanted all along.
Not to be confused with show writers actually going on strike. Compare Biting-the-Hand Humor, Take That, and Wag the Director. May lead to Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things.
It's a commonly held fan belief that End of Evangelion was a subversion of the ending the fans wanted, though it's more likely that it's more in line with the type of ending the creators wanted to do in the first place had their budget not run out, if not so brutal.
When G Gundam was originally created, Bandai wanted the plot to be a simple story about super robots fighting each other in a world-wide competition. Instead, Yasuhiro Imagawa created a series where the tournament was simply a backdrop for Domon to meet allies and fight his enemies, while the real plot was that several nations tried to gain control of the Devil Gundam, a super-powerful robot capable of dominating the world. This also lead to some of the most memorably ridiculous designs in mecha history, such as a windmill gundam.
Even before G Gundam, Yoshiyuki Tomino, the creator of the original Mobile Suit Gundam and it sequels, plotted a director revolt against Sunrise and Bandai with his Victory Gundam, making it his single darkest Gundam show. As a part of his rebellion against the two said companies' merchandise interest at the expense of several plot elements in his Gundam series, he even created a motorcycle-like Zanscare battleship as an irony whilst the main stage of the show was meant to be Earth. The high character death rate along with Katejina Loos' sudden Face-Heel Turn also have things to do with Tomino's rage.
Tomino has a habit of doing this. The original Gundam was supposed to be a toy ad for an older elementary-school demographic. He turned it into, basically, "Ur-BSG with a more coherent plot". Let's not even discuss what he did withSpace Runaway Ideon, although he was more directly responsible for that series; its Downer Ending is still pretty much a giant middle finger to his bosses.
Pokémon: James' voice actor Eric Stuart was angry that 4Kids wouldn't be paying voice actors for commercials anymore, so he hid a back-masked message in episode 130, where James yells backwards: "Leo Burnett and 4Kids are the devil!"
Peter David's original run on the Hulk comic, from 1987 to 1998, ended when Marvel demanded he bring back the Savage Hulk. He was replaced by Joe Casey, who made changes, but put in as little of the Savage Hulk as he could (mostly just making him mute), and was on record as saying he respected David's run. Casey was never meant to last long on the title and was for the most part a fill-in writer until John Byrne could relaunch the title, which might've been why he decided to revolt like he did.
There is a two-issue crossover in Ultimate Spider-Man where Jean Grey inadvertently swaps Peter's consciousness with Wolverine. Not only did both issues show Brian Michael Bendis apologizing for the storyline and berating the man who came up with it, when Jean shows up and fixes it, Cyclops says that the whole thing seems ridiculous and unbelievable. Then Brian Bendis outright states "Even *I* couldn't stretch this over more than two issues."
Joe Quesada, (then) head editor at Marvel Comics, stated that the short-lived but critically-adored series Nextwave was not in continuity. Unfortunately for him, every writer since has written related stories, plot summaries, or character histories as though it were. Particularly funny as Warren Ellis (the original writer) wrote the series on the assumption that it was out of continuity as well, and said as much in interviews. (Quesada has been opposed by everyone who has ever worked for Marvel at some point, though he does tend to listen to all parties and thus why Marvel is more creatively diverse these days than it ever used to be, though the price (a lack of consistent continuity) is hefty.) It's probably safe to say that Nextwave is canon only in Broad Strokes; the characters in question did form a team by that name and they had adventures at least vaguely approximating what we read. But much of the truly over-the-top and/or silly parts are unlikely to get a reference in canon.
When Marvel fired Joey Cavalieri as editor of the Marvel 2099 line as a cost-cutting exercise, most of the writers quit in protest. The line limped on for a while before collapsing, and Marvel wrapped things up by getting Len Kaminski to write a one-shot, 2099: Manifest Destiny. Kaminski was the writer of Ghost Rider 2099, and the opening narration makes it quite clear whose side he's on:
This world had itself a god once. Not a perfect one, there's not a one of 'em are, but this 'un was kind and honest, and knew more'n most about creatin'.
Things were goin' pretty well for longer than they usually do, until the soulless credheads crawled in from the outer darks an' took over hereabouts. They drove our god and his loyal minions into the outer darks, and ain't nothing gone right since.
In the 1980s, there was a period where Marvel Comics decided that they would not have gays in comics and Northstar of Alpha Flight could not be gay, even though strong hints in that matter had already been dropped. Writer Bill Mantlo responded with a storyline revealing he was part fairy. Which is all the more hilarious when you consider that X-Men is all about equality for both different races and gay people.
Steve Gerber, creator of Howard the Duck, was writing two crossovers at the same time: one with Spider-Man and Howard for Marvel Comics and one with The Savage Dragon and Destroyer Duck for Image Comics. He got the idea of having the two parties meeting briefly in the shadows of a warehouse. Then he saw that Howard was scheduled to make appearances in some of Marvel's other comics, so he had the Savage Dragon / Destroyer Duck side of the meeting changed in that Howard gets himself cloned by a villain. In the confusion, one of the clones left the warehouse with Spidey (as seen in the Spider-Man side of the story, under the pretense that no cloning incident ever happened), while the real Howard is rescued by Savage Dragon and Destroyer Duck. The real Howard adopts the identity of "Leonard the Duck" (with his girlfriend Beverly Switzler likewise becoming "Rhonda Martini") and makes appearances in Image Comics and Vertigo Comics thereafter.
J. Michael Straczynski objected strongly to the content of One More Day, but was contractually obligated to write it and include the results Joe Quesada wanted (namely, the dissolution of Peter Parker and Mary Jane's marriage via Deal with the Devil). So, he threw in Aunt May saying that it was her time to go, and Peter should just let it happen; a little girl who appears to Peter and drops anvil-sized questions about what will happen if she never is; visions of his life without Mary-Jane, all of which are rather lacking; and the little girl showing back up after the deal is made, revealing that she was Mary-Jane's unborn daughter who will now never be and saying, in essence, "Wow, you really fucked this one up, didn't you?". He also has Mephisto proclaim that a "small part of their souls will remember what you have lost", thus somehow implying whatever Peter and MJ become on the surface is just an extension of Mephisto's spell and that the real Peter and MJ are locked away, waiting for release.
A happy ending to the OMD/BND mess was lampshaded in MJ's speech about how "nothing could destroy the relationship", indicating that her deal with Mephisto is to ensure she can somehow remain close to him and break both pacts one day with an ace up her sleeve, as well as the wedding scene depicted in the Mary Jane TPB reprint of Parallel Lives (the annual containing the retconned wedding was not included in this TPB), indicating that a new version of the wedding will one day unfold with the pacts broken. A few months prior to OMD, during his conversation with an angel, Peter is told he and MJ will overcome everything and still have kids.
Brian Michael Bendis set out to completely derail the BND era just as it was beginning by having Peter unmask in front of his secret Avengers teammates right after Marvel had taken great pains to hide Peter's identity again. A strong fan of Peter and MJ's marriage, Bendis went on to imply Jessica Drew remembered that he was married, with Peter denying it. How Jessica is aware isn't made clear, but it could be down to hearing it from any character with the ability to peer over the fourth wall. note Or using the Loophole Abuse that when OMD occurred, Jessica was kidnapped and stored away in a Skrull spaceship, while their queen Veranke posed as her until Secret Invasion. Mephisto's reset must have affected people residing on Earth, presumably.
