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Creator's Apathy

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"Lisa, if you don't like your job, you don't strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way!"
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons, "The PTA Disbands"

The lighting is so bad you can see the shadow of the boom-mike on the wall. The zippers and seams are visible on the People in Rubber Suits. The editing looks like someone playing with the wipe feature on Windows Movie Maker. There are times when you really start to wonder what is going wrong with a movie; in theory, they should be trying to make the best product they can, right?


But that's not what happens. A strange lack of enthusiasm and/or optimism sabotages the production. The creators were completely apathetic, and they admit it.

Examples for this "Creator's Apathy" are all about the production values. It is possible to be apathetic to other aspects of making a story, but we have another set of tropes for that.

Also worth remembering is that while the quality of any work given as an example has likely suffered horribly from its makers' apathy, this apathy itself is not necessarily all bad. As many an artist and writer can testify, any work for which the publisher's editors and executives have a complete lack of concern can be an opportunity for the creator to put whatever he or she wants in it, as their superiors' apathy provides a kind of de facto Protection from Editors. From a business perspective, some works simply have no target audience, or sometimes the concept underlying them is just so bad that no one should ever have approved any budget or other resources for its creation in the first place. When such an abomination makes its way down to the production crew, sympathetic souls in middle management will often warn everyone involved not to waste too much talent or money making it. On the critics' end, works for which even the creators showed no concern can have some Narm Charm, be So Bad, It's Good, or at least inspire some Bile Fascination.


Compare Stylistic Suck, Artistic License, Who Writes This Crap?!, and Contractual Obligation Project. Contrast Developers' Foresight and Doing It for the Art.

All examples that are not In-Universe require Word of God confirming that the creators didn't care.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon:
    • Michael Haigney of 4Kids Entertainment admitted to half-assing some of his Pokémon voices on the basis that, with over a hundred-and-fifty to get through, it was likely that some Pokémon would never be seen again. This rapidly backfired when he applied it to Charmander which is 1. a starter Pokémon, i.e. one of the first Pokémon kids receive, 2. featured and spotlighted in a fairly early episode, and 3. captured by the protagonist, all of which should have been clear signs that it would become a recurring character, which it did.
    • Tom Wayland, former voice director for the Anime after 4Kids lost the license, has admitted to just letting the voice actors do what they want.
  • While not the creators of the show, when Sonic X was acquired and dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment, many of the key elements that are present in the Sonic franchise were often either misinterpreted or mislabeled in the 1st season. Michael Haigney, who also produced the dub of Pokémon, in addition to Sonic X, stated, "I've never played the game, seen the series or read the comics." as the reason for the lack of research.
  • 4Kids wanted nothing to do with One Piece as they felt it was too violent and mature to be edited for children; but were forced to accept it as Toei wanted the show to air in the U.S. as soon as possible and wouldn't give them the rights for Ojamajo Doremi otherwise. This led to 4Kids putting minimal effort into the English dub until they could legally drop the license. Given the damage the show left on the company, it's safe to say their plan worked a little too well.
  • Much like the One Piece example above, Saban Brands also had very little interest in handling Smile Pretty Cure! and DokiDoki! PreCure, but were forced to run them anyways if they wanted to keep the Digimon license from Toei. This also resulted in the executives giving as little attention to the series as possible before ultimately returning the Pretty Cure license back to Toei, though the damage wasn't as great as 4Kids' example.

    Fan Works 
  • In an in-universe example, the Lemony Narrator of Equestria: A History Revealed, who is supposedly writing the whole thing, has a very lax approach to essay writing, getting drunk towards the beginning of Chapter 3, not wanting to write any more praise for Princess Celestia, and instead, inserting her self-authored haikus in their place, and literally admitting to lying to her professor and cursing him in-text (while simultaneously submitting it in to him later for marking).
  • Dakari-King Mykan, author of The End of Ends and My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic, has admitted to not caring about the originality of his stories and doesn't bother with characterization.
  • MF 217 has stated he only truly cares about proper grammar and spelling when the fic is already fully complete, and a remaster of the fic will fix all of the original Rouge Angles of Satin while hopefully not adding any new ones. MF217 admits, however, that he feels immense pressure on himself simply trying to keep his update schedule more consistent, which more or less is why the grammar is an afterthought much of the time; he's such a big Nervous Wreck about actually updating his stories period that he'll gladly throw grammar checking out of the window if it means an update will happen. That said, he's still consistent with his statement of making remastered versions of his completed work that have the grammar fixed altogether, as he is indeed currently working on such a remaster for his first entry in Citadel of the Heart.

