Security Guard: What's the matter with you, mister?? All you hadda do was trip him! Or hold him for just a minute!
Spider-Man: Sorry, pal! That's your job!
Everybody's gay, with other people's asses.
—Catch Phrase by comedian Enrique Balbontin
Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.
— The Monsignor, The Boondock Saints
It's a very tragic event, okay? But the simple fact remains I do not know this little girl. I do not know starving children in Panama. I do not know people who die of disease in Egypt. The only person I knew in this event was Jeremy Strohmeyer and I know as his best friend that he had potential. I'm sad that I lost a best friend.
...and in this footage you can see various pedestrians who clearly don't give a $h!t that somebody near them just collapsed and died.
Raye Penber: I'm dying! Somebody help me!
Random Pedestrian 2: We have problems too, you know.
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who stand by and do nothing.
"I thought I heard a ruckus downstairs a minute ago. Do you know what that was all about?"
"No idea. But no need to worry because everything above the 60th floor is safe."
— Two unnamed citizens, overheard on the 61st floor by the people who caused said ruckus, Final Fantasy VII
The great thing about [invading] your species, Dib, is that most of them don't notice.
—Tak, Invader Zim
And no one cares. You kick and scream and cry out into the darkness, and no one comes. You rage against the unfathomable injustice and two blocks away some guy watches a baseball game and scratches his balls.
Scientists talk about dark matter, the invisible, mysterious substance that occupies the space between the stars. Dark matter makes up 99.99 percent of the universe, and they don’t know what it is. Well I know. it's apathy. That's the truth of it; pile together everything we know and care about in the universe and it will still be nothing more than a tiny speck in the middle of a vast black ocean of Who Gives A Fuck.
— David Wong, John Dies at the End
Three assholes laying into a guy while everyone else watches, and you want to know what's wrong with me?
—Kick-Ass, thoroughly averting this trope
"Once ze rockets go up, who cares where zhey come down? That's not my department" - says Wehner Von Braun.
— Tom Lehrer, "Wehner Von Braun"
"It's like a blind spot. It's something you don't see, or can't see, or your brain doesn't let you see because it assumes that it's Somebody. Else's. Problem."
An SEP is something we can't see, or don't see, or our brain doesn't let us see, because we think that it's somebody else's problem.... The brain just edits it out, it's like a blind spot. If you look at it directly you won't see it unless you know precisely what it is. Your only hope is to catch it by surprise out of the corner of your eye.
— Ford Prefect, Life, The Universe, and Everything
Some of the things you could learn up a drainpipe at night were surprising. For example, people paid attention to small sounds — the click of a window catch, the clink of a lockpick — more than they did to big sounds, like a brick falling into the street or even (for this was, after all, Ankh-Morpork) a scream.
These were loud sounds which were therefore public sounds, which in turn meant they were everyone’s problem and, therefore, not mine. But small sounds were nearby and suggested such things as stealth betrayed, and so were pressing and personal.
You're someone else's problem / Now I only want you gone
—Want you Gone, Portal 2
Sgt. Donovan: Sir, there's been a break-in!
DI Lestrade: Not our division!
Can't someone else do it?
— Homer Simpson's slogan when running for Sanitation Commissioner
The death of a disco dancer / Well, it happens a lot 'round here
And if you think Peace / Is a common goal
That goes to show / How little you know
The death of a disco dancer / Well, I'd rather not get involved
Superman: Tell [the drug dealers] I plan to come back every few weeks. I'll [burn their stashes down] again and again until they leave.
Kid: Okay, but you know they're just gonna set up somewhere else, over there—
Superman: Yes, but they won't be here anymore, and that's a step in the right direction. See, in the end, all we can do is look at where we are, at where we're standing, and say we will not allow it here. Over there has to stand for itself, has to speak for itself. Because it's only when over there becomes here that we can stop this once and for all.
— Superman #701
Kitty Genovese. I'm sure that was the woman's name. Raped. Tortured. Killed. Here. In New York. Outside her own apartment building. Almost forty neighbours heard screams. Nobody did anything. Nobody called cops. Some of them even watched.
— Rorschach, Watchmen
That's your problem. Givin' a fuck when it ain't your turn to give a fuck.
—"Bunk" Moreland, The Wire
At minimum, by this point, you should not give a shit. Regular readers of this space should have the mental fortitude to not give two shits... and advanced apathy masters can fail to give anywhere between three and five shits.
— Bryan Lambert, You Are Dumb
Seeing my burst of anger, the girl did a complete one-eighty, from awe and surprise to desperate apologies. That didn’t necessarily improve things. “Oh god, I’m sorry. You know, I didn’t think about how it would bother you, saying that. I really did want to help, you know, to do something back then, but-”
“But you didn’t,” I growled at her. “Just like everyone else, you left me in that locker. You didn’t go get help. You didn’t report the people who did it, not even anonymously. You felt bad? You wanted to help? Is that supposed to mean something to me? Is it supposed to be some consolation? You were too lazy or cowardly to step up and do anything about it, but hey, at least your heart was in the right fucking place, huh?”
— Worm 11.5
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.
— Alice Walker
Return to Bystander Syndrome. Or not.