Speaking of One More Day and the fourth wall, a Deadpool/Spider-Man crossover that occurred shortly after established that thanks to his fourth wall awareness Deadpool remembers the events of OMD. It also establishes that even he thinks it's stupid and that he uses it as an insult towards Spider-Man.
When TomDeFalco and Howard Mackie's 2009 Clone Saga redux was released as a trade paperback, it bore the title "The REAL Clone Saga". The redux, rather than try to amend the 90s Clone Saga so that it fits into the drastically altered BND timeline, simply tells a much happier, upbeat version of events where every character that was killed over the course of the saga SURVIVES. The story ending with Peter and MJ becoming proud parents is seen as another big "F You" to the 616 continuity.
Speaking of The Clone Saga, most of the Spider-Man writing team and editorial team bailed in frustration because of that various mandates being handed down by the merchandise department and the editorial department constantly changing the story on them. One of them, Dan Jurgens, quit Sensational Spider-Man when the mandate came down that Ben would be revealed as the clone and Peter as the real one, feeling cheated that he wasn't writing the "real" Spider-Man.
Geoff Johns pulled a very polite one when editor Dan Didio forced him to eliminate his two favorite characters, Superboy and Kid Flash, from the Teen Titans. Superboy was killed off for legal reasonsnote because of the then-ongoing legal dispute between DC and the Siegel/Shuster estates over the copyright to Superman was, at the time, tilting towards DC losing the rights to Superboy. DC reacted, naturally enough, by killing Superboy off (and having recurring antagonist Superboy-Prime change his name to Superman-Prime). Superboy's resurrection came when the courts made it clear that it was only "young Clark" Superboy who the estates might have a claim on, and other characters using the name belonged to DC. In a nice touch, the villain in the miniseries that Superboy and Kid Flash returned in? Superboy-Prime, going back to his original name, while Kid Flash was aged up and became the new Flash (and was later killed off due to poor fan reaction). Johns continued to write the title, but the quality went downhill, and most of the stories seemed to be a meta commentary on how much the book was missing. He wound up leaving after about a year of stories, and the title has never been the same. Interviews upon his departure made it clear that he would have still been on the title if the characters were still around. When fan reaction proved him right, Johns was commissioned to write the miniseries that brought both the characters back to life.
Also, killing Superboy was actually the lesser of two evils. Didio originally wanted to kill off Nightwing, the original Robin and one of DC's oldest and most prominent characters, in Infinite Crisis. Johns pulled off a literal writer revolt and refused to write that, substituting Superboy so that a BigThree legacy would still die and that DC would at least be able to kill two birds with one stone.
Near the end of his tenure on Fantastic Four in The Eighties, Steve Englehart was shown the door for allegedly not being enough like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but the higher-ups gave him a few months to wrap things up. He wrote a story called "Dreamquest" under the alias of John Harkness, which had the FF captured by Aron, a member of the same alien race as Uatu the Watcher, and replaced with brain-washed, "action figure" duplicates that a curious Aron uses to recreate the early Lee/Kirby stories ("you want Lee and Kirby? I'll give you EXACTLY Lee and Kirby!"), regardless of the consequences to the modern Marvel Universe (such as torpedoing a nearly-completed Heel-Face Turn by the Mole Man, whom the fake FF attack without provocation, causing him to swear vengeance). Meanwhile, the stasis-imprisoned real FF have dreams that function as ultra-condensed versions of the stories that Englehart would have written; the highlight was a war between Doctor Doom and an impostor who believed he was Doom, in which both assembled teams of supervillains to fight on their sides. Once the real FF are freed, and Aron and his fakes vanquished, Franklin Richards goes to find "Harkness" to help fix the FF's now bad public image.
Franklin: "Mr. Harkness, you're the writer on the FF comic book these days, and it would be nice if you could write a comic to let everyone know my daddy's really a good guy—and this was all a mistake."
Englehart/Harkness: "I'll try. But it might take a better man than me to straighten out this mess."
Fortunately, the follow-up writer was Walt Simonson. Whether or not he's a better man than Englehart is up to you, but he was certainly a Crazy Awesome creator in his own right.
Randy Studdard (the Nintendo Power employee who created Captain Nintendo - later reworked as Captain N: The Game Master) took this to the unlikely extreme of subtleDisproportionate Retribution. As told here, his boss wanted numerous changes, and though he negotiated down to just "turn the guy's girlfriend into a stronger character," he was inordinately offended by the idea of this re-write ("Saving fair damsels, is what heroes do. Especially saving the girlfriend!! But, no. Let’s just put this premise on the respirator in the ICU before it’s born…"), and retaliated by renaming the girlfriend "Tara Bates" - as he explained: "Tara was the home of Scarlett O’Hara (whom I consider the bitchiest character of all time) and Bates was the last name of Norman Bates of ran the Bates Motel in Psycho and he was, well, psycho." Sheesh, dude.
Many of the Bat-family (or related) writers weren't thrilled to have their book derailed to deal with the storyline Death Of The Family. Adam Glass (Suicide Squad) really didn't like doing it (and had to because of Harley Quinn), so he ended up re-writing some of the early events of the story to show that Harley was doing this unwillingly then jumped back into his storyline as if the tie-ins didn't occur. J.H. Williams (Batwoman) and Grant Morrison (Batman Inc.) outright refused to derail their storylines for this and, thus, had no part in it.
Williams revolted again, with even more fury, when DC pulled the major dick move of denying Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer their marriage, even though the two had been in a relationship for a good long while. Williams and the rest of Batwoman's creative team were so disgusted that they straight up quit, sending the comic into chaos as DC scrambled for a new creative team.
Following the event story Wrath of the First Lantern, Joshua Hale Fialkov was pinged to write both the Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns books, but would later leave the books due to "editorial not letting him tell the stories he wanted". It's still unclear if that included a rumor that Fialkov would've been mandated to kill off John Stewart (a major GL player and one of DC's most famous black characters; and that Fialkov resigned in protest of this), but currently the hero is safe, as the main Lantern in GLC under main Green Lantern writer Robert Venditti & Van Jensen. Red Lanterns (with Guy Gardner) eventually was assigned to Charles Soule.
As a nod to the massive controversy surrounding the leaked news of Stewart's supposedly-planned death, Venditti and Jensen's first issue opened with John triumphantly screaming "Sorry, I'm not dying today!" while taking down a group of bloodthirsty Durlans.
Similarly, the next writer of Action Comics following Grant Morrison's run, Andy Diggle, was given a large amount of publicity and buildup, but wound up leaving the book after only a few issues were written and leaving Scott Lobdell as the writer of both Action and sister title Superman. Both incidents have reignited scrutiny at DC for their editorial policies, especially after it was reported that the company would relax their numerous mandates at a major convention held in Memphis just a few weeks earlier to the announcements.