  • In the DVD Commentary for The Amazing Bulk, the director admits to outright not caring about the Random Events Plot resulting from Off-the-Shelf FX (literal chunks of the movie were done using stock effects found on the Internet, most infamously a lengthy chase sequence near the end), nor about the extreme inconsistencies in tone or constantly echoing audio.
  • The writer of Dragonball Evolution, Ben Ramsey, admitted in a 2016 apology letter to have gone into the film "as a businessman" and "not a fan" of Dragon Ball (whether this means he was a fan and just didn't care, or he was not a fan, period, isn't entirely clear).
  • The Mummy (1999): According to the audio commentary with the director of the movie, Stephen Sommers, as well as his editing partner, Bob Duscay, there was a little debate about the coloration of how the Mummy looks when the coffin is opened (darker and literally black) vs. how he looks when he's woken up by Evey reading the Book of the Dead (tan-ish). In the end, they did nothing to correct this goof as they believed the audience wouldn't notice. note 
  • The Room: As production dragged on, professionalism just fell apart. Most of the crew were convinced the film would never be seen by anyone. Greg Sestero, who played Mark, admitted to phoning in his performance. Entire scenes were out of focus because they didn't bother to check the lens. Greg's own book about the production of the film, The Disaster Artist, chronicles this.
  • Director Uwe Boll, as well as allegedly purposely creating bombs to exploit a tax loophole for under-performing films, is very open about his hatred of video games, hatred of video gamers, hatred of anyone who wants to see movies about video games and boasts about making them as bad as possible because he does not want gamers to see his films, citing they'd just download it. He wants a "real" audience... whoever they might be.
  • Because his directorial style has his films operating on a visual level first, George Lucas has admitted to not putting much effort into writing dialogue (which he acknowledges is often wooden), calling it "just part of the soundtrack."
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Because of the tight deadlines and shoestring budgets he had to complete his movies, Ed Wood would do little to correct any on-screen inconsistencies that would occurr during filming and argued to his producers that audiences wouldn't pay attention to these small details in regards to the overall story.
  • Italian filmmaker Joe D'Amato based much of his career around this thought, saying that he was often more concerned with the box office results of a film rather than its artistic merits. Regardless, he gained a sizable cult following in the U.S. with fans apparently lining up by the hundreds for his autograph, much to his disgust and confusion.
  • On top of its Troubled Production, Donald G. Jackson openly hated his first movie, The Demon Lover, from its inception since its occult themes strongly went against his Christian viewpoints. Don claimed that he only made the movie out of peer pressure by co-director Jerry Younkins who saw how popular demonic horror films were during the '70s and wouldn't finance his first picture otherwise. Up until his death in 2003, Don would frequently claim Demon Lover was a parody of horror films of the time, even though a quick viewing of the movie would say otherwise.
  • As revealed by Marina Sirtis when it came to Star Trek: Nemesis, director Stuart Baird hadn't even seen Star Trek before and when he was told by the cast that their characters wouldn't do things he was telling them to do, his response was "I don't care! Just do it anyway!"
  • When Constantin Pictures greenlit The Fantastic Four in the 90s they wanted it to be a $40 million Hollywood production, but after hitting several dead ends and the film license about to expire they gave up trying to make a high quality feature and hired Roger Corman to quickly produce them a much cheaper movie then intended so they could keep the film rights from returning to Marvel Comics. Despite what Stan Lee claims however, Constantin had every intention of releasing the movie if the poster and trailer indicate anything.
  • Godzilla (1998): Director Roland Emmerich was never a Godzilla fan, and didn't expend much energy to make his version faithful to the Toho original.
  • Much like with Ed Wood, Rick Sloane admitted that he shot Hobgoblins as quickly as possible and didn't bother fixing any inconsistencies because of its No Budget.
  • John Penney was contractually obligated by the Screen Actors Guild to give Zyzzyx Road a theatrical U.S. release before releasing it internationally. Rather than finding a distributor, John instead chose to fulfill the bare basics of his contract by screening the movie in one theater he rented out for the week without any promotion; leading it to become the lowest grossing movie in U.S. history with a $20 return on a $2 million budget. note 
  • Adam Sandler confessed on Jimmy Kimmel Live that he chooses movie scripts based primarily on where he'd like to go on vacation rather than interest in the movie itself, explaining the sheer laziness of many of his films.
  • The Bee Gees hated making Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and tried to drop out of the movie only two weeks into filming, citing their reasons as their stigma of being a Beatles knockoff group since the 60s along with the behind the scenes work environmentnote . The trio only stayed on the project because they were contractually obligated to.
  • Rooney Mara admits that her infamously dull performance in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) came from the lack of passion she had about the movie, saying that she hated it so much that she considered quiting the industry altogether once filming had wrapped.

