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Creator's Apathy
aka: They Just Didnt Care

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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, and Who Writes This Crap?!. 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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & 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, current voice director for the Anime, 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." being 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 lead 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.

    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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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), 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, calling it "just part of the soundtrack."
  • While the directors for the Super Mario Bros. movie did play the game for research, they admitted to being uninterested in the franchise and gaming in general and only took the job in order to adapt their script of a parallel dinosaur world into a feature but with the Mario Bros slapped on it.
  • Despite his commitment to film making, Ed Wood reportedly did little to correct the numerous on-screen goofs in his films, believing audiences wouldn't pay attention to such details in regards to the overall story. note 
  • Italian Film maker 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 70's 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 characters wouldn't do things he was telling them to do, his response was "I don't care! Just do it anyway!"
  • The unreleased 1994 adaption of The Fantastic Four was the result of the producers wanting to retain the film rights from Marvel Comics after a string of start-up failures by hiring Roger Corman to make the movie within a month for as little money as possible, regardless of the final product's quality. However, despite what Stan Lee claims, the producers had every intention of releasing the movie to the public if the poster and trailer are any indication.

    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.

    Video Games 

    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-times note  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!
  • In Pan Pizza's review for the Mega Man episode "Curse of the Lion Men", he points out that the episode served as the final writing credit for Gary Greenfield. The episode's lackluster quality leads Pan to believe that Gary put as little effort into the script as possible since his retirement was around the corner.
    • In another video Pan mentions the numerous animation errors in the TheTransformers episode "Child's Play" and believes this was because the episode was meant to serve as a filler and so the studio wanted to preserve their resources for more important episodes. Pan even claims that studios didn't really care for quality control in animation during the 80's.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 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 non-sensical 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.
  • Based on one of Joe Barbera's quotes (see Quotes.The Dark Age Of Animation), many network execs during the 60s and 70s apparently didn't care for the overall quality of the cartoons they aired so long as they were cheap to make, turned in a profit, and kept the Moral Guardians away from them.
  • For Duckman, Jason Alexander only took the part because he assumed his role would have been a one-off. However he subverted this trope when he grew to enjoy the show and his character.
  • As revealed by Pan Pizza note , the crew members for Bands On The Run knew the movie was going to be awful but accepted the project anyways for the experience working on an animated feature. The Chinese animation studio commissioned for the film blatantly used copyrighted images of Pikmin and Coca-Cola for textures without their owners' consent, and the producers were reportedly more concerned about the film's completion during the silly band craze 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 artist 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 the intent of cancelling 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.

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