On a similar note, J.H. Williams III decided to quit Batwoman after DC refused to allow Kate Kane to get married to Maggie Sawyer. This helped expose DC's mandate that everyone in the Bat Family be miserable, as DC was forced to talk about the mandate in order to reassure enraged gay and lesbian fans that their meddling wasn't due to homophobia.
Tyroc, of the Legion of Super-Heroes, was added by Executive Meddling from editor Murray Boltinoff. The writers had been wanting to do a black character for years, but Boltinoff blocked any attempt to even show black people in crowd shots. Tyroc was introduced to explain this, claiming that all the black people in the DCU at the time were racial separatists living on an island that disappeared regularly. Mike Grell hated Tyroc's entire concept, and deliberately gave him the dumbest design and power he could imagine before writing him out.
Films — Live-Action
During the making of Fight Club, the executives felt that Marla's line after she has sex with Tyler ("I want to have your abortion") was too offensive, and asked director David Fincher to change it. Fincher changed it to "I haven't been fucked like that since grade school" and refused to change it back. Also, the movie contains a great deal of product placement, nearly all of which is smashed, blown up, or otherwise vandalized over the course of the movie. Fun fact: Helena Bonham-Carter (the actress who played Marla) is British and didn't know that "grade school" was the American equivalent of "primary school". She was, uh, "unhappy" when she found out what the line meant.
James Cameron performed a "Director Revolt" against Fox during the making of Avatar. Fox was concerned with the amount of "tree-hugging elements" present in the film, and asked Cameron to tone down or eliminate them. Cameron responded by ramping them up.
Small Soldiers has a rare in-universe example: early on, two remaining employees of a recently acquired company present their ideas for a new toy-line, one being the standard toy soldier type (the Commando Elite), and the other being edutainment friendly, peaceful monsters (the Gorgonites). Their boss demands the two lines be combined, with the Gorgonites re-purposed as the Commando Elite's enemies, which they are... but the creator of the Gorgonites kept the original background and characterization for the Gorgonites, effectively switching the hero and villain roles from what the boss intended even as the advertising insists otherwise.
An editor told Bernard Cornwell (a writer of historical war fiction) to change a scene where an ensign died. He resented being told how to write, so he changed it... to be more depressing. And in a number of the books since, Cornwell has had an ensign killed off in worse and worse ways.
For reference, this is Bernard Cornwell we're talking about. He's only one step away from Yoshiyuki Tomino: instead of killing off every named character and the entire universe, he'll simply kill the majority of the named characters and a lot of unnamed ones.
Older Than Radio: Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, was pressured to hook up Laurie and Jo by both fans and her editor. After divulging her disappointment in her fans to her journals since she felt that they were missing the point (she had actually intended for Jo to remain unmarried but happy and professionally successful), Alcott created the character Professor Fritz Bhaer as Jo's Big Brother Mentor and later love interest and hooked Laurie up with Jo's younger sister Amy, just to piss off the fans. ("I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please anybody"). Shipping has always been Serious Business, even without the Internet.
Isaac Asimov was told by Harold Gold, the editor of Galaxy Science Fiction, to include a woman in his novelette "The Martian Way." He therefore gave one of his male characters an insufferable, shrewish wife.
Writers doing Star Trektie in novels had numerous rules they had to follow in the late eighties and early nineties. One of these is that regardless of how many books they write, they may not have their own continuing characters. Diane Duane, among other authors, carefully ignored this rule when writing her series of Trek novels and created her own supporting cast among the crew of the Enterprise, including Ensign Naraht (the first Horta in Starfleet) and K’t’lk/K’s’t’lk, an alien physicist resembling a glass spider.
In the last decade or so, starting with the Deep Space Nine relaunch, which continued the stories of the characters from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from the finale, this restriction has lessened, especially following the newcontinuity movies making the 'prime' universe effectively a closed book in the eyes of those producing the new movies. There are now several ongoing series focused on mostly or entirely original characters.
Note that most of the revolt against the publishers was focused against one man in particular - Richard Arnold, who vetted all novel proposals for the studio and demanded a strict lack of inter-novel continuity. Once he was let go, the restrictions went with him.
Due to the often draconian rules placed on the writers of the Ravenloft novels, and after getting asked for one revision one too many times, P.N Elrod wrote in a character named Tew Yssup (Wet Pussy) in I, Strahd: The War Against Azalin. Most readers thought it was childish.
H.P. Lovecraft was once asked to write a story as a ghostwriter for Zealia Bishop. He got an outline of what Zealia wanted. "There is an Indian mound near here, which is haunted by a headless ghost. Sometimes it is a woman". Lovecraft hated it, because it sounded like a generic ghost story, but the outline was vague enough that he could apply a lot of license to it. What he ended up writing was The Mound, a story about a explorer discovering and living with an ancient race of subterranean immortals who worship Cthulhu.
Both played straight and averted by L. Frank Baum, creator of the Wizard of Oz-verse, intended to end it after 1, 3 or 4-5 books, depending on which account you trust (Baum stated various numbers). He tried several times to end it, and had to Retcon several times to write new books. Every time he tried to end the series or plant none-too-subtle hints in his books that he would like to stop now, please, he was swayed by the countless letters that would pour in from children, begging for just one more book. He continued writing on Oz right up to his death for fear of disappointing the children.
Live Action TV
Ugly Betty had a mild case of this during the final season after being cancelled but allowed a series finale; giving the writers pretty much a free card to do as they pleased, including giving the main gay characters bed and kiss scenes (One of them was even a kiss scene between teen boys, and no, not a couple 30 year old playing teen boys, actual teen boys; and that quickly derived in a rushed coming out story).
Kings is a modern retelling of the story of King David. The executives, in hopes of hiding this, made a strict rule that the phrase "King David" never be spoken. In the last episode of season 1, David is referred to by Rev. Samuelson as "David Shepherd, son of Jesse, son of Judah." Not even "King David" could rival that phrase in obviousness.
He did it again in Crusade, a show notoriously killed by Executive Meddling. In one specific instance, he was asked to write in more sex. He did. One of the characters was revealed to be a total pervert, fascinated by sex between alien races. In one episode a clip is shown of a Pak'Ma'Ra engaged in doggy-style sex with a Drazi, something that is completely impossible, especially in the manner described, due to the actual locations of the reproductive organs presented as though in the same place as humans. They are not. The clip is even plot-relevant: it is used to distract some guards.
It seems that Heroes is required to include Nissan's latest model of car in a plot-relevant capacity each season. In season one, the Product Placement is played fairly straight, with Hiro and Ando's trusty Versa practically having more screen time than every other vehicle put together. However, season 2's hapless Rogue got only two or three shots in the premiere before being stolen from Claire Bennett in the second episode, and appears later on as the vehicle of choice for smuggling illegal immigrants across the U.S. border. Meanwhile, Claire's father continues to harp on the theft as a way to "compensate" for Claire's irresponsibility.
Indeed, Nissan's omnipresence in the series is snarked on mercilessly in the episode commentaries by writer and actor alike.