  • When William Middleton was hired to illustrate The Three Railway Engines, the first book of The Railway Series, after Reverend Wilbert Awdry's own illustrations were deemed unacceptable for publication, he wasn't convinced that children would like stories about "dirty old locomotives", leading him to apparently use coins as templates for the smokebox faces and otherwise put absolutely zero effort into his artwork, exacerbating existing artistic incompetence. The result was illustrations so terrible that Reverend Awdry would ask C. Reginald Dalby, The Railway Series' first long-term illustrator, to completely redo the illustrations for The Three Railway Enginesnote .

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Joss Whedon has confirmed that by the time of the seventh season, everybody — cast and crew — was exhausted and eager to move on to new projects. Whedon and much of the writing staff returned to the franchise in comic book form a few years later with considerably renewed enthusiasm.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 provides an interesting case of "in-universe". The famous, formerly Trope Naming skit regarding how in Attack of the Eye Creatures "they just didn't care" ends with a character that the Mads claim is director of that week's movie, Larry Buchanan (clearly not the actual Real Life Buchanan)—who, the Mads conclude actually just didn't care about the flaws in the movie.
  • Power Rangers Super Megaforce is generally considered to be one of the worst seasons in terms of writing, which felt as if no effort was put into it. Actors Ciara Hanna and Cameron Jebo revealed in their No Pink Spandex interview that the lack of effort was a pervading thought from the producers. Whenever an actor or writer brought up something they felt didn't make sense, they would be told "Who cares? The audience is five years old."
  • Shake It Up! star Bella Thorne admits that she never wanted any part of the show nor to become a Disney actress, but her parents forced her to audition because they were financially struggling at the time.
  • Freeform begrudgingly airs the conservative Christian talkshow The 700 Club as part of its regular programing due to a contract clause the show's host made with Fox that Disney execs failed to notice before purchasing the channel. The network even states in the notices before the show that they don't care whether or not you watch it.
  • The writers of Star Trek: Voyager were apathetic about being consistent in their writing, resulting in characterization, particularly Janeway's, shifting dramatically from episode to episode. It was enough for Ronald D Moore, one of modern Trek's mainstays, to simply walk out after a few weeks.

  • In 1994, Prince took the rough recordings of his untitled 1987 Black Album (which he originally abandoned due to being unhappy with its quality) and quickly had it finished and released in an attempt to end his contract with Warner (Bros.) Records faster due to their Executive Meddling. To show how little he cared for the album, not only did he leave a brief message to fans in his Alphabet St. music videonote  to not buy it, but shortly after its release he quickly had the album pulled from store shelves and replaced it with his more passionate endeavor Lovesexy.

    Video Games 
  • Blacksite: Area 51, infamous as it is, turned out to be troubled from the very beginning, as lead designer Harvey Smith admitted he simply wasn't excited about the project, and the Troubled Production on top of it (such as the fact that this was one of two projects he was overseeing at the time, having to go from concept to finished levels in less than a week, etc.) exacerbated these feelings; about all he liked from the finished product was its political message, even if it left the result heavily dated.
  • After Bubsy creator Michael Berlyn left Accolade over creative differences, Bubsy 2 and 3 were left in the hands of another crew who openly hated the first game and cared little for the quality of its two sequels. Berlyn mentioned that during a visit at the office he saw several Bubsy plush toys hung from the ceiling like an execution and another with a pencil stabbed through its head.
  • The Highlander Video Game released by Ocean Software for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and Amstrad CPC was deliberately made as bad as possible because they wanted to make it so that nobody would buy the game after discovering they would have to pay royalties for each cartridge sold.
  • According to the game's Community Coordinator, a lot of the LittleBigPlanet Karting developers didn't care about the game, and some even hated making games in general.
  • Madden '06 infamously suffered from a Game-Breaking Bug that not only prevented players from completing the game, but would also wipe their save files. When this came to light, instead of doing anything to fix the problem, Electronic Arts simply stated "Deal with it!", indicating that they didn't care about the game's crippling glitch and were not going to patch it.
  • Tomb Raider Chronicles: The developers openly admitted to putting little effort into making it, having been burned out after the first three installments, explaining the game's... lack of innovation, to put it politely. The only reason they made it in the first place was that no one else would.