They've also turned it into a Running Gag to have an advertisement for the Nissan Versa in every Graphic Novel, though later issues now advertise the Nissan Cube.
The Heroes webseries Heroes: Destiny in parody served the main purpose of promoting the Samsung Instinct. In one episode of the main series, the writers make fun of the product placement. Hiro and Ando are trying to crash a woman's wedding in India. Ando asks how Hiro plans to stop it. Hiro responds, "Instinct." And then says, "Let me get out my phone," and takes a picture of someone, while the phone is in the center of the frame.
Rumors and theories persist that the episode "iKiss" was only written due to Executive Meddling, based on a few pieces of evidence including Dan include the skewering of Teen genre tropes with the "Kelly Cooper" skit, then doing the biggest one of all, the First Kiss.
Chris Morris, fed up with Michael Grade's frequent Executive Meddling with Brass Eye, inserted a NSFW subliminal message into the final episode. The DVD release has all the cuts reinstated but the subliminal, having served its purpose, is gone.
Namely, "Grade Is A Cunt".
In a scene in Moonlighting, David and Maddie were in a car, breaking the Fourth Wall with a discussion of how they couldn't get together because the drama would go out of the show, it would start to suck, they would lose viewers and be canceled before they knew it. This didn't stop it from happening, though.
In the first season of Happy Days, the executives didn't want the Fonz wearing a leather jacket since they thought it made him look like a thug. Garry Marshall convinced them to allow him to wear it only when he was riding his motorcycle since it would then be a legitimate piece of safety equipment. Marshall then told the show's writers to never have a scene where Fonzie wasn't on his motorcycle, just having gotten off his motorcycle, or just about to get on his motorcycle.
One episode had a one off police officer character hold such an idea. Richie and his pals vehemently try to disabuse the man of such a notion. When that didn't work, they revealed their trump: they got the entire town to take up the fashion. Cue the entire main cast in leather jackets.
During the first season, the network demanded a more formulaic episode, in which Michael would teach a lesson to his son, George Michael. The writers obeyed... but they called the episode "Pier Pressure", included a subplot about Michael's father teaching his children trivial lessons by traumatizing them thanks to a one-armed man and fake blood, made Michael's lesson a Stock Aesop(Drugs Are Bad), which they subverted by making his son buy pot for someone who needs it medically and ended the plot with people coming to load up the family yacht with boxes, the police coming with sirens blaring, and the one-armed man shouting "And that's why you never teach your son a lesson!".
Near the end of shooting of the second season, the network cut the episode order from 22 to 18 episodes. In an amazing coincidence in a later episode, Michael complains a client cut their building order from 22 to 18 houses, stating that would ruin his carefully created building plans.
Also, towards the end of the final season, the Bluths' plan for success depended on becoming more likable and relatable, echoing many complaints from the network.
One late third season episode crams as many standard gimmicks as possible: 3D shots (gratuitous and add nothing to the plot)m shocking revelations (not really)m special guest stars (who were those guys?) and Tonight Someone Dies (a random extra chokes on a chicken bone, spoiled 5 minutes in the episode by the narrator.)
Veronica Mars producer Rob Thomas threatened to kill off Sheriff Lamb if his fans didn't stop asking to make him "nicer" and "shirtless more often." He went through with it. Brutally.
The writers of Battlestar Galactica tell a story where they were told to include more "happy moments", like "a party". They wrote in a party sequence that abruptly ended with an accidental explosion with several casualties. They say execs never meddled again.
Joss Whedon was asked by Fox to include some actual aliens in Firefly. His response was to have a seedy carny hawk "alien body parts" on display, which were, of course, fake.
A rather interesting example would be the character of Inara. She was included after Fox asked Whedon to include a "space hooker" in the cast. Inara's character was made to be a Companion, basically a high-class, educated woman who acts as a cross between a courtesan and a geisha. Several times throughout the show, Mal refers to her as being a whore, to which she is never happy.
The on-going storyline of Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night has the Show Within a Show teetering on the edge of cancellation, suffering through Executive Meddling and finally its network up for sale. After several episodes wondering who would buy the network and if they would keep the show on the air, a mysterious billionaire comes out of the woodwork and buys the network, declaring, "Anyone who can't make money off Sports Night doesn't deserve to be in the business of making money." In an episode that turned out to be the series finale. The series itself won critical acclaim, but struggled in ratings and only lasted two seasons on ABC.
In-universe example: On 30 Rock, Liz and her writers were told to add Product Placement to the Show Within The Show. They responded by writing a self-referential sketch about product placement. 30 Rock itself seemed to have an extremely blatant product placement for the McDonald's McFlurry, but the writers claim they just really like the product.
The second episode features a literal example: the writers pelt Liz with things for some reason or other.
NewsRadio was the king of this. The writers were told to add a Will They or Won't They? plot, so they did. The answer was "yes", in episode two. Later they were told to add a funeral plot as part of a "Three Weddings And A Funeral" cross-series gimmick, so they did an entire episode about the death of a beloved office rat.
David Simon got fed up with people demanding the Marlo Stanfield on The Wire be thrown in jail, so the series ends with him being arrested, then let go due to the police's illegal wiretap forming a key part of their evidence. However, he did throw the fans a bone: even though Marlo ends up a free man, he's stuck in his own personal Hell, completely forgotten by the city's other drug dealers and forbidden from any further drug activity himself, and it's implied he'll go out every night picking fights with street toughs until one of them kills him.
Whenever The BBC brass have tried to change the format of the popular current affairs show Newsnight, its fearsome presenter Jeremy Paxman (who enjoyed Ultimate Job Security due to his popularity and name-power) would always have one of these. The most famous example was when their editor tried to replace financial news with a weather report ("it's April, what do you expect" was Paxman's "effort" as a weatherman) which Paxman sunk by being sarcastic and condescending when forced to read it, but perhaps the best example was when they tried to set up "Oh My Newsnight" when viewers could submit their own video and get on the show. Paxman was not amused:
In the meantime, it's all available on the website, along with the editor's pathetic pleas for you to send us some bits of home movies and the like, so we can become the BBC's version of Animals Do the Funniest Things. Goodnight.
At one point, the network wanted Sally on 3rd Rock from the Sun to have an attractive, more conventional boyfriend. The writers gave her one... for one episode.
When NBC decided they wanted to seem more eco-friendly, they had a "green week" where all the shows had to have an environmental bent.
In 30 Rock Jack created an eco-themed superhero, Greenzo, and made clear that he had no interest in the environment, and was only doing so to promote NBC's real-life parent company GE and their line of "environmentally friendly" products. The actor playing Greenzo then went crazy, thinking he actually was Greenzo, and began pushing for much less business-friendly actions.
In My Name Is Earl, Earl's prison warden forced him to shoehorn a green message into their scared straight program, although it's out of place and would heavily derail the message of their skit.
Las Vegas did a reasonable job of catering, but they still had the owner of the hotel brutally shut down turning the whole hotel green, but discussing what impact doing so to the full extent would have on the lives of the workers.
In Chuck, the unscrupulous assistant manager instituted a recycling policy to make store patrons think they were a better company, without actually doing anything. Later in the episode, a college kid is leading a tree-planting initiative.
Student: Plant a Stanford tree, they're a renewable resource for your children's future.
John Casey: Oh, so, you want to save the environment, huh? Take a shower, hippie!
In Scrubs, The Janitor's newfound passion for promoting environmental awareness is taken to uncomfortable extremes, before permanently waning by the end of the episode.
The Office introduced Recyclops, an eco-crusader who helpfully suggests ways to recycle and reuse items. Unfortunately, Recyclops (played by an increasingly deranged Dwight) grows more dangerous and militant each year, until finally, he renounces Earth Day and swears vengeance against humanity for some unspecified misdeed, and proceeds to exact his punishment by releasing copious amounts of aerosol spray.
Parks and Recreation aired an episode about the characters going on a hunting trip. There was absolutely no environmental message and hunting wasn't really even portrayed negatively. The network responded by using misleading advertising to portray the episode being in line with "green week" (basically the ads all showed scenes of the characters in the woods without explaining what they were doing).
The first time Community ever ran into this policy, the relevant episode was titled "Environmental Science," but the main plot thereof involved Jeff trying to fix Chang's love life, and The Teaser contains all the episode's ostensibly pro-environmental material: Dean Pelton attempts to change the school's name from "Greendale" to "Envirodale" and prints 5,000 flyers promoting the new name. When someone points out to him that the original name already contained the word "green", he changes the name back and prints another 5,000 flyers with the old name. "I'm trying to save the planet!"
Star Trek: The Next Generation had another little bit of revolt. Much hay had been made about the fact that the 24th century didn't seem to have openly gay people, and Whoopi Goldberg protested the fact that one episode had her explain the concept of love to a new lifeform by saying, "When a man and a women are in love..." She managed to get it changed to "two people"; as it was part of a holographic presentation. Neither line appears in the final episode, according to transcripts.
A minor case occurred when MTV executives tried to make them change a reference to Bob Dylan in a sketch because no one in the audience would know who he was. Thus, as an in-joke, the name "Bob Dylan" kept getting slipped into dialogue, though usually not in reference to the singer.
In the Criminal Minds episode when JJ is promoted, listen very closely to the dialogue. AJ Cook was let go from the show for purely financial reasons, a decision that the cast and crew obviously reviled, and the subplot is about how her promotion is being forced by "people above their pay grade" (the network). She really lays into them in her closing monologue in place of the usual ending quote.
Considering how the writers, the cast and the entire fanbase hatedwhat the network executives did, there is a general consensus that the Take That against them was entirely justified note and cathartic (and one of the few times when a Writer Revolt has been fully supported by more than just fanbase splinter groups).
As part of the Executive Meddling that affected the 1970-71 TV series The Young Lawyers, the more hot-button and racially-mixed elements were toned down. One particular change is best explained by Harlan Ellison (who wrote an episode of the series, and wasn't pleased with the finished result):
... a pure WASP attorney will be introduced to ease the identity crisis for the scuttlefish. (SteveKandel, one of the more lunatic scriveners in Clown Town, when assigned the chore of writing the script that introduces the new characters, despising the idea, named him Christian White. It went through three drafts before anyone got hip to Steve's sword in the spleen.) (He was renamed Chris Blake.)
In a weird example of an in-fiction type being applied to a real episode, Mad Men has an episode with a B-plot centering around 1960s lawyer show The Defenders and their controversial episode about abortion. Harry Crane's friend at CBS explains the writers wanted to get it made, but the executives balked at the subject matter. So they instead do a trash script about cannibalism, the network rejects it on its face, there's not enough time to write a new script, but they do have this one waiting in the wings...
SCTV's "Great White North" sketches were added to comply with a Canadian government directive that all CBC shows include at least some "Canadian" content. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas complied... by creating two likably dumb talk show hosts who were stereotypical Canadians. It became the most successful element of the show, sparking a hit single and a moderately successful movie.
Castle has an in-universe example, where the titular character (a mystery novelist) begins the series having violently killed off his long-running character. It is hinted that, along with boredom, he did so to annoy his ex-wife and publisher, and had been growing tired of Storm for some time by that point already. Immediately lampshaded by several characters, and an ongoing joke six seasons later.
"Weird Al" Yankovic's record label once insisted that he include a parody of the then hot new single, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" for his Dare To Be Stupid album. Al himself didn't want to and responded to the pressure by intentionally making "Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch" as lame as possible. (Weird Al fans widely consider it his worst song by a wide margin.)
In the same album, they wanted him to do a straight cover of a song (as in, not a parody). So he covered the theme to George of the Jungle.
"Christmas at Ground Zero" was born because the executives wanted Weird Al to write and record a Christmas song. The subject matter proved so racy that it was actually banned from the radio.
Kevin DuBrow, lead singer of Quiet Riot, was less than thrilled about doing a cover of "Cum on Feel the Noize" (originally released by Slade), so he decided to make his singing voice as grating as possible. He stated that he, as well as the rest of the band, failed to make it bad, nailing it instead. The song became a hit and the album was the first #1 metal album (only to be displaced by MJ's Thriller).
The version of the story that says Morrison did this deliberately to spite the executives was popularized by the Oliver Stone film: other accounts of the story hold that Morrison was simply very nervous going onstage, and forgot to change the line. The actual video footage seems to suggest this as well, since Morrison wasn't even facing the camera when he sang the line as he was in the movie. Pretty much all accounts do agree that Morrison's response to being told The Doors would never play Ed Sullivan again was "Who cares... we already played Sullivan!"
British singer Lulu's late-1960s show is best remembered for another instance of this. The Jimi Hendrix Experience got two minutes into "Hey Joe" before Jimi stopped "this rubbish" and announced they were dedicating the song they really wanted to do—a cover of "Sunshine of Your Love"—to Cream. He was told he would never be on the BBC again after he finished the song, which suited him just fine as he'd felt "ridiculous" going on the show to begin with.
That story inspired Elvis Costello and the Attractions when they were the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 1977, a replacement for the Sex Pistols, who had trouble getting visas because of their criminal records, whereas Costello and his band were already in North America touring. Costello had wanted to do "Radio Radio" on the show, but Columbia wanted him to perform "Less than Zero", as it was already known as one of his songs and would help him and the band sell records. They decided to "pull a Hendrix on the Lulu show" and stopped "Less than Zero" after two bars, told the audience there was no reason for them to play it, and then went into "Radio Radio". In the booth the directors panicked, fearing the song would have foul language they couldn't stop. The show has been much nicer about this than the BBC was to Hendrix—he's been on since then, they did a sketch mocking it, and then Costello himself interrupted the Beastie Boys on the 25th anniversary special so they could all do the song together.
Sara Bareilles was apparently told to make her love songs more commercial. So she wrote "Bottle It Up", essentially about how pissed off she is about being told what to write.
There'll be girls across the nation who'll eat this up
Babe, I know it's your soul, but could you bottle it up...?
This is more or less the story of her career. Her first hit single, "Love Song," was a giant Take That at meddling executives trying to tell her what to write.