    Web Animation 
  • In-Universe example in the CollegeHumor video "The New iPhone is Just Worse", where the narrator, a parody of Apple's chief designer, Jonathan "Jony" Ive, praises the "innovation" of removing features for allowing him to leave work early.
    Jony: I wanted to make it an impenetrable glass brick, but Tim said no.
  • One of the animators for Death Battle deliberately made the Mewtwo vs. Shadow video in mediocre fashion as he was reportedly sick of animating for the series. In fact, the show was put on hiatus prior to this video as the showrunners were worried he was overworking himself.


    Web Original 
  • An In-Universe example in the RiffTrax of Birdemic Shock And Terror. They often comment on how little the crew cared during the making of the film with the obvious mess-ups, poor editing, and apparently only doing everything in one take.
    • For example:
    Rod: Watch football. Especially the 49ers. Part-timesnote  Eagles fan.
    Mike: (as Rod) Oh, hang on. I said "part-times Eagles fan."
    Kevin: (as movie director) Keep rolling!
    • Then:
      Rod: You're right, he is cute. So, you're a cats lover.
      Bill: (as Rod) Hold on. I said "cats lover".
      Kevin: (as movie director) Keep rolling!
    • In one particularly bad example of director James Nguyen refusing to ever do a second take:
      Nathalie's Mom: Look, keep me... (stumbles badly on the dialog) uh, er, eh, you... know, keep me informed.
      Kevin: (as Mom) I screwed up a line.
      Bill: (as movie director) Keep rolling.
      Kevin: (as Mom) But it was really bad!
      Bill: (as movie director) KEEP rolling!
  • RebelTaxi:
    • Pan notes in his review of the Mega Man episode Curse of the Lion Men that it served as the final writing credit for Gary Greenfield which, combined with the its poor quality, led him to believe that Gary put little effort into writing the episode since he was going to retire soon.
    • He also mentions in another video that The Transformers episode Child's Play is filled to the brim with animation errors and explains how most animation studios during the 80s didn't care much for consistent quality in their cartoons; and that since this episode was meant to be filler, the producers likely wanted to preserve their resources for more important episodes.
    • Pan was originally going to review the final season of Danny Phantom due to its poor reception amongst fans, but eventually decided to focus on the TV movie finale Phantom Planet instead, admitting in his review that he simply didn't feel like watching the entire season as planned. Granted the Creator Breakdown he was recovering from at the time probably didn't help.
  • Ignoring the controversial production history, Channel Awesome's Pop Quiz Hot Shot was hindered long before filming started as the crew members brought on board for it had little interest in developing a game show. They only agreed to the production out of obligation as "Hot Shot's" creator was Channel Awesome CEO Michael Michaud.
  • To Boldly Flee had a few examples of this.
    • Rob Walker apparently refused to fix minor continuity errors in, specifically responding to MarzGurl with, "Oh well, plot hole!" and laughing it off.
    • Allison Pregler had zero passion for the project, attributing this to her hatred of the script.
  • An apology video reveals that seasons six and seven of The Music Video Show were this trope. This was after season five was made out of anger, depression and suicidal thoughts. All of which drained his energy and made him stop caring through the next two seasons.