Chely Wright's record company apparently disliked the gloominess of one of her recent albums, and requested that she write "something positive and hopeful". And so she did.
Janelle Monáe's verse on the Tightrope remix with B.O.B. and Lupe Fiasco points out the people who kept saying that she needs to change her appearance to appeal to the masses.
Album just dropped and I've been on the cover covers
Black and white tux, ain't no need for no other colors
T-t-t-talking 'bout "W-w-why don't she change her clothes?"
Well they ain't seem to mind the last three times I posed in Vogue...
Speaking of Lupe Fiasco, he made sure that at least part of "The Show Goes On" was dedicated to slamming his record label, which tried to turn him into a flash-in-the-pan pop-rapper.
The Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren wanted them to write a song called "Submission", obviously expecting an Obligatory Bondage Song... They mocked the idea by making it a song about a submarine ("I'm on a submarine mission for you, baby"). Although it still had an awful lot of double-entendre lines about "going down"...
The Dead Kennedys played Pull My Strings at Bay Area Music Awards when they were asked to play "California Uber Alles" to give the event some "New Wave credibility". Despite the song becoming popular among fans, they never performed it again.
Mike Oldfield was, before switching record labels, constantly hounded by Virgin Media to produce a sequel to the hit album Tubular Bells. His response was Amarok, an hour long mostly-instrumental series of ever-changing themes, not one bit of which could effectively be aired as a single. To top it off, 42 minutes in, there is a message in Morse code which reads 'FUCK OFF RB' (Richard Branston being the head of Virgin at the time). Immediately after switching to Warner, he proceeded to produce and release Tubular Bells 2.
At the start of the 20th century, Richard Strauss had severely pissed off various publishing houses by his successful campaigns to improve the position of composers with respect to publishing and performing rights. Being under contract to deliver a set of his famous Lieder to the Berlin publisher Bote & Bock, he wrote the Krämerspiegel op. 66 - acid and outright libellous satires against various companies under paper-thin aliases, full of puns and self-quotations. He was promptly sued for breach of contract and instead wrote the Lieder op. 67 - which were the most recondite, technically challenging and innovative he had ever done, and so deliberately hard to sell. No publisher deigned to produce the original set until forty years later.
Billy Joel's hit "Piano Man" was edited down by his record company from 5:38 to 3:05 for commercial reasons for the single, which infuriated Billy. He wrote "The Entertainer" on his next album Streetlife Serenade in protest.
It was a beautiful song,
But it ran too long,
If you wanna make a hit,
You just gotta make it fit,
So they cut it down to 3:05.
Lou Reed supposedly recorded Metal Machine Music, a double album of industrial screeching, in the hope that his record label would drop him.
For a time, products based on the Shmoos (an all-purpose food species) from Lil Abner were the biggest fad in America. The fad came to a rather abrupt halt due to Writer Revolt — Al Capp, sick of how the Shmoo fad overshadowed everything else in the strip, debuted the "Shmooicide Squad", a group that proceeded to render the Shmoos extinct (save one).
Tom Batiuk, artist of Funky Winkerbean, killed off John Darling, star of the spin-off strip of the same name (in the penultimate strip, to boot), because he wanted to end the strip, didn't want to re-integrate him into FW, and didn't want his syndicate to use the character elsewhere, without his input.
Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, frequently had rows with his editor about the subject of merchandising. Several strips had paraphrasements of the editor's arguments as punchlines, such as Calvin's dad telling him he sees everything in black and white, or has no perspective, leading to the boy imagining a literal case of the ailments. He got his point across.
Manfred Schmidt, author of German comic Nick Knatterton, always held the opinion that comics were a lower art form. After about nine years of drawing the strip, he was so fed up with making the strip, he couldn't make his fingers draw the pictures anymore - so he said.
In ECW's waning days, the promotion's rocky relationship with TNN pushed them into full-on revolt as part of a desperate bid to get their show cancelled so they could shop it to other networks before the promotion completely ran out of money. The most obvious facet of the revolt was Cyrus, an executive from "the network", who was out to take away everything that made ECW special and make it into good, wholesome, family-friendly, WCW-style sports entertainment. Many of Cyrus's appearances came laced with digs at TNN's other programs, such as Rock 'n Bowl. Sadly, this gambit didn't work, as TNN kept the show on long past the point of no return.
In prior editions of Warhammer 40,000, many players, when confronted with the unbelievable racism, psychosis, corruption, fascism, and hopelessness of the Imperium, tended to latch onto the Eldar as "good guys" despite the setting being Evil Versus Evil. The developers took steps to undermine this, and indeed explicitly stated in one of their releases that they were attempting to correct what they saw as a misconception. The same has happened to the Tau over time, although to a lesser extent. It's especially ironic because the Tau were conceived as a fundamentally decent race by their developers — in their own words, "a likable, if a bit naive, addition to the universe."
After the first codex, another developer said that people who thought Tau were good were missing the underlying message of their actions: join us, or be blown out of the sky (though, to be fair, most of the other factions don't even offer the "Join Us" option). The second codex had such decencies as suicide bombers, combat drugs, mentions of orbital bombardment on races that didn't accept the Greater Good, and subtle hints about how the Vespid are effectively enslaved by the Tau interface helmets.
Or maybe they aren't. That's the thing about the Tau: everyone else's evil is all-too-obvious and apparent, but none of the Tau's is. One such evil is the "Join Us" option, which is basically slavery.
It isn't helped that most of the examples of Tau crimes are given by the Imperium where they aren't exactly honest about what their enemies are like.
Of course after all this, 5th edition became Lighter and Softer, because fans started seeing all the GRIMDARK as one big joke.
Early in its history, the design team of Warhammer was asked by Games Workshop owner Bryan Ansell to make up a unique species "to be as distinctive of Warhammer as the Broo are of Runequest", a race that could be used in marketing. The design team created the Fimir, a bunch of hideous, swamp-dwelling, reptilian, cyclopean monsters that reproduced by raping abducted young women, a deliberate hodgepodge of the most despicable and lamest traits possible. They largely disappeared when the next edition (4th) was released, relegated to brief allusions in the fluff.
While creating the Mirage set for Magic: The Gathering, the designers were ordered not to name anybody after an anagram, because the editors didn't like it. Their response was to name a main character Mangara. They also created Telim'tor, which is an anagram of Mr. Toilet.
The author of A Dolls House was immediately forced to write an alternate ending for it because the main character Nora leaves her husband Torvald. The alternate ending has Nora stay with Torvald only because he guilt trips her into it by way of their kids.
There is a painting of Mr. Toad passing the deed to his property to Owl in "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", which replaced "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". You can also spot a memorial for the older ride in the pet cemetery outside the exit of The Haunted Mansion.
The logo on the Gravity Wheel and cash registers in Mission: Space is that of the ride it replaced: Horizons. There are also several references to the much older "Mission to Mars" ride, and even a connection to the movie it inspired in 2000 (via Gary Sinise as the host of the preshow video).
By far, no ride suffered more than Journey into Imagination (Epcot) — when it was revamped at the end of The Nineties, it was penny-pinched and Christmas Rushed (to coincide with a park anniversary and the forthcoming Millennium Celebration), and went over so poorly that Imagineers were allowed another crack at it. Version 3 thus promoted Ensemble Darkhorse Figment to protagonist, included the original theme song (with some new verses), and brought in as many remnants of and references to the original version as possible. Pay attention to the show Figment is watching in his upside-down house, the various forms he takes in the finale, and the office belonging to a fellow named Dean Finder. As well, the plot of this version — a series of tests in sensory labs to "capture" the imagination getting playfully sabotaged by Figment — is effectively the 2.0 version being invaded by 1.0, a situation portrayed as a wonderful thing.
In Disneyland's Winnie the Pooh ride, which replaced Country Bear Jamboree, as soon as you go into the Honey Room, if you look up, you can see the talking mounted animal heads.
At Universal Studios, The Simpsons Ride replaced Back to the Future: The Ride. The queue movie has an animated Doc Brown (voiced by Christopher Lloyd himself) trying but failing to save his facilities — thanks to Professor Frink travelling back in time to help but instead doing exactly the opposite — and eventually selling the property's deed to Krusty, who hires him on for the Krustyland theme park going up in its place. Later, the Jaws ride was demoted to expand The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The resulting Diagon Alley wound up with hidden references toJaws, such as a shark jawbone in a store and shrunken heads that sing "Show Me The Way To Go Home".
Rumor has it that when the time came for Shigeru Miyamoto to start developing a sequel to Super Mario World, the higher-ups at Nintendo, enamored by the pre-rendered 3D visuals in Donkey Kong Country, demanded that the new Super Mario Bros. game also use pre-rendered 3D graphics. Miyamoto, who strongly opposed to the idea, instead went for a cutesy, crayon-drawn look in an act of rebellion against his executives, which made them see the error of their ways, and the game was eventually developed and released as Yoshi's Island. The game still used pre-rendered models in the introduction and ending, though, and a pre-rendered Mario game that Miyamoto wasn't directly involved with was eventually released.
The Mega Man X series. In the early stages of the series' development, Capcom thought that the new Mega Man's design was a complete overhaul from the original. Keiji Inafune, the "father" of the series, was forced to make a second X with a design that would be more familiar to fans of Mega Man. Inafune didn't discard the original design, however, and made him into a supporting character instead. What happens next? Inafune made it so that his X would figure more into the storyline than the second X. Moreover, in an irony of what Capcom envisioned, he also became more popular with the fanbase than the "second" X himself! Any fan should know this story by now (that first X became Zero, for people who haven't caught on yet.)
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Hideo Kojima was told to make a sequel that finished the overarching plot, returning the series to Solid Snake, and explaining the identity of The Patriots. In the game, Snake's old and dying, the other characters are also old and dying, the identity of The Patriots turns out to be a massive Anti-Climax, and the plot is routinely stopped to have Does This Remind You of Anything? chats about how Hideo Kojima doesn't want to make another game and knows he shouldn't. Like having Naomi discuss how 'the game has to end' while images of the Metal Gear series's title screens flash subliminally. Or having them chased by a tank called an 'MGS', with lots of shouting about how they have to "shake off that MGS". Or Otacon commenting about how the next-gen version of Shadow Moses is indication that it's "not so bad getting old" (i.e. the old games should just be allowed to be what they are). And telling Snake at the end that he will always remember "what you were" (i.e. what you were back before Kojima was forced to throw in his artistic integrity). It's kind of a depressing game.
There was actually a double one on Metal Gear Solid 4. Originally, Kojima wanted to end the game with Snake and Otacon turning in to authorities only to be executed for being terrorists. His staff flat out refused to work on the game if it was to end that way.
ZUN's attitude toward Touhou fandom ping-pongs between affection and enmity. He usually expresses this by making smartass remarks in instruction manuals and interviews and, more recently, by darkly subverting the Moe characteristics attributed to the characters by fanon.
An extremely obscure pachinko game for the Famicom has five percent of the entire ROM file dedicated to an angry rant by one of the programmers, that, among other things, calls his boss an idiot, calls other bosses retards, complaining about the strange noises of the pachinko machines, selling a ROM with a phone number to call for interested parties. The full thing is available here.
Issue 10 of Sonichu is one massive example (well, Creator Revolt, actually) by Christian Weston Chandler, ignoring his vows of writing his Author Avatar out of the series, viciously eliminating everything that's bothered him, creating a character out of spite, then telling his fans he'll work on his comic whenever he damn well feels like it!
Shortpacked! creator David Willis put up a strip making fun of the idea that all female or non-white characters are tokens and thus unable to be characters in their own right. The response he got (for example, 'the dangers of tokenism') led him to create Malaya out of spite.
The Nostalgia Critic developed a character arc about how pathetic the title character was, and how a lot of his suffering was his own fault for reviewing crappy movies. The culmination of this was Critic moving past his flaws, and going out with dignity. Doug Walker then moved on to Demo Reel, a project he had been wanting to do for a long time. Unfortunately, due to the show being less popular than the Critic's and generating less site traffic, Demo Reel ended up having financial and production difficulties. Doug eventually brought back the Critic with the last episode of Demo Reel revealing that it was just purgatory for the Critic, retconning a bit of his previous character arc in the process. Since bringing the Critic back, Doug's reviewing style is accused of having become more mean spirited, such as being much quicker to attack actors involved in the films he reviews. He himself has stated in several vlogs and commentaries since the Critic's return that he doesn't care as much about offending fans as he did before.
Here's a typical action from Paul Dini on anything in the DCAU. Make a scene that gets rejected. Then take it and make it even more of whatever got it rejected. They never noticed.
The writers at Gargoyles were once required to have the main cast using a helicopter, as they would make a toy out of it. It felt quite out of place in a series focusing on Winged Humanoids who can fly, and then they didn't even release the toy. It was pointedly never mentioned a second time in the show. When required to put in a motorcycle, they had it blow up after being used for five minutes.
The Executive Meddling done to Pinky and the Brain (such as adding Elmyra to the show) pissed off writer Peter Hastings so much that he left Warner Bros. to create Disney's One Saturday Morning. Before he did that, though, he made fun of Jamie Kellner's orders in his last script, "You'll Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again", in which Brain dreams that he and Pinky are sitcom stars whose popularity is sabotaged when various unfitting changes are made to their show. (As you can guess, Kellner did not take the advice this episode was telling him). Then there's the (in)famous episode "Pinky and The Brain... and Larry", in which writers Gordon Bressack and Charles M. Howell IV responded to demands to throw a new character into the mix by creating Larry, who is shoe-horned awkwardly into the Expository Theme Tune and adds absolutely nothing to the plot (a trait that the Brain identifies as the reason behind their failure in tonight's Take Over the World scheme). Alas, the execs didn't get the hint (see above about the addition of Elmyra).
One episode ended with Iggins, an obnoxious one-shot character, getting crushed in an elevator accident. When that earned an Executive Veto, the writers tacked on an additional ending after a "The End" screen where said character burst out from the elevator wreckage and flew towards the camera in a superhero pose with a matching backdrop and "IGGINS!!" displayed underneath. Unlike many examples on this page, this was noticed by the network and did rather anger them.