    Western Animation 
  • Beowulf (2007) director Robert Zemeckis said up-front that he hated the original epic poem and didn't care at all about making an accurate adaptation, which explains why the movie is so In Name Only and viciously insults tales of heroism like Beowulf as lies.
  • This trope is played up intentionally for humor and parody in The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Stimpy's Cartoon". The plot is that Stimpy wants to make a cartoon for his hero, the godfather of animation, Wilbur Cobb. Ren is bitter about this, so Stimpy crowns him producer. However, it turns out that Ren just doesn't care about the cartoon and his only role is to work Stimpy to the bone while presenting impossible challenges, taking month-long vacations, ripping up storyboards and tossing them in the trash, price gouging on art supplies, forcing Stimpy to shave logs for animation cels, etc.. In the end, Stimpy's cartoon is a poorly drawn, poorly animated, inept, and nonsensical romp called "Explodey the Pup" (or "I Like Pink"), which demonstrates the very definition of this trope.
  • Donald F. Glut has stated in many interviews over the years that he had little regards for his work as a writer for 80s cartoons (the little-seen syndicated Spider-Man series excepted), saying he often submitted first drafts as final scripts and that he did them purely for the money it would give him.
  • In 1975 when Joe Barbera was pitching a Tom and Jerry spinoff during what was a low point in the animation industry, he would show network execs a few of the original shorts to give them an idea of what he wanted the new show to be like. While these shorts were loved by the execs, they ultimately didn't want to bother making the show in the same quality, since they also didn't want to deal with Moral Guardians of the time either.
  • Jason Alexander only took the lead role in Duckman because he assumed it would have been a one-off role and didn't bother memorizing the character's name during the audition; he did grow to enjoy the show and his character during production, though.
  • As revealed by Pan Pizza, no one involved with Bands on the Run had any passion for it. The American crew knew the movie was going to be awful but accepted the project anyways for experience, the Chinese animation studio commissioned for the film scammed the production when they sent back horrendous animation after two months of work, and the movie's producers were reportedly more concerned about completing the film while the Silly Band craze was still going rather than its overall quality.
  • After Hallmark bought out Filmation's library, they proceeded to destroy the original broadcast versions of their cartoons following their PAL transfers, with the intention of releasing them in Europe only rather than in America. Hallmark was reportedly open about their disdain for the Filmation library and were said to have reacted negatively to fans of these shows when questioned by them.
  • John Kricfalusi has been very open about his disdain for Filmation's strict on-model policy and his time working for them. He admitted on his blog that he would often xerox character frames directly from their model sheets since it was easier than simply redrawing them.
    • John takes it further with his scathing review of Animaniacs which he wrote note  for Wild Cartoon Kingdom in 1994. He described the show as "the absolute worst use of animation" for its outdated use of vaudeville humor and embarrassing voice acting... all while admitting that he never actually watched the show.
  • The third installment of Family Guy Presents: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball, "It's a Trap!", opens with the family clearly not interested in doing a third Star Wars parody, and the opening crawl flat-out tells the audience to lower their expectations for the special, because Seth MacFarlane and his crew did not want to make a parody of Return of the Jedi but were pushed by FOX executives into doing it anyways. The rant may seem like a joke at first, as Family Guy itself frequently uses Self-Deprecation, but the special's DVD Commentary reveals that the creators were completely serious about it.
  • He-Man writer J. Michael Straczynski was pretty blunt in an interview with a He-Man fan site about how little he regarded his job writing for the cartoon, saying it was purely a 9-to-5 job that gave him no creative inspiration.
  • While Allen Gregory's short run is often attributed to its negative reception, it was revealed by one of the show's artists on RebelTaxi that Fox had little faith in the show from the start. On top of cutting the show's budget from the pilot, Fox execs only commissioned seven episodesnote  for the show to serve as filler between seasons of Family Guy with full intent to cancel Allen afterwards. The artist also mentions that he and the rest of the animation staff hated the show during its production, but enjoyed the time they spent with each other.
  • Part of why the Samurai Jack movie never happened was because the crew was burned out after making the show for four straight years and felt that they were too creatively exhausted to give the series the ending it deserved, deciding it was more respectable to leave it open-ended. They were unaware, however, that picking it up again would take as long as it did.
  • Fans of the original run of The Powerpuff Girls cited a decline in the show's writing when creator Craig McCracken left the show to work on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. PPG animation director Randy Myers explained tongue-in-cheek that the staff was simply burning off what they called their "jump the shark" scripts just to meet series quota.
  • The reason Yellow Submarine was made into an animated feature was because The Beatles didn't want to make another movie since they weren't happy with their previous one, but by having it animated they could exploit a loophole in their contracts (which said they had to star in another movie, yet didn't specify that it actually had to be them on screen) which, other than a live action appearance at the end, would allow them to continue touring India while their animated counterparts were voiced by sound-alikes instead.note  It wasn't until they saw the finished film that they fell in love with it, and in the years after their breakup, the surviving band members still consider it to be one of their favorite projects to be involved with.
  • Hugh Harman disowned nearly his entire filmography in an interview with Michael Barriernote , explaining how his perfectionist attitude would drive him to rework a cartoon multiple times during production until he'd become tired of doing it and simply wrapping up with whatever he had that he felt was passable.
    Hugh Harman: That's always been a weakness with me, that I get so fed up on it at the end of a picture that I would just as soon turn it over to the Girl Scouts to make.
  • The writers for The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat held contempt towards Felix's then-owner Don Oriolo when he decided to shift the series to be more script-heavy between seasons and to include characters from the '60s show his father made. So in retaliation, they'd take swipes towards him and his father's version whenever possible while writing season two, which not only angered Don, but also added to the Troubled Production which caused the second season to flop harder than the first.


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