One episode was supposed to have GIR covered in blood (for some unknown reason) but the network nixed it. As a result, the animators purposefully hid frames of "Bloody GIR" in several episodes.
The episode "Mysterious Mysteries" seems to be a Take That to both Nick and possibly the viewers — the characters go on the Show Within a ShowMysterious Mysteries and tell "Rashomon"-Style story about how Dib got Zim on tape, ending with a completely ridiculous story from GIR involving a giant squirrel who "eats Dib's greasy head" and flies into space to "fight all the bad guys." The host declares all of them crazy, but his producer tells him that it's popular and so he should take the show in that direction. The host, notably, seems to be cracking himself...
In the episode "Zim Eats Waffles", Zim is shown experimenting on a boy named Nick who must constantly smile and be happy...not to mention he also has the orange splatter symbol on his shirt.
The DVD Commentary on the Futurama episode "Time Keeps On Slipping" said that the execs kept bugging them to "raise the stakes!" on the plots, so they had the Harlem Globetrotters come to Earth to challenge them to a game for no reason. What do they have to lose? "NOTHING! There is nothing at stake and no threat, beyond the shame of defeat!" Interestingly enough, they did raise the stakes: It was the first episode in the series where the universe was in danger of ending (Farnsworth's plan to win the harmless match led to a harmful collapse of time and space).
Looney Tunes executive Eddie Selzer was generally a bore who knew nothing about comedy (he once yelled at the animators for laughing while making storyboards demanding to know what the hell laughter had to do with making cartoons), and would make idiotic decisions like telling Friz Freleng not to make a cartoon starring Tweety and the recently created Sylvester. After Freleng threatened to quit over being told how to make cartoons, Selzer relented with the result being an iconic duo. He also told Bob Mckimson not to make anymore Tasmanian Devil cartoons because he thought the character was too grotesque; he only changed his mind after he found out Taz was popular. He did do some good — since the directors all hated him, it gave them something to fight against like when Chuck Jones made Bully for Bugs because Selzer had told him that bullfighting wasn't funny, and Jones wanted to prove him wrong. The legend is that there wasn't even any logic going on — Selzer merely barged into the office and burst out, completely at random, that bullfights weren't funny and there were to be no bullfighting shorts to be had at his animation studio. Figuring that if Selzer was against bullfighting, then there had to be something in it, they started thinking about a bullfighting short. The story was that Selzer had actually seen one while on vacation, but he failed to tell HIS animators why he declared bullfighting unfunny.
Craig McCracken intentionally made The Powerpuff Girls MovieDarker and Edgier than the show because he was unhappy with the way Cartoon Network was marketing the show. They were promoting it as a show for girls, when he meant it to be for everybody — girls, boys, and grownups. He later regretted this. He stated in an interview that he considers it a miscalculation — the movie was too dark and serious to fit in alongside the series' usual loopy comedy. Though, when he originally started developing the franchise, he definitely intended it to be Darker and Edgier than its final incarnation ended up. When he started it, for example, its working title was "The Whoopass Girls".
Also, this is how Rufus was created. Disney said that the show needed a pet, so the creators picked a naked mole rat. He ended up being much cuter than he had any right to be, since this◊ is what naked mole rats look like in real life. In spite of this, Rufus wound up being quite popular with fans.
South Park has had it in two ways: with Comedy Central (on "Cartoon Wars Part II" they forbade showing Muhammad... and the reply was adding George W. Bush, Carson Kressley, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Jesus Christ defecating on each other and the American flag; then when they refused to let the Prophet appear again in "Imaginationland", a coke-snorting Buddha appeared) and the MPAA in the movie (Matt Stone reported that every time they were asked to cut something, they would re-submit the film with a replacement "ten times worse and five times as long"; also, this - though the horse was replaced with coprophilia in the movie).
There's also a Magic: The Gathering plug the creators were forced to do early in the show's history. Kenny comments at the end of it (in his usual heavily muffled voice), "that sounds f*cking gay!"
The 200 two-parter was heavily censored by Comedy Central because they received terrorist threats for featuring Muhammad again. This resulted in Kyle's speech at the end being completely bleeped out despite not mentioning Muhammad at all and instead was about not giving in to intimidation or fear. Trey & Matt stated that they would return to their normal uncensored ways by the next episode. Said episode featured a handicapped kid getting raped by a shark.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force had a few of these directed at television Moral Guardians and Standards and Practices in particular, such as the "Dickesode" with a counter in the corner keeping track of how many times dick is said (it was a lot) and "G-Wiz", an extended Take That aimed at content dilution made more awesome with George Lowe giving an extended lesson on how making comedy family-friendly eventually makes for neutered television that pleases nobody.
Mainframe Entertainment, the creators of ReBoot and Shadow Raiders were notoriously strangled by the department of Broadcast Standards and Practices, especially during the first two seasons of ReBoot. Their response? Not only push everything they could so far to the limit they were teetering over the edge, but make "BS&P" a go-to line for some goofy, cartoonish stand-in. (For instance, when a giant rocket launcher instead fires a huge inflatable life raft, the raft bears a stamp saying "Approved by BS&P".) Similarly, a Moral Guardian appears as a judge for the auditions in the episode Talent Night, a definitive Take That as she objects to nearly every single act that appears on increasingly flimsy grounds. Who's the one act she likes? A No Celebrities Were Harmed version of the Village People who sing "Living With BS&P" to the tune of YMCA, featuring the line "It's fun to play, in a non-violent way!"
Once free of BS&P's insufferable censoring what they do? A dark and edgy zombie-themed episode parodying Evil Dead.
Supposedly this is why Ralph Bakshi's short lived Spicy City cartoon was canceled. The network wanted to replace his writing staff with professional screenwriters from Los Angeles, but Bakshi refused to comply.
Sometimes, this can lead down a path nobody expected, as in the case of Waspinator. at the start of Beast Wars, the writers hated Waspinator, feeling that his odd speech pattern was a pain in the ass to deal with and took up too much screen time. But Hasbro wanted Waspinator in the show And so the writers decided that if Waspinator had to show up, he'd show up in pieces, and had him violently removed from the episode whenever he appeared. The fandom, however, notice this pattern... and thought it was hillarious. Because of this, the writers wound up increasing Waspinator's screen time rather than decreasing it, and even convinced Hasbro not to kill him off because the fans were so fond of him.
During World War II, Nazi Germany occupied The Channel Islands off the British coast. They also printed their own stamps during this time. After the war, the British printer was accused of collaboration, but he defended himself by showing that those stamps bore four little A's in the corners — standing for "Ad Avernum Atrox Adolf!" (Latin for "Go to hell, atrocious Adolf!") Here's the story.
Bishop Hans Brask managed to survive the Stockholm Bloodbath because he could prove that when he signed an unpopular parliament decision, he hid a note in his seal saying "To this, I am forced and compelled." To this day, "brasklapp" ("Brask's note") is the common Swedish word for "hedging your